Thursday, July 29, 2010
A Fantastic High Definition Video of One of My Old Haunts...
Sorry, I didn't make this video. Whoever did has my admiration and gratitude because it brings back a lot of fun memories. It's Kabukicho, the "red light district" of Tokyo's fabulous Shinjuku ward. Whenever I went to Tokyo back in the day, I stayed right in the heart of it at a business hotel called Hotel Kent. My students kept telling me how dangerous it was; apparently, they eventually got through to me because I shifted my Tokyo headquarters out to Hatagaya and the more affordable Sakura Hotel-- which I highly recommend to any young travellers looking for reasonably priced lodgings. They also plan all kinds of educational and fun cultural and social events.
I used to love walking around Kabukicho at night. Prostitutes-- female and male-- used to proposition me pretty frequently. Not that I'm anything special; it's their job to pick up stragglers and earn some yen for their pimps.
Once, being something of a smart ass, I switched up the transaction on a working girl.
"You'll pay me how much for what?" I asked her and she looked as if her brain skipped a groove.
A heavy-set man in a suit came running over, telling me and my friend Mike in perfect English we had it all wrong, that it didn't work that way. I decided my lame comedy stylings worked better as a road act so the two of us high-tailed it out of there and found a hostess bar in which to drink and be groped by topless women in g-strings as we passed from sobriety into a more risk-taking frames of mind. The end result was we left about 200 bucks lighter and my face smeared with lipstick of some kind.
From time to time, I wonder what happened to that girl. She was quite pretty, had a little English, probably was scared most of the time. I can't imagine her story will have a happy ending. Whatever else was happening to her at the time, it certainly was no fairy tale, and I was no Richard Gere.
That's Kabuki-cho. A dangerous place? I don't know. I felt a little nervous there, but I also came through unscathed each time, no matter how drunk I got. And during the day it's full of young office workers having lunch, teams of stylish young women shopping or high school kids. Plus hardcore pachinko addicts who are too fixated on their little metal balls to care much about some bald white guy walking around gawking at the scenery. And, as you can see from this video, even at night it teems with diners, shoppers and your everyday variety fun-seekers. So I imagine danger is a subjective thing.
Then again, I once threw myself into the center of a riot one night back home in the States. So perhaps I'm not the best judge of whatever constitutes risky behavior.