Monday, December 04, 2006

Erin on a Monday

Well once again history has been made for Jessesjapan.... a reader has been met for the first time ever in a foreign country (that country obviously being Japan)! If you have been reading the comments page at all, you may have noticed a reader going by the alias "Erin" or "Ez" leaving comments, and it was this "Erin" that I met while in Tokyo.

"Erin" is currently an exchange student in Japan, and after having exchanged emails for most of this year, we agreed to meet while I was in Tokyo. Now please note, meeting readers site (sight?) unseen is not normally my style, but in this case there existed various links and acquaintances between "Erin" and I so that it was safe enough for us to meet in confidence knowing that the other person was real (Maybe I Should attach a disclaimer reading "warning: do not try this at home, let alone in a foreign country").

After having a breakfast for one at "Denny's" (how on earth does this American junk food make it to every corner of the globe?), the worst bacon and eggs I had ever eaten for $8- the pot of green tea was great though!- I left to go meet "Erin" near my hotel. I'm not sure if you know or not, but meeting someone you haven't really seen before in an area you don't know very well, is at the best of times, well, difficult. It was about 6 degrees Celsius and "Erin" was running 20 minutes late- it was time to investigate. Running back to my guesthouse so that I could call Erin, I managed to run into her- almost literally. She had come from the wrong direction, and was now practically standing outside my lodgings- why did I even try to organise a complicated meeting spot in the first place? It is amazing how familiar we were with each other- emails can do wonders! After exchanging niceties "Oh it is so good to finally meet you" "How was your trip here?" etc. we decided it was time to hit up Harajuku- without the crowds.

Harajuku certainly is a different place when no people are there (damn I forgot to take a comparison shot), no crazy dresses, no crazy people (actually scrap that), and no crowds make Harajuku merely a collection of crazy shops and...... Well lingerie stores actually. Are the Japanese youth pointedly focussed on sex? Girls in lingerie by any chance? Because a walk through Harajuku would suggest this when you see the window displays in the 10+ lingerie stores (also the gothic lolita stores too) that line this short shopping street. I also pose this question after an encounter I had last night at dinner. While my foreigner friends and I were eating dinner, there were 2 Japanese couples (aged about 21) sitting next to us. When couple no. 2 arrived, the guy slid a lingerie catalogue across to his friend and says, "yo check this out" (in Japanese of course). Throughout the course of the evening I picked up bits of their conversation and their actions (ok! I eavesdropped alright- how else do you think I get material for this blog?), and it went like this:
Guy 1: Hey what do you think of this?
Guy 2: Oh that would look hot on your girl! Do you think mine would look good in this?
Guy 1: Oh for sure! Hey baby don't you think Michiko would look cute in this?
Girlfriend 1: Of course! giggle giggle

Yes the women were in on it too! Now while this was definitely a strange occurrence, my foreigner friends thought it was quite funny as I explained to them what was happening at the table next to us. Ok, breathe- back to Harajuku.

So Harajuku is great for photos! So many different crazy and zany elements that my itchy shutter finger kept clicking- be careful of the scenery though- it may just jump out and bite! I was lucky enough to encounter this. As I was walking down the street, I noticed the strangest collection of Goth boots and shoes- Vivian Westwood and the like. I kneeled down to line up my shot and just as I looked through the lens I hear someone start screaming "YADA! YABAi!YADAAA!" who is screaming? I wondered. Just as I am about to shoot, a hand appears in front of my sight- I looked up to meet the gaze of 22ish year old woman. "Yada" she said. Have you ever had a moment of enlightenment? I did at that moment, as a number of pieces of information clicked together in my mind like a puzzle:
1. She was angry
2. She was a shopkeeper
3. She had come from the shop front that I was about to photograph
4. There was a murderous glint in her eye
5. She was way too close for comfort

"Oh I'm so sorry" I said to her in Japanese. She simply glared at me and walked off without another word- honestly the look she gave me could have frozen ice- AND IT"S ALREADY FROZEN!!!!! "What was that about?" "Erin" asked
"I don't know, but I don't feel like taking anymore photos today" I replied.

You'll be happy to know that the rest of our day was not that eventful, except when I would randomly comment "wow that was freaky back there"- yes perhaps I am revealing my naivety about this big bad world- but honestly I have never expected a Japanese person (let alone a Japanese woman- that is not a chauvinistic comment) to yell at me like that. "Erin" took me to MacDonald’s in Shibuya to rest my weary body and jangled nerves- I don't think MacDonald’s has ever tasted so good. The rest of the day "Erin" introduced me to various areas of the city:

Shibuya- has the busiest intersection in the world and is a bustling youth district

Shinjuku- Government offices and skyscrapers- great view of Tokyo from free sky decks in buildings

Akihabara- geek capital of the world, if you want electronics or anime.....come here. Please be warned, never will you be exposed to so much anime perverted ness in one place (throws up)- I would hate to see what they were keeping in the restricted 18+ sections!

Well "Erin" went home at 5pm and I went to hotel, dinner, and then my good friend Jan from Denmark accompanied me to the bar until 1am- what more can be said? Oh, I only drank wheat tea and everyone thought it was hilarious!

More to come,