My first Vacation since I was 10 yrs old
Okay…as most of you already know, I was in Tokyo, Japan for a week recently so I decided to do a little recap of the things that stood out. And while, you can’t exactly know everything about a place from just one week’s stay, this is my story. A true ghetto Japanese story.
When I first got to the Tokyo airport, I caught a shuttle that went to a hotel that was supposed to be a 5 minute taxi ride from my hotel. So after I get off the shuttle and hailed down a cab, I showed the taxi cab driver (who of course spoke no English and didn’t have a cell phone) my hotel info on a sheet of paper. Well, I should known to hop my ass right back out of the cab when he literally stared at this information for 5 minutes straight without saying a word. He kept on putting his glasses on, then taking them off, only to put them back on again. As I said before, this was supposed to be a 5 minute ride. So after 10 minutes of riding around, I was like, damn…some of these places sure do look familiar. And sho nuff…anotha 5 minutes later, we were back at the shuttle drop-off point!
So then he goes into a hotel and asks for a map and finally finds the address along with the help of the concierge. So, we were on our way. We finally made it there, and the fare was 740 yen (approx. $7.40). I give him that plus one American Dollar (I had just gotten my Yen and wasn’t comfortable tipping in Japanese Scrilla since I didn’t know how much was standard). Man, this dude gave me this look like, I just caused shame to his family name. I thought that was my 1st ignant thing I did here. But it turns out that it wasn’t that I had given him an American dollar (I don’t think). It was that tipping is sometimes looked at as an insult.
Hold up…I don’t like this format…From here on out, I’m just gonna write everything that stood out in my head from my trip in no particular order and put my opinion on whether these incidents were cultural differences or just plain ol’ weird. It’s a thin line homey. You’ll see…
I aready mentioned about how on my first night out, I saw a dude in the club with a kimono, flip flops, and white socks on. That was dope. I was like, ok…this is gonna be a really different experience. You’ll never see that in DC. Well, I think Kimono dude got my hopes up too high, because the more I went out, the more the Tokyo scene was looking like a carbon copy of the US.
I think that this is when I really realized how powerful MTV and BET are. I mean it was kinda off-putting how much of our culture they have adopted. I think I already mentioned how Nelly was really big, but I’ll tell you which song, no matter which club I went to, drove the crowd crazy every time they played it…Eve, “Who’s That Girl?” But it was kinda funny though because in Japan, L’s are pronounced like and “R” So when the hook would come on, all you would here is: “Who’s that girl? La La Lala La, La La, Lala” but it sounded more like like Ra, Ra Rara, Ra Ra Rararah”
DEFINITE CULTURAL DIFFERENCE
Don’t ask anybody in Japan to help you with anything unless you want them to do it! I learned this early on. I remember the 1st day on the train…I asked this lady to confirm that the route I was planning on taking was the correct one. Well she was leaving the station, but decided to turn around, get back on the train…change trains…and ride with me all the way to my destination. I was like damn…I think the law of favors dictates that I now owe this 80 year old lady some booty. But alas…She just got off the train and went on her way back to her stop…in the opposite direction. Phew...that was a close one!
Dance scene in the clubs can sometimes mirror scenes out of WestSide Story. It’s kinda crazy looking actually. But I’m sure those people would probably think the American club scene is pretty stale. I mean, I really wonder how much time they put into learning the entire choreography of a video?? I saw this in Paris also.
Oh before I forget, I gotta mention this one incident I saw. Now just because I saw it doesn’t mean it happens all the time, but damn…I was only there for a week and I saw it. Ok, the military dudes…I met a few of them while I was there on my first night. These dudes go HARD when trying to holla at chicks. I saw one dude (he was a white dude with a buzz cut, so I’m gonna assume he was an American in the military) trying to holla at a Japanese girl, and she politely let him know that she wasn’t interested. Next thing ya know: His damn near full bottle of Heineken was emptied…On her head! Now, if that ain’t handling rejection poorly, I don’t know what is. But the military dudes definitely had some aggressive poontang hunting tactics.
Wait, that brings me to another thing. When I was going over there, EVERYBODY across the board was telling me about how Japanese girls love black men. They were like, they will be so fascinated by your height also. Well, I didn’t notice this. I met a lot of people while I was over there (thanks to a lot of the contacts I got from you guys) and in talking to the Japanese women, I think they had more of a negative view on black guys than what was to be anticipated. They were like, “Brack guys are playas!” I was like, damn, we got a bad rap over here too?! And like I said, those military dudes were getting dissed left and right from what I was seeing. Those were black and white dudes.
So, here’s a word to the American who wants to go to Japan to meet a Japanese girl. If you wanna go the easy route, definitely dress like you just stepped out of a Lil’ John video. There were some girls there that were looking for a black man, and any black man would do. Those will have your name all over em. Go get em’ tiger. But make sure you know what you’re doing. From what I heard, these particular girls are looking for that Green card and will do anything to get it.
A lot of people dress like Little Bo Peep over there. I didn’t get that?
Even more people are into this fashion trend where they dress up as dolls. They have stores in the mall that are dedicated to looking exactly like a doll. I mean, with the Mommy Dearest make-up and everything. And then they even take it to another level and have Goth Doll stores. I always try to be open minded to new stuff, but I don’t know if I could ever date a shorty who dressed up like Raggedy Anne or the Bride of Chucky.
It was weird being called a foreigner. But it definitely had its perks. I went to one club that had free admission for foreigners. Woo hoo for being a foreigner! I think it might work opposite here in the States.
Riding on the subway can be a challenge when you can’t read the map. And I swear, one day I was listening for my stop and it sounded like at every stop, the conductor said the same station: Takadanobaba! Damn yo…I knew I shoulda studied my Japanese before I came.
