Shinjuku is a fast-paced, neon-inundated assault on the senses. My definition of happiness is walking around Shinjuku at night – although you’d think it was daytime, so brightly lit is it – listening to trance on my iPod, which perfectly matches the frenetic pace of the flashing lights and the bustle of the swarming crowds. Most areas in Tokes have a ‘nice’ feel to them – orderly, refined, dignified. Shinjuku has an edgy feel to it; it’s the seedy underbelly of an otherwise conservative city.
Last night I had a lovely evening out in Shinjuku with Nooh Girl. After yet another disastrous shopping trip that culminated in me not being able to find a winter jacket that I could fit more than my hand into, and its resulting tantrum, I was well up for a drink. NG took me to an Aussie bar where she appeared to know just about every punter! I was startled to hear the Australian drawl from the folk there and it took some time to attune my ear to it again.
It was great to finally meet NG. We have been reading each other’s blogs for a couple of months, so have an almost voyeuristic insight into each other’s lives. We dispensed with the usual formalities that occur when meeting someone for the first time and jumped right into drunken stories, tales of debauchery and bemoaning the lack of available men in a city of 20 million people. Well, they were my conversation starters anyway. NG is an absolute sweetheart and we are similar in so many ways - it's bizarre that we even met at all. I have so missed the girly chat and this was long overdue.
A few hours and a few drinks later, NG made sure I got back to the right station. And so the journey home began. I got lost in the station. Oh yes, the station is huge and didn’t have any signs pointing me to the Yamanote line. I walked for miles looking for it and ended up having to ask at the ticket booth. When they saw me approach, the attendants scattered and began to look busy. I’m used to this – no one wants to speak to the gaijin – we're scary English speakers. The poor bastard who drew the short straw directed me to the Chuo line to take me to Tokyo station, then take the Keihin-Tohoku line to Kaminakazato. I was adamant that I wanted the Yamanote line and that I knew it left from somewhere in the accursed station, I just needed to be pointed in the right direction. This didn’t sink in and, I’m ashamed to say, I was rather rude and walked off. (Kind attendant at Shinjuku station: if you’re reading this, I am so sorry for my terrible behaviour.) I stalked off to platform 6 as directed and thought, ‘OK, I’ll take the fucking Chuo line to Tokyo and go miles out of my way to get home – when have I ever fucking got home the way I’m supposed to!’
Then magically appearing from nowhere, there it was – the beautiful green of the Yamanote line. I had to wait about 15 minutes for a train, which is unheard of here. I assumed there had been an earthquake whilst I was stumbling around in the station and that the trains had stopped while they checked the tracks (the usual practice after every earthquake.) The platform was PACKED and when the train eventually came, only a third of us managed to get on. I have never been in such a crowded train. I swear I felt someone’s hand on me where it shouldn’t have been, but couldn’t actually move to discover who it belonged to.
A great night out.