Golden Week Part One   Leave a comment

May 4, 2008

I’m at the Second Club. Its on the eight floor of a building somewhere near Zaza City, close to Junk, where I checkout Eigo Night. In front of me, in almost total darkness, are patrons listening intently to two men on a platform about four feet off the ground. One sees me on the dance floor, and shouts.
“I’m a biggup my man Marcus right now!”
I’ve never gotten a biggup in a club. It feels good. Four times that night, my name would echo throughout the tiny confines of the club, as the DJ, known as Grapa Luv would shout me out.
I met him earlier that day at a Festival during the wild even known as golden week.
At this point I’m not entirely sure what the Golden Week is, but everyone keeps raving about how crazy it is.
“Dude.” One person told me. “My boy was at Golden week in Nagoya, and he saw people fucking on the street.”
I seriously raised my eyebrow to this.
“What’s even funnier is that they saw him looking at them and asked him to join the fun.”
As implausible as that might sound, it didn’t excite me. So far, Japan was a strange mix of sensations and senses, smells and sounds. The city I lived in, Hamamatsu was completely new in every way. The bright lights, the sounds and the quirk I’ve noticed over the last five weeks or so have left me in a semi-cloudy state. My Japanese isn’t very good, and communication with Japanese people so far is minimal. I’m already seeing the same group of foreigners hang out and mostly drink, which I feel might not be the best way to spend  a year in Japan.

It’s a little chilly, and I hop on my bike and ride over to Zaza city. There, thousands of people clamor on the streets, shouting and cheering. The energy of the crowd rapidly stimulates me, even though I am not feeling that excited. More than once, a family or two stop and stare at me, piercing me through slanted eyelids.


To say that I am tall in Japan would be true. At 6’1, I am well above average height, but I don’t feel like a Giant. More than anything, I feel obvious, like a glowing fish in a small tank of dark water. I stand by a corner for a few minutes, watching streams of people walk by hand in hand. Happy fathers carry their sons on their backs, and women and men dressed in Happis (an outfit worn this time of year) prance around in groups, their faces already red from drinking.
I already know that Japanese drink. So far they seem to be ragingly alcoholic within the confines of their veiled conservatism. There hasn’t been a night that I didn’t see a few drunk people somewhere, laughing and singing, or laying on the street, out cold from too much alcohol.
I watch one of the parades and decide to head towards Act City. It’s a large tower, the most famous in Hamamatsu which can show you a view as far as Mount Fuji. The express elevator to the Atrium on top is about six hundred yen, but I’ve had no desire to go up there yet.
At Act City, hundreds of people are walking around. There are tents, stalls with interesting smelling food and lots of families. I run into a few people and snap pictures. Femme Fatale is there, along with a few other foreigners I’ve been running into. They all sit at a table, watching a traditional Japanese show on the stage. I don’t feel like sitting down, and I walk some more.  I see a stall marked “JAMAICAN FOOD” and I see an establishment called Captain Jerk. In front, are a few Japanese guys and a black fellow with a beard. I say hello, and I find out one of the Japanese guys is a DJ named Mitzu, and his companion is a guy from New York named Grapa Luv.

G-ron has Jamaican parents, and invites me to the club later as his special guest. This is also the first time I meet General, a Japanese DJ with a very good Jamaican patois accent. “Wha gwan?” he says when he meets me. He has hair braided into long locks, and a slightly dangerous vibe about him.
I say goodbye to the crew, and chomp on my Jerk Chicken Tortilla as I walk around some more. I can see the night will be crazy, but I don’t feel excited. The idea of Japanese people running around in a drunken daze for me is semi-fascinating. The coldness of my exit from the United States and a few other things on my mind are still at the forefront of my thoughts. I want to run and dance with the Japanese, I want to drink and revel with the crowd, but I don’t feel like it. I am ever the casual observer, standing in the shadows.

The rest of the night is a blur of beer and small snacks as I roam from point to point. I see many foreigners wearing Happis, and wish I had purchased one. My eyes have been hurting me again, and I feel the powerful pull of sleep on me. Even so, I end up at the club, where I stay for about an hour, watching DJ Mitzu mix beats to the backdrop of a wall covered in Graffiti. I meet a girl from Nagoya, but I have no desire to get her number. I say my goodbyes and leave the club, slinking out of the darkness and into the bright night lights of Hamamatsu.
As I go home, I hear pockets of noise in the distance; voices chanting.
Golden Week has begun.

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