It was not part of the plan…we did not follow the script in fact we had to improvise but in the end I think we came up with some pretty impressive scenes all things considered.

After a fairly tolerable Italian dinner at a place neither of us had ever been too my friend and I headed out of Isetan Kaikan in Shinjuku and by chance I caught a glimpse of row after row of street vendor tents lining the side-walk just outside Kabukichou.

Intrigued, off we went.

The line of vendors for food, beer and all sorts of “lucky” talismans led us down a crowded path into a park next door to Kabukichou and then into a Shrine type area.  Many people were lined up to go into the shrine and get their worship on and generally there were bodies everywhere. It was totally packed.

We passed on the Shrine and moved into the maze of tents and people.

The charms and baskets of leaves with little plastic golden owls peering out at you surrounded by husks of wheat and fat little smiling geisha looking dolls all of them further surrounded by green leaves and glitter and cards with Japanese writing were visually very intriguing.  I had to ask one of the older vendors what all this was about and simply put he replied beaming, 2 front teeth missing, his face a red glow from the sake he and his co-workers were happily consuming in copious amounts, “LUCKY!” he says, “BIG LUCKY!”

Ahhh…lucky…well thats pretty simple.  I paid 3,000 yen and purchased myself a lucky talisman.  A free service they preformed was to put a 5 yen coin inside a small envelope and add some additional Kanji seals  to the handle of the voodoo stick that is the same size as a ping-pong racket but with a whole collection of charms and gear on the flat face.  The additional seal apparently as much as ENSURES my financial success this season.  I hope so, it cost 30 bucks.

As we continued on through the huge maze of bodies and beer and steaming grilled fish and meat and soups and more beer and more lucky talisman vendors it became clear that some people were really getting into the spirit and taking things to the next level.

Mine cost 3000 and is the size of a ping-pong paddle, this fellas is the size of a battle-axe and god only knows how much he dropped on it. Have fun on the train with that guy.

It’s clear though that this was a really happening event. Lots of smiles and people talking to people they didnt even know.  It was something I dont often get to see in Tokyo, a city well known for cold shoulders and stoic masks accompanied by stone silence.

We were just kind of hanging around a corner of the festival near a Yakitori tent and I was having a beer and we were commenting on how cool and fresh all this was when apparently, the girl working seating who had thought we were in line for a spot tapped me on the shoulder and motioned for us to pop a squat at the grill counter.  Fumi (my friend) and I exchanged looks and then sat down.  grilled fish, veggies and some other goodies I honestly could not identify were ordered and we found out that all the staff including our grill master “Hiro” were all college kids working this part time gig.  All of them slamming beers and clearly having a good time.

The atmosphere at this sort of event is really enjoyable.

Hmmm….Beer was consumed.

Hey! These arent all mine….ok…they are.  But EVERYONE was drinking like their livers would grow back and everyone was fairly well lit.


At one point, for some reason or another Fumi struck up a conversation with the couple sitting next to us.

They had met 2 years ago, at the very same festival and had since married.

The man was 53 and the woman 31…I can say only two words: well done.

He was so insanely drunk that he was trying to convince me to trade Fumi for his wife but “only for tonigt so its ok!” and it took me about 10 minutes to realize that he was, in fact, serious.  How little does he know about Fumi, she could likely kill him with her bare hands.

But they were very fun to talk to. His wife was very vocal and enjoyed slapping him directly in his nose repeatedly which I found amusing and finally they were just buying us drinks (that I really didnt need) and it was a good time.

I was then subsequently befriended by these Yakuza guys that were both dining, drinking and harassing young women right behind us.  If you dont believe me contact DEAN, he can attest to it: Yakuza guys like me.  I dont know why and whats more I have yet to meet a Yazzie I didnt like.  Anyway it took some doing but I convinced this guy to put his shades on.  Then his ex-girlfriend or one of his hookers or his wife, who knows, came stumbling up to us wearing skin tight stone washed jeans with a tear in the knee and another right below the left butt cheek, a pink halter top and a black leather jacket, her hair a style so complex I almost got a headache, with half of it up in the air the other half in corn rows on the side of her head and finally she was holding a bottle of Gilbys vodka in one hand and red bull in the other, both open. Both half empty.

She then proceeded to hand me the vodka and the red bull and ridiculously attack this guy.  It was comical.  He simply moved around the stool he and his buddy had been using as a table and she did not have the sober coordination left to catch him.  Then he looks at me and smiles and says in English “Drunk Japanese Bitch!” Then in Japanese “Too much trouble.”  and this, he and his friend and the drunk old man with the wife and the drunk girl all thought was hilarious and began howling with laughter.  Then I was forced by said drunk girl to help her pour the remainder of the vodka, like quarter of a bottle into the red bull that was 75% gone and we slammed that in turn.  Horrid.

All in all a very interesting evening.

Read more about Japanese Fall Harvest Festivals here

Pretty sure the old timer that sold me this thing did not expect it to be so employed. Damn that girl with her vodka!


For other living with the Japanese posts, try these:

Big In Japan Japanese Bicycles Health Care In Japan Making friends in Japan hostess in Japan
How to become big in Japan How to cycle in Japan Getting the around the Japanese health care system Making Friends in Japan How not to be a hostess