A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Calico Cat CaféHenrik and John has tipped me off to another strange phenomenon called a “Cat Café”. It’s a place where busy people go to ease their stressful lives by cuddling with cats. 1000 jpy gets you an hour in a room full of cats and cat lovers. Most of the fun actually comes from watching the Japanese interact with the impossibly blasé cats. Fully grown salary men throwing themselves on all fours and generally acting like children. I guess the cats have had it up to here with all the petting by now, poor things.

I’d also found a group on Facebook while looking around for diving in the Tokyo area. It’s the Discovery Divers Tokyo and it’s connected to a dive shop with the same name. They’re hosting a diver’s social about once a month and while I’ve intended to go earlier, this is the first time it’s working out for me. It’s a place called Goodbeer Faucets in Shibuya and as I make my way there I find out that the Shonan Shinjuku line doesn’t actually go all the way to the regular Shibuya Station.Me, Pascal, Bonnie and the Japanese bar owner Instead it stops at a smaller station just south of the big one, which means that I’ve quite a walk ahead of me since the pub is to the north west of the real Shibuya Station. Turns out though that the neighborhood south west of the Station is rather cozy though, so I don’t mind that much. (Now, where you don’t want to go is north east of Shibuya Station. Lina and I did that and ended up in a rather seedy neighborhood with lots of “love hotels”, i.e. hotels that rent rooms by the hour…)

The social is maybe one third Japanese and two thirds expats from all over the world. Most of them speak great English and I have a really good time. The pub closes at midnight, but one of the organizers, Pascal, convinces a few of us that we should go to this bar in Ebisu. In the end there are five of us going. The bar is this cozy little place with a very eccentric owner who likes to dress up in 80’s heavy metal style tights and sunglasses even though there’s hardly any light in there. Pascal explains that the owner had been doing LSD for the last ten years prior to opening this place, which explains the rather, ‘eclectic’ decoration choices.

The others drop off and in the end there’s just me, Pascal and Bonnie left. By this time all the trains have stopped running (they do that pretty early in Tokyo). Pascal offers us to crash at his place which is more or less around the corner. Friendly morayBoth Bonnie and I agree and find ourselves in Pascal’s 10-odd square meters, incredibly dirty, apartment listening to wild stories about his travels, like for instance the time when he got free lessons from a Russian tennis pro, or the time he partied with some Siberian indigenous people in a tent somewhere in northern Siberia… He had some thing where he would celebrate each New Years in a new time zone, so far he had worked his way from the Netherlands over to Thailand.

I spend the night on a leaking blow-up bed in his kitchen, which also happens to be the hall. The bed actually goes from wall to wall, making getting into the bathroom something of a challenge. In spite of the circumstances I manage to get a few hours of sleep and at somewhere around eight Bonnie and I stumble out of his place. Pascal had insisted on that we grab some breakfast on our way out, but a quick look inside his fridge and the lone, family-sized, jar of pickles is enough to dissuade us from that. Taking the subway home I for the first time get to experience the white-gloved pusher guards, I guess the line I’m usually taking in the morning just isn’t full enough. I manage a quick stop at home for a shower and change before heading off for another day at work.

The potter and my ball of clayFriday evening brings another after work; it’s me, Nishihata-san, Kenneth, Thomas and Tore this time and we manage to find a nice place at the bottom floor of the department store next to Yokohama Station. Nishihata-san makes sure we get all the weird stuff ordered in to our table, grilled gristle seems to be my personal stopping point though… It doesn’t drag on too late, which is lucky since Saturday brings another diving outing.

This time the site is Izu Ocean Park, a dive resort some 2.5 hours drive down the coast from Yokohama. The resort has all sorts of diver amenities including a nice big hot tub to soak in between dives. The site has some rather nice diving and I manage to see heaps upon heaps of morays, a scorpion fish, clown fish as well as a bigass Napoleon Wrasse. I also have my very first encounter with schooling catfish – love those guys! Returning to Mariko-san at Splash, Umeda-san and I sit down and log my 40th dive (yay!) and we separately end up drawing me photographing morays in each other’s dive logs (maybe because that was more or less all I did that dive)! =D

Yesterday was also Midsummer’s Eve, which in Sweden is a pretty significant holiday. So today the Swedes from work have cooked up a party, when I arrive they’ve already taken care of the Brännboll part (a Swedish version of Baseball that is much less complex (and where other players than the pitcher actually matter)) and have moved on to an Izakaya in Shibuya. A couple of guys from the Swedish embassy are here too and it’s interesting to hear about their work. We keep eating the snack skewers that are on order, there are tiny quail eggs, chicken liver, chicken hearts, roast gristle – you know, the usual. 😉 When we finally hear that they are all out of skewers, we figure that it’s finally time to leave.

