20 January 2010

19th Day: Last Day in Japan!

Today was the last official day I had in Japan. Everything was packed and ready for the airport fairly early. I didn't have much trouble sleeping because myself and the guys mostly stayed up all night waiting until we needed to leave to catch our flight. It was quite early when we left because I remember it still being dark outside and the whole guesthouse was very quiet.

Bren had told the other guys a quick/cheaper way to get to Narita Airport rather than taking the Narita Express from Tokyo station. Once we had gotten to Ikebukuro station we took the JR Yamanote Line to Ueno where we caught another train. It was here that we said out goodbyes to Bren because this was as far as he could come unless he wanted to come all the way to the airport.

The train ride was fairly long and the guys and myself kept falling asleep because we had not slept the night before. At one point I felt so tired that my eyes were burning. Once we got to the Airport everything was calm and relaxed. We all had Mc Donalds breakfast because we were all so hungry and I also managed to pick up some souvenirs (omiyage) for my family members.

I can honestly say I enjoyed this trip a lot even though a lot of the things I ended up doing alone. I also didn't get to see or do as many tourist type things as I would have liked but I knew at the time like I do now that this wouldn't be my only time to visit Japan.

If you plan on going to Japan I would recommend picking up a book such as the ones I posted below to help you plan what you would like to do and see whilst you are in Japan. Once you have a plan you will not waste any time whilst you are there.

18 January 2010

17th Day: Trip to Ebisu for some Jamaican food!

Today was the day that I had agreed to meet Haruno in Ebisu. She had planned to take me to a restaurant that served Jamaican food. I had confirmed earlier in the day via email that I would meet Haruno around 18:30 at Ebisu Station.

When I left the guesthouse I realised that I had no way to contact Haruno because I did not have a her phone number, a phone or access to the internet. I arrived at the station on time and at the exit we had agreed to meet however I couldn't see Haruno. This was the worst time not to have a phone because I had no way to get in contact with her.

I then started to walk up and down the station in search of Haruno but she was no where to be found. I carried on searching for around 30 minutes and just as I was ready to leave the station to go back home I saw her standing in the middle of the station. I was so relieved to finally meet her because I was slightly worried since I didn't know if something had happened to her. She explained to me that she had trouble finding me too. Either way I was just happy we finally met up.

I then walked with Haruno in the direction of the restaurant. As we walked and talked it seemed as if she had forgotten the way to the restaurant. She told me should couldn't remember the way because she hadn't been there in a little while. We then went to a convenience store were she asked for directions. The guy working there didn't seem to know where it was however he pulled out a big map from underneath the counter to try and help us find it.

When we left the store I told Haruno that I was surprised that the guy had pulled out a map because everyone time I asked someone in a store for help they just told me they didn't know where it was I wanted to go. She then told me that all convenience stores have a map like that which made me slightly annoyed. We continued to walk for about 10 minutes or so and then we eventually found the restaurant...but it turned out it was closed! So after all of that it felt like the trip was slightly wasted.

Haruno proposed that we go somewhere else maybe to another restaurant. I didn't mind where we went at the time because I was just really hungry! We ended up going to this Chinese restaurant and I decided to order egg fried rice with some fried squid. When the rice came it had a fried egg on top of it! I remember saying to Haruno is this how it comes and she said yea. I was surprised because I assumed the egg would have been mixed with the rice. Although it came like this I managed to eat most of it (with some help from Haruno) and the fried squid was nice too. We both continued to talk and have a good time but all the time we were there Haruno was surprised that I didn't drink alcohol. I just told her I have never liked the taste of it.

After the restaurant I wasn't quite ready to go home so Haruno suggested that we go to Starbucks to chill for a bit before we went home. This was the first time I had actually been to a Starbucks to actually spend any amount of time in there since I don't drink coffee. Again Haruno was surprised that I didn't drink coffee or tea either and laughed when they gave me this little kids drink carton when I asked for juice!

We stayed in Starbucks for a little while talking about various things but I was surprised when she told me she was a an avid Star Wars fan! She never once gave the impression that she was one yet her and Chiho called me an Otaku for liking Japan!

After Starbucks we left and went back to Ebisu Station. We said our goodbyes on the train as she got off at one of the stops before mine. I couldn't help thinking that it was a shame that I had to make a friend right at the end of the trip when I was about to go back to London. But I guess everything happens for a reason.

