I wouldn’t say I’m a party animal, but I sure do love to get down. I just enjoy everything about a social atmosphere: music, chatter, glasses clinking, all smiles. Everyone out to “get lucky.” Lucky in love, friendship, free drinks, sex, a phone number, or just a good time in general. We’re all looking to connect. To reinvigorate connections with friends, or establish new ones with others. In all my nights out, both in Tokyo and Ryugasaki, Roppongi has grown on me the most. What started out as a cheap partying alternative towards the end of my study abroad experience has turned into my regular watering hole when in Tokyo.
So why Roppongi? Maybe because happy hours are insanely cheap. Maybe because one of my good friends lives nearby. Maybe it’s the international diversity and absurdity that reminds me of home. As I mentioned last time, I’ve been becoming more fond of the expat community since I’ve been back. Every time I go here, I always come back with a nice little story to tell. Here is a recent one.
On New Year’s morning after a night of partying, my friends and I decided to chill out at an after hours bar. It was where all the nightlife workers would go when their shifts started to end around six. It was a chill place to interact with our bartender friends in a non-work environment. I was chatting, dancing, doing anything I could to stay awake.
As the night (or day really) went on, one guy had naturally diffused into my group of friends. Thinking he was a friend’s friend, I thought about introducing myself. Before I could, one of my Temple homies yells into my ear, “He’s a medic!! You better get to know that guy. He’ll always have your back!” I followed the drunken marine veteran’s orders.
We talked for a little bit. I find out that he was in fact an army medic, currently stationed on Yokosuka base. Nearing 7:30, we finally decided to leave and get kebab. (Do kebab joints ever close?) The new guy tagged along.
One thing I really like about Japan is that stuff like this can happen. Someone can show up to a place alone and then easily meet new people there. I think we have our guards up more in America. It honestly would seem kinda awkward if a stranger I met at 7 in the morning would have done the same thing in Philadelphia. Maybe it’s just me. I chopped it up with the new guy some more over breakfast. I know how lonely the foreigner life can be out here sometimes. He just wanted someone to talk to. As we all got ready to head home, I realized that we both were taking the Oedo line home. And so the conversation continued…
He opened up more and I just sat there and listened. I was actually a little content that he was there. I would have probably fell asleep and missed my stop like I do after every all-nighter. He gave me this whole speech about his inability to be an alpha male, and how it affects his ability to pick up women in Roppongi. I kinda just wanted to tell him that the first step in going out anywhere is to have fun. Instead in my drunken honesty I said something along the lines of, “You gotta get your confidence up, dog.” He didn’t take that too well.
We continued on the topic of women, and the whole cultural barrier that is sometimes involved in courting Japanese women in particular.
“Yeah, they’re only interested in this” he waved his hand toward a big subway poster with two blue eyes, brown hair, and a fair-skinned male bust. He seemed to believe that Japanese women were only into the foreigners they see on the media: the Caucasian fellas.
I used to feel the same way; wondering why some girls wouldn’t return my texts, phone calls. Why the only mixed-raced couples I commonly seen involved a Caucasian man as the other half. But over time I realized it was much more a cultural thing. The Japanese language itself is a minimalist language. For example, the verb “eat” could very well mean “I eat” “You eat” We will eat” “They will eat” etc. depending on context and assumed knowledge. Language is a reflection of culture. Likewise, when dating out here you gotta learn how to read between the lines; get more in touch with your instinct. I guess that’s very much true for America, too. But the language barrier and societal misunderstandings/assumptions on both sides, makes things a little more challenging in Japan.
My new friend had just finished telling me a story about this girl he liked. She gave him all the right signs it seemed. Yet she was too polite to just tell him straight up that she wasn’t interested. Now while they were on those dates, she probably gave him subtle signs to distance herself. Never a direct “no” as per cultural norm. Unfortunately, he only saw these signs in hindsight. Stay Tuned.