Archive for the ‘Roppongi’ Tag

Top Tokyo Clubs to Checkout   Leave a comment

A few clubs I recommend hitting up in Japan. Not listed but also cool are clubs like F Bar, The New Lexx, Flower, Eggman and Eleven.

Tokyo Design Tide 2010   Leave a comment

Cool exhibitions cooked up by local and international designers. Good vibes!

 

Pre-Halloween Vibes   Leave a comment

There are some days you feel like going out and you don’t know why. I haven’t even been thinking about Halloween so much lately, but I ran into a friend from high school in Jamaica (in Shibuya of all places) a few Fridays ago and he invited me to an early Halloween party. If you had a costume you got in free. What you see below was my costume; a scarf. Needless to say, they weren’t trying to let me in, but a DJ took a liking to me and put me on a guest list. Birdimusprime in Japan! I hung out with an interesting crew and took some pics of the Party, which was held at the Trump Room. Decent music, crazy costumes and an early preview of the madness to come for Tokyo Halloween 2010. What’s going to happen this year? We’ll see. Check My Jamaican in Japan TV videos for the video I shot last year and read my 2009 Tokyo Halloween article. I think this year is going to be BANANAS.

A pirate scarf isn’t necessarily the ultimate costume to use to try and get into a party for free, but somehow, I winged it. Ladies, meet Captain Black Sparrow, but then again, i’d be number two, there was already a Captain Black Sparrow in attendance : p

Captain Black Sparrow got the most attention, with the Ringling brother’s fellow coming in at a close number two. With nothing but a scarf, I think I just scared people for most of the night.

Once you’ve lived in Japan for a while, the words “going out anywhere” and “convenience store” become synonymous. There isn’t a night you will party without making pit stops and these places, called “conbinis” for drinks. As tipsy as most of these guys already appeared, we made the stop anyway, running into a few clowns… literally.

Inside the party there was a sort of retro circus theme, I guess this explained why a lot of people were dressed like clowns or circus acts. Cool vibe, the place was chock full of people.

Four floors with a roatation of DJs. The top floor was the best, white a white decor and a bloody red theme.

She wasn’t in costume, but like a lot of people during Halloween, this girl was letting it loose on a pole. On a regular table. Not sure what that has to do with Barnum and Bailey’s circus. The Amazing pole dancing lady? : p

 

I look forward to seeing what can happen this Halloween 2010!

Marcus Bird: Jamaican in Japan Halloween Video   Leave a comment

I go to Tokyo, where I see men dressed like women, women dressed like Peter Pan, and Captain America, Barack Obama and the Power Rangers getting jiggy to streetside music, all in Roppongi, Tokyo.

All videos viewable in 720p high definition.
ぜんぶんのビデオは、720pHDです。

Tokyo Halloween   1 comment

Update: the VIDEO for this article is under JIJ TV “Tokyo Halloween” or if you prefer, you can watch the youtube video directly here . Enjoy! – Marcus

October 31, 2009.

A tall, leggy woman in pink lingerie outfit struts down the street. Behind her, gawkers with camera phones and Digital SLRs snap pictures, creating spots of blue flashes in the nighttime. Behind her, snapping video on a tiny handheld camera is another woman; covered artfully in tape so she appears to be wearing a skirt, leggings and a brassiere. They are impossible to ignore. Men nudge each other in the arms when they see them and ladies chuckle at the display. The two exhibitionists have a powerful mixture of sexual and extroverted body language. As people cheer them on as they walk to and fro, I come closer. I’ve been observing them from a distance of roughly fifty feet. I take a better look at the two, and laugh to myself. They are both men.

This is Halloween night in Roppongi, the “Gaijin Central” of Tokyo, Japan. Here, a lot of the foreigners who live here come to party, drink and meet cute Japanese girls. Each time I come to Roppongi I am surprised by the explosion of mixed couples I see.

It’s a little chilly, and I’m feeling a little stressed. Mainly because Japan is expensive, and sometimes in travelling I don’t really realize I overreach a little bit in my trips. A Viking walks past me and gives me the nod. I’m wearing a smooth silver mask which makes me appear to lack all emotion. I feel withdrawn and quiet, falling into character. People stare at me occasionally, and some Japanese girls say “Kowaii” (scary). I’m shooting video of the mayhem.


