Pantomime Elvis

by Kensatsukan Gaijin

People often ask us why we are going back to Japan after I just went last summer and we both went in November. I think it’s because it’s basically a giant Disneyland and we have yet to go on all the rides. But when you can go to Denny’s and get Korean-stle nan myung, spaghetti, gyoza, and French onion soup all at the same time, the question itself seems rather stupid. The menu provides a wide selection of hamburgers, udon, hotpot and okonomiyaki selections, at reasonable prices. They should make one of these in America…

We fell asleep last night to a show on the History channel about the History of Odysseus. A person who did not, in fact, exist. A history based upon a book that is actually fiction. Did anyone else notice that the History channel has slowly started telling completely fictional stories?

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Of course, I’m in Japan, the land where the real and the pantomime are barely separated. I’m not reporting anything new to everyone who knows Shibuya and Harajuku, but I guess I thought the dancing Elvis impersonators had to be a myth. There is no way that people would dress up in leather pants and dance in the 98 degree heat while wearing 15 lbs of hair product….oh…wait….

They were actually pretty good, and despite their almost certain heat exhaustion danced their hearts out. Truthfully, I preferred the poodle-skirt dancers.

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But that’s pantomime. Real Japan is inside the park, where Yoyogi is this amazing retreat for a land where most people live with 3 other people in an apartment the size of my college dorm room. The sort of place that would go for $300 a month in Charlottesville (or $2k per month in Manhattan). Yoyogi, which is a sprawling open space, is where you can finally go to have some space to do whatever you like, be that learning to walk a tightrope, playing cello backwards, or practicing your comedy routine.

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These are the reasons I love Japan. For A, it’s really the shopping and the food. Of course, in this country, A is a size 2 – which means that there are many people smaller than her. She bought her first pair of Capri pants yesterday, at least the first that didn’t just look, well, like pants. I just get to wander and take in the daily lives of people who don't realize that "Jersey Shore" is a documentary.

Shibuya is amazing in almost every respect, and I could have spent all day walking through its warrens of tiny restaurants and amazing little shops. Not to mention the endless underground food courts in the department stores. But after walking for almost 12 hours in the 95 degree + heat, I started to feel chilly and my fingers felt oddly numb. After about an hour of that I decided it was a sign, so we hobbled back to the hotel and called it a night.