Spring Break ’03 Part 5 — Tokyo

It’s been a busy couple of days here in Tokyo. On TV right now an announcer is trolling the streets of Shibuya asking overly tanned teen aged girls about current events. One woman thought that America was at war with Hawaii. Another thought that Iraq was the entirety of Africa while America was located in three lonely islands north of Siberia.

Yesterday, I saw Kurosawa Kiyoshi‘s last film Akarui Mirai (Bright Future). For anyone who has seen his other works like Charisma, Pulse, or Cure, you expect a certain amount of oddness and genre-bending, but this film was probably the weirdest and perhaps his most subtle in his canon. It was half a horror film — a bit like Pulse — half a family drama like License to Live and then some other stuff like a mass of day-glo jellyfish and a band of teenage thugs sporting Che Guevera T-shirts, which didn’t really fit in either category. When the lights went up and the audience filed out of the shoebox sized theater, there was dead silence. Finally someone in the elevator in a black turtleneck and pink hair turned to her friend and said, “What the hell was that?”

Yesterday, I also went to my favorite CD store in Japan, Los Apson, located on the sixth floor of a normal looking office building. The place, which not only sold albums that are found no where else but also Mexican wrestling memorabilia and porno posters from the 1970s, was having an Anti-War sale. I took advantage of the 10 percent off for peace discount and bought a couple odd ambient discs (5 Sleepers and Ochi Brothers) while R picked up a few noise albums by Merzbow.

Working backwards, the day before yesterday I saw Marcus, my friend from my University of Michigan days. He’s living in Tokyo and somehow managed to snag a huge (and I mean huge) house in north Tokyo about 15 minutes from Ikebukuro. It has a large front yard, which is about as rare as having a swimming pool in Manhattan. He was evasive on the exact nature of the purchase, but I suspect it was some bankruptcy auction thing. Anyway, he had a few words of advice about living in Tokyo, which if Chimpie McCokespoon continues his march towards an American police state (e.g. if rumored Patriot II becomes a reality) be might be an option I seriously consider.

Three days ago, I met with my friend Tomoe who is 8 1/2 months pregnant with her second child. I met her ten years ago in Boston and she was my first Japanese conversation partner. Since then, I stayed with her family in Mitaka (on the west side of Tokyo) numerous times, and then I caught up with her again in Prague where her husband worked for Toyota and my dad was teaching for a semester at Charles University. She was really happy for me, and gave me a really nice, if heavy, crystal tray she picked up in Prague. Her son, who is three years old, has memorized every train station in Tokyo and told us how to get from Mitaka to Senju. It was impressive for a number of reasons, but most of all, I realized to my great dismay that this toddler could read kanji better than I could.

That night, Yo-chan took us and his girlfriend Mikio to a Kyoto restaurant. He wanted to celebrate our engagement and Mikio’s passing of the nurses exam by treating us to an 11-course meal. Kyoto cuisine consists of tofu, bamboo shoots and very little soy sauce. All of it was terrific. Yo-chan and I ordered shochu (rice liquor, a strong version of sake basically) that came in a flask made of bamboo.

Anyway, tomorrow I return to America, the war, my thesis, and my futile attempts at looking for a job. R is going to be in Tokyo for another two months…

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2 Responses to “Spring Break ’03 Part 5 — Tokyo”


  1. 1 kmpnote April 2, 2009 at 12:07 am

    Hello. I am a Japanese.Your criticism is very interesting! I love this movie too. English is weak, so please to see thoughts wrote.
    http://kmpnote.wordpress.com/

    • 2 mondale June 5, 2009 at 12:44 pm

      Hi there. Thank you for your note. My Japanese is not as good as it used to be. You like a lot of the same movies and music I do. Gambete with your English.


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