Alice in Wonderland vs Star Wars

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January 23rd 2006
Published: January 27th 2006
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The night started out like the one before. By about 9pm, the kitchen had seen most come and go with their dinner cooking and there was a rumble of- 'well, what to do tonight?'. Despite Kathrin's invitation to go out with some Japanese friends in Shibuya, as the day had been a particularly cold one, the easy option of going up the road to Shinjuku was too appealing. Nothing worse than not being drunk enough, it being less than zero degrees and no way of getting home for over 3 hours. So the decision had to be made from the start as to what kind of night we were going to have.. 😊

So Andrea, the bright photographer from Italy, Kathrin, the sweet smiley German lawyer, Christof, the quiet, but sharp, Swiss architect and myself set out for the stroll up the road.

Andrea made the call to head into a district on the east side of the station called "Golden Gai." Well district is actually an over-statement, as it comprises of two laneways which are found by turning left off the main road, down a cobble-stone lane, right at the blue house, spinning anti-clockwise 4 times, with a
The Flamenco BarThe Flamenco BarThe Flamenco Bar

Kathrin, Andrea, me and Christof
pink carnation in your left hand.. Anyway, you get my drift. 😉

Entering Golden Gai, we found a tiny laneway comprised mostly of doors. Run down doors, doors half underground, metal doors, doors with rock music blasting from behind, others with the muffled sound laughter and clanking beer bottles. So we had to make a choice.

Enter Door Flamenco!

But there was no flamenco.

Only a bar no bigger than my Gaijin-house room, 3 drunk Japanese, a Spanish dude and an old man running the joint who looked like he was about 85. Except he had the skin of a 20 year old. No wrinkles, no sags, nothing. Bizarre.

After some hushed mumbles from the crowd about being over-run in the bar by 'gaijin', we pulled up some tiny stools and ordered 4 Saporro's. (Later in the night we were actually so unwelcome in another bar that the owner insisted he needed to charge us Y1,000 ($12 AUS) per person for the privilege of drinking at his establishment. I can guarantee the 10 Japanese already there had not paid a cent. Anyway...)

About 3/4 through our beers, the Japanese clientele left and there remained the 4 of us, the Spanish guitar player and our 80+year old proprietor, who I'll refer to from here on in as Yoda. That's not his name, but I like to think he was Yoda. You see, he had the same laugh. That kind single exhale that goes something like "Heeeh" that passes as a laugh, but comes from the back of the throat, a life time of cigarette smoking and a protruding bottom jaw.

Anyway, at this point, the communication began and this whole Alice in Wonderland story turns a bit Star Wars.

So Yoda was Japanese, but could speak Spanish. We discovered this after he burst into song following a few strums of the guitar from the Spanish guitar player. Nice. The Spanish guitar player spoke Spanish as well as Italian, we then had an Italian, German and a Swiss who could speak English along with their own respective languages (despite the German making fun of the Swiss-German's German), whilst the Italian could also understand Spanish, but not speak it and an Aussie (me) who could speak English and Japanese... Oh, and Yoda was half deaf, so couldn't really understand anything anyway...Can anyone do the maths here?

Anyway, it was completely like that scene from Star Wars, I don't know which one, but it was in the good old days, when Hans Solo is in that bar on some planet, maybe in a desert, talking in one language to an alien type creature next to him and in another language to the bartender creature in front of him and everyone manages to understand each other. It's a dark bar, smokey, the lighting is kind of rouge and randomly in the corner there appears a cat or something that just sits there and looks at you for 10minutes. So anyway, I found that bar, it's in Shinjuku Golden Gai. Just don't forget to turn 4 times anti clockwise..

Credits for this photography go to Christof, used here with his permission


27th January 2006

Im jealous you've met Yoda! Ha sounds like your having a blast!Be sure to show them all over there how to play some real pool! Have fun!
29th January 2006

Good Times
Glad to see you are making the most of your travels! I am really enjoying following your blogs. A little message here from Aus - lost the first game of netty back :( we are missing your C expertise!
30th January 2006

After this, the second blog of yours I have read, I am at risk of resolving to not read any more of yours or Patrick's for fear of paralysing myself with envy as, even if I had been relatively content before, I am now entirely restless and a distinct feeling of boredom is setting in! Glad to hear you arehaving a wonderful time Vettie. Keep the fantastical stories coming! ab xo
4th February 2006

Envious? ME?!!
Your narrative skills are amazing, make me feel as if I'm there too! Glad you're enjoying things in spite of the cold (which we can match here in freezing Britain by the way, definitely thermals weather!) Could you have a wee word with "Yoda" and find out what he's on, let me know what it is and I'll get it bottled, we could make a fortune with that 'elixir of Youth' Carry on enjoying! Robbie x
8th February 2006

bloody yoda
your story reminds me of that old pub we went to in chesky krumlov (minus the cult members)! very much liked your story and am jealous of your cool job! have started spanish and its intense! and i am living with mormons. miss ya templar.

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