Continued from Kyoto Day 3.
Travel day! We finished packing up this morning, then we realized that the next time we pack up, we’ll be heading home!!! Counting the days until we get back home. It’s been a really long trip and we are homesick.
In our waiting room. Considering the amount of trains that move through this station, the waiting areas are really small. I guess since the trains are so punctual, everyone just shows up right when their train is about to arrive.
As we were about to enter into the suburbs of Tokyo, the clouds parted for just long enough for us to get a glimpse of Mt. Fuji!! We had requested for our seats to be on the North side so that we might get a chance to see the famous mountain.
OK, so we’ve reached our stop, Shinjuku station. It is the busiest train station in the world, over 3.6 million people on average go through this station…everyday! There are over 200 exits for this station, and we can attest for it. As I am writing this update, we’ve been in Tokyo for 3 days, and despite our best efforts to go in and out of the same exit, we’ve managed somehow to end up in a different entrance and exit every day. It’s by far the biggest and most convoluted station ever.
This is literally right by the front door of our hotel, a banner for a hostess bar. Hostess bars and other sex related businesses literally surrounds us…but, this being Japan, the area isn’t shady at all.
Literally right behind our hotel is the Golden Gai. It’s an usual area of Tokyo in that it’s a bunch of old two story buildings instead of a mid rise. There are over 200 bars here and they are almost all tiny. Tiny as in many of them can only seat 5 people.
We plan on coming back here later tonight to grab a drink or two. While we were partying in the basement bar in Osaka, our bartender recommended us to go to a couple bars here and look for a guy named J. Alright.
Many of the buildings in this area looks like this, no windows. Most of the business are actually not located on the street level, but instead on all the different floors of the buildings. It’s like taking a leap of faith, opening that door to an establishment that you don’t know much about other than their banner outside.
Since it’s raining, we spent the rest of the afternoon just taking a nap inside our hotel and to save up some energy for tonight.
Looking for dinner. Notice the girl in blue. No, not RL, the other girl in blue on the left. Well, you may have noticed that’s no girl at all, but a cross dresser. Apparently, there is a cross dresser host/hostess(I guess they are not really either) club literally right next to our hotel. Earlier there were several of them out on the curb chatting and shrieking like little school girls…but in their baritone voices.
Then a few doors down from the cross dressers club, there’s a sign on the street for an underground izakaya. OK, time to take a leap of faith and go down there to see. Can’t hear voices, can’t see in, let’s hope it’s good.
Now, we are going to find another bar to do some more drinking so that we can pregame before we go to Golden Gai.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be. We went down to stairs into a full and happening bar, only to be told that it was all reserved tonight for a private party. Bummer.
After a while of walking around in the middle of Kabukicho, we came upon a small building that seems to be occupied by several bars. Let’s hope that jazz bar literally means jazz bar and not something else.
While chatting with the owner/bartender, we told him that we met swing dancing. His response was to clear the tables and chairs to make a dance floor for us. Then gave us free reign on his computer to pick a song to dance to….Alright…I guess we’ll dance and have our own small private audience!!
After our dance, the owner turned to RL and said that his friend dances jitterbug and would she dance with him. And indeed, he does dance the jitterbug. Impromptu swing dancing in a small jazz bar with in the premiere red light district of Tokyo. Too cool!
A few drinks at the jazz bar then we left in search of other bars. There are just too many places to drink here.
Then we were promptly shown the door. As we entered and was about to sit down, the waiter came over and uttered, “Japanese only.” We had read about this online about the xenophobic bars and clubs around here, but it was still a shocker to experience it. Me, not so much, but RL took it kind of hard. She’s never been turned away from a bar before, being a cute white girl.
Japan has always been wearily of outsiders, and this incident is the perfect example. I can’t imagine a bar in the US saying, “Americans only” and turning away foreigners. I mean, it’s not like we had signs that said, “Whites Only” or anything like tha….oh wait…Nevermind.
Well, since we couldn’t get into that basement bar, we decided to head onto Golden Gai and check out bars there. Maybe they’ll be more accepting of our non-Japaneseness.
Our first bar, recommended by M the bartender in Osaka. The super narrow and super steep stairs that Golden Gai is famous for. Actually, after traveling through much of Asia, we are kind of used to these small steep stairs.
Once we reached the second floor, we found ourselves as the first customers inside this tiny bar. This photo shows the entire bar since I have my back to the wall. There are only enough seats in here for maybe 7 people, 8 if they are all really skinny and liked one another….or you could fit 5 average sized Americans…
Again, quite the music collection. We asked our bartender if he was J…he was not. However, J, who is for Osaka, works for him as a bartender. Unfortunately, J is not working tonight. So, we just asked the owner to pass the word that we come bearing greetings from M in Osaka.
Right in front of us sits this digital photo frame displaying various photos taken in this bar…right now, it’s a very tame and chill time, but as you can see from the photo, some nights it gets bat shit crazy and wild in here…I had to censor this photo myself.
As small as the place was, they also had a toilet up here in a little closet. I’ve wanted to get a photo of this in Japan for a while, but I don’t always have the camera with me in the bathroom. You’ll see that above the toilet tank is a faucet with a sink that acts as the lid for the toilet tank. As you flush the toilet, the faucet will start flowing, and you can wash your hands under it, and the water that you just washed your hands in fills up the tank for the next flush. Ingenious water saving idea executed with simplicity!!
Sat next to a guy from England who lives here in Tokyo teaching English. He was out with a group of friends who were here in Tokyo to visit him. Anyhow, he told us about Shochu, which is another alcohol popular here in Japan. Sounds like soju from Korea, but shochu is not the same. Soju is multiple distilled and also weaker than shochu. Anyhow, I need to try shochu before I leave Japan.
To be continued at Tokyo Day 2.