harrassed in shibuya : january 06
I've been in a funk ever since returning home. Been out of the house only 3 times. My car has cobwebs inside it. I haven't taken it for a wash. It sits there collecting dust. I'm sitting here collecting dust too. Not motivated to go anywhere at all. Still waking up at 1-2pm and sleeping at 5-6am. I should find a night shift job somewhere I think. I haven't called any of my friends. Emailed a couple...but that's it.
I clearly have signs of depression:
Gotta get out of this funk.
Christmas Eve 2000 continues:
It was nearing 4pm or so as I hopped back onto the Ginza Line to get to its last stop, Shibuya. I wanted to make a stop there to purchase some New Year's postcards from one of its most famous stationary stores, Itoya - which happens to be located in the Tokyu Depaato in Shibuya.
If you're into stationary and office supplies as much as I am, you will go gaga in here. The best one they have in my opinion is the Itoya in Ginza.
So I roll into the Shibuya Station and it's easy to get lost here for some reason. Shibuya is another extremely famous place for young people to hang out at.
Shibuya and Harajuku go hand in hand as far as the fashions and the ganguros dictate. As you head out of the station, you are suddenly engulfed in a mass of people, especially if it's the weekend or evenings or a holiday. People hang out in the famous Hachiko (the dog) square as that is one of the primary meeting places in Shibuya. There are these railings that remind you of railroad tracks that you can sit on as it circumvents around the planted trees. Christmas lights adorn much of the trees and buildings, giving Shibuya's already intensive neon cast, additional glow.
[author's note: most links are japanese version. unless you can read japanese and have a japanese software to read it, don't bother clicking on it. just trying to help ya.]
Here in Shibuya, it's a shopping mecca for the young, fashionable and funky. Department stores such as Seibu and its offshoots, Parco and Seed line the streets. There's also a Tower Records and a HUGE Starbucks that I am told opens until the wee hours of the morning. Most of you Starbucks fans will probably have an orgasm just seeing the enormity of it as it showcases a slew of fabulous window seats which overlook the main intersections of Shibuya.
The intersections of Shibuya are unusual as they criss cross diagonally in addition to the usual straight aways that we're familiar with. Sure this doesn't sound fascinating because Old Town Pasadena's got the same thing but when there are hundreds upon hundreds of people at one of these intersections crossing and meshing together at the same time, it must be a tremendous sight from overhead.
The most famous of the buildings there is the 109 Building which houses stories upon stories of shops within its innards. It was here that I first encountered ganguros during my first leg of my trip to Tokyo. As you approach the famous 109 entrance, there are a slew of young guys (some not very good looking) who come up to you if they see you are female and alone. If you are with a group of gals or with a guy, they will not approach.
Many of these young men, I encountered during the "single-girl" part of my trip especially in Osaka and later on in Takeshita Dori and in Shinjuku. Most of them are hosts who try to get you to go to their clubs or perhaps a Ladies Club where there are male hosts to keep you company and whisper sweet yet fake nothings in your ears. Others are trying to sell you something and badger you like mad. Some of course are scouts on the look out for young, supple, tender girls. And maybe some are just trying to get lucky.
These guys usually are adorned in suits or some other hip fashionable attire and have chin to shoulder length hair, many a times dyed to an unhealthy brown or dirty blonde. If they weren't so fuckin aggressive, I wouldn't mind chatting with them. But for the most part, when they see you (their prey), they come straight at you...often times grabbing your shoulder, your elbow, your forearm and then blocking your way with their body.
Highly intrusive, especially for someone who isn't so feely touchy....like me.
Sometimes they will tap you on your shoulder and try to get your attention. They will follow you, they will hold onto you, they will not let go until you really get firm or nasty. These guys will often times say, "hisashiburi desu ne" (it's been a long time since i've see you) or the atypical "sumimasen sumimasen" (excuse me excuse me) to grab your attention. And sometimes it's not one but TWO guys coming at you all at once.
I know they are taking advantage of the Japanese societal way of the impoliteness of saying "no". Therefore, many of these single girls walking about feel pressured to talk to them and cannot seem to get away from their vice grip because it's "improper" to say "no". I've seen some of these girls get cornered and cannot get away for a good 10 minutes. I want to run over and help them, but who am I to interfere with what the culture has taught them their whole life?
