Thursday, 23 December 2004

after thinking about it for a while, I'm not going to write about what I was going to write about. It was pregnancy stuff with the guru that is not, I think, for public consumption just yet. Don't worry though, everything is fine and the regular check-up yesterday was like clockwork - well, inasmuch as the guru was left staring at the clock in the hospital for most of the day whilst waiting for appointments, almost nhs-like in the amount of time it took, but the doctor said everything was ok, so that's cool. So onto other business.

The weekend

Last weekend was a busy one, what with not studying but going out for various parties and the like. Friday, being the last official friday in the office, was designated 'Pub Crawl night' and was organised by computer and erstwhile Tokyo nightlife bon vivant Chris, who, apparently, knows a bit about bars around central Tokyo.

So, first stop was What the Dicken's? in Ebisu. Personally I like the Dickens. It's big, it's dark and it serves decent enough beer in pints rather than odd Japanese glass sizes (and, interestingly, it is housed in a building that was, once, the Tokyo HQ of the Aum Shinrikyu cult that did the subway gas attack). Anyway we pitched up there at about 8 and tucked into a few pints and some of their rather good food. Drinking games followed in which Shigetaka, a japanese computer person of reasonable english ability outperformed a number of native english speakers (though not yours truly), including one Australian female known for her ability with the bottle (though not, now, her ability with Australian drinking games). From here it was to Enjoy! House in Ebisu we decamped. This is a crushed-velvet 70s heaven that was, strangely, empty on a Friday night. But is was pleasant, in a kitsch way, and a few more drinks (back to strange Japanese glass sizes) were downed.

So far so good. Then the first hitch - someone else was on the way to meet us and so we had to stop and wait, outside Wendy's for them firstly to arrive, and then for them to buy something to eat. With hindsight we should have gone back to Enjoy! House and waited there, but no, it was only for a few moments after all. Personally I am of a mind that you are either there for the start of a pub crawl, or the end, but let's have none of this buggering about waiting for people in the middle, eh?

30 minutes later we set off for the next place. I can't remember the name as, once inside, waiter chap said something along the lines of "8 of you, no chance". Ok, no problem, off to Daikanyama where there about 3 bars we are going to visit. Stroll stroll stroll and pitch up at a place called '4'. I was first in with another chap - once again "2 no problem, 8? You must be joking!" It was a small place, fair enough. You can guess what happened at the other 2 bars...

OK, rapidly sobering up, we'll head to "Soft" in Shibuya, which is in the basemant of some building. Get there, down the stairs, looks promising as there's no queue outside. Open the door of the "contemporary british pub" and we are assaulted by wailing. Peering around the door we see, on stage, a woman, some hitech looking AV stuff, lots and video screens. The "contemporary british pub" is an all white inside affair with red vinyl accoutrements and is having an evening of performance art - weird wailing woman with video, or somesuch nonsense. That'll be two grand door charge to you, thanks very much...

So, moving off we "must be able to get a drink at Bar Aoyama, they're always open" says Chris. The entrance to Bar Aoyama is a three inch steel door set into a concrete embankment on the busy Roppongi-dori. Apparently it is a bit of a rock music dive (fine by me, but Chris is a techno person) which lets in anyone and everyone. Except, of course, 8 wanderers who have now not had a drink for around an hour and a half and some of whom are getting testier by the minute. It wasn't as if this place turned us away, we couldn't even open the door...

And finally, we ended up at the Pink Cow in Shibuya. Thank god that it a) was open b)was pretty empty and c) had a good sense of humour because as soon as we turned up everyone headed to the toilet. By this time it was nearly 11 so a couple of swift pints and then head off to get the last train home, which I just managed to do but was cutting it very fine - indeed, had the pub crawl been more successful and I been more drunk, I probably would have given up and got a taxi from Ikebukuro, but being relatively sober I could actually work out how to get home using the trains. Also, as this was the last train it was absolutely packed, as only a train in Tokyo can be, and this inward pressure on my body was matched by an outward pressure in my bladder which wasn't helped by the queue for the bogs at Kawaguchi station.

In the end it was all crawl and not enough bleeding pub!

Next time Chris is not allowed to organise this. His excuse was that he had done a 'dry' run a month or two before and it was fine, but that was with only 2 people so of course it would be ok. Also, with the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to see - last weekend before christmas, well that's always going to be busy and, don't forget (though we did) it was winter bonus day, so not only did we have to contend with the usual Friday night revellers, also Japan Inc. Salaryman was spending his bit of the bonus before his wife got her hands on it. Ah well, better luck next time.

This led into Sunday, which was another christmas party, this time a company sponsored one. In keeping with the spirit of the season we went to a Hawaiian/Polynesian bar called Tiki Tiki in Shinjuku. This place was an odd mix, which is pretty much how you can describe most bars in tokyo, as we had Polynesian decor, grass skirted Japanese waitresses, french red wine, chinese (i think) food and a bunch of English people - in the next door room to ours there was a wedding reception with bingo! Prior to going here a couple of us had met up in the Dubliners (surprisingly an Irish bar) for a few and we retired there after our 2-3 hour all you can eat and drink extravaganza had finished. It was after this that I waddled/staggered home and ended up playing backgammon with big p until 2am - three quarters cut and unable to focus properly on the playing board. The score was indeed 10-5 but, interestingly, whilst big p was sober heading towards drunk he beat me 10-0, but by the time he arrived in the same state as me, I won 0-5. Food for thought there, I think.

Then on Monday it was leaving drinks for Helen, who is off to have a baby in February and from whom I will be taking over next year whilst she is away on maternity leave. So, again in the spirit of the weekend, after (sort of) visiting various bars on Friday and Irish and Polynesian on Sunday, we went to a Mexican place for Margueitas (I have no idea about the spelling). And that was that, now christmas is here the drinking can really get started.

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