3.02.2008

The Great Wall Of Whiteness

Days and nights and days bleed into each other, with periods of unshakable sleeplessness. The initial ooh and ahh has partially worn off, given way to dealing with insanely crowded areas, and a nearly impossible language barrier. I didn't study enough, but even then, as reserved as these people are until you get them drunk, I don't think that would have even mattered.

Hung over or waking up drunk, sucking down water WHILE drinking, trying to avoid beind debilitated, of wasting ANY time here, because it's precious, and I still don't feel like I've tapped the vein of this city.

Crowds of people, businessmen, trendy hipster young kids, girls in short skirts, all walks of life fill the streets and the subways are packed as hell but no one wants to know you it seems. I catch myself wondering if that Alleged Marine Rape Case or whatever has anything to do with this outsider feeling I get, or if that's just part of being here, a "Fucked Gaijin", as it were. Then I wonder if the Iraq War has fucked our image.

I chilled in my hotel, contemplating this, did more of the same while walking around. Can't let that shit get in the way though, I have no control over it. There's something intangible and indescribable that I'm trying to get ahold of here, and I gotta pull it off somehow.

We chilled in Shibuya, walking past endless porno shops and love hotels and pachinko (their primary means of gambling) machines. Hip hop culture has pretty much dominated the world, which adds to those feelings of isolation. My friend is much more relaxed than I am, and he just enjoys things for what they are, but I'm fucking hungry for something and I don't even know what. Can't even tell what it is I'm trying to force here.

Before this turns into some kind of fuckwit emo livejournal, let's get back to the sights n sounds and stories you all seem to like. Nothing has exploded here and no one's been shot.

This place is a concrete labyrinth, skyscrapers galore, and it pretty much looks like any city until you get to certain hubs of commerce and entertainment, and that's when the lights explode all around you and you're in some kind of technicolor pseudo-psychadelic dreamland. Tokyo is its own hallucinogenic (and no, it's no longer legal to purchase shrooms here).

In Roppongi a night or two (or three???) ago, I watched some Air Force or Navy or something group of guys I'd been hanging out with go apeshit on each other over money. Not even that much money. And they couldn't understand the concept that it really didn't matter that much. I left them to their bullshit and continued to wander, bombed-out drunk as the sun came up. The place was full of foreigners and locals and the obligatory black dudes who try to get you to go to their titty bars (I've befriended a couple of these guys just for the drunken hell of it).

Now the sun is up and everything has that early morning blue tint to it and two girls walk up to me and ask if I want massage. I decline and I decide to find an ATM to pull out more money. Another girl approaches me and asks if I'm looking for a massage. I tell her no, and we start almost debating with each other. Soon it's revealed that SHE isn't the one who does the massaging. Like the black dudes, her job is just to get customers to go there, to advertise on the street. She didn't seem too fond of it, kind of like the waitresses at strip clubs who sort of look at the "dancers" with disdain. It's funny. The whole thing depressed me a bit.

Anyway, she actually helped me find an ATM that had English options, and as it turns out, we'd already withdrawn my maximum for the day. My friend was with someone else we had met and we'd agreed to just meet back up at our hotel. As I wandered on the streets, I was nailed with this weird Catcher In The Rye syndrome I tend to get now and then.

All the massage hookers trying to rake in some cash, and the foreign strippers, the dipshit military fuckwits making asses of themselves, people jerking your sleeve to check out their particular den of evil, the locals that I just couldn't seem to connect with, it all started to depress me.

I had stuck to vodka the entire night, having heard that it contains less toxins, and sticking with one type of drink will keep you from being even MORE hung over. I had forgotten that vodka seems to have two phases: happy drunk phase, and depressive phase. The Navy Or Something crowd fighting like twats over money, drunk and retarded. Being temporarily broke for the next 24 hours. The stripper that I for some reason began to tell her about what kind of money she could make in America, breaking down the math of average cost of lapdance, average time of each song, to just how much insane money per night she could make. She was Romanian and seemed pretty nice (don't they all).

It all coalesced into one miserably failed night. I just started walking from there, somewhat bummed but wanting to figure it all out. I certainly wanted to get out of Roppongi. So I kept walking, not sure if I even had enough pocket change to ride the train.

I found the general direction that my district was in, and I started running. Hey, just some foreign dude out for a morning jog, right? Every now and then, I'd stop and make sure I was still heading in the same direction, and I just kept running. I didn't know how far it would be, but I knew I had to cross atleast two districts. I hadn't done any serious running in about a year. Stopping at a vending machine for a moment, I bought some orange juice and chugged it while I traversed the endless urban jungle.

And no one so much as looked at me.

I ended up in my hotel at about 9:30 or so and crashed out. I forget how many nights ago that was, probably two.

Now here I am, bored, wanting to go do something, unable to speak the language, with no friends here, wanting something I can't put my finger on, and directionless.

We're probably going back to Roppongi, the foreigner's fucked up haven.

Fuck me.

11 Comments:

  1. LT Nixon said...
    Yo Suspect,

    Japan is a country on it's own. They've had centuries of being sort of isolated so don't feel bad that they aren't all sportin' wood over a foreigner. I got the same feeling as you, but in general, Japanese people are pretty cool. In Rappongi, at a small bar called Geronimo's, some of my Navy buddies got their names on the wall for doing the 15-shot challenge or whatever they have there (I do not recommend trying to get this plaque, as they had a very bad next few days!). The two times I was in-port in Japan, I really enjoyed going to a town a few klicks south of Tokyo that I'm sure you can catch a train to, Kamukura. Drunken debauchery may not be the theme there, but there's tons of Buddhist temples and the biggest Buddha in Japan. Good stuff!

