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Lost in translation "A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Discovering Japanese Nightlife - City that never sleeps

JAPAN | Monday, 7 December 2009 | Views [2784] | Comments [4]

Flying above the crowd

Lost in this translation

I am fish in sea

  12/5/2009, Tokyo

After 13 hour flight to Tokyo and 2 hours by train and metro, I soon found myself in busy Shibuya station, crowded with young people rushing to get to their next destination. It was pouring outside and I could see everyone carrying a plastic see through umbrella. Peaking through the drops of water, I could see the lit up streets with gazillion neon signs and crowds that look like ants under the umbrellas crossing the street on green and suddently stopping on red. It almost looked some surreal cartoon, especially if you were the slow down the motion.

Luckily, I befriended two nice australian guys who looked asian, but when I heard them speaking perfect English, it was clear that they also didn:t belong here as much as I did. They were also standing by the window, eating sushi from bento box, and commenting on the scene of so-called Times Square on a really busy crowded day. One of the guys spoke a bit Japenese and told me how he already explored most of Japan on his own. They were nice enough to volunteer into looking for my hotel in the rain. It was quite difficult task. We picked up another one of those plastic umbrellas and ventured out into the rain. Half an hour later, we finally found Granbell, with help of really nice lady who just grabbed an umbrella and said follow me. I have to say people in Japan are very nice. So far, I have been able to point a destination on the map and somehow find my way around. Apparently, the problem with addresses in Tokyo is that the address is not specific enough. The building name gives you only the district area. Granbell turned out to be very cozy hotel. The single room is definetly a small shoe box, but it has wonderful shower that was much needed, and laptop borrowing options. I called downstairs to inquire about WIFI and instead got my own laptop for the duration of the stay.

I called a friend of a friend, who suggested that I join his french friends at Seco bar in the Shibuya. Later at night, I headed back to explore the night and look for the bar. Again, I was fascinated by the crowds. I found huge Starbucks just around the corner, then GAP and all the usual stores you will see in typical american city.

I guess I shouldnt be suprised that Tokyo would have all these stores, considering that Japanese are known to be brand obsessed. I saw bunch of youngsters shopping at Gucci and Dior the next day at Harajuku area. This is a neighborhood that has a parade of young in miniskirts and platforms shoes, with bleached hair or other shocking streaks.

Takeshita dori is a street near by selling music tapes and fast food, but Omotesando dori that runs next to it is huge constrast avenue that looks more like 5th avenue. At 6 pm, the crowd was so massive, I started feeling claustophobia. All these elegant boutiques and name brand stores. At Harajuku, I was also approached by an australian journalist who writes for Japan Times. Look for me on the issue on December 12th+)..She was getting a poll of opinions on what do I think about Japanese young people.

After watching the crowds, my answer was that it is a clash of identity. They seem to follow their traditional roots, eat japanese food, but yet love watching Hollywood movies and shop for brands and listen to christmas songs (yes, the songs were everywhere in Tokyo stores as well..). It almost seemed they were trying to be rebellious a bit, breaking rules of their conservative parents. Maybe it is also part of globilization and the fact there are so many brand stores just adds to the influences.

Back to Seco bar at Shibuya, there too I observed similar phenomenon not only with Japanese. Seco was a fun place, they played electronic music and a girl was singing semi Japanese-English songs.

I befriended some of the french expats, who seemed to be in Tokyo for a year or two all working on product designs or trying to open their own businesses. They all liked Tokyo, but admitted that even though this is a city that never sleeps, sometimes it tends to be too safe, too regulated. One guy told me he wants to go back to France to be a bit more rebelious..I guess being different sometimes is what one seeks and Tokyo with it is busy cosmopolitant is still Japanese by all standards..




This is a very nice observation. It's looks like be in Japan. I still don't understand why their economy down for decade. They are so organize and so hard working people. Their cars and all electronic things are best quality.

  Dad Dec 7, 2009 6:50 AM


Very interesting observations! Keep on writing! When I saw pictures of the sushi on fotki.com - I immediately became hungry :) How is food over there?

  Lev Dec 7, 2009 4:03 PM


Food was good. Very simple, but that's what I expected. Lot of rice and pieces of fish. You can always try western style, but I tried to stay authentic.

  Dina Dec 8, 2009 6:25 AM


Good stuff:) Were you able to meet any locals?

  Zahar Dec 10, 2009 4:59 AM

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