OPERATION: DOWNFALL (The Invasion of Japan for Otaku Purposes [aka ODTIJOP])


After dinner we both walked across the street to the train station and boarded our Tokyo-bound ride with a whooooole bunch of teenagers. The trip back to Asakusa was long and boring, and there were no assigned seats this time; this meant that I had to put on my FULL BLAST Crazy Gaijin Stare™ in order to keep the school kids, housewives, and tired business men from sitting near us. I then spent the long journey reading up on some tourist guidebooks — mainly one about the many distinct districts of Tokyo. I learned a shit-ton on that 2.5-hour trip (that I probably should have discovered prior to already spending a few days in town) and decided that the first thing we would do when we got back into the big city would be to hit the Shinjuku ward and check out the fabled "Sex Alley!" I told Mehve the "Shinjuku" part, but left out the "Sex Alley" thing. I had been told by many, many friends and intarweb fans that the seedy side of Shinjuku is a MUST see for any tourist with a sense of humor. I couldn't wait.

Crazy Gaijin Stare

My Crazy Gaijin Stare ended up getting the two of us out of almost as many wacky and zany mishaps as Gaijin SMASH did! It was the one-two punch of gaijin POWAH that all tourists need to master in the Land of the Rising Xenophobic Sun.


Disgusting meal time!

Who knew reading things could learn you stuff?!


So, we finally got us back to Tokyo at 7:30, and we then jumped a few more train lines till we wound up in Shinjuku. Shinjuku at night is pretty cool, I must say: lots of lights, lots of cool sights, and LOTS of people. Unfortunately, at this point I was starting to really feel the tiredness seeping into my bones, and I got it into my mind that all I wanted was a Yebisu before crashing for good that day. But it was my idea to go to the Shinjy, and I wasn't about to admit my exhaustion to Mehve unless I had to. So I trudged along, looking up at all the cool building displays, and people watching from above the crowds (a good head and shoulders above the average pedestrian).

Soon we came to a wide side street glowing red, and I knew I had found it. Before Mehve could object I pushed him down the super crowded lane filled with girls wearing kinky costumes handing out flyers, and pimps more and more aggressively trying to pull men into their "massage parlors," or "soap rand-u's," or "strip-u fun times" the further in we wandered. I started to laugh out loud, almost hysterically, at this point.

Disgusting meal time!See, in all the anime and manga I've seen that takes place in the city limits of Tokyo, there's always a scene or two where a character has a run in with one of these "massage pushers." They're usually huge dudes who don't take "no" for an answer, and then some wacky misunderstandings occur due to the main character having no backbone and getting yanked along with the pimp to his assigned whore house like a Chihuahua on a leash. This is what I wanted to see. I was dying to find out if it was really like that on the actual Shinjuku streets... That and I wanted to see if the chicks really were hot or just ugly and bored.

Anyway, as these yakuza-wannabe pushers and thugs came up to me to tell me "Hey, mack, you go to MY massage! Yes, you! Buddy! My girls so hot-u! You rike them more than all other!" and "Yo, yo, yo! Super sexy! Yes! My super sexy girl for you, big guy! Very GOOD strip girls for you!" It was too much, especially coming from dudes half my size sporting slicked-back hair (or 80s Bon Jovi do's), with aviator sunglasses and a cigarette dangling from their lips. It was like something from a wacky comedy movie. There was that one guy who came up to my chin and tried to drag me to some open doorway with promises of "girly make you smile, man!" and this other dude, some reeeeeeally dark-skinned man from Africa who spoke Engrish with a very deep African/Japanese accent. I started squirting tears I was giggling so hard! I just KNOW he had never had that problem before. All the horny, scared-of-him Japanese business men would have just cowered in front of him and his bulging muscles and eyes, and done whatever he told them too.... He came up to my nose... Maybe.

Shinjuku at night

Pretty lights in Shinjuku are pretty. Even if I didn't stick out like a Satan worshipper on Christmas at the midnight service over there (I tend to wear horns to church whenever I go), the fact that I was constantly looking up at the lights and signs for whatever shops were not on the ground floor kind of made it obvious I wasn't from around there.


Shinjuku red light district

I should have gotten more shots down the actual alley, but I was too busy laughing.


So Mehve and I ran the gauntlet as it were, and we were both laughing so hard by the end that it was impossible to take anything in Shinjuku seriously anymore. So we marched back to the train station in order to take the Yamanote Line back to Harajuku, where we agreed to find a Yakitori restaurant and drink lots of biru. Lots and lots of biru.