Midsummer karaoke!The next place we end up at is a room at Big Echo – the major Karaoke chain in Tokyo. What you do is that you get a room of a certain size and then the drinks are free, pressing a buzzer produces a guy, ready to take your orders. Being free also means that the drinks are pretty bad. The Mojito I got was easily the most awful one I’ve ever tasted, only mildly reminiscent of an actual Mojito. It’s a ton of fun though and Kenneth turns out to be a great singer. Him and I belt out a pretty decent Mr. Brightside at the top of our lungs. Not wanting the night to end just yet (it’s only midnight!), Kenneth, Justin, Jonas and I share a taxi bound for Roppongi to find a club. The place we end up at wants to be really exclusive, but since it’s packed to the rafters it pretty much fails at that. When I say packed to the rafters, I really mean it, It’s actually hard to move in there and dancing is really problematic! That is maybe the most amusing thing about the place by the way, there are actual signs saying that dancing is prohibited at the premises!

We only stay a couple of hours at the club before getting bored and going for a late night kebab instead. The way to the kebab place is as usual littered by barkers, which wouldn’t be that much of a problem if Jonas didn’t stop to troll _all_ of them… This is amusing the first couple of times, but we quickly get fed up and in the end we just about drag Jonas along to the kebab place. The kebab is delicious as usual, I honestly think the Tokyo kebabs are only rivalled by the Turkish ones! Jonas and Justin actually want to go find yet another club, but since it’s about 2:30 am at this point and I got up at around 5:30, I beg off and catch a taxi for Shinagawa. I don’t remember the address of the hotel though, so I tell him to go to Shinagawa station instead, which turns out to be a really lucky break! He drops me off at the far side of the station, so to go home I have to pass through it. At night, only the entrances down to the tracks are closed, the walkway through the station is still open and as I walk through I encounter a lot of “Japan drunk” (an expression coined by my friend John) salarymen are strewn around, hugging pillars and whatnot. If it weren’t for them all wearing expensive suits you would think they were homeless! Drinking in moderation is not that common in Japan…

The Kamakura trailEarlier when diving, Enrique told me about something I missed when going to Kamakura. Apparently you should hop off the train at the station before Kamakura, called Kita-Kamakura. That’s where the nice temples are. I take his suggestion and on Sunday I give Kamakura a second chance. Enrique was right, these temples are much nicer! There are also huge hortensias decorating the surroundings, framing it nicely.

Enrique also told me about a trail in the woods where you could hike all the way to Kamakura. That sounded like a really nice way to wrap this week up, so I go for it. Right at the beginning of the trail there is a sign in Japanese for a side trail, I decide to investigate and find myself at a little pottery. I suddenly remember something my friend Jonathan told me about a year ago. There is this thing called Dorodangos – basically an old Japanese art form of taking clay, shaping it into a ball and then gradually polish it until it shines like a mirror. So after some labored communication using the potter’s daughter as interpreter I manage to buy a ball of clay for 100 jpy. The daughter doesn’t seem to understand what I’m talking about, but the potter seems really satisfied when he figures out what I want to do and I end up promising him I’ll send pictures when I finally make it.

The trail itself is nice and brings back memories of Nepal. It’s a good 4-5 km before I get to Kamakura and something I can really recommend, not very difficult and lots of cheery Japanese along the way. Also rather clean, I only manage to collect a handful of trash along the trail.

The deadliest catch?


The Fugu placeMy last week working in Japan begins and me, Kenneth and John go to knock another item off my list: Fugu! Fugu is that poisonous puffer fish you’ve all heard about. The one that needs to be prepared juust right or it’s deadly. I found a place when wandering around Shibuya that only serves Fugu that seems appropriate, the pricing seems good too, around 500 sek per person for a set meal. When eating things that might kill you, you probably shouldn’t go for the cheapest available alternative. Sort of like with sky diving 😉

The restaurant is divided into private little rooms with a hotplate built into the table. The first thing we get is sashimi (raw pieces of fish, sort of like sushi, but without the rice) that you just dip in soy and eat as is. It tastes like any white fish sashimi I guess, nothing special really. The next course is something else though; we get the fish, seemingly haphazardly chopped up on a plate. The pieces so fresh that they are actually still twitching! We also get a wicker basket in which the server places a large piece of waxed paper and a metal plate. The plate acts as a conductor for the induction hotplate and the eerily ambulatory fish is plopped into the basket together with some broth and veggies to simmer for a while.