    Sorry for the Navy guys causing trouble, they must be Surface pukes. Hope you're having a blast in all the strangeness that is Tokyo.
    grabmyattention said...
    Funny, I was just thinking the same thing; your post reminded me a lot of Holden Caufield from Catcher in the Rye.

    Hang in there dude. Try and be calm, don't try and force anything. Everytime you put too much expectations on something, you're always left feeling disappointed. (I've experienced the same thing on countless vacations). Granted, you also seem to be a bit anxious given what you are used to in Iraq. THAT I have not experienced, so all I can say is try to breathe. It's like panic attacks, I used to get them and think I was having a heart attack, which would make me nervous, and my heart would beat faster, and I'd freak out, until I reversed my thinking. Now, every time it happens, I tell myself that this is just anxiety, its not a heart attack, and it usually goes away. Maybe you can apply that to your situation, somehow? Remember you are in Tokyo, you have no reason to be scared. Save the fear of crowds for when you go back to Iraq. & please stay safe, ok?
    Anonymous said...
    I really enjoy your descriptions of the city and the emotion you put into them. Keep writing and we'll keep reading. GO. Have some more fun. Tell us about it. :)
    Lynda
    Anonymous said...
    I realize the tone of the trip was supposed to revolve around getting drunk, but have you planned to spend all your time in one city? I used to get rid of the blahs in Germany by climbing on a train and going to some obscure place that was the last thing listed in the travel books. Try it. It's Spring, dude. Why not go see Kilamanjaro? The sad part about getting leave is that sometimes you forget you don't have to ask permission to go somewhere else. Just pick a direction and explore. Sober or drunk, it's time to see new scenery. Find some more adventure, dude!
    Aunt Sandy
    themorethingschange... said...
    Yup, I'm with Aunt Sandy...I loved exploring too, nothing like it,so many wonderful memories...only, I think you'll find Mt Fuji is closer ;-)

    sounds to me like you've done the drunk thing to death...

    Perhaps you'll find more meaning away from the city...dunno for sure,cities are not my thing...

    LT has a good point tho about Kamakura... I remember the first Buddhist temple I saw like it was yesterday...truly impressive...
    Plus, if I remember correctly Kamakura used to be headquarters of a shogun named Yoritomo...

    there's a thought...history... are you close to the White Heron Castle? Hiroshima? Nagasaki? don't be shy they flock to USS Arizona...

    what about culture...museums, theatres, art, music, local festivals...

    I'm thinking what you're missing is the Japan you'll find outside Tokyo...

    Lotsa 'isms about trying to force one thing or another...just relax and let it come to you...

    Your time is valuable dude, and Rappongi has eaten up enough of it!

    Japan has some beautiful country and we're waiting for you to show us some of it...
    ~P~
    Jessie said...
    Damn it, you go over there when Tarina's on a Holy Mother of God Run (tm) - aka military transport. What, like y'all don't know the suit makes even a dead ugly man bangable. I mentioned her cause she's like a walking travel encyclopedia, and she's always wanted to land over there so she's twice as informed.

    I know very little about Japan, since it's never been on my high list. Studying it in Religions has it seeming interesting, if you compare and contrast. Like the fact the country was pretty much isolated for most of it's history. I don't know, we most stuck to Buddhism, so not a lot touristy information in my crappy text. And the other information I learned from America's Next Top Model, so you know that's unreliable shit. Oh, boy. Maybe you'll catch Tyra over there since she has family. I suggest running from her crazy ass if you do.

    I agree with others that maybe just hoping a train for a day and picking a place at random. Exploring the area and being able to say you've been there when all said and done. Hey, you can't be any worse off.

    Before this turns into some kind of fuckwit emo livejournal,

    Dude, LJ is for porn. Don't you know anything?
    Anonymous said...
    Sounds to me like you haven't gone out and done a single nerdy thing in Japan yet. Do C & me a favor and go get some pictures at least of a good ol' japanese DDR tournament or something. Make your old non-mil friends proud ^^

    Or, if you can't do that, go around pretending you're godzilla for awhile and let us know how that turns out. *muahaha*

    -Shamzorz.
    Anonymous said...
    Take easy, Suspect. Stress takes a lot out of a person. Let it unroll in front of you like a movie. You've been doing a bunch, maybe it's time to just observe your experience and let your mind rest.
    Anonymous said...
    My dad has some Japanese friends he has known for almost 50 years. It took 20 of those 50 before he was invited to their home. Don't take it personally. The Japanese place a high premium on courtesy and manners. If you want to connect with the locals, you will have to get away from Ugly Americans behaving badly.

    Hope you can find a way to enjoy the rest of your leave.
    membrain said...
    LT Nixon's idea sounds like a really good one. Nuthin but Good Vibes in a Bhuddist Temple.

    Two of my nephews moved to Osaka 8 years ago and are still there on phony visas teaching English for a living which is all Gaijin are good for, that and playing in Rock and Roll bands.

    Now they both have Japanese girlfriends and love the place.

    Take care.
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