The stars of the strip are a set of power rangers who all seem to be basketball players in real life. A group consisting of Wolverine, Captain America and two Spidermen are doing the rounds, laughing it up with girls and guys as they snap pictures and flex fake muscles. There are men well over six feet in dresses and seven inch platform heels, girls in Rilakuma bear outfits and people wearing almost nothing at all. I like the noise around me, as I stand quietly in my mask. My outfit doesn’t attract attention, it wards it off. My calm, expressionless face is reminiscent of Mike Myers, Jason, or any number of masked psychotic killers. I film in peace.

I see Fred Flinstone and Wilma walking around as well. Every conceivable type of character is out and about. Men dressed like playboy bunnies, girls dressed a little more skanky than normal, old drunk men acting bizarre, a Disney character here or there. Near a popular Star Bucks, a guy with a black brief is holding massive dildo by his groin, as a girl eagerly holds it, smiling for the camera.
“That’s tasteful.” a tall man mutters as he walks past.

I see a poorly organized Darth Vader costume. The fellow is wearing the Darth Vader helmet and his chest piece, but a black jersey and blue jeans with black shoes with exceedingly white laces. Add to that a short stature and his Darth outfit was dead.

Further up the strip, a short man in a red loincloth is doing aerial splits by holding his right leg out and up with one hand while the other is around whomever wants to take a picture with him. An American guy in a dinosaur outfit is doing a jiggy dance by the sidewalk. Two short, attractive Japanese girls wearing skinny jeans with thongs visible walk past him. One of them rubs a hand sensually across his dinosaur chest. For a moment the guy stops his jiggy, and watches the girls cross the street. His friends appear. “Damn dude, let’s cross the street.” He says. The friend is wearing a similar costume, large and voluminous. It appears to be a horribly obese duck.

I go back down the strip and make a pit stop near the McDonalds. A set of very attractive women of mixed ethnicity are grabbing people with interesting outfits nad taking pictures. One girl is dressed like a dominatrix maid. The other looks exactly like Ashley Simpson, which doesn’t seem like an outfit. They stop Peter Pan (a woman), Winnie the Pooh (if he was a chill black dude), the Power Rangers (all seven of them) and a host of random individuals. One of the girls leans back comfortably on a rough-looking Japanese guy with a shaved head wearing a Jailbird outfit. They have specific and recognizable accents. I think they are from California.

Beside me, a girl says something to two men a few feet away. She screeches as she learns they are from Texas, her home town. She is African-American with a solid flair of uptown in her mannerisms. The guys from Texas are in town for a 15 hour layover before headed back to the states. They were previously in Thailand and China.

Behind me, Fred Flinstone is talking to a massive biker who speaks in an almost classic stereotypical jive. The man is a tall African-American in a huge biker jacket. He doesn’t seem like he’s wearing any costume, save a little face paint on his cheek, and I wonder who he is, and what he’s doing in Tokyo. On the street, two men in red jumpsuits sprint through moving traffic, causing cars to screech and blare their horns. It is completely wild.

Everyone has glassy eyes, and every club, bar and restaurant is filled to the brim with patrons. A man wearing a Dracula outfit walks past me.
“Fuck yeah! Mario and Luigi in the FUCKING BUILDING! “he says to a guy in a Mario costume in line. I roam some more, watching a set of Japanese nurses with blonde hair walk by in a stream of colour and giggles. I don’t know where everyone is going, but they are all walking very fast.

There are so many people it is hard to discern race or nationality. All I can see are bobbing heads and flashes of colour from the outfits. I pass Don Quixote, the place where I bought my mask, remembering a middle-eastern looking fellow that asked me if a man wearing a Witches’ hat was okay.

I like Halloween in big cities. It is such a raging ball of energy, watching people lose themselves in costume and drink. The crowd is so diverse it doesn’t even feel like Japan. With all the masks, elaborate outfits and foreigners, I feel like I’m in New York, though I’ve never been in New York for Halloween.