Foiled by kids!The boiled fish tastes as you might expect; pretty bland. But that’s okay, because immediately following that we get the favorite part; the tempura. It’s hard to go wrong when deep frying and it doesn’t disappoint this time either. All in all I wasn’t all that impressed by Fugu, but then again I’m not that much of a fish person either. But it was an interesting experience and I’m glad I tried it.

Another thing I’d been having on my list was to go up the tallest building in Yokohama; the Landmark Tower. So Thomas, Henrik, John and me take a long lunch and head over to the galleria at the foot of the tower to find a nice place to eat. That pretty much ends in failure as we spend far too much time and end up at a, admittedly nice, but overpriced place. When we finally make it to the elevator we’re met by a horde of school kids, who are also going up today. We admit defeat and grudgingly go back to work. As I’ve wrapped up most of my work business, me and Ken go for another long lunch to find me an extra suitcase so that I can get all the Hello Kitty stuff I’ve bought back home. He takes me to one of the interesting Don Quijote chain stores, which is basically equivalent to the Swedish Rusta chain, but classier. They sell all kinds of shit and they make use of every last inch of space in there, so it’s rather fun to just go around browsing. They have really good prices as well and I get a really nice suitcase out of it.

Nishihata-san and meThomas suggest we go to a really cool store over in Akihabara as well. It’s called Super Potato and it sells all manners of used video games, consoles, tie-in merchandise. Basically a nerd heaven, of course I agree! The place isn’t easy to find, it’s nestled in among the maid cafés and you have to go up some stairs to find it. The maid cafés are in themselves worth mentioning; they’re more or less a café where the staff is dressed up in over the top maid costumes and entertain you by playing games or just conversing (at least the legitimate ones…) , sort of like a modern day Geisha I guess. There is a rather creepy vibe to them, since the overwhelming majority of the customers are older salarymen. Super Potato is really fun though and I certainly get my fill of Nintendo nostalgia!

My colleague Tore and I will be leaving at roughly the same time so Nishihata-san has arranged a going away party for us. The dinner is a dish called Shabu-shabu, something I’ve managed to miss entirely during my stay. It’s basically a Japanese version of Hot Pot, you get a pot of broth and pick up raw meat from a tray and dip in the broth and stir it around (hence the name; Shabu-shabu is mimicking the noise when stirring). It’s really good, I like it better than the Chinese kind actually, it’s much more flavorful. My boss Sarbel has heard that I sing in the Red Army Boys choir and has been talking about that I should sing for a while now, and since this is the last opportunity for it I get up and do a couple of songs, to much merriment. I also make sure I get pictures with all my lovely friends. On the way out Okamoto-san buys me a lovely present in form of Ghengis Khan candy, that’s right, it’s lamb-flavored candy (not as awful as it sounds it turns out).

Diving with Doraemon


It’s starting to dawn on me that there are only a little more than two work weeks left here in Japan. I guess it’s time to tie up all those loose ends before I leave.The Mario Bar Going home from work I notice there are people dressed in yellow sitting at pretty much every corner of the way from the Nissan showroom to Yokohama station. They all have a row of clickers in front of them and seem to be straight up just counting people. Way to be strange Japan!

I pester Kenneth to take me to that Mario bar he has been talking about and he agrees to take me on Wednesday. Henrik tags along as well and we make a stop at a proper tempura restaurant on the way. Tempura is basically deep fried food, but not like you get it at Chinese restaurants back in Sweden, where there is an almost impenetrable shell of dough around the meat. Here you get a thin, fluffy crust that you need to be quick about eating because it goes soggy before long. At the best places you get served only one piece at the time just to avoid that problem. It is really delicious, and we learn that you can really deep fry anything if you put your mind to it, as evidenced by the deep fried lettuce we’re served.

The Mario bar is located in the food quarters that is sort of behind the main street in Shinjuku and is just adorably tiny. The owner has gone all out on decorating the place with all sorts of Nintendo paraphernalia. Even the drinks are Nintendo themed, and I go for a Princess Peach. At the table is also Wii controllers so that you can play Mario Kart on a big screen TV (where we proceed to totally own the Japanese).