16th Day: Carribean Sunday

After having a nice rest from being out the night before I decided to go to Caribbean Sunday for the last time before I left Japan for London. For me Caribbean Sunday was the best night I had out whilst I was in Tokyo and this is why I wanted to go again but it also helped that I could get in for free because I was Jamaican.

Earlier in the day I had been in contact with Haruno via Facebook and Email. I was curious to know if she would be coming to Caribbean Sunday but she wasn't. Instead she invited me to go to dinner at a Jamaican restaurant in Ebisu on the Monday. I agreed to meet her in the evening after she had finished work at Ebisu Station.

Getting to Ikebukuro from Hibarigaoka was probably the easiest compared to going to Shibuya. It took only 17mins using the the Rapid Train. I also was so familiar with the location of the club that I took a special exit out of the station that allowed me to be about 10 meters away from the club once I came out.

Once I got to the club I saw this African boy that I met the last time I went to Carribean Sunday called Muhaed. Whilst the club was quiet I started to speak to him and he told me how he and his family came to be in Japan. He was also excited about being able to go out to clubs and bars now that he had turned 20 years old. Then I remembered that in the previous week all the young people had their Seijin no Hi Ceremony.

Once it got around 01:00 I noticed that the club wasn't as packed as the last Sunday. But I guess that was to be expected since the last Sunday was a special occasion for a lot of the young people in Japan.

Later that night I-Van came to the club along with Yumiko from Helty Baddy Girls, Milo, Corn Bread, Irie Pam Pam, Lisa and Hotta Manammy. This was the first time I had seen Yumiko so was quite excited to speak to her because I was familiar with her and her dance partner Youko. I remember confirming with I-Van that she was actually Yumiko even though I knew full well that it was her.

I got a chance to speak to Yumiko and she was surprised I could speak some Japanese. I also told her that it was a pity that Youko wasn't there that night but before she could tell me why I told her it was because she was in New York. She asked me how I knew that and I told her I knew this from their blog.

This night was quite cool because there were less people in the club and so there was more space to dance. I also had the opportunity to dance with almost all the dancers there apart from Hotta Manammy because I just remembered what happened to the guy at Master Blaster the night before when he tried to dance with her!!! So I wasn't really in the mood to be embarrassed just yet in Japan.

When the song Dem Alone by Mavado was played Yumiko was very surprised when she saw me doing Japan Squads (I-Van, Helty Baddy Girls and Baboo) routine for the song. I told her that I had learned the routine from youtube!

The DJ from Asian Star was very friendly and he would always hive me a shout out on the mic. He remembered me from Party Hard Tuesday, Rockers Paradise and the last time I came to Caribbean Sunday. He would always say on the mic "Dorian don't be shy" when it came to me dancing with the girls in the club. Later that night he made an announcement informing everyone else in the club that this was my last time I would be out in Japan before I go back to London.

Once the party was winding down I wanted to take some pictures with everyone that I had met. I asked them all to take a group picture with me which they happily agreed to do.

Asian Star and I-Van both asked me when I was coming back to Japan but at the time I didn't know when I would next be back. They then wrote down their contact details and told me to contact them again in the future when I come back to Japan.

As we all left the club I went with Muhaed to Mc Donalds because I was feeling very hungry and by this time they were already serving their breakfast. Once we got in there we met up with I-Van and the other dancers. It was quite funny when they were trying to tell me that the Japanese dancer Lisa was known as the "cockey clasher". At that moment however I didn't know what they meant when they kept saying "cockey" but later I understood.

This night for me was pretty good too since by this time a lot of people were familiar with me and tried to make me feel more welcome in Japan. It was just a pity that by this time I only had a few more days before I had to go back to London.

17 January 2010

15th Day: Master Blaster

I decided not to do anything on the 14th Day which was a Friday and just stayed at the guest house with the other guys. However I decided to go to Master Blaster at Shibuya Eggman on the Saturday.

I had not been to Eggman before and so was not quite sure where it was in Shibuya. From their website (and the flyer I had) the easiest way I for me to get there was through Yoyogi Station because I was familiar with that area since I had been there before. I walked from the station in the direction of NHK Broadcasting Studio and then I saw Eggman on the left just down some steps.

Once I got there it was pretty empty but this wasn't usual considering it was only around 00:30 and the Japanese don't get to the club until around 01:30 or 02:00. The night started off with Early Warm music which played until the club got slightly more full. Once the club was more packed they started to play more Dancehall music as opposed to the Reggae they normally play during the Early Warm session.