I’m meeting some friends at a bar near the strip, and as I walk down a small street to go to the bar, I see a set of people dancing. Barack Obama, Two Spider men, Captain America and Wolverine. A lady in a bunny outfit is grinding Captain America, and a guy in a Yellow Jumpsuit mysteriously starts humping a hazard cone.

I enter the bar, hearing the laughter of Roppongi fall silent as the door closes, and I chuckle, because I know the night isn’t over.


Jamaican in Japan Episode Two : Part Two   Leave a comment

Day two of the tour with Maxi Priest. Red light district, and freestyling ensue.

Chinese Prostitutes, Strip Clubs and Jason Schwartzman   Leave a comment

I’m standing on a street in Shibuya, and a small Chinese prostitute is grabbing my arm.

“Do you want massage?” she asked.

“No thanks.” I said.

“Only two thousand yen. Come now, we go to second floor.”

“Seriously I’m good.” I replied.

Beside me, the same thing was happening to Rob. The two ladies were tiny, with intense eyes and relatively cute features. They were very aggressive, but finally we got away.

This is how the night started to wind down in Rippongi.

THREE HOURS EARLIER:..

I’m sitting in a pasta shop somewhere in Shibuya, chatting to a dancer that looks like a perfect ten model. Her name is Jeri,  and she’s in town dancing somewhere in Rippongi. She is easily the hottest woman I’ve met since I’ve been to Tokyo.  She’s very friendly, and chatting to her is a pleasure. She reminds me of a dancer I saw when I went to club Womb a few months prior, but this is her first time in Japan.

“I’m from L.A, but the scene is really good here. I might come back.” She says.

She’s wearing a summer straw hat, a white skirt, and a tank top that reveals her voluptuous figure. She’s tanned and unblemished. Later Rob would tell me she’s mixed with a few things, but he couldn’t remember what exactly.

“I did this show,” she said. “With a  Japanese group called the MANEATERS.”

“Sounds bizarre.” I said with a laugh.

Jeri, Rob and I chat about traveling and our adventures, for a few minutes. “What are you guys doing tonight?” she says. “Maybe Rippongi or here in Shibuya.” Rob says to her. “I’m performing tonight at the Gallery in Rippongi.” She says. “You guys should check it out.”

Jeri was a professional Go-Go dancer.  Initially, Rob was confused.  “Is Go-Go dancing stripping?” he asked.

“No, its not.” She said.

I have to admit, I didn’t really know the difference either. But I was guessing Go-Go dancers were the hot girls who danced on elevated platforms in large clubs all over the world.

I got her number and she left. As she stood up, I was surprised to see how petite she was. She disappeared soon after, as Rob and I talked about what to eat. “Wow, what are the odds of meeting a girl like her randomly like that?” I said.
“I guess that’s  Tokyo for you.” Rob replied with a laugh.

Rob had come to Tokyo on a mission. To see the sights, go to a few museums and eat at a revolving sushi restaurant in Shibuya. We had no idea where it was. To describe Shibuya is to try and describe and endless concert with thousands of fans roaming the streets all the time, every day. Each time I travel to Shibuya, for a few minutes I feel a buzzing in my head. So many people, so many lives and so many things happening at once really aren’t a part of my basic biological makeup I believe. When I’m there, I want to be a hunter-gatherer again, farming in the mountain with a gang of scruffy kids behind me gathering wood.

Rob asks someone where the restaurant is. He is African, and like almost all the West Africans I’ve seen in Tokyo, he works in the area, promoting clubs or bars. He tells us where the restaurant is, a place where all the Sushi costs one hundred and twenty yen. We step in, and Rob squeals with excitement. “We doing it son! Tokyo!”

A man in a chef’s hat points to a sign at the reception area. “You must eat at least seven dishes.” It read. “That’s cool with me.” I said.

We were ushered to a few seats around the back, and as we walked past the crowd a face stood out:  A small guy with a thick head of black hair and a very scruffy beard. I immediately recognized him as Jason Schwartzman, the actor (Rushmore, The Darjeeeling Limited). As we walked to our seat I rested my hand on his shoulder. “Hey man, are you a professional actor?” I said. “Why yes I am.” He replied. “Awesome, I love your work man!” I said while walking away. “Thank you.” He said with a smile.

