7 out of 10 people at the airport today are Chinese, Taiwanese, etc-ese. The man of the hour, the man with the power, is wearing Bathing Ape shirt, Nike trainers, clutching oversized Louis Vuitton wallet.
“Young people today don’t want to buy brand goods anymore,” says ESPY agent Yumi Kaoru in her office under Kudanshita station. “They want something original. So they buy something cheap at Uniqlo and customize it and wear that instead.” Later that night, we just want to eat some Chinese food. “I can get this stuff in Akabane,” says Yumi, sticking her cute little nose up to the Ginza Can Can’s menu of yakisoba, croquette, shit like that. But when we get to her preferred destination, a fancy place up on Yasukuni-dori near 0101 Mens, the place is eerie and empty inside. The staff comes to our table in waves bringing dim sum, and like so in tiny but expensive proportions. All of them are wearing gauze cold masks, which we assume is supposed to make us feel cleaner, safer, better. But it just makes us feel small, helpless, trapped….
Days later, Hamburger Hakasei and I are strolling down Sakura-dori. A fat-for-Japan girl leaps out of a staircase and runs past us like a startled cat. “She’s a soap girl. Definitely,” the professor notes like it’s no big deal. Later, we’re on the border of Shin-Okubo. Haggard old women gather behind a fence while homeless men mill about behind. “They’re prostitutes.” The customers are “baba maniacs” men who get off on old women at 10000 yen a pop. Still, he insists, “Kabuki-cho isn’t interesting anymore. But it was a lot of fun in the ‘90s.” I hear that a lot these days.
After dinner, composed of 500 seats plus of awkward silence, we’re anxious for some noise and shit-kicking. We head for a karaoke place in this, the new normal. But, there’s only the staff inside, plus one huge Nigerian man who has made the lobby into his own private office where he sits on the sofa shouting into a cell phone. When we get to our k-room, the TV is playing the preview for Resurrection of Golden Wolf. Right after come a spot for the Blu-ray disc of Harmagedon, Genma Taisen, wherein Shinjuku is destroyed by a malevolent conscious being made of entropy….
Here at the airport…The Japanese kids just sit and tinker will cell phones, PSPs, disposable cans of espresso mill. THEY ARENT HERE ANYMORE. Meanwhile, steady streams of Chinese tourists take pictures in front of window gazing out at airplane. Bothering strangers to frame them and take them together.
The flight back is long, dark, and eventless.