The Gay IzakayaThis Friday’s AW Okamoto-san, Thomas, Henrik and I end up on the roof of the Sogo department store in Yokohama. There they have a beer garden where you just pay a flat fee to eat and drink as much as you want. After a while we’re joined by Jonas and Justin who lobbies for us to move to the Yokohama izakaya quarters instead. Well, we were about done with Sogo anyway so I tag along, the others drop off as we pass through the train station and once again it’s only me, Jonas and Justin. Jonas is praising this izakaya, talking about how excellent drinks they serve, so I’m pretty psyched as all the drinks I’ve had in Japan so far (with the exception of the New York Bar) have been awful.

Turns out that Jonas is a big, fat liar though. The place in question is a very downtrodden joint, the kind where you select and pay for your drink in a vending machine, get a receipt to present at the counter and then receive the actual drink. I’m not sure why they do it like that, but you see it all the time at cheap lunch- and breakfast places as well. The joint is good enough for drinking though and we have a pretty good time. The Japanese frequenting the place are really friendly and eager to talk to us, even though their English isn’t very good. After a while we notice them getting more and more forward, and when I finally get my ass grabbed by a guy who hasn’t even introduced himself the last doubts vanish. I seamlessly transition to the other side of the table so that I have my ass to the wall and go on to enjoy the rest of the evening.

The Saturday is spent hanging out in Asakusa, but there is no getting away from that Asakusa is rather boring district. I pay another visit to the inventor shop, but the nice old man isn’t there, just a bunch of kids that aren’t very talkative. Clearly not as fun, so I move on and just wander about in the light drizzle until it’s time to make my way down to Yokohama where we have tickets for tonight’s football game between Yokohama F. Marinos and FC Tokyo.After Dive Dinner The game is played at the huge home arena of the Marinos that seats over 70 000 people, as a result the stadium seems rather empty even though we’re something like 15 000 in attendance. The weather continues to be not great and when it starts to rain for real I go and buy a branded poncho which is in fact cheaper than normal on acoount of the rain! Way to go Japan!

My Sunday is once again dedicated to diving. I tag along for Enrique and Claudia’s first real dive. The site is called Eno Ura and it is an extreme newbie site. You have this long ramp leading down into the water, with a rope to hold on to as you stand in line and wait your turn to get wet. There is a shit ton of divers in the water today and they’re all newbies, so as you let go of rope and descend you enter a sort of fin soup. Best strategy seems to be to just hold on to your mask and get to the bottom, out of the way of all the haplessly flapping limbs.

You can really tell that this is a newbie site as there are ropes mounted along the bottom that you’re supposed to follow and little markers on every little noteworthy site where you’re supposed to each take a photo and then move on (don’t dilly-dally, there are other divers behind you, queued up to see the same thing). There are hula hoops mounted on the bottom that you’re supposed to swim through to see that you have proper buoyancy control. Following that there is a little Doraemon statue (a popular cartoon character that is a robot cat from the future, teaching children manners) that garners another obligatory photo and a weird bush-like thing that is chock full of squid eggs. The eggs are kinda cool, they look basically like a string of see-through sausages but are far from hatching so there’s no chance of seeing any tiny squid. Final stop is a patch of anemone featuring a handful of surly anemone fish (you know, the Finding Nemo fish), fiercely protecting their homestead.

Getting out of the water is equally interesting as there is a queue for doing that as well. And God forbid that you take the wrong rope! There is one rope for entry and another for exit and that’s that. It doesn’t matter that the entry rope is free and noone is even planning on entering, you wait your turn at the exit rope. All things considered, it’s a rather bad dive, but a very memorable one!

Ghibli Museum


The shoes I got in Shimo-Kitazawa didn’t really work, they turned out to be way too small.Movie café So this week I went back there to exchange them. I did still have the box, but I couldn’t find the receipt no matter how I looked. I decided to give it a shot anyway and I’m pretty sure that not knowing the language worked to my advantage because the clerk just got a pained look on his face, likely as he was trying to figure out how to tell me that it would be impossible to exchange the shoes without a receipt. Instead I not only got to exchange them for a cheaper pair, I also got the difference back in cash! I guess that in courteous and non-confrontational Japan, playing the stupid foreigner card works very well.

Just like last time I hang around in Shimo-Kitazawa for a few hours just because I like the mood of the place. I find this fabulous, tiny café when I decide to find out what’s up those tiny stairs in an alley. It’s run by a guy who’s an absolute movie buff and has covered the place with vintage movie posters. So I sit down at the counter and just sew for a couple of hours, looking at the other two guests out of the corner of my eye and just enjoy the quiet competence of the owner when he prepares my coffee.