The sushi at the bar was wicked delicious and I ended eating eight plates. Rob had nine. Beside me, a few feet away, Schwartzman was still hanging out in the restaurant. I went over. I chit-chatted with them for a while about Tokyo. He was in town to check out the opening of “Opening Ceremony”, a large store that has branches in New York and Los Angeles. “It’s opening Sunday. You should check it out, the store is going to be pretty amazing.”

Rob, who was behind me. “Opening Sunday? Is that the name of the store?”

“No.” Jason said with a laughing. “The store is Opening Ceremony and it’s opening on Sunday.”

“Wow, the opening ceremony for Opening Ceremony is on Sunday when it opens.” I said.

We all laughed. Schwartzman was cool, and I snapped some pictures and got a video shout out for my webseries Marcus Bird: Jamaican in Japan . He was there with this wife, designer Brenda Cunningham founder of eco-friendly clothing line, Souvenir. We said our goodbyes and he told me he’d checkout my website. This is one of the moments when I realized I needed a business card. I said peace, and he left the restaurant.

ONE HOUR LATER

Rob and I are in Gas panic. Blood red lights flood the room and people dance in the shadows. I explained to Rob that I’m a night owl, and that I feed on the night energy of Tokyo. He told me that since there are language barriers and it being a new country, he thought he’d rather see more terrain and sights that necessarily try to chat to women. This opinion changed rapidly when we started clubbing.

Inside GAS PANIC, cute girls were dancing, but it was the music that really set things off. Contemporary hip-hop blasted through speakers I couldn’t see, and the place was jumping. Cute Japanese girls with hair processed to look curly did Atlanta dances like they were born in America. Rob watched with amazement. One girl in particular, in pink overalls really understood the rhythm. I had seen Japanese girls dance before, to reggae and hip-hop, but I could understand Rob’s feelings. This was his first time EVER seeing Japanese people dance like black people.
“It’s sad man.” He said to me.” That these people try so hard to look like us, and so many black people don’t even love themselves.”

I looked at the girls as he said this. One wore an Atlanta cap with hip-hop jeans on. They all had curly hair and sang along to every T.I song that came over the airwaves. But they barely spoke English, if any. It was amazing. We hung out for a little while longer, getting the vibe started. Then we headed to Rippongi.

TWENTY FIVE MINUTES LATER

Tokyo has an endless stream of beautiful women walking the streets. Every minute or two, Rob and I would see women that made us stop, or at least take a peek. He was starting to see what people were talking about in regards to Tokyo.  It’s one thing to see a cute girl every now and then, but in hours we had seen thousands.

We are on the train, and two girls in front of me are looking at my feet and saying something about my shoes. “Big eh? “I say in Japanese. One giggles but pretends not to hear me. She’s been eyeing me since we got on the train in Shibuya. Our stop isn’t far away and it seems the girls aren’t going to our stop. I exit the train terminal and see a face I recognize. It’s a tall, gorgeous woman I met two weeks before. Miki.

I walk over to her and she greets me with a squeal of excitement. Her long, gorgeous arms wrap around me for a moment. I feel her strength. She immediately decides to come with us wherever we are going. We dump our stuff in a locker and head out. Club 911 is the next stop.

In minutes, Rob takes over a little corner near the top bar. Ladies are dancing and smiling, and I’m watching Miki do samba  to a Justin Timberlake song. She is really, really sexy. She sips on a drink and flashes a quiet smile at me every now and then. She’s the kind of woman that I like. Tall and strong, beautiful and fearless on the dance floor. The club is packed, but after a while I start to get antsy. 911 is really small, and in an hour, it starts to turn into a sausage fest. I want Miki to head to a spot called Bar 57 with us, but she says she has to surf in the morning. A little guy hanging beside her and the size of her drink says otherwise to me, but I decide to leave. An older Japanese woman was feeling Rob.

“One more drink, and that’d probably be it.” He said with a laugh.

“Well I’m glad you didn’t have that drink.” I replied with a  smile.

