I took a shinkansen to Tokyo on the 31st to meet Chie for New Year's. Taking the bus to Yamagata Station was a little harrowing.
I felt so comfortable. Shuffling down Toukamachi with sunglasses on, partied out, headed for coffee, I felt like I lived in Yamagata. I was strung-out and moody and invigorated and stoked at the same time. I think that state of mind is so comfortable. I feel comfortable in it.
I did a bunch of brooding at the station. No answers in that coffee cup.
I tried to sleep on the shinkansen but I couldn't stop thinking. It was awful. There was too much to untangle and I was tired of philosophy.
I finally slept for about an hour. I woke up in Utsunomiya. There was no snow. The crowds of buildings looked bright and warm. Before long I could see Tokyo. The sun was low in the sky and I was so fucking happy to be back in the city.
Chie and I met by Hachiko in front of Shibuya Station. I got there early. I couldn't believe how different Tokyo was from Yamagata. I hadn't thought about it. Suddenly I understood why Japanese people think Yamagata is extreme-countryside. To me, it's still a City, because I'm from rural Oregon. But Tokyo is so unimaginably big and fast and full of things. Compared to Tokyo, I don't know what Yamagata is. I don't really know what anything is.
I was so, so happy to be back in Tokyo.
Chie and I didn't really take any photos, sorry. We were so chill the whole time, and we had the strangest trip. The only typical thing we did was go to Meiji Shrine around midnight to pray for the new year.
After that, we wandered around Shibuya for maybe over an hour, looking for love hotels. We finally found Love Hotel Hill after Chie asked for directions. The guy was so surprised and Chie looked cute and serious as he explained, like a young reporter.
Most of the hotels were full. We found one and paid for the room. It was kind of strange. There was no discretion about the lobby. We passed a few couples under bright flourescent lights.
Our floor. I can't explain this hotel. I really can't. It was surgically lit, and filthy, and busted. Some of the doors had sheets of paper taped to them with the room number scribbled on in permanent marker. There were bundles of sheets stacked and crowded along the hallways.
We went into our room and the smell made us step back. We don't know what it was. Mold, stale sex, asbestos, cigarettes, puke, and something chemical. The cheap blue wallpaper was ripped and peeling in several places. The floor was littered with bits of dust and grime. The bed was a plain futon, dressed in one white, wrinkled sheet, and one white pillow.
Dazed and giggling, we made our way downstairs. Chie got her money back. The clerk was surprised. After we got outside, we were in shock. We felt like we'd seen the lowest place in the world. It left us really shaken up! We were shuddering and shaking our heads as we walked through the maze of love hotels in Shibuya, looking for another room. We must have entered at least 80% of the hotels on Love Hotel Hill. If you ever need reviews, you know who to call.
Finally we got a room in the Hotel Eastern. It wasn't great, but we were happy. We had a huge bag of convenience store snacks and two bottles of Corona. We put on the cute teal-striped hotel nightshirts and collapsed on the bed in front of the cheesy retro smoked/gold-trimmed mirror.
Maybe you can't understand how affected we were by that filthy room. For some reason we were really shaken up. We had never seen a place that Bad. And the idea that we were going to sleep on that bed? And the couples we passed as they were leaving the hotel! We thought about what kind of situation it would be if we were ever having sex in that hotel. We felt so disoriented to have suddenly stumbled into that side of the world. After a lot of head-shaking we both passionately agreed that we would rather have someone pee on our faces than have to sleep on that bed. We drank to this with 100% conviction, so funny in retrospect.
The next day we slept late, then left the hotel and went to Harajuku. We found the best jazz bar in the entire world.
It was a beautiful day, as warm as spring. This bar was up a narrow spiral staircase. We were the only patrons. The owner didn't say much. He just made us perfect iced coffees, read the paper, and regularly changed records. He was an amazing DJ. The bar was so comfortable and perfect. We stayed there for the longest time. It was the greatest New Year's Afternoon I've ever had.
Then Chie realized she forgot her hoodie at the love hotel. BACK TO LOVE HOTEL HILL!
For most of the trip we just relaxed in different places and talked a lot. We were both happy to be able to talk about Portland and people and places we know. I'm incredibly happy that Chie and Aya and I are all moving to Tokyo around the same time. They're the coolest people I know in Japan and they both have incredibly passionate feelings for Oregon, where we met while they were studying at Portland State. It's rare to find people from outside the NW who appreciate how great it is, and I'm so lucky to know two amazing girls in Japan who really, seriously get it. I can't tell you how stoked I am. It's just a totally ideal situation.
It was so weird: throughout the trip, we coincidentally went to three different places that I went with a guy I dated in Tokyo a long time ago. Including the love hotel we stayed in! I felt a little haunted by the past. I started expecting to see him any second.
When I got back to Yamagata last night, I was back in Yamagata.
My New Year's Resolutions
- Lose 15 lbs
- Date a gyaruo
That's about all I can think of. Number 2 deserves its own entry. Later.
Happy New Year!
Happy New Year!