Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bar My Place

So, at one point I thought I would make daily entries and use this to chronicle my entire time in Japan. I see now that this was an unrealistic expectation. I am clearly too lazy to write daily. And besides, you can only be amused by the random crap you see walking to work before it just becomes part of your routine.

Fortunately, tonight I was lucky enough to be reminded once again that Tokyo is a very strange place.

The area I'm staying and working, Bunkyo-ku, is a pretty dull place. It's apparently a very nice residential area with the some of the highest land prices in all of Japan. As I've chronicles previously, nightlife in Tokyo seems to be a strange beast. In Bunkyo for example, it seems to be non-existent.

Well, tonight as I was walking home, I hear a lot of noise coming from what appears to be another small restaurant. I stop to check the sign and see that the place is called Bar My Place. Seeing as the name is in English and it's called Bar My Place, I figure there's no reason not to drop in.

I'm immediately disappointed to see that I appear to be walking in on a dinner party. Like everywhere, it's a small room with one large table (currently seating 6 or so nicely-dressed people) and a couple smaller tables. Since I've already walked in, I figure I'll at least have a beer and jot some notes for the blog. The bartender is very friendly and tells me that I'm welcome to go upstairs where it's a bit more lively. I drop off my coat and bag and follow him up the narrow stairway near the entrance.

I find myself in what looks like a band practice room that someone set up in a small apartment. There's an inflatable deer head above the door, a projector showing some movie, a few couches and a band set-up behind the movie screen. I'm greeted by Jeff, another American. He introduces me to his wife, brother-in-law and a couple other Japanese people hanging out in the apartment above the bar.

I'd finished about half a beer when they decided it was time to play some music. The screen is raised. The brother-in-law sits at the drums, other Japanese guy grabs a guitar, the two women start messing w/ the keyboard. Jeff shoves some Bongo drums in front of me and grabs a microphone. I've now joined the most surreal band of all time.

The two Japanese guys are very good musicians and, since they don't speak English, Jeff assures me they think anything you 'sing' in English sounds good. I'm a bit weirded out, but figure it's better to just go with the flow and hit the bongos.

After a bit the bartender comes up to check on us. He asks how I'm doing and indicates that everybody up here is crazy. He then sits down and picks up a bass. Another song ensues. This time the microphone is shoved in front of me near the end and I'm forced to make up random lyrics.

Not long after this, everyone has to leave to catch the last train. I'm left to finish my beer and chat w/ Kento, the bartender, a bit. Turns out he used to be high up in some company and more or less retired to run the bar. It's mostly run as a restaurant where he cooks some daily special each evening. He gave me his card and cell phone number so I can call him if I ever want a specific meal prepared.

Kento also wondered why I had stopped by. I explained that it was just b/c I walked by and heard noise. For some reason this seems to be a common theme everywhere I go. Everyone is friendly and welcoming, but no one understands why I'm there. I don't know if the Japanese just never go to new places or if I'm just wandering into very non-touristy places or what. Maybe it's just that I'm weird and drawn to the unwelcoming places that have a small sign in a dark alley. I don't know.

1 comment:

  1. I bet that night playing Rock Band with the Ellis Family really prepared you to hit the bongo drums and sing. That is awesome. You need to be taking pictures of this stuff! I demand photo illustrations.