Bar 57 was closing when we reached. It seemed like a hot spot, with expensive drinks, a nice interior and high ceilings. The stragglers were all in designer dresses and high heels. I liked the feel of the place. Maybe next time. We went back to the strip.

FIVE MINUTES LATER

We headed back down the strip. Every few feet a young African man would come up to us, offering us exclusive admission to a club or a strip bar. We went to Club 99 near Odeon and went upstairs. Drunk Japanese girls were dancing on the bar top, but like most places in Tokyo, you get ushered towards the bar first. They say free entry, but if you don’t buy a drink you get kicked out. The spot was a bit lame and we headed out.

The prostitutes found us again somehow and kept pleading with us to get a massage. “Jesus Christ.” These women are persistent.” I said. One of them was actually pretty cute, but knowing what her day job was…

TEN MINUTES LATER

We are hanging in front of a bar near the McDonald’s. I’m on my phone, trying to find out where The Rippongi Gallery is to see if I can catch a bit of Jeri’s performance, but none of the Africans on the strip seem to know where it is. It feels like a put on. “Do you see that?” Rob says.

I glance up and the two girls, now about twenty feet away, are looking back at us.

“Should  we talk to them? ” I said.

“You better take one for the team because I’m not.” Robert said.

I saw what he was talking about. Of the two girls, one was blimp-sized. I took at deep sigh and waved for them to come back. They giggled and kept walking, but as they got further away looked back more. Eventually, they returned. They wore matching black and white outfits and wore gray backpacks. A little odd. The bigger one started asking us a range of questions. “You guys kept looking back at us, so we were wondering what was going on.” I said to the larger one. “I’m sorry, my sister here was interested in you, but she doesn’t speak English.”

“Oh?” I replied. “What language does she speak?”

“Greek.” The girl replied.

“Do you need Windex?” Rob said immediately.

The girl gave him a strange look.
“I’m joking, I’m joking. I know that statement was mad ignorant.” Rob said with a laugh. I started laughing too, but it would be an entire day before I remembered that Windex reference came from the hit movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

The girl introduced herself as Athena and her sister as Mina. What was weird about Mina was that she progressively got better at English within minutes of meeting us. Rob made a joke about Atlanta and she laughed. I made a joke that required certain knowledge of American pop humor and bad English grammar and she laughed. Then she started speaking.

“I’m thirty-five.” She said.

We balked.

“Impossible!” I said.

I paused as three tall, leathery Japanese drag queens stormed past. The sisters asked us If we wanted to hang out. I said okay, but I really wasn’t feeling like taking one for the team. We walked towards a bar called Vi-bar, a bar I went to the day before. The girls became quiet, and it felt a little weird. After we stepped inside, a man came to me and asked me what I’m drinking. “One minute.” I said to him. I turned to Rob.

“Dude, you think these girls are hustling us?” I asked.

He shrugged his shoulders. Their accent changes, the weird backpacks, the greek names and everything felt wrong. “Let’s bounce.” Rob said. “Cool.” We headed back out to the madness of Rippongi at four thirty a.m

At the top of the strip, a smooth talking guy named Joe came up to us. He spun a fabulous tale about a strip club where we could drink all we want for thirty bucks and be dazzled and dazed by exotic dancers. I’m not a strip club guy, but the night was going so many places I said, “what the hell.” Rob was in a agreement but we entered under a simple condition. If we didn’t like the spot, we’d leave, if we did we’d have to pay.

We walked back down the strip and stopped at a bar. I laughed. It was the same place the two “greek” girls had taken us to before. This time we went upstairs. A shady looking poster of a naked woman was at the door. We walked in, and it was empty, save a line of strippers standing at attention in a line. It was a weird feeling, coming into the small, empty strip club with all the dancers watching us. One of the strippers was really hot. She had some sort of brazilian look about her. The rest weren’t so appealing. We thanked the staff and left.

Back outside, we walked back to the top of the strip and sat on a road barrier. The streets were still packed, but we knew the night was over. As we waited for the light to change, a pair of small hands grabbed me. It was the prostitute! Rob and I started laughing again. “Sorry, we go now. Back to hotel.” Rob said. We started crossing the street and one of them said, “I come to hotel with you!”

We laughed and turned around.

The night was over.