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The Bukuro

Posted on 2005/08/29 13:18:58 (August 2005).

[Friday 26th August]
We'd planned to go to Tokyo for the weekend, as Chie had a sort of university reunion thing on Saturday night. I went a day earlier than Chie, as I needed to visit my future employer. Yes, today I signed the contract, so I suppose that's it then - the decision is made. I'll probably be starting at the beginning of October, although this of course depends on the visa application process, etc. Who knows, maybe there are already too many gaijins working in Japan, and I'll just be told to go home.
I'd arrived in Tokyo around 3, and was all done with contracts etc by about 5. So here I was in one of the world's biggest cities all by myself, and some sort of celebration was called for. So I went to my favourite district of Tokyo - Ikebukuro, or, as I have now come to know it "The Bukuro". Had dinner at the always excellent Rohlan, and had a nice chat with the woman there (possibly the owner?) - it turns out she too is a vegetarian. I took this as a very positive sign about my decision to take a job in Japan - one of my major concerns about coming to live in Japan was that it was so difficult to be a vegetarian here. Just hours after signing the contract I had, for the first time ever, met a Japanese person who is a vegetarian. Actually, in reailty, she may actually be Taiwanese (Rohlan is a Taiwanese restaurant) - but it's close enough for me. She was really lovely - when I said I was from England she told me I looked like Prince William! I can see myself becoming a regular at this place...
After this I went to another of my "regular" 'Bukuro hangouts - the equally excellent Quercus Bar. Had some great single malts, including an SWMS Rosebank, a Caol Ila and a Miyagikou (Sendai). Had a bit of a chat with Watanabe-san (the owner), and also got chatting to Osawa-san - one of the regulars there who was very friendly and a pleasure to spend time with. There was something deeply comforting about being around people who really understood whisky. On every visit to Quercus I've been the only foreigner in there, and yet somehow I don't feel homesick at all during the time I'm there - quite the opposite. I guess it is sort of like a litle piece of Scotland in Tokyo. It was my first time to go on a Friday, so there were a lot mroe customers than there had been on my previous visits, but it wasn't any less enjoyable.
Anyway, all in all I had a really great night out - I can't imagine enjoying a night out by myself in England that much, but something about being an "alien" in Tokyo makes people want to talk to you or something. I pretty much made no effort myself, but everyone else seemed to be keen to start conversation. I'd like to think that the Japanese think foreigners are sort of fashionable or something, but perhaps they just felt sorry for me as I was by myself, or maybe they had the same kind of fascination they would have for a zoo animal... Either way, I didn't care that much, and had a great night out regardless!

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