This particular night had a lot of dancers there and one of them was I-Van who I had seen the other night at Ragga Wagon. Once I-Van and the other dancers arrived the energy went up in the club and people were dancing and enjoying themselves a lot more. At one point the group of dancers that consisted of Corn-Bread, Milo, Bag Juice, Irie Pam Pam, Lisa and Hotta Manammy got on the stage and started to perform. Later I-Van joined them with Marie and Cha Cha from ChandeLella and performed his "Get Score" routine.

This was also the first night where I actually saw someone filming the event. They were also doing interviews with some of the people in the club.

Whilst I was in the club I was able to take a lot of pictures of everyone as well as all the dancers. It seemed that they were all putting on a show whilst they were on the dance floor. I also saw Shy-N while I was in there and went over to chat to him. However this time I did not get to speak to many of the dancers like last time at Ragga Wagon but that was cool. I just had a good time dancing with them all instead.

After the club night had finished I was hanging around near the exit and two of the girls that I had took a couple of pictures of earlier started to speak to me. One of them asked me what my t-shirt said. I was wearing one of my Superdry t-shirts and I knew that the Japanese/Chinese on it didn't make any sense. Although it was a good thing I decided to wear it that night becase it actually was a good conversation starter.

After I got talking to Chiho, Haruno and their friend Akane I realised that their English was pretty good mainly due to them studying it as well as having visited English speaking countries such as America and Jamaica. One of the girls who was named Haruno told me that she had actually studied in New York for a period of time too which I thought was pretty cool.

Once we left the club we continued to talk about where I was from. I started to talk to Haruno more and asked her if she had Facebook. I was fairly surprised when she said she did because not many Japanese people that I spoke to previously used it. She then used her iPhone to add me on there as a friend. Later they started to tell me that they had a friend who went to London to study Music. However at the time I didn't make much of it but thought it was cool that their friend went abroad to study. Chiho told me that they were going to eat and asked me if I wanted to come. I thought I might as well because I was pretty hungry after all that dancing.

We ended up going to a restaurant called Denny's which was about 5 mins walk down the road from Eggman. The restaurant was laid out ina typical American way and they also served American food along with Japanese food. Whilst we were there Akane did not speak as much as Chiho or Haruno mainly due to her English not being as good I think. We stayed in the restaurant for a little while but it seemed liked Chiho was pretty tired because she kept falling asleep.

When we left the restaurant it was daylight and I felt really tired as well. We just walked down the road from the restaurant and I was surprised to see that it was so close to the main area in Shibuya (with the pedestrian crossing) considering I walked a totally different and longer way to get to the club earlier. Chiho and Haruno went their separate ways to catch the train but Akane was getting on the same train as me. I managed to speak to Akane a little more whilst we were on the on train and it was quite funny when she was telling me about her time in England and how she used to eat Fish & Chips.

I had a really good time that night at the club and also spending time with some Japanese people that I could actually have more of a conversation with. I hope that I will be able to see them again when I next visit Japan.

16 January 2010

13th Day: Ragga Wagon

I remember looking at some of the flyers I had from previous nights at the club. In amongst them was a flyer for an event called Ragga Wagon which was being held at 27 Destiny in Shibuya. I had never been to the club before so like many of the others I visited I had to try and find its location based on the directions on their website.

I managed to come of of Shibuya Station via the Hachiko Exit which seemed to be my usual exit every time I went to Shibuya. Looking at the little map that was on the flyer I preceded to walk along the Shibuya streets in search of this new club. I had to walk a little bit to get to the club. But once I managed to find it I was fairly surprised to see that it was next to Club Asia!

Once inside I was given a drink token like many clubs I had been to previously in Tokyo. But unlike the other clubs I was also given a Ragga Wagon ticket which would allow me to participate in what was going to happen later in the evening. When I walked down to the dance area the club was fairly empty apart from a few Americans and some Japanese. But it seemed like these people didn't know it was a Reggae night at the club nor did they know these club nights don't really get going until the early hours of the morning. Because of this quite a few people left the club and some even tried to get me to go with them but I told them I was going to stay.

