Writing about this trip is kinda like going back to Japan. I get to go through all of the days with enough distance that it seems unfamiliar again.
I went to Yokohama the next day, to meet up with Reiko, a friend of a friend at Boom. I had already met her in Amsterdam before. Her English is great, and it was a relief to speak to someone with more than 6 words on either side.
Yokohama is eighty minutes south of Tokyo. It’s the harbor-town-setting of the finale of The Vision of Escaflowne, and also appears in Card Captor Sakura, I believe. Ishikawa-Cho is where I met Reiko, and she took me towards Chinatown. Along the way, I shopped for a bag that I had seen in so many Anime; it’s the private-school bag used in Evangelion and almost all CLAMP series -- a cross between a briefcase and a backpack. Everyone I described it to knew what I was talking about, but it didn’t seem to be sold anywhere.
Eventually, Reiko and I ended up in a Chinese restaurant, drinking beer and having a seven course Chinese lunch. I tried everything, even the bowl of rice soup that looked a little bit like the contents of a ten-year old water balloon. Our 91-Year-Old Waiter testified that this soup prolonged your life; Reiko had been eating it for years. She is 35 and I took her for 21.
Maybe I should be hanging out in Chinatown more often.
After lunch, we wandered through malls, talking about High School and popularity. Reiko is a pretty girl, but neither she nor I had good high school experiences. Both of us felt like outsiders; I imagine that everyone does. She liked western films, I liked video games. Both of us would have had it better if we had gone to each other’s school.
Next, we took another train to Yokohama itself, and I tried street-booth bean cakes and took pictures of the architecture, shopped some more and then said our goodbyes. I need to send Reiko a gift. Since she graduated in 88, and liked western movies so much, I figure there’s a good chance her favorite film in High School was Back to the Future.
After Yokohama, I went back to Tokyo and arrived in the rain at Akihabara. Without an umbrella, I dashed from one overhang to the next, until I found a store that was unlocked.
Late at night, the Akiba is less cluttered. I was able to wander the anime isles without bumping into anybody or drawing any stares. I popped in everywhere that I could, until it was so late that only the porn shops and the 1980’s VCR stores were open.
I took the last train to Minowa, and ducked into the shittiest ramen place I could find. It was now genuinely cold outside, but the chef left the door open and the icy breeze carried ramen steam down the length of the bar. I shivered and paid only 600 yen for the largest bowl of delicious pork ramen on earth.