Trip Start Jul 20, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Japan  ,
Tuesday, December 11, 2007

After two days of travel including a rather ridiculous interrogation at customs we finally made it to Tokyo. After 4months without hearing any decent music we planned our arrival in order to check out the Womb club where radioslave was playing on the Friday night. This night was probably the worst moment of my clubbing career. After over 10years of being one of the most talked about clubs in the world it had been raided by the police 6days earlier and we had turned up for the first night of their newly enforced opening hours. The club was only allowed to open at 6am and by the time we arrived the last train home had gone and we stranded. Why is it that only the clubs that play some original music get shut down? People in cheesy clubs fight, people in R n B clubs shoot each other, having a criminal record triples record sales for a hip-hop artist, but its the techno clubs that get shut down. People on the dance floor hug each other.

For the next week we got the impression that Tokyo was deliberately trying to piss us off. We went to see the hundreds of people going crazy on the stock exchange floor but they had replaced cry-out trading with a computerized system so we got to stare at 3men sat behind a desk instead. I went to the Olympic stadium but it was closed for the FIFA World Club Championships and the ticket office was shut, meanwhile Kerry went to a free make up shop mentioned on the Internet and in guidebooks which didn't actually exist. We were staying in the spare room of a friend of my old house mates, Kleberson, but after being there 4days the bay lifts turned up with a giant padlock wanting to turf him out of the house. He had been working for a company called Nova, who deducted his rent from his salary, but had gone bankrupt and not paid the estate agent (or him) for months. So we packed out bags and moved to Kleberson's sofa.

A week after our clubbing disaster we went to a club called Ageha where Darren Emerson was playing. We paid to get in and then some meat head searching me pointed towards the door and shouted something in Japanese...Karma god, what have i done wrong...but no, he just wants me to put my camera into a locker and we're in a club for the first time in months. Ageha is the perfect club to take our clubbing gang from back in Leeds. Pounding music in the main room was so loud it was pointless even trying to talk, there was an outdoor pool area for those who liked a sit down, and a tent outside played trance classics as an alternative to the proper music. 

It was 4am and Emerson was playing a blinder can't be...i recognize a face across the dancefloor...he knows me...who the hell is it...he comes towards me with his fist in the air and i think he's going to punch me...then he opens his mouth and shouts something in way, its Gerbanov - the random Ukrainian we met on the trans-siberian train. After leaving the club Gurbanov suggested we buy some strong Sake and get on the Yamonote train line that runs in a circle around Tokyo. 4 hours later and 3 loops later we were still on the train with about 15people that had joined our little train carriage party, and when we finally got off to go home Gurbanov decided it was time to sleep and passed out across 4seats. He rang us later to say in terribly broken English that he had spent another 6hours on the train before a steward kicked him off. What a legend.

We came to the conclusion that Japanese people in Tokyo do only 3 things. Work, drink, and sleep on trains. Between 8am and 8pm they don't have time for anything and Tokyo is a blur of people rushing around frantically; our favourite place was sitting above Shibuya pedestrian crossing which over 300 people use each time the little man turns green. Between 8pm and 8am the city works in reverse and everything is slowed down by alcohol intoxication. The karaoke bar was the best place to experience how crazy Tokyo gets at night; you get given a private booth and an almost unlimited supply of beer to calm the nerves before you blast out some classics. After a year in Japan Kleberson had become an expert and surprised us all with his Back Street Boys renditions. Weirdo.

Kleberson had also got himself a Japanese girlfriend, Sachyo, but had never met her parents. When she invited him to their annual family bbq he extended the invitation to us and then decided to work instead, leaving us as the first foreigners Sachyo had ever introduced to her parents. One thing we have learned about Japan is that they don't do things half-heartedly, and we were plied with free food and beer for 4hours before deciding if we had any more we would pass out. After feasting on some delicious fish the family suggested we visited Tsujiki market the next morning at 6am. We thought they were loonies but we checked it out anyway and the sight of over 1000 giant tuna fish being auctioned off in the worlds biggest fish market was spectacular. Each individual fish weighed over 70kg, looked like it could swallow Kerry whole and was auctioned off individually by a man who moved around the market stood on a trolley. The buyer ties a colored ribbon to the tuna before a man with a circular saw hacks off its head - it was one of the most random things i have ever seen.

This Japanese experience was followed by an even stranger visit to a Manga cartoon store. In Japan it is perfectly acceptable for men to fancy schoolgirls and the bottom floor of this shop was full of magazines and videos with naked 12year old looking cartoon girls on the covers. It was hilarious but extremely perverse. A middle-aged man in a suit walked in but legged it when he saw we were also in the shop. We went upstairs but I ran down a few minutes later and the same man went bright red when I caught him browsing through a magazine. If you like strange crazy things Tokyo is the place to come, however, the best part about Tokyo was regaining some normality after over 4months traveling. We were able to do some simple things like watching a dvd, cooking, not leaving the house for 24hours because your too hungover.

To finish this babble with some practical information - Japan isn't as expensive as people think. Okay, its extortionate compared to other Asian countries, but Tokyo is cheaper than big Western European cities and the cost of food, drink, clothes, pretty much everything apart from tomato's is comparable to Leeds. I've been practicing all day and I'm off to karaoke, 'you never close your eyes anymore when I...' Inabit!
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