Last year (1997) I wrote about a drinking place under the tacks in Yurakucho... sent a copy of it to new e-mail pal recently, and she asked me if I've gone back... I hadn't, so I decided to come back for a look.
19:07 The feeling you get from the people around you... the atmosphere here is generally good, but the man on my left is giving off an unstable feeling as he looks nervously about....
22:14 It's a kind of a repeat... the same industrial thumping of the trains that rumble by unseen above... and once again I've ended up in long conversations with several people. First with the middle aged woman and her young male companion, seated to my right. The conversation started off weird, and finished weird. First, the young man leaned over and asked me:
"Have you ever been to a club?"
I said that I had, and asked why he wanted to know. No answer to that, and then he started talking in dialect, which I don't think I was meant to understand, but I was in an open frame of mind, so it took a while to sink in. Then whenever the woman said anything to me, he seemed to get jealous. (Don't blame me for that one folks, I wasn't interested.) The guy started putting his mitts on me... first on my back, and then a leg, which I put up with in the interest of public harmony, but when he touched my face, I could stand it no longer, so I told him to stop touching me. He backed off for a while, but then when he started crossing and uncrossing his legs, bumping a foot into my white trousered leg each time, I decided that the young man with his thick gold chain, expensive watch, on-again, off-again dialect, and bad manors wasn't trying to be friendly from his end, so I moved over a seat and told them to leave me alone, to talk to each other and just leave me alone. The guy got the hint (they don't come much broader!), but the woman then came over and sat next to me and told me that I wasn't a foreigner, I was Japanese, and "Zytzy-zytzy-zytzy-zytzy-zytzy-zytzy-zytzy ...." - just a bunch of nonsense (there was no dialect or vocabulary problem with her speech, the content itself was nonsense).
I sat there with her smashed up against me rattling off the same nonsense over and over, to which I basically said "Yeah.... ummm, I see...... ummm..... ah..... hmmmm...." I mean... how do you respond to someone telling you something, that if it were true, they wouldn't say? Towards the end of her tape loop speech... after repeating herself for about fifteen times, I glanced over at her and saw that tears were coming from her smiling face.... (??????????????)
I asked her why she was crying, and she gave me a Mona Lisa smile and said "I don't know". Then she stood up and paid her bill... told me that someday we would meet again, and rejoined the young man, who had moved out of the under track area and been waiting on the sidewalk.
I watched them walk off together, and then turned and looked at the couple sitting on the other side of me, who turned out to be a middle aged man with a younger woman, and asked them:
"Did you hear that??!!!"
Talking to this new couple was like walking from an insane asylum back out into the sane world. We had a pleasant enough conversation, and the young woman seemed very eager not to be seen as the older man's girlfriend, as she managed to work into the conversation that she was married (not to that man) at least three times. (I know what you're thinking! No!) After talking for awhile, when the man went to the restroom (the restroom in that place is the smallest one I've ever seen I think), the woman told a couple standing by us (the place is in a tunnel, with people walking through all the time) looking for a place to sit that she and her friend would be leaving soon... and then she told them about her being married....
The new couple (early twenties) were quite nice, and we talked on and off about one thing or another, most of which I can't remember, except that the man said he liked the shop because it was the place where he and his father had first gone drinking together.
The woman got a phone call on her cell phone, went out of the tunnel and talked to someone for a minute, and then came back in and handed the phone to her boyfriend, who then left the tunnel for the sidewalk. I beamed a question at the woman with my eyes, and she said that it was a friend of hers.
"A woman?!" asked I.
"Yes" replied she.
Me: "That's dangerous, isn't it?"
Which seemed to strike a chord with her. As though it were already on her mind, she said:
"Do you think so?"
She told me that her friend had called to ask about how to get to some place, and that her boyfriend knew, so.... I suggested that her friend didn't need to be interrupting her date to ask her boyfriend directions.
The guy came back, sensed that something was in the air, and asked:
"What have you two been talking about?"
"It's a secret" she said.
Then we talked about e-mail, I gave each of them my card, and the conversation drifted back to the phone... and then her friend called again. I gave her a look, and she passed the phone to me:
OW (Other Woman): .......................
Me: "Konnichiwa... moshi-moshi?"
OW: "Who are you?"
I explained that I was just a chance drinking companion, and the woman, sounding extremely unfriendly, asked me what her friend was doing. I looked over to see them kissing, and happily said "They're kissing right now..." I tried talking to her a little, but she seemed not to share my pleasure in the situation. Finally, the woman who handed me the phone looked over and asked:
"Is she still there?"
I said I thought so, the woman took the phone back, talked for a little without bothering to leave the noisy tunnel, and hung up.
The man was a handsome, friendly, and confident looking guy. I told the woman so, and said (in front of the guy) "When I was twenty-two, I didn't have things nearly as together as this guy seems to..."
I have no idea why I was acting like a matchmaker or something... it just happened!
23:00 It feels like it's been a very long day... I'm out from below the tracks now... and standing in an area of the street full of tables and chairs as a perfect temperature breeze blows through the city. There's been a lot of rain lately, so today has been doubly nice in contrast. The "Yakitori" and "Sake" lanterns sway in the breeze... there's a steady electrical low hum of motors (exhaust fans?) and the productive, busy, industrial sound of the steel wheels of the many trains that rumble by overhead... their reflection in the windows of the office buildings....