Tokyo New Year.

While Christmas in Japan (and, apparently, China) is more for couples, the New Year (お正月) is a time for family and (much like everywhere) drinking. I managed to get myself invited out with a guy I met a few weeks back from Northern Ireland; he and some people from his share house were going to Shibuya to celebrate. I arrived early to get something to eat, noting an increased police presence. By the time I got back to the Hachiko exit to meet my people, the cops had shuttered all entrances to the station and were slowly moving people away from that area — no doubt to avoid a similar situation to Halloween’s ruckus. I ran into a girl I sometimes work with who was out with some of our fellow teachers, most of whom were on a beer run. She’d lost one of their number, who’d gone into the station before the shuttering and had no phone access. I myself ran into problems as well, since my people hadn’t been able to leave the station, either. I spent the next forty-five minutes chasing them around Shibuya, which was frustrating; every time I got to where my friend said they were, they’d since moved on. It was only after midnight that I found them.

We headed out of the central part of Shibuya (i.e. the part I know) to a pair of clubs that occupied the same building; one was called Oath, and the other club’s name escapes me. Much like everything in Japan, they were really small. They both had live DJs, though there was little room for dancing. Highlights of the evening: I met some new people; outside Oath was a hot dog stand selling “American-style chili dogs” which actually lived up to the claim; an older Italian man who lives in the share house bought everyone a Smirnoff Ice before the club and then bought me a second chili dog from the stand outside later; I spent substantially less money than I expected to. The one drawback that night was the cold, relentless wind.

While the JR lines supposedly ran all night, the smaller ones opened around five in the morning like usual, so we stayed out all night. Some of the group broke off here and there as the night progressed, so in the end, it was just my friend and his girlfriend with me. We walked back down into a much-quieter central Shibuya, whose streets were lined with trash from the intervening hours. After killing some time walking and stopping into a ramen shop (where I declined to eat, due to the power of chili dogs), we boarded the Yamanote and headed home. They got off at Gotanda, and I continued to Shinagawa, arriving home around 5:30 am. I immediately threw my clothes into the washer for the next day, and took a shower before bed; I fairly reeked of smoke. I think next year, I may try something different.

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