Day 5: Bedriddance, Tokyo

18Sep13

You can take that title however you want to parse it. Ambiguity is the sign of the brilliant and humble writer.

At 7 AM, it was apparent I had, somewhere along the line yesterday, caught the famous Tokyo cold (pronounced “kusokaze” here). It may have been when I picked the dirt out from underneath my fingernails with my teeth. In the words of Sayaka Miki, “Atashi baka. Hountou baka.” (I was stupid. So stupid.) I blame Mother for not beating me enough when I exhibited bad behaviors as a child. On the plus side, I had no fever or headache, thank the ancestors (shintoism, right?). Speaking of that, I set out with every intention to brave the Meiji shrine today.

I awoke again at 12:30, and by the time I was out of the shower/bath/shower-again-when-I-realized-I-couldn’t-fit-in-the-tub combo an hour or so later, felt ready to start the day, for real this time.

So I fell asleep til 3:00, at which time the sickness had left my head and migrated out to my limbs, all of which now ached, doubly so for for their variating under- and over-use in the past week.

I suppose it’s just as well being bedridden today. I couldn’t go anywhere that, you know, costs money anyway. I literally did not have enough money left to buy the pamphlet at the Sailor Moon musical. Plus, maybe sleeping the morning and the early afternoon away had afforded me the stamina to stay up to the end of the musical.

I then managed to organize my bags, a feat which I take a great deal of pride in. I should get back into puzzle games.

Despite my mental fortitude, I couldn’t change my body, which by now hurt like a man being tortured. If only I had chosen the _developed_ world with their modern medicine instead of some backwoods, brambleweed swamp/desert for my vacation!

Oh wait. I did that.

So I took an allergy pill, grabbed the box of tissues, bought two painkillers and some food at the department store, and started my day.

Two hours before doors opened, I made a decision to go see the Meiji Shrine. Because you know what helps when you aren’t feeling well? A mile-long walk through a pollen-infused forest.

The Japanese bowed at the gate, the foreigners did not. And, boy were there foreigners. Many more of the people at the shrine were Italian, German, Korean, Chinese, American, which seemed odd. We foreigners obviously showed no respect for the site, but at least we showed up. I feel like I’m about to make some overarching conclusion using limited knowledge that generalizes an entire people here, so be on your guard. It’s almost as if the Japanese abandoned their past when the modern world came calling.

Ooh, harsh burn.

I dunno what I was expecting from the shrine. At the end was just some steps up to where I assume the emperor would sit. Not even a visible throne. Maybe I’m just too American, but if I walk for a mile and donate some money, I at least want to see the dude’s picture. Not some steps.

On the right, they keep the wishes. You pay five hundred yen for a block of wood, write a wish on it and hang it up. Then you have wasted 500 yen.

Ooooh harsh burn.

Among the 10 or so different languages, I found this gem.

Dear Jebus,

Please make sure the PS4 region free.

Oh, and peace for everyone. Except the bad people.

Cheers

Cheers. Love it. One word to invalidate all the problems in your life.

So I left to find some food. I happened upon “Freshness Burger” and with a name like “Freshness Burger”, I wasn’t about to pass it by.

They made do with what they had, an obviously frozen patty being the worst offender. The sandwich was hot, sloppy and filled with grease, but it worked to the food’s favor. I ate it like she was 19 and innocent. Every bite tasted like freedom, but trimmed with bitter regret for the figurines forever unbought with that 2000 yen. Cheers.

Thank God the onion rings were delicious. Made up for the fact that whoever made the lemonade had obviously never tasted lemonade before in his life. Heathen.

I paid 380 yen for ice cream and then waited five minutes for the soft-serve cone. I was about to get mad about it when I remembered every experience I’ve had at Dairy Queen. Just like home.

The theater wasn’t far, so I arrived a bit early and waited in line with a bunch of Asian women for the new Sailor Moon musical. With a cold. In an enclosed space. You may as well call me Patient Zero.

The play was campy. It had pacing issues with all the exposition at the end of the first act. The music was serviceable, but not outstanding. They tried to replicate the emotional roller coaster of the end of season 1 and still follow the manga closely, but without the masterful directing touch of Satou and Ikuhara or a 40-episode buildup, the drama felt flat. They could have certainly improved the plot by breaking away from the Metalia storyline and telling a new tale all together.

Still, I couldn’t help but smile. They captured the true grace of the heroines and the glamor of the series as a whole. The ensemble songs were high points, as was Tuxedo Mask (who received ravenous applause every time she entered) and Queen Beryl’s strong alto voice.

I absolutely loved the decision make the entire cast female. It fed right back into the grace and glamor, while still offering these roles seriously and without a hint of eye rolling. The Takarazuka style of theater will forever have my adoration and respect.

Everyone looked and preformed great but special shout outs to Sailor Venus, Tuxedo Mask and Jadeite. Oh my word, that Jadeite.

Overall, 7/10, would recommend to fans of the series and children unfamiliar with the storyline and characters.

I rode the subway back to Shinjuku and looked to retire for the night.

In tribute to my poor spending habits and total ignorance of the way things are over here, please enjoy the following story.

It was half past ten, but you wouldn’t know it from the light. Artificial that is. Flashing and loud. Do lights make noise? I’ve never seen them silent. Except for the moon and the stars, of course.

She was smiling. Nice to see a pretty face in an unfamiliar town. Shinjuku, I think it was. Part of me knew I should stroll on past. I’d seen her types before and where they went, beggars followed. I wanted to ignore her. But that part of me, the strong part, well, it had died long ago. Gullible fool I am, I dropped a coin in the machine. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a woman with glasses. I danced her wicked dance if just to return the smile, but she resisted my persuasions, as brash as they were.  But she had given an inch, as if inviting me to push back harder. I offered a second coin to her. No dice. A third. Same. She teetered slowly on the precipice, so ready to fall into my arms.

I turned and said aloud to no one in particular, “Saigo chansu“. The claw went down… and came up empty.

Ah… A town of broken dreams, this Shinjuku. As if my last chance had given the claw some special power. I don’t know why I keep letting myself get involved with her type. They’ll take your money and leave you broken-hearted, time after time. Her glasses, her pink EVA suit. It’s the smile that’ll get me as I sleep tonight, though.

Midway down the street of lights and noise, my fingers danced in the other pocket and, sure enough, found my true last 100 yen piece. I hadn’t used its special powers after all! I hurried back to the arcade, only to find two girls already engaged at Mari’s pursuits. I watched for a while as they dropped over 2000 yen into the machine, more than I had seen Mari offered for not a street away. I set out into the night for wherever I was calling home that day. I didn’t have 2000 yen. I had a pocket of change and the silent stars for company.

At the FamilyMart, I was looking to save my dignity and my stomach. I had intents to leave this town just like I leave every town: penniless. Emptying my pockets on the counter, I must’ve made a sorry sight. The pretty little cashier and her glasses didn’t seem to mind. She brought forth the standard politesses and a smile. I offered 128 yen, powdered doughnut holes and a blank stare.

It wasn’t until some time later, when I was making ready to bolt from this city, that I realized I’d been duped yet again. My powdered doughnuts were made of rice paste and tasted worse than Jet’s cooking.

Mochi

I hate mochi.

And that was Kai’s creative writing hour. Now go read it in Steve Blum’s Spike Spiegel voice.

Cheers.

Thought of the Day

Cowboy Bebop was a good show. You should watch it.

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