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Best Lucky Neon Sleep Deprivation Alcohol Squidburger Multi-Platform Happy Fun Time: Tokyo Game Show 2009

Posted on Friday, September 25 @ 11:18:49 PST by Chris_Hudak

Portrait of a bender on foreign soil, well underway.

It's 01:39 on a crowded, narrow neon-constellationed lane in the entertainingly-sketchy red-light district of Kabukicho, Tokyo (it hardly matters which lane, as they're all crowded, narrow, and neon-constellationed by this point). If you've played Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne or Sega's Yakuza series, you've already had a fictionalized—albeit fundamentally correct—exposure to the essence of the area (there are, in fact, a lot of actual yakuza clustered in this particular district, largely undiscernible to visiting round-eyes such as myself—not as many as there were just five or so years back...but not an inconsiderable number, either).

KabukichoI've only got a few more usable hours to get hammered before I should probably get back to my hotel and sleep a little before Day One of Tokyo Game Show 2009. I've just staggered past the apparent beginnings of some kind of confrontation between two glaringly-obvious cops and a number of headset-sporting 'greeters' outside one of the dicier-looking 'hostess clubs.' Since this very same club tried unsuccessfully to draw me in not ten minutes previously, I happily loiter and watch this spectacle for a while, an oversized can of Kirin “Strong” lemonalcohol in one hand and a squid-burger in the other (of course Tokyo has squid-burgers; don't be an idiot). All the while, a nearby pack of about seven young Japanese guys—all done up like well-dressed glam rockers, with long, wild hair that could hardly be any more cooked if an H-bomb went off in the vicinity—are attempting to press various dubious flyers on any and all passing females who happen to be good-looking, which is all of them, so those guys' work-schedule is sorted out for what remains of the wee hours.

As I stand there—munching happily with pedestrian traffic streaming around me in the sorts of automatic, effortless airflow-patterns usually found in wing-test chambers—I am approached by the inquisitive, doubled image of a miniskirted, bare-legs-and-thigh-boots girl wearing a raggedly-collarless Mickey Mouse shirt off the shoulder, as if she's channeling the entire cast of a Tokyo Disney Sea production of Flashdance. I blink—and when the doubling-effect doesn't go away, I discover that I am, in fact, looking at an actual, corporeal pair of identically-dressed, identically-coiffed Shinjuku-bopper chicks (this is, of course, pretty much the functional opposite of the way these optical illusions usually play out). Not far behind me, the everpresent, shrieky, boing-boing soundscape of a glaringly-bright all-night video game arcade is competing with Nine Inch Nails' “The Beginning of the End” blaring from, presumably, some fellow gaijin's portable speakers.

I've only just finished cramming the rest of the squid-burger in my mouth when a way-too-enthusiastic ponytail with eyes invites me down some stairs into a sort of themed bar-court in front of a stage where a Japanese belly-dancer is whirling to some appropriately middle-eastern sounding music; when she finishes, she sits down at my table, and in the space of five minutes introduces me to the bar owner, the guy playing her dance-music, and at two other people who I don't remember because they weren't drinking enough to keep up with us. When I finally leave an hour and a half later, I've only paid for a single beer. The lesson here, all other things being equal, is this: Make Friends With The Japanese Belly-Dancer First. That's all I got for you.

On the way back to the hotel at oh-dark-thirty or so in the morning—still a good handful of hours before I have to get on the 40-minute train ride to the Makuhari Messe convention center—I stop by a convenience store for spicy string cheese, a hip-bottle of Suntory Whiskey and a 4-gig flash drive to replace the one I'd managed to lose the previous day near the train station, by the first of many, many beer vending machines, while looking for the shop that sells the Nintendo DS title about the cursed role-playing game that kills its users seven days after they play it.
I love this country so much.

Next up Day One at the show! >>

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