August 21 2005

Japanese Nights

As lots of you know, I have been to Japan three times. Everytime has been in August, and the last two times I have stayed at the same hotel. (I just prefer not to say where that is since I plan to stay there again.) You would think being in a city such as Tokyo, I would have a wide selection of night life to partake in, but honestly I am so tired at the end of the day, and not knowing the language, making going out impossible. Instead I have found a very enjoyable way to spend parts of my evening.

Along one side of my hotel there is a tree lined side street. It’s just a small two lane street. Across the way from the hotel is a post office and police station, across the other street is a hospital. So I have discovered it ia fairly quiet street at night. Lining the hotel are raised planters that are perfect to sit on. So late at night I like to go and sit on the planters and just watch Tokyo life pass me by.

The employees entrance is near here, so I watch the employees come and go. I admit, my enermous size compared to the common Japanese person seems to make the female employees nervous, but I always make sure a)to sit in plain sight b)under the lone street light c)in view of the police stations camera and d)as far off the sidewalk I can.

Then you have the many, many bike riders…the police who go to and from the station (and oddly never give me a second look!)…the couples walking back to the residential housing nearby after a night on the town…the late-to-get-home salarymen and office ladies, who obviouslly have had to much to drink.

To me, this is the heart of a society. I do the same sort of things when I am in an American city for the first time. Tourist spots are all well and good, but I prefer to see the everyday life, not the gltizy facade a city puts on for the tourists. Give me the guts, the heart, the common everyday person going about their everyday lives. How else will you ever get to “know” a city or a society?

Sure, this is an odd way to spend your evenings, but it is extremely relaxing and allows me to see a small sliver of everyday life in Tokyo that I enjoy so much.

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