It's usually best to wave them off and keep walking. Do not stop and try to refrain from making any eye contact with them. If they keep grabbing at you, just flick your arm away in disgust and if all fails, say something in English and that will really scare them. I tried keeping my silence once and it really didn't work, so I said, "I'm not interested" to which he immediately drew a blank look of surprise and said, "I'm sorry". But that doesn't always work because alot of these guys will actually get pissed off at YOU for not wanting to talk to THEM. I mean, gee, you're not only blocking my way and wasting my time, but you're putting your hands on me and in a very firm and aggressive way may I add, and you expect me to be civil and chat up a storm with you? Ha!
Anyway, once you're inside some building and stuff, you're pretty much safe. 109 certainly has alot to look at. Bags, boots, shoes, clothes - all arranged in a mini shop display from floor to floor. The colors are loud and the music is louder. Up and down the escalator one goes to preview all the latest trends & fashions. Things aren't too pricey here, unlike the department store name brands but then again, clothes like these don't really stay in your closet as in investment either. Just fun, hip clothes to go out in, clothes to be seen in, if you want to be seen.
Nearby 109, there's another shopping center that has J.Crew and such, but why go there when you can get it back home. I never set foot in places like that when I'm in another country. My theory is to take in as much of the stuff their country offers and the stuff we can never see back home.
In Shibuya lies two of my favorite stores to check out - Loft and Tokyu Hands. They are chains of stores dotted throughout Japan and provide a variety of goods from household goods, arts and crafts, stationary to makeup and camping gear. Loft is also part of the Seibu chain and Tokyu Hands is part of the Tokyu chain of depaato stores. I can easily spend 3-4 hours in one of these on any given day.
I make my way back to the train station and stop in Hachiko Square to take a few pics when a Middle Eastern guy comes up to me and puts his arm around my shoulder. What the fuck! And not only that, he's rubbing my back! EWWWWWW! I felt so fuckin violated.
I immediately knock his hands away and tell him to go away and leave me alone. I'm busy. I'm waiting for someone. And I certainly WASNT taking a picture of him. I was in fact, taking a picture of a giant Luna Sea billboard! He asks me where I'm from, and also "what is an attractive girl like you doing here alone."
I wanted to puke in that fuckers face. And then cut off his nuts.
If he was some hot dude, good looking with a decent bod, maybe I would have even considered cheating on K. Haha.
The he goes on to say, "if you have free time maybe we can...."
With that, I quickly knock him away with my Edwin shopping bag and went into the train station and bought me a ticket to go back to the hotel. I mean, I love Japan and all but these dudes just bother the fuck out of me and they really make it so I can't take my time to stroll and take in the scenery. I sometimes just like to sit and look at things and feel the holiday spirit, but I can't do that if Arabic Octopus is going to leech onto me with its tentacles.
I got back to the hotel and took a very hot bath and washed off all the cooties. Bleech. I then ate a couple onigiris for dinner and drank some tea before heading out again at 9pm to see the lights of Shinjuku. I hopped onto the local Chuo/Sobu JR Line from Yotsuya that took me from Akasaka (where I was staying at) to Shinjuku. Lucky for me, I stayed in Shinjuku during the first leg of the Tokyo trip and was familiar with the subway station there. Since the station boasts an incredible 60 exits...you better know your way.
Christmas Eve, the biggest date night of the year. Couples were glued to one another like a marshmallow and chocolate in a S'more. With the temps dipping down to 5 degrees celcius or so, it was even more important to stay close with your companion. I of course, thwarted off my chances with Arabic Octopus and spent Christmas Eve alone. A sudden sense of isolation and loneliness filled my heart as I saw the wonderful light displays in Takashimaya Times Square in Shinjuku. It was nearing 10pm at that point and I wanted something to eat. Unfortunately, everything closed by that time and even Starbucks wasn't on my side.
I saw some Christmas carolers singing some tunes and listened to the music as I watched steam come out of their mouths. Not only was it cold, it was windy. Brrr. Walking alone among the midsts of lovers, friends, spouses made me feel acutely aware of my singleness. I felt as if all eyes were on me wondering how come I'm trodding about on a night like this....alone.
Were they laughing at me with their eyes or were they pitying me? Or maybe they were admiring my independence to be out and about even if it meant being alone.
I can't tell the difference. I just know that I continued to walk amongst them and there wasn't anyone by my side.
It neared 11pm and I knew I had to get back on the subway because they promptly shut down around midnight and taxis are expensive. Got back onto the Chuo/Sobu Line and grabbed a seat with the heater at your feet. It was Christmas Eve, where did these people come from and where are they going? Most were alone. But I bet they weren't alone like me.