Thursday, August 22, 2002

We got out at Shinjuku Station and found a place to eat, a sushi restaurant on the second floor. Everything in Tokyo is up stories; it's a vertical city. Bars, shops, restaurants: 2F, 5F, 7F. What's on the ground floor? Banks.

We took our shoes off at the front door and sat cross-legged at a low table in the back. I had sake and Roger had tea and we ordered sushi that was no better than it is in New York. We talked about where we were from and then about girls and relationships and he said he was in love with some girl but he cheated on her or something and pissed her off and now he wants her back. Outside it began to rain.

There was nothing happening in the neighborhood so we took a cab to Roppongi. As I gazed through the beaded water on the windows I wondered, this place could be any city, it's like all the cities I know: What makes it Tokyo? I searched for something that would evoke magnificent, strange difference but found only pleasant residential streets lined with trees and shrubs and walls around parks, streetlights and crosswalks and cars and parking meters.

When we got to Roppongi the rain was pouring in thick, warm ropes. It was maybe the hardest rain I'd ever seen; a choking, blinding deluge that soaked all the fabric on my body. We walked up and down the main street and finally decided to go to the Gas Panic Bar, just down a side street. We spent a couple of hours in the second-floor bar, Club 99, a relatively subdued place with an American-looking bartender and lots of young Japanese. We sat at a small table, drying off and drinking beer and looking around. I took pictures in the red-lighted semi-darkness. And then we went to the bar on the third floor.