The night started off slow with some early warm music. But as the night went on more people started to pour in to the club and the music started to get more lively. I even saw the guy Chaka Chaka. I asked him what happened on Wednesday but he told me he was busy that day and could not go to the dance. Later on a few people went on the stage and began to dance too. As I was standing I noticed one girl that looked familiar to me and I remember saying to her "...I know you from youtube!" which is a great way to start a conversation I know haha. It turned out that she was a dancer called Sizzka! Unlike many other people I got talking to her English was pretty good and she like the rest was very friendly. While I was hanging around I saw both Miharu and Haruka from AB Squad. They were pretty cool as I tried to speak to them using my limited Japanese. At one point one of the DJs started to make an announcement and it sounded like he said I-Van. I asked Chaka Chaka if I-Van was here and he said he was then pointed to the corner. I approached I-Van in the corner and asked if I could take a picture with him. I-Van then said "YEA MONNNN!!!!" and started to talk to me in a Jamaican accent. He then told me to come on the stage with him to dance but I was like "no, no, no" since the last thing I would want would be to embarrass myself on the stage. I thought this was quite funny when he spoke to me since it was the first I had heard a Japanese person talk like this. I-Van asked me where I was from and what I was doing in Japan. I told him I was from London and was just in Japan for a holiday.

It was at this point that I-Van wanted me to come on the stage with him to dance but I kept saying "no, no, no" because I wasn't ready to embarrass myself just yet in front of Japanese people I barely knew. I-Van began to dance to one of his new songs that he had just recently finished recording in Jamaica with Shelly Belly called "Get Score". The crowd started to get really excited once I-Van started to dance.

After I-Van got off the stage the 2006 Japanese Dancehall Queen Mai and MC Shen Long started to begin the whole Ragga Wagon night! A whole bunch of ladies lined up on the stage and what I could gather from understanding some of the Japanese the men on the dance floor were supposed to choose one of these girls. This was the first time I had ever seen anything like this in the club before. Each lady came up one by one and gave an introduction and then Mai asked the audience whether or not there was a man that wanted this lady. If a man said yes he would be called to the stage and then the lady would decided whether or not she wanted him. Hardly any of the men decided to get on the stage but when they did the majority of the time the ladies said no and the man kinda just walked off the stage with a look of disappointment on their faces.

After this had been going on for a little while I thought maybe I should go on the stage too if I see a girl I like. But of course there was one I liked, the same one I had seen a few other times at the club. Yes it was the one and only Haruka from AB Squad! When Mai brought her on to the stage she went through the same routine of asking her some questions then saying to the audience in Japanese something like "...which one of you would like this woman?". At the time I thought I didn't want to seem too eager so waited about 5 seconds before I put my hand up..haha! When Mai saw that I had my hand up she called me to the stage and asked me some questions in English but she was quite surprised when I answered her in Japanese. Mai then asked Haruka whether or not she wanted me and Haruka then began to think. Luckily for me she said "OK!" but maybe she just did that so that I wasn't embarrassed haha. We then shared a glass of champagne to seal the deal so to speak.

I kept wondering to myself what was supposed to happen or what were we supposed to do once this was over. Although I did ask Haruka if she wanted to go on a date but she just told me she was busy which I thought fair enough. While I was walking around the club Domino-Kat said to me "...you got di gal!" which made me laugh because I just remember how I saw Domino-Kat nearly every night since I have been out in Tokyo. At the end of the night I hung around a bit more to take some pictures with some of the dancers such as Megu from Hottie Cat and Mai. I spoke to Mai briefly and she was very friendly and asked me if I was going to Master Blaster at Shibuya Eggman which at the time I wasn't sure if I was going or not.

Overall I would say that I really did enjoy this night and met a few more people in the club that I only knew from youtube videos.

14 January 2010

12th Day: Rockers Paradise

When I was leaving PHT (Party Hard Tuesday) this guy I met in the club called Chaka Chaka told me that he would be going to another dance on Wednesday called Rockers Paradise. I thought to myself I didn't have anything planned that evening so I might as well go to this dance. This was the first time I had ever been to Shibuya Camelot and wasn't sure where exactly it was. Luckily as I was walking around Shibuya following the map on the flyer I noticed some people I saw from Teki Teki Thursday at Ikebukuro Bed. I asked if they knew where Shibuya Camelot was and they pointed me in the right direction.

When I got to the club I paid the entrance fee but also received a lighter as a gift which I thought was pretty cool. Once I was inside the club was fairly quiet but I came to expect this since the majority of Japanese that go to these types of clubs tend to get their quite late in the night. What I didn't realise however was that this night was fairly special because there was to be a live showcase or battle if you will between Japanese artists.