I almost immediately noticed on the map on the wall of the Yamanote train car that we entered that only a couple of stops down from Harajuku was something special. "Mehve!" I yelled like a Japanese schoolgirl who just got felt up by her first tentacle monster! "Mehve! Ebisu is coming up! According to that guidebook I finally read on the train today, that's the birthplace of Yebisu Biru! We need to get off now! Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!" And so we did.

Ebisu district is a minor, non-flashy ward of Tokyo. It's pretty quiet, but right across from the station are a lot of small restaurants down a lot of back alleys. So we took our own advice and marched down one alley, and then down another, and we found an open, dinky restaurant with maybe 5 seats at the small bar inside the doorway, and a decent-sized grill out front. Mehve said, "Well holy shit! I think this is actually a Yakitori place! Nice!" And so we went inside.

Shinjuku anime

After the Red Light Alleyway, Mehve and I just took to exploring. We actually came pretty close to trying to buy a ticket to this movie (which I later learned was called The Recollections of a Certain Pilot), but in hindsight I'm pretty glad we passed. Greater things were meant for us other than sitting on our asses for an hour and a half watching untranslated cartoons.


Hello Hell-mouth Kitty

Everybody around us must have already been brainwashed by the Hell-Mouth Kitty. My god... The horror... The pure evil that slipped into my brain when I was in its presence... It... It made me want to do naughty things to Japanese school girls.... Okay, that's a lie. Hello Kitty had nothing to do with that thought in my head, but it did give me a migraine for the rest of the day.


I have to tell you, Ebisu Yakitori is one of the greatest restaurants I've ever been to. The people there were so goddamn friendly and enjoyable, the food was excellent beyond belief, and the beer was insanely drinkable. Seriously, Facebook friend them; they're pretty Japanawesome.

So, we went inside the little restaurant and immediately found that the man behind the bar spoke zero English. None. He did not even understand "this, please" with me pointing at a beer tap. I mean, we sat down, and I said "Two Yebisu, please," and the bar man looked at me like I just told him my penis was missing. Total blank, almost confused stare. I then said "Ni Yebisu, onegaishimas-u" while holding up two fingers, and that made the cheerful fellow launch into a very long winded explanation of something, and it involved lots of hand gestures. I repeated my question in Japanese to show him that I was thirsty, and that I had no idea what he was saying, and he then tried to explain whatever it was to me in yet another overly-complicated manner. I looked at Mehve who looked even more like a deer-chan in headlights than I. He shrugged and I then asked for the old standby request: "Ni biru, onegaishimas-u." The barman smiled, filled up two glasses (1/3rd of each being pure head... Seriously, Japan? Ugh), and gave the drinks to us.

Ebisu_Yakitori at twitterWe "Kampai!"'d and drank, and soon noticed the SUNTORY company logo on the beer glasses. "Oh," said I. "The barman wasn't saying 'that is so' in his anti-Yebisu rants just now, he was saying 'Suntory!' The biru name! Not 'sonatori-desu'! Ha!.... Awesome." I was disappointed that a bar in Ebisu didn't serve Yebisu, but that feeling soon drowned when I tasted that Suntory goodness.... Holy fuck was it delicious!

So there we sat, drinking and talking, and I noticed the little 3X6-inch pieces of papers set in trays alongside pencils in front of every stool. The pieces of paper were all covered in Japanese, but it was easy enough to figure out that they were the ordering system for the place (just like at a sushi restaurant). As soon as I picked one up the barman came over, smiling expectantly at me, so I just started checking shit off on the list randomly. I figured "Yakitori is just 'meat on a stick.' I like meat... ALL meats really, so I can't go wrong!" I passed the sheet to the man and Mehve soon followed with some arbitrarily chosen items on his own checklist. The bar dude thanked us in Japanese, then delivered the cards to the guy manning the great-smelling grill out front. Then Mehve and I drank some more.

After another round of drinks the food was delivered — it was pure grilled Heaven, if Heaven tasted like roasted meats and Natalie Portman's sweat (trust me, that's delicious AND sexy). Both of us devoured our meaty treats in no time, then immediately checked off a boatload more stuff on a new list of paper. Mehve passed in his first, then the barman took mine, looked at it, looked at me, then pointed at the 5th item I marked off on my list and said "Hot-u. HOT-u." I shrugged, said "Meh... I can handle hot shit. Hai! Arrigatou. Hot-u oishi!"

That just made the barman say it louder and pound his chest as if it'd give me indigestion. "HOT-U" Eventually I assured him that it'd be okay, and he laughed his ass off as he delivered the newest orders to the man at the grill. After another few rounds our new meats were presented to us.

Mehve looked over at mine and said, "Hey, Rossman... I think that when he was saying 'Hot-u' he was really saying 'HEART.'"

