We passed out incredibly early the night before; not hard to believe considering the jet lag. And wouldn’t you fucking know it, we both woke up like clockwork around 430 AM, which is actually the time of sunrise in Japan around this time of year. It’s very unusual to see the sun so early, it made me wonder about the Japanese work hours and such. I mean, nothing was open around that time, but the sun was already out.
Luis decided to go walk around and stumbled upon a shrine. I stuck around my hotel room to catch up writing these time consuming journal entries for you losers to enjoy and distract me from taking in the moment. Sumimasen, that sounded way too mean. I am simply providing a service to you, you gorgeous and sexy reader, to live vicariously through my wonderful journey.
7 AM finally rolled around and we decided get some breakfast. As you can see here my basic bitch food photography has improved somewhat:
No kidding when I said this place was gentrified as fuck. Eggs Benedict is a staple for millennials and I’ll be damned if I didn’t try one in Japan. It was decent, not the best I’ve had but definitely not the worst. What I am picking up on is that the food here in Japan is very fresh and clean. Even with the bacon on the eggs bennie and the interesting choice of french fries didn’t seem oily in the slightest. No wonder the life expectancy here is through the roof.
Today’s plan of attack is to see the Robot Restaurant. Apparently it’s a must to check out for tourists and is even “too weird” for the locals. But more on that later. It’s in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo; a more lively part with its seedy entertainment underbelly. It was incredibly easy to navigate the metro to get there, unlike downtown San Antonio. Just hopped onto the red line subway and was a simply few stops down.
It doesn’t look slimy, it’s busy and populated. Must have been hundreds and hundreds of people quietly keeping to themselves traveling to their destination. I mean it’s bit eerie to be in market square and have not many voices projecting of its hard concrete walls. Everyone was operating on some software I’ve never seen and were in complete sync with each other, and us tourists were just aberrations they had to compensate for. I know what feeling invisible feels like in New York, but this is another level.
We decided first to roam around and really breath in the place, and discovered Shinjuku Cho Park. It was fantastic, so quaint and quiet.
Afterwards, with no particular direction in mind, we ran into a more suburban area with its sprawling power lines and narrow streets, furthering the impression of intense interconnection and togetherness of its people.
But we still had one destination in mind, the Robot Restaurant. As such, we headed back to more, ahem, seedy part of Shinjuku. Needless to say there is certain “shows” of a certain “gender” and you can see certain “things”. Weirdly enough, only one Japanese man asked us, “Strip show?” and OBVIOUSLY BEING A GOOD BOY I SAID NO. This part of Shinjuku according to online research, is heavily owned by the Japanese mafia, the Yakuza. It was a particularly bright and sunny day, yet all the locals were not wearing sunglasses at all. In fact, in the time I’ve been in Japan, there’s only been a handful of people wearing sunglasses. If you wear sunglasses, it’s a sign of being in the Yakuza crossed with having tattoos. I have both, so I’m official Yakuza.
This part also came with its labyrinthine alleyways that were just narrow enough to fit a human in. Normally, if this was in the USA, I would feel super sketch and would never step foot in them. But this is Japan baby, one of safest places in the world, and we navigated them, no problem. There’s a particular subsection that contains a whole slew of small little bars. When I say small, I mean small. Like nano bars where you can fit only a few people in. None of them were open at the time, so we put those on our to do list for later. but you can see in the photo of me below the myriad amount of bars available in the alley way.
To kill some time, we decided to get a massage due to all the freaking walking we were doing. If you’ve every been to a real city (sorry San Antonio, you don’t count) you’re on your feet all day. We discovered this place that gives fish foot therapy. All you do is put your feet in a tank full of little fish and they nibble at your skin. Or maybe something more kawaii, like little kisses on your toes. At any rate, it felt good. It’s hard to describe, but you know that feeling when some part of you body falls asleep, well it’s kinda like that tingling, but very small, discrete, and ticklish. I have no idea why these fish love feet. They should be called Tarantino fish *rimshot* #gotem
Now it was time for the main event of the day, The Robot Restaurant. We had zero expectations of what was to come, well maybe that it was going to be batshit crazy. We get in there and there’s a guy in a robot suit playing classical music with a bunch of neon lights of every rainbow color in the room. Then we head down to the main area where the show takes place. It’s fucking crazy because had walked down at least five flights of stairs. The main area had be in the like the third basement floor, no joke. It was as if we were going down the rabbit hole. Our seats were pretty kick ass, front row and near the center. The show floor is tiny as fuck and as you can see below they have this “thing” that kinda looks like a plane that checks if you are too close to the stage.
It was so much fun, but I had no idea what was going on. My best interpretation was that it was a show about this Earth in the future where the robots become far advanced and take over, with the remaining humans trying to survive the oppression and extinction. This was shown with the bad guys were robots with red glowing eyes and operated machine dinosaurs with machine guns and the humans rode biological creatures, even a dragon made an appearance. Despite my tame interpretation of the event, definitely check it out if you are in town.
We had been drinking before and during the Robot shenanigans, so why not keep going? We went back to the alley way with all the little bars and got offered by some local to come on in, and we were inebriated enough to say, “Why the hell not?” The place was so so tiny, there was eight people inside including us and the bartender. This was definitely a highlight of our trip so far, the sake was sugoi (amazing in Japanese) and the people so friendly and fun. They were already pretty far gone when we got in there. I sat next to another tourist, his name is Han and he is from South Korea.
If you didn’t notice, I’m wearing a sort of inflatable headband with panda ears. Luis had a neko headband (neko = cat). Behind him, there’s our buddy with the Led Zepplin shirt and was very friendly and talkative, the most talkative Japanese guy we’ve met so far. Maybe it was the osake (alcohol) talking. And then next to me was a passed out guy and we adorned him with some fun accessories. Needless to say, this was a highlight of the trip, everyone was having a great time, and despite the language barrier, osake is the universe language.
Afterwards, Han decided to accompany us on our night out in Tokyo. We wanted to do karaoke, since, well we are in Japan after all. We wandered the streets looking for a proper bar to do it in. We said the words karaoke on some sidewalk and a man heard us and talked to Han about setting us up with a karaoke session. Luis and I had no idea what the hell they were talking about, but I assume that Han knew a little Japanese and was communicating well with the man. The man asked for 2000 yen (about 20 USD), I don’t know to what end, but he said afterwards we could come and get back the money. Seemed sketch, but I didn’t care too much as time and gave him the money. We made our way to the “pegasus” building that was a good 10 minute walk away. There was a sign that said Karaoke in Japanese, no way Luis and I would have known, but Han got our backs. We went to that floor, maybe the 7th, I don’t recall, and Han asked us to stay behind and he would talk to the attendants. He showed them the paper that man from earlier gave us and bad news bears, they said they didn’t recognize it. We went up and down the building looking for the correct office and to no avail. So naturally we went back and found the man and Han and him talked for awhile. The man gave me back my 2000 yen (no scams in Japan apparently) and he called the karaoke bar again. This time it all worked out and we got our very own booth. And just for you dear reader, a little preview of our TERRIBLE singing. Han loves Linkin Park and it’s what all of us knew. Apparently, Linkin Park is also another universal language.
Faint: Adam & Han
In The End: Adam and Luis, but Han still joined in the fun.
And that concluded our second night Tokyo filled with unforgettable memories and deep culture shocks. And I don’t think the surprises will end here.