Sunday, June 6, 2010

Parking Lot California

That's right, another adventure night in Nagoya. It started, as many such things do, with plans for dinner and clubbing. Maru-chan (who I met through my Japanese classes at TIA) and I decided at our last class that we'd go clubbing in Nagoya. Maru-chan is Brazilian-Japanese, now a naturalized Japanese citizen. This means many things, but the most relevant to me and him is that our common language is Japanese. He doesn't really speak a lot of English, I speak no Portuguese. Luckily, Maru-chan's been in Japan for nine years and thus Japanese is excellent (why we're both in the same class, I'm not sure. Probably because they don't have an A+ class to place him in; I feel the same way in regards to many of my classmates whose Japanese is clearly leaps and bounds above mine, but shou ga nai). This mostly makes up for my rapidly feeling crappier Japanese language skills.

One upshot of this language difference though is that through we talked about going out, both him and I were apparently under the impression that the other was in charge of the planning. So our planning ended up amounting to, “let's get together at Nagoya station and then we'll figure out what we're going to do next.”

We determined this when Maru-chan called me and asked where we were going. Erin and I had already gotten an early start on Nagoya, enjoying delicious kebab, wandering through some very exciting stores like a mecha model store and a build your own doll store that could only have existed in Japan. I

I invited a bunch of folks to join us at the last minute, and some made it out. Makoto-san and his friend (whose name I'm forgetting...sigh...I'm so terrible with names), Erin, Rosa, Maru-chan and his friend Kenji and of course me. Since Makoto-san was there and actually knows his way around Nagoya (as he lives there), he took charge of the dinner plans and after some minor antics we were enjoying a delicious Chinese Food (or Japanese interpretation of Chinese Food—no General Tso's Chicken that I saw, a staple of American/Chinese food, but overall still delicious)

Dinner was great fun (once we all got there, lol) and afterwards about half of our group stuck around for clubbing. We initially were looking for a club called Raggaetown, but once we got there, we realized it was a bar with a tiny dance area and tacky disco ball, no one dancing and all in all, not particularly exciting. Not the least bit because the drinks were also a bit high. So we booked out of there and headed across the street to the ID club, with it's exciting five floors of dancing, and 4 drinks included in your 3,000 yen ($30) admissions fee. That was super fun, and I admit I was more than a little Yoppara-ai when we left. Also, very exciting for me, we ran into Andrea (who I met on the plane) at the club, and so instead of heading back to the car at one as initially planned, we all decided to continue to hang out and do Karaoke (with Nomihoudai). Andrea and I are both from Philly, and as you may remember from my long ago initial blog entries about coming to Japan, while we lived essentially less than a kilometer from each other (maybe half a mile at most) but didn't meet until Tokyo, when we were transferring to the flight to Nagoya.

Andrea and I kicked it, Philly style, accapella-ing some Fresh Prince as we walked to the Karaoke place (Joy Joy), reminiscing about Philadelphia, enjoying the joy and versatility of the word “yo” as well as running through a few more colorful metaphors. We had an excellent time doing Karaoke and imbibing of further colorful alcoholic drinks before Maru-chan and our party parted from the pack, ready to return to Toyota.

But Nagoya was not yet done with us, as we learned when we arrived at the parking lot and it was closed. Gates down, abandoned, truly and completely closed. Turns out, our chosen parking lot was not a 24 hour parking lot. So now approaching four in the morning, we were brushing the possibility of another Nagoya all-night march. But luckily Makoto-san was also there. Makoto kindly offered to put both of us up at his apartment. He actually had two extra futons and enough floor space for us. So instead of walking through the night like last time, we actually got a few hours of sleep. Yay!

We got up around 7:30am and Makoto generously drove us back to the parking lot. Luckily it was open, and things seemed to be looking up, that is until we tried to leave. As we sat in the car in front of exit, Maru-chan put the ticket into the machine. Expecting it to be expensive, he had stopped for money on his way. Unlike in the USA, where regularly paying for something with the equivilant of a $100 bill is very strange, in Japan, a much more cash and carry society, it's perfectly normal. So Maru-chan didn't notice until it was too late that the machine we were using did not take ichi-man ($100 bills). Maru attempted to get the ticket back, but by the time smaller bills had been freed up, it was too late. The machine ate our ticket and we were stuck.

And thus tbegan a rather surreal experience. Maru-chan called the people in charge of the parking lot, and they talked for a while, Maru-chan explaining what went wrong with the ticket process and the like. And they promised to send someone. And we waited. And they called again. More rapid-fire conversation in Japanese. And we waited. And waited. Maru-chan had a TV in the dashboard of his car, so we watched a grainy show about artwork around the world, including slow motion pans over various paintings, with monotone narration in Japanese. Suffice it to say, the battle to stay awake was being heavily fought, its outcome doubtful.

Eventually, a representative from the parking lot came. He accessed the machine, determined how much we owed, took the money and then proceeded to commence the arduous process of getting the metal arm to lift so that we could exit (at last) the parking lot. He had what looked like a hundred keys hanging from his belt. It took many tries, but eventually the gate opened and we were on our way!

The ride home was uneventful (thank God) and when I got home, I decided to do my best to stay awake until bedtime. This seemed like a good plan on three hours of sleep, but the next morning, when I woke up and realized I'd planned all the wrong lessons for the day, it felt considerably less brilliant. Luckily, it was a light day and I was able to get my lesson planning done before I left for school. Phew! And so another week began.

In a sense though, over this week I've caught myself wondering if we are still sitting in that parking lot, dreaming our week with the monotone backdrop of classical paintings lulling us into believing that somehow we have beat the odds. Checked out and even left. Life is but imagination.

Great time all around!


For more of Vash's adventures in Japan and abroad, check out: