samskivert: Tokyo NYE

01 January 2004

Having arrived in Tokyo but 36 hours before year’s end, I felt something of a sense of urgency with regard to my New Year’s Eve plans. Forunately, the Tokyo club scene is even better documented (via the Internet) than San Francisco.

A few minute’s perusal turned up the Jungle Calendar and a promising party in my vicinity at a club called Aoyama Hachi. Another couple of hours of research left me with a vastly better grasp on the nightlife resources at my disposal, but with nary a better alternative than my first lucky find.

Having already experienced first hand the challenge of locating anything in Tokyo — even with the aid of the map snippets that every sane business uses in lieu of an address — I went out for a stroll in the early evening with the ulterior motive of locating the club. A couple of hours of walking left me with a vastly better grasp on my general vicinity but with nary a clue as to the wherabouts of the club. It didn’t help that I had forgotten to bring either the address or the little map I copied by hand from the club’s web site.

I was confident that I had a vague idea of where the club should be, despite the strong counterevidence that my hypothesized location was one of precious few dark spots in the colossal light bulb that is Tokyo. Fortune shined upon me, however, as I did eventually locate the club after combining my newfound mental map with the much more useful and precise paper map I had forgotten to bring the first time around. That the place was down a dark alley in a rickety building on what had first appeared to be an abandoned lot was, in retrospect, all the more charming.

The evening proceeded as well as could be hoped from there. The club, naught more than four small rooms vertically stacked, was hopping. The drum and the bass were top-notch and I even liked the MC — I think Japanese has better flow for rapping than English, all those vowels come in handy. There were gaijin aplenty, some similarly recent arrivals and some with a year’s tenure or more. I even made the acquaintance of a few locals, most of whom spoke English but the universal language of glow sticks provided a gateway to some who didn’t.

At midnight, there was your standard countdown, in Japanese of course. I was amused at the fluid alternation between Japanese and English on the part of the MC. He even announced “one minute left” in English, though the 30 second mark was announced natively whether because “thirty” or “seconds” were dangerous linguistic territory I can only speculate. I managed to hold out until 4:30am thanks to lively discussion with my new friends, but given that my body began protesting at 10pm (already 5am according to my stuck in PST rhythms), it took my entire force of will to remain conscious for the walk home. Plus no one had made any mention of staying up to see the sunrise, not that it would have been visible from inside the smokey windowless club.

The year firmly off to a good start, thus I began my Tokyo adventures.

©1999–2022 Michael Bayne