"Yup," I agreed. "That's pretty much what I was thinking too. Oh well, BANZAI!" And with that I ate the bisected, grilled, chewy heart on a stick in front of me while the barman and grill man watched, and both broke out laughing. It was actually pretty good, and that's not just the Suntory talking.

After the heart came anther dilemma for me though: there was a bowl of raw egg yolk in front of me, and no instruction manual (even in Japanese) for what to do with it. I pointed at the egg questioningly to the bartender, and then he patiently explained to me (I'm assuming) what to do with it. When he was done 30 seconds later, and he could see that I was still very confused and extremely drunk, he then pointed to one of the meats on a stick (a sausagey thing), then pointed at the yolk dish. I remember barely being able to slosh 2 and 2 together by this point (at least 6 biru in), and I slowly picked up the sausage by its stick — looking at the barman for approval the whole time — and then pushed the whole chunk of meat product off the stick and into the egg-filled bowl in one giant *blurp*.... The barman actually fell to the goddamn floor he was laughing so hard. Mehve even started chuckling too, asking "Why the fuck'd you do THAT, Rossman? Oh my god, you're so retarded." He was right, but that sausage/egg thing was still pretty good my way.

We sat around for a while longer, but then we eventually did have to go. We paid, I thanked the barman, and then held up my camera, said "Picture-u? Onegaishimas-u? Cheez-u?" Then I pointed at the barman, the grillman, Mehve and I. The barman nodded in understanding, tapped another patron on the shoulder (an obvious regular) and after a few rapid Japanese exchanges convinced the guy to come outside and take our picture. It ended up being one of the greatest shots I've ever been in.

Hello Hell-mouth Kitty

Yakitori is so unbelievably delicious! But only if cooked up by Japanese Gilligan.


Ebisu Yakitori

From left to right: Japanese Gilligan, Mehve, Me, and the barman extraordinaire, Fukui-san*
(*not the bartender's actual name)


After that I bowed to the griller and bartender, barked out a very deep "Mmmmm, OISHI!" they laughed (bastards), then Mehve and I departed. Even though we were totally plastered off of savory Suntory, we were still hungry, but this time for something sweet... So we started searching around for some kind of dessert shop (preferably a Mister Donut). After we got back to the main boulevard outside of the Ebisu train station we found what appeared to be an ice-cream shop, and we just gave up and decided to go in and get something sugary.

Inside we scared the SHIT out of 2 16-year-old girls who were working behind the counter. They were petrified of my giant gaijin self as I approached the counter, so I didn't even bother to try talking to them. Instead I pointed to a "medium" cup in the display case, and then I grunted and pointed to some purple sorbet-looking tub of frozen goodness in the glass freezer between us. One girl got the hint and got to scooping what turned out to be my first "Japanese Ice" into my cup. Mehve initially tried talking to the second girl, but when her frightened stare wouldn't leave my 6'4" frame, he just gave up, grunted and pointed too. They then locked the doors right behind us as we departed, and flicked off the lights as soon as we were 5 steps away. Then I'm sure they cowarded in fear for 45 minutes in the walk-in freezer because of the "terrifying hideous gaijin man who tried to rob and kill [them]! Aiyaaaa! Kowaiiiiiii!"

Mr Fried Chicken

But before something sweet, I needed me a little sugar of my own! GrrrrroOOOOOwwwwl! You know he liked it!


Ebisu Yakitori


Ebisu Yakitori

Truth be told, none of this stuff looked all that appetizing. But we were there, we were hungry, we were drunk, and we had some teenage girls we had to traumatize for life.


Ebisu Yakitori

But, we found that Japanese Ice-u really was pretty tasty. Always try something new, dear readers. Never pussy out of a new experience.


Ebisu Yakitori


Mehve and I then stumbled around the small Ebisu area for a few minutes while eating our tasty Ices, then we took the train to Shinagawa. Oh! And we saw the cutest thing EVER on the train back to our hotel that night! There was an adorable 7 year-old girl by herself on the Yamanote Line in her full school uniform, red roundshell backpack on, reciting her homework to herself, with random other passengers applauding her when she got something right (and when they indicated she got a fact [or whatever the fuck she was stating] wrong, she'd make the most adorable scrunched-up face, think about it, and then try again till she got it correct). Seriously, if Japan could bottle (or at least manufacture) that kind of terrifying super-cuteness, they'd be able to rule the fucking world.

We finally tripped into our room at 11:45PM, and I don't know about Mehve, but I passed out within minutes of falling on my midget bed. Life was indeed good that night.

Bear in apple


clean trains

Seriously, Tokyo was the cleanest fucking city I've ever been to. Super Mr. Sparkle-like clean.


Good night, Japan.

If only the next day COULD start out with ninjas somehow.... If only....


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