Totoro!Another thing on my list of things to do while in Tokyo has long been to visit the Ghibli museum. It is a few subway changes away from central Tokyo though, and you also have to reserve tickets since there are a limited number of visitors allowed in each four-hour time slot. Hopping off the train you also have to walk a couple of kilometers through a rather cozy, upscale neighborhood where I found the residents to be rather excellent at English. After a couple of wrong turns I finally find the museum and is greeted by a live sized Totoro behind the ticket counter! I soon realize that this isn’t the real entrance though and that I have to go around to the other end of the building. It isn’t big though and once inside there is all sorts of wonderful things to look at. I am politely admonished when taking pictures though, because for some lame reason photography isn’t allowed.

The place is filled with wonderful little things that you only notice the third time you pass them by, much like the films they produce. There are hand painted three-dimensional scenes, wonderfully weird architecture with mysterious little shortcuts you can take throughout the place, a terrace where they sell their own branded beer and strange ice cream. I get the chili-flavored one and it tastes as you might imagine chili ice-cream would; hot and cold at the same time, not very good actually, but certainly worth trying!The robot from Laputa There is one part decorated like a cluttered office that has original scene sketches from all the movies we know and love, but the thing that stays with you is when you enter one of the rooms and find yourself eye to eye with the giant cat bus from Totoro! Leading up to it is a line of little kids all waiting for their chance to climb around of the wonderful thing. Too bad they have this stupid rule about having to be less than five years old to get to climb around on it, otherwise I would totally be in there with them!

The cat bus room leads out to a little balcony connected to a spiral staircase that takes you up on the roof. Here you find a lush garden, probably modeled after Laputa – Castle in the Sky, complete with the wonderful sad-looking robot. Topping it off is probably the best gift shop I’ve ever been to, packed with quality souvenirs. Hell, I spend almost half an hour just in there, rummaging around the knick-knacks, trying to decide what I can fit in my bags going home. Easily the best museum I’ve ever been to!

On Friday a bunch of us at work have gotten baseball tickets at the Tokyo Dome to see the Yomiuri Giants face off against the Saitama Seibu Lions. The arena is huge and we had pretty nice seats. There are these cute girls going around selling chilled beer out of tanks on their backs, so of course I have to buy some just to get a picture with her. The game is just as boring as baseball usually is, until the very end where it actually gets rather exciting. The Lions end up winning anyway and we make our way out of the arena.Beer girl It’s really cool to walk by as they fully open the doors to the arena because since it has a roof, all those people in there have been shouting, farting and breathing for an entire game have built up quite an air pressure. So walking by, there is a really strong gust of wind coming out of those doors.

We finish up by eating at the galleria connected to the Dome. Overhead is a really cool-looking roller coaster and I decide to go back here there on Sunday and check it out. Saturday morning I manage to oversleep for my diving outing (it didn’t have anything to do with the girl Mariko-san was bringing, promise!) so I just do my usual wandering around in Tokyo, looking at people. I send a Facebook message to Sachi, telling her that I’m going to check out the roller coaster on Sunday and maybe she wants to tag along. I never hear back though so I have to explore it on my own. Turns out the roller coaster is closed though, apparently since an accident back in 2010, where a 25 cm long bolt fell from it and hurt a kid. Too bad, it looks really sweet.

The Tokyo Dome City – as it’s called is rather cool though, so I still have a good time wandering around the various shops filled with weird little things.

Shimo-Kitazawa


I had another thing on my list of stuff-to-do-in-Tokyo that I hadn’t gotten around to yet.clock A few years ago i came across this article about a Japanese guy making these totally outlandish watches and after seeing that I knew that I had to try and buy one if I ever found myself in Tokyo. So I enlisted the help of Okamoto-san to figure out where this guy is located and she told me that I should go to an area called Shimo-Kitazawa. It involves a fair bit of train-hopping but when I finally find myself there I’m treated to a really cozy neighborhood with cramped, snaking streets, small shops and generally a relaxed mood. Talking with Ken the following day revealed that I accidentally stumbled over one of Tokyo’s prime sights in his opinion. He compared Shimo-Kitazawa to Stockholm’s Söder (the most bohemian part of Stockholm) and where a lot of new bands are discovered and so on. Anyway, I had a very good time just walking around and taking in the atmosphere and the fact that the store selling the handmade watches didn’t currently have any for sale hardly mattered.

