Somebody in Japan had this wonderful idea that there should be at least one public holiday every month. At the moment all that misses out is June, so this means we have wonderful holidays like Marine day and, this past Monday, Respect for the Aged Day. There’s also the Autumnal Equinox and Health and Sports day coming up in the next three weeks, so it’s all coming up sunshine and roses.
As a result, I decided to do something different and go out on Sunday. I was on the train to Shibuya, listening to Dreadzone, when an elderly couple came and sat down either side of me. Normally this wouldn’t be anything special, but the fact that chose those seats over several pairs of adjacent seats in the carriage told me I should prepare for some light conversation. Sure enough, they both leaned around and front of me and hit me with all the English they had.
Nice cellphone! Which cellphones are better, Japanese or Western? Are you from America? Is today your day off? Etc. Of course it wasn’t as grammatically correct as all that – just “today day off?”, for example – and there was plenty of Japanese vocab sprinkled in too, but I could understand and I responded to all their queries with civility. Half the people in the carriage were giggling uncontrollably to themselves; I’m sure the sight of a very tall gaijin being accosted by a typically earnest old couple was a hilarious sight.
After a while they got off, and I was able to return to my soothing, unchallenging music. Upon reaching Shibuya, I soon learned it was the day of the local matsuri. I’d never been to one of these before, so you can imagine my excitement. Teams of shouting, grunting people were carrying heavy mikoshi up and down the closed-off streets and, by the looks of things, having a lot of fun. What I’ve heard is that basically it’s one long day of drunkenness with alcohol flowing beforehand, at several stops during, and long into the night afterwards. I don’t know whether that makes hauling these things around in the brightness and heat easier, but most people seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Several hours and a bottle of shochu later, we picked up and headed off to a club called Womb. I tell ya, I never thought I’d happily pay ¥3500 (around NZ$40) just to enter a complex of darkened rooms, but there it was. It was AMAZING. There was the thumping electro/house, the laser lights glowing over the crowd, the dry ice turning people more than five feet away invisible… the atmosphere was perfect. Most of all, it really felt like everyone was there to have a good time, which gave the unusual effect of a jam-packed dancefloor filled with happy people. Unusual, because back in NZ, you couldn’t have that without the requisite pushing and shoving. Here, everyone was just glad to be in the company of about 750 like-minded people.
What’s more, being taller than pretty much anyone else in the room, I was an obvious visual focus for a lot of people. This meant that, in a very foreign experience for me, they would often follow my lead. I put my hands up, they put their hands up, and so on. I became very excited and was soon taking every opportunity to string people along, which is hilarious if you can imagine me with my lanky, unco dance moves being the leader of the pack. They all kept smiling and laughing, so I carried on until my shirt and pants were so soaked with sweat that I had to leave the dancefloor and re-hydrate.
I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so disgusting, or euphoric, in my entire life.