Wednesday, 24 October:At Pepi's fashion show, I met up with Tada who invited me to a movie screening.
Tada-san invited us to a movie screening of "Tokyo Noise."
I enjoyed the chance to meet one of Japan's most infamous photographers, Nobuyoshi Araki. Hattori introduced us. He wore a black suit jacket covered in corroded red tape, resembling dried strips of blood. His hair was deliberated cultivated into two devilish points, which worked well with his omnipresent tiny sunglasses. Quite a cutting figure, with a tight potbelly. Araki gave me a naked lady phone card and was nice enough to pose for a picture with his middle finger waving cheerily over my shoulder.
Afterwards our group split up. I talked to a ladyfriend having some tough times to break up with her boyfriend. They had been living together. He's a white guy, she's Japanese, they met in San Francisco. Once both of them were living in Tokyo, his desire to spend some time chasing the plentitude of fine ladies surrounding him overwhelmed his desire for cohabitation and monogamy. She wasn't happy. She complained of his all night schedule running around town. I was curious. While consoling her, I wanted to watch him in action.
My last appointment of the week Friday was at the Visa office. I was actually able to plead my case to an immigration officer almost entirely in Japanese. Turns out they don't exactly have a visa provision for freelance internet writers who work for corporate sponsored research magazines. Unfortunately, there's about four things I have wrong in my career choice for matching up with their qualifications for "Journalist's Visa." Fortunately, he seemed very impressed that I had been initially accepted for my Foreign Correspondent's Club of Japan membership (final approval pending late November), and he was willing to listen to me rant and watch me gesticulate my enthusiasm for professional writing on a broad range of subjects before agreeing to see me again in December.
Leaving this meeting more than slightly excited, I asked a Japanese person to point me towards Shibuya, a young part of town, from Otemachi, where I was at the immigration office. He was very confused about the very long distance (I suppose it might be like standing at Wall Street and saying, "Where's Harlem?" and then walking off in that direction). But blindly walking across Tokyo during the day time is a low-risk proposion; with the thick network of subways stops you can readily cut short your sidestreet travels and return back to the mainstream.
I was pleasantly torn between watching high school girls and boys doing their jogging around the placid Imperial Palace and using my phone to email photos of myself watching high school girls and boys jogging around the placid Imperial Palace. I had a portable internet multimedia time, asking passersby for help with my phone-email Japanese, and inviting nearly everyone in my contact list to join me for a long walk. Most of the Japanese people who even bothered to reply seemed very confused by my presumptuous tone, cockamaime invitation and strange activity.
Jazz Cafe - Since 1967
After about ninty minutes of walking and enjoying the balmy weather and the darkening sky, I was drawn into a basement bar in Yotsuya, "Jazz Cafe - since 1967." For a city that prides itself mostly on new culture, this seemed a nice deliberate time capsule. In a Scandinavian-Zen wooden interior basement, three men sat widely spread out, each alone with their drink. The room was dominated by two giant speakers set in the wall at one end, playing jazz at such a volume so as to make active listening mandatory and conversation impossible. The first album they were playing, & Ali, "Live at Tonic" was live; the applause and chit-chat sounded as though it were in the same room. This was Jazz the opposite of New Orleans, as it was sexless clarity, all in the mind and none in the pelvis. It took me a while to relax my recently inculcated New Orleans-jazz pride and accept this framework for music appreciation. A martini helped and I began to unwind and feel my ambient tension and enthusiasm replaced by a stream of pleasant wandering thoughts in response to the music. As I was about to leave, and they put on Lush Life LP, I could feel the music coming through my body and pushing thoughts out of my mind. It was like a church that place. A meditative retreat. Men entered, spoke a few words, sat alone, listened with their eyes closed, and left.
Hungry, I left the bar and wandered Yotsuya. Down a sidestreet, I came upon a type of Japanese cuisine I'd heard about but never sampled - okonomiyaki, or Japanese pancakes. Down in the basement, another nicely wood trimmed restaurant playing Jazz. Being early in the evening rush gave me a chance to chat with the owner, his wife, and their young female helper who had enough english to make a very eager impression. He hailed from Hiroshima, and had very much pride in that. "This is Hiroshima sake. Number one sake is." and "This is Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki." He handed me a matchbook, a rough translation of the restaurant name seemed to be "Hiroshima simple."
"This pancake, Hiroshima style is."
"Ahh, Hiroshima, how interesting."
"Yes, Hiroshima. America Bomb."
"Ahh, bomb, so sorry."
"Maybe now Afghanistan."
"Hah hah, yes Afghanistan bomb."
There's something unsettling and satisfying about using broken Japanese to say such silly things about huge issues as the only foreign representative of my nation's history.
We agreed to meet up with friends in Roppongi.