Thursday, September 29, 2005

Tokyo KASA Report 2: Get your Shibuya-ya's out

Returned from Sado the following weekend, into the arms of typhoon driven rain. After a quiet, week in isolation, Mon Frere Eric and I sought out the place that would offer the greatest contrast: Shibuya. We wandered in the neon rain, he being a good sport by purposely avoiding mentioning Blade Runner cliches. It was the usual Sunday dusk madness of hipsters and freaks and fashion slaves. Without fail, every single attractive girl was with a guy. I saw a group of young men in identical purple shirts and due to recent Sadist conditioning, I thought for a second that they were Kodo apprentices, often similarly attired. An African man seemed to purposely avoid giving us a flyer, but gave it to someone else immediately behind us. I turned to find out why, and saw two B-boys reading the flyer over. Eric and I circled back to Starbucks, where we were herded in by the staff. I hadn't minded the abrupt transition back to mega-city space until that moment. It took us awhile, but we finally got our coffees and a window seat overlooking the crossing. Umbrellas filled the intersection gradually from every direction, looking like waves as they'd crash in the middle, then recede to the opposite side.

We made it back to Aoyama for a farewell dinner, French surprisingly. The next morning was filled with the usual drawn out farewells, though I was able to meet a young photographer from Mie who after a long time in the US, had recently been deported for no apparent reason. I bought a postcard in commiseration. Then set off to Shibuya again to have lunch with Colleen, dragging Gavino and Will along. We ate at a faux-Mexican place down some random side-street. After my own farewell to the US-bound boys, Colleen and I met Chika at the Loft. She was back in town for a mere four days, to close up her old life in Japan before taking a hotel job in Chicago. We doubled back, past the young women wearing orange dresses and white caps who Chika called "toothpaste girls", to the hip little cafe which was above the Mexican place we'd recently left. It was great to see Chika, an old friend from the 'Nog who I hadn't seen in over 6 years. We talked of her recent half year wandering Asia and about old times and friends. It's funny but I had hardly know Chika or Colleen when they lived up here, but have grown to count them as good friends. Life as ellipsis.
That night I had planned to do yoga with Dana at Shizen, but we blew it off to go to Inokashira park. (A growing theme, the blowing off of yoga while in town.) It was a mellow comfortable night, with young men in suits strolling with their girls, and their more colorfully-dressed counterparts banging drums or selling jewelry on blankets. Dana did yoga poses using playground equipment as props. Eli's Bounding Toddler footwork was no match for my Praying Mantis style. Zach and I drank a beer at the lake's edge pondering those things we usually ponder. (Tonite it was whether that light in the sky was Mars.) Most likely, musical references did occur. (The dude's unstumpable.) Later we grabbed some Indian takeaway, washed down with micro-beer I'd bought on Sado.

Tuesday was pretty chilled out. Hanging in the park again with Dana and Eli. Did some yoga at YogaJaya in Shibuya. Afterward, met Ron Beaubien for pizza at Tony's in Kichijoji. Ron too, I'd know for years, but only recently did I feel confident in calling him friend. A longtime martial artist and Japan resident, his stories always educate and fascinate.
Later, Cherine, who lives nearby, called and wanted to meet me for a drink. Five minutes later I showed up at Sun Road, to find her passionately playing her beautiful Egyptian drum. We set off for the Milk Bar, which had been highly recommended by Josh at Bondi Books. Out front, we saw some sort of commotion in the street. Cherine: "Is it a fight?" Me, joking: "Probably some art thing." Upon approach we saw a purse on the ground, a young woman gathering the contents strewn across the street. A young guy (boyfriend?) stood over her, not helping. Cherine knelt beside the girl and asked if she was OK. I lifted my head at the others standing around, and for the first time saw the cameras, the boom mike. I gently took Cherine by the shoulders and pulled her out of the shot. The whole film crew burst out laughing. Safely inside the bar, we seemed to enter a completely different film. It was patterned after the Milk Bar in A Clockwork Orange, and the whole place was a shrine to the film, now playing on the TV above the bar. (And no doubt playing again as you read this post.) Cherine and I shifted gears to discuss creative political projects and movements we knew. We pondered whether art can save the world. I feel we're up to the challenge...Is the world?

Wednesday, I went down to Enoshima to meet a couple EC staff for lunch. I arrived about an hour early, so wandered about. Few things define loneliness better than beach towns at the end of the season. Shops like the bleached bones of fish in the sun, barer than usual, picked clean in earlier days. There were a few import shops with sarongs of bland patterns hanging at discount. Gaudy wooden carvings catch dust. Sadder still were the few men walking around in shirts and ties, sharp contrast to the bare-chested surfers riding their bicycles, boards like an outrigger. Glad to see I'm not the only one who still goes in the water in mid-September. I eventually wound up at a small cafe specializing in Chinese teas. As I was the only customer, I talked with the owner, an elderly woman whose son-in-law is Taiwanese. The woman's enthusiasm impressed me. Even at her advanced age, she is actively studying Qigong and the Chinese language. Over my oolong, we talked about chi awhile, before I had to go meet my friends.
Back in Shibuya, I met Chika and Colleen and friends for dinner at DaiButsu KoroKoro which may be one of the hippest bars in the world. It is a veritable habitrail in black, punters boozing it up in small boxes stacked upon one another. It's not a place I'd want to be caught in during a large earthquake. Though the fun of trying to find the toilet after a few Yuzu beers more than makes up for it. The art and statuary is incredible. I found out later that this was created by the same guy who did Cafe Christo in Umeda, where I'd recently been with Keith. They even had free-range chicken from our local and beloved mountain, Daisen. Check it out. Better yet, take me.

On the turntable: Gov't Mule, "The Deepest End"
On the nighttable: Ethan Coen, "Gates of Eden"

1 comment:

Josh said...

Glad to hear that you enjoyed Milkbar. I was in there the other night and had a cracker of a night. It does get cheaper the more often you go!! It is a bit pricey usually otherwise!!