As soon as I got to Tokyo, I realized that Ayumi Hamasa is the shit in Tokyo. She’s their Beyonce’…But bigger. As soon as you get there, you’ll see her poster or some kind of ad for her in every direction you look. I’m glad I saw her though, because every time I go to a new place, I try and figure out what’s their standard of beauty. Cuz in Japan, I really couldn’t tell. (I do feel sorry for the 10 fat people I saw in Japan because they stuck out like a sore thumb). Well anyway, I was told that Ayumi is their beauty standard for women. They like big eyes, really small body frames and reeaallly innocent looking faces.
I CAN’T CALL IT
And speaking of innocence, in my opinion…A lot of Japanese people have some sort of fascination with really young and innocent looking things because they REALLY like the school girl look. Women wear mini-skirts with the knee-high stockings all year long. No matter how cold it is. They also carry around little dolls on their key chains and Hello Kitty paraphernalia despite the fact that they might be pushing 40.
The dudes over there….Man, I really couldn’t call it. All the Japanese ladies were complaining about how the dudes are so shy and very aloof. I was told that even when Japanese women are interested in a guy…yeah, they’ll give him the eye, but it often results in a staring contest. I haven’t decided if that’s funny or sad yet.
But man…some dudes take being metro-sexual to anotha, notha level. Sometimes you can’t even tell if it’s a boy or a girl. And they are very comfortable with their manhood. I’d sometimes see two dudes holding hands or hugging each other in the club just like girls do with each other here in the States. I have to go with what I was told on this one…it’s not a gay thing…just cultural differences.
I like Sushi, but damn…they had some extreme sushi over there. Raw fish heads and staring fish eyeballs is a little bit past my open-minded level. I mean…a fish still croaking is way too much reality for my taste. And they also don’t attempt to make something sound appetizing over there. Like in America, if it’s Pig intestine, we don’t call the dish, “pig intestine.” We give it another name…like Chitlins. But over there, they just call it like they see it playa. Flesh Salted Squid Guts in Squid Meat is called…you guessed it…Flesh Salted Squid Guts in Squid Meat.
Don’t drink this drink that looks like Arizona Iced Tea out of the convenience store. It’s called Chu-Hi and it will get you fugggged up if you don’t realize that there’s a lot of alcohol in them there cans. You can barely taste it, but believe me. It packs a wallop.
I CAME BACK A CHANGED MAN
Oh yeah, that’s another thing about the clubs. I used to hardly drink before I went over yonder, but this is how they get you. As soon as you walk in the door, they charge you something like $30 bucks to get in and that includes 2-3 free drink tickets. So basically, if you don’t drink, you’re getting ripped off. So I drank just about every night I was in Tokyo. Came back with a nasty little habit too. I can no longer say that I don’t drank…cuz uhhh….now I do.
Did I mention how they were doing that Snap Dance to Laffy Taffy in this one club I went to? You really need rhythm to do that dance. I’m now sure of it.
I had heard that they had a big underground hip-hop scene over there. Well, it’s just like in DC. You gotta really search to find those spots. One of the dude’s I was introduced to thru y’all was a DJ over there and that’s what he happened to spin. I went to one of his parties and he was dope. He even played Question Mark Asylum, which I don’t even hear in DC. I hadn’t heard “Look Away” since college.
Oh wait, gotta give props to this one club I went to that was off the tourists’ beaten path called Cross. They played techno for a loooong time, but when they got out of that, I was shocked to hear songs like Cheryl Lynn “Got the Best of My love,” Sade, and Frankie Beverly. I felt like I was at the Ritz back in the day. That seems to always be the trick…get away from the tourist spots and find the hidden gems. This is when I started to really like Japan.
Ok, this was hella funny to me. Just walking around, you won’t see a lot of black dudes …until…you go to the club. They all work as bouncers there. And you can just tell that these same dudes would sooo be getting chumped here in the States, but since they work in these clubs where just about everybody is 150 lbs and 5’8 or less, they are, all of a sudden, acting like they are the hardest dudes to walk the earth since Mike Tyson. If you thought bouncers in DC took their job too seriously, man…you need to check out these characters. If you ever go to Tokyo, check out a club called Vanilla (it’s like their equivalent of our Dream/H2O). You’ll see what I mean.
I CAN’T CALL IT?
Random note here: Japanese guys have no problem looking at your penis. I don’t know what that was…cultural differences or just happen to pee next to two fruity dudes.
Another thing I don’t think I could ever get used to is how so many people wear surgical masks out in public. When I first go there, I thought Sars was still in effect and I missed the memo. But no…they wear masks if they have a cold or are allergic to pollen or other things. It’s really weird to see a woman rocking a mini skirt, a nice blouse, and make-up and then rocking a surgical mask right along with it.
Don’t go to Tokyo if you’re not in shape. I thought I was in shape ‘til I went. Be prepared to walk alllllll dammmmmn day. Don’t bank on finding a seat on the subway. They pack those trains in like sardines. I think I lost 10 pounds that week. Didn’t help that they didn’t have any unhealthy food for me to get my America on.
DON’T KNOW WHAT THIS WAS ABOUT?
And about those trains. I don’t know what it is, but if you fall asleep on the train, there’s some kind of mechanism that makes the person next to you fall asleep too….so if you do decide to sleep, just know that you have just turned yourself into a personal pillow for the person next to you. Good luck trying to wake them up…they’re deep sleepers.
But despite my opinion that Tokyo was a little too accepting of our American culture, I still really liked the people. I think you can go to places that uphold the traditional Japanese culture, but I don’t think I knew where to go to find that. But next time I go, I’m definitely gonna be on a mission. But you should go check it out for yourself and see if you can eat those raw fish heads!
Yo…my fingers hurt. I’m outty 5000