Another thing I’ve had on my to-do list was to get a Docomodake phone charm. But anytime I’ve been into a Docomo store (or a regular phone charm store) I haven’t been able to find any. This time I decided to actually ask a staffer and he excitedly disappeared and then reappeared with a whole bunch of them. I’m was rather happy and annoyed at the same time at how easy it had been. They were even free! I also bought some really cool clothes, a pair of shoes and had a special kind of iced latte where you got a glass of regular milk filled with ice cubes made out of coffee, really nice!

MorayWalking back to the station I notice a little crowd sitting on the sidewalk around some dude that in the light of a flashlight is reading aloud from a manga while doing voices for all the characters. Even though I don’t understand a thing it is hugely entertaining and I stay for the entire time. I sure lucked out when deciding to to Shimo-kitazawa!

Come Friday my fika is an unmitigated success, the Japanese love the novelty and all the Swedes love the familiar taste of home. Me, Thomas and Horiguchi-san go out for AW in the Bay Quarters and end up at the hilariously named “Ask a Giraffe”. Unfortunately the name is about the only thing that is good about that place, for instance we get to wait like 40 minutes for a 80 sek pizza that is 20 cm in diameter and doesn’t even taste very good.

The Saturday brings another dive trip, this time to Zushi. This is a very nice site and actually accessible by regular train right out of central Tokyo without having to switch trains even once! But we take the car as usual. Claudia and Enrique are also tagging along since they will be doing their first pool dives at the same place. Mariko-san have been bugging me about having too much weights so this time I try with as little as 2 kg (with a 5 mm full wetsuit and steel tank), which turns out to be juuust enough to get down if you breathe properly during the descent. This is a boat dive and the site is almost like a miniature underwater mountain range teeming with life. I see lots of yellow morays, nudibranches, various fish I’m unfamiliar with and also some supposedly poisonous sea urchin that we take care to stay away from. The layout of the site gives you all manner of environments all rolled into one; you get wall diving, shallow plateau with lots of light, sandy bottom where you can peek under rocks. The only bummer is the somewhat poor visibility.

We get lunch at a nearby, very cozy, restaurant with tasty tempura and go back to the dive shop to log our dives. Mariko-san had earlier asked me if I wanted to hang around for that evening’s fireworks display and in accordance with my yes-policy I agreed. That meant that I had to spend the entire afternoon awkwardly conversing with Umeda-san since Enrique and Claudia left after we were done logging and took the train back.Fireworks Mariko-san hangs around for a while though and takes the opportunity to tell me that she knows this really nice Japanese girl that I should meet. This deserves some background though: My colleague Tore, the guy that told me about Mariko-san, actually met his wife when working for Mariko-san as a dive master. So now, devious and business minded as she is, Mariko-san has a plan. She will hook me up with a nice Japanese diver girl and then I will settle in Japan and work for her as a dive master. Foreign dive masters are very popular in Japan for two reasons; it’s easier to get foreign customers if they know that there will be someone who speaks good English along and you also get more Japanese customers since they like the opportunity to practice their English. There is a good reason behind that Mariko-san has kept the picture of an English guy who briefly worked for her years ago up on her homepage.

The evening finally arrive and we go out with boat in the middle of the bay and wait for the fireworks. The fireworks turn out to be really stupendous, they clearly haven’t been stingy when buying. I have no idea how long it went on to be honest, but it felt like a continuous barrage for upwards to half an hour with really beautiful arrangements. After a while I got bored though, some kind of sensory overload I guess. When I finally get back to the dive center, at around ten in the evening, Mariko-san phones the girl in question up and simply hands me the phone! What follows is probably the most awkward conversation I’ve ever had. Turns out that the girl barely knows any English beyond “Hi” and “My name is”, so after a lot of humming and other fruitless attempts at conversation I hand the phone back to Mariko-san who claims that the language barrier is no problem at all! I will see when I meet her next Saturday when we go on another dive trip!

On Sunday I hang out in Shinjuku and find a really cool OIOI store (OIOI is a department store chain) which basically has one floor per fetish. You have the creampuff thing, where the girls dress up in huge platform shoes, pink dresses with lots of petticoats, lots of makeup to make the eyes bigger, elbow gloves and sometimes even a little umbrella. The entire staff are dressed like that and it’s just adorable. Another floor has the goth lolita getups and a third one has the rockabilly outfits.