I was lucky enough to see Akane again as well as a few other artists perform on stage. I also got the chance to see Ryo the Skywalker perform on stage as well which was pretty cool even though I did not know many of his songs lol. Whilst I was in the club I got to see my new friend Domino-Kat again. Everytime I met him he was always friendly to me. While he was talking to me there was a video playing on one of the monitors in the background which he then began to point to. He then started to say "...look, look" as I was looking I asked him what the name of the song (video) was and he told me it was called "Street Team". While I was watching it I noticed a lot of J-Reggae Dancers featured in it like I-Van and the Helty Baddy Girls.

A lot of the music that was being played were some of my favourite songs. As I danced around it seemed as if a lot of people were looking in my direction, maybe they thought I was a dancer from Jamaica or something lol. While I was dancing this guy came up to me and started to do a routine, as he was doing this he tired to get to me copy his routine but by this time of the night I was too tired to copy anyones routine especially when it was more than a few steps.

Overall this night was pretty cool but was a bit disappointed that I did not get to meet that guy from the previous night since he was the one who told me to go to this event. As I was on my way back to Hibari House I stopped off at Mc Donalds for their breakfast because I was so hungry due to the fact that the last meal I had was nearly 7 hours ago.

13 January 2010

11th Day: Party Hard Tuesday

Like most days recently I slept until about 9pm. I wanted to get up earlier however I was just too lazy to wake up earlier. For once I had made a plan before that night about where I wanted to go. When I was in Axxcis on Saturday I was able to pick up a few flyers for upcoming events. One of these events was 'Party Hard Tuesday' at Shibuya Amrax.

Luckily I already knew about Party Hard Tuesday but it was handy to have the flyers because they allowed me to get a discount of 500yen. Like most nights I decided to ask the others if they wanted to come, but the majority of them said no. However this time Jordan said he would come out.

Left the Hibari house shortly after Jordan agreeing to come with me that night. I told Jordan that I walk quickly so that I can get the last train to Ikebukuro from Hibarigaoka. We went the exact same way that I had gone on Saturday to get to Axxcis for Kachi Kachi: New Years Party. We left via the East exit at Shibuya station and I walked the same way I had gone before. However we were following some directions on the bottom of the flyer but got a little confused. We went inside a Lawson convenience store which was near by and asked for help. The guy in there tried to direct us in English but was having difficulties, but I just started speaking Japanese to him so then he easily gave us the directions in Japanese.

We left the store and walked around the corner following the guys directions. As we walked down the road I noticed the club Axxcis and thought wow the two clubs are so close to each other. When we walked past Axxcis we noticed some girls practising a dance routine while playing dancehall music. I approached them and asked them in Japanese where club Amrax was. One of them pointed in the direction of the club and told us that its very near to where we are standing, so we continued walking down the road.

When we got to the club I realised I had passed it on the Saturday as I approached Axxcis. When we got in we were searched briefly by security. Because we had the flyer we only had to pay 1500yen instead of 2000yen. We got inside the club and it was quite small we thought, however it wasn't until we walked around the club a bit more that we realised there was a downstairs part to the club. After waiting on the dance floor for a bit I decided to come back up stairs because it was quite empty. When I got upstairs I walked around a bit just looking at the posters on the wall and some CDs they had on sale.

It was after about 15 minutes of being upstairs that's when I saw a Japanese reggae singer named Micky Rich. I said to him "hey, you're Micky Rich!" and he said "yea, I am". I thought it was pretty cool to just seem him in the club like that. I asked him if I could take a picture with him and he said sure. I didn't speak to him much because he didn't seem like he wanted to talk to me that much.

While I was upstairs I also saw Ken-U and Domino-Kat who are members of Ent. Deal League with Micky Rich. Both of them were very friendly and allowed me to take a few pictures with them. I also got to meet a group of American guys who were in Tokyo on holiday like myself. After I was finished upstairs I ended up going back to the dance floor to join Jordan. Whilst I was on the dance floor Domino-Kat approached me and he remembered how I said that I liked his song with Akane called Flowers. He told me that Akane was actually in the club this night too. I was quite surprised to see Akane in the club that night but I later realised that it is not a big thing to see celebrities in the club with other people.

While I was on the dance floor I noticed Reggae dancer Shy-N was there as well as a few other dancers. I also noticed Haruka from AB Squad, however at the time I was a bit shy to talk to her. When we were leaving the club Domino-Kat shouted out to us that we should add him on Myspace.

Overall I had a good night at Party Hard Tuesday and would recommend it to anyone in Tokyo and to anyone who likes Reggae/Dancehall music.