Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Series of Misfortunate Events (6/18)

Lol this was an experience...

Thursday I went to a concert with two friends. One of the guys was from Seattle and goes to SU, the other is in my Japanese class at Sophia. I was so excited because the concert was Shaggy, J. Holiday, T.O.K., Sean Kingston, Pitbull, Lil Jon, and Omarion. It seems odd to go to an American music concert, but the lineup was decent and with the student discount, we got tickets for half price.

It is hard to even explain the influence and prevelance of American artists and songs here. Pretty much any venue (retail, restaurant, entertainment) that caters to or tries to attract young Japanese customers will be playing mainstream English rap/r&b/pop songs. Its really quite weird. Its is very rare that they would be playing Japanese songs. Clubs I've been in so far have been dominated with the exact same songs, artists that you would expect to hear in the US. Anyway, so basically this phenomena is not as strange as you might expect.

The concert was crazy! We got tickets for the 1st floor and it was only standing. Basically wherever you wanted too. The first floor was packed. 2nd floor tickets were twice as much, but were seating. We got our tickets for $60, but standing was originally $120 and seats were $200. I couldn't imagine paying that much ever! We were just feet from the stage and could actually see the artists faces. Got our rasta on.

The concert started late and we lost track of the time. By the time we realized it, it was 11:20 pm! We needed to rush to catch our trains home. Didn't even get to stay for the whole concert.

We rushed to the train station and caught the train going back to Shinjuku. But just a few stops in it stopped. We waited on it wondering what happened. Turns out that was the last stop in our direction. Unfortunately we didn't realize it until a few minutes later and we started going back the way we came from!

So we had to get off at the next stop and transfer to ride in the right direction again, and then transfer again at the last stop. But the time we got to Shinjuku, my last train had already left. One guy was able to get home, but two of us were stranded.

I had already decided that it would be too expensive for me to go home by taxi or to stay overnight in a hotel. Kim had to stay overnight at a train station when she and her boyfriend missed their train coming back from Kyoto, so I figured worst case scenario, I might have to do the same. Japan is safe enough it isn't too sketch.

I know there are internet cafes that you can basically stay overnight in, but I really don't know Shinjuku well enough to even know what exit to go out. Frank and I decided to go to McDonalds or somewhere like that to crash.

We went out a random side exit where there were a lot of office and city buildings but not many restaurants/fast food joints. Somehow we were able to find a 24 hr McDonalds, get food there, and sit down. Frank fell asleep but I stayed up.

Our situation was made worse by the fact that it was a THURSDAY night and we had a Japanese TEST the next morning. There is no way we could skip class. At at that point, nearly 1:30 am neither of us had started studying for it...

Apparently at 2 am, they close the dining area. Lol, no doubt for people with the same idea as us. So we were politely kicked out. Where now? Lol still 3+ hours till the first trains run.

We decided to just walk back to the station.


There is a long corridor that leads to the station. It is totally covered and seemed to be a very popular place for homeless Japanese to sleep. It was dead silent as we walked down it. One of the saddest things I have ever seen. People, one after another, sleeping on either side for a ridiculously ridiculously long wide walkway. It probably took 20 minutes to walk through and there were no large empty spaces that didn't have people sleeping there. Some had cardboard built into little boxes to cover them as they sleep. Others were sleeping on top of a few pieces of it. Some had blankets, other didn't. Most had very very few possessions. Probably the direct opposite of the homeless bag people in the US.

We saw an old woman walking into the corridor carrying a single piece of cardboard. It was obvious she hadn't showered in a while, but the saddest thing was that she couldn't have been much older than my grandma. I nearly cried. Probably one of the hardest things I've ever had to see. I wondered how long she's had to sleep in the station. How old she was. What her life was like when she was younger. She was one of the few women I saw in the station that night.


Frank and I picked a place to stay and sat down against the back part of a staircase. We had some privacy, but in the distance I could see another group of homeless people. And another guy was sleeping a ways from us. Frank fell asleep, but I stayed up to study. I was fine with staying wherever, just as long as I had something to do. And lucky for me, I had my Japanese notes, homework and could borrow Franks Japanese books.

The police that was scanning the area and came over to ask in Japanese if we were okay. I surprisingly understood everything he said. Basically to watch out for our bags, what time we could enter the station, and to take care.

I studied until we went to catch our trains at 4:30 am. Lol on the train I drifted in and out between stops. From one stop to the next, I would fall sleep and wake up started as the music signaled the doors were closing. Probably 7 times in a row, I jerked awake thinking I was missing my stop. I finally got back to my dorm at 6:30, took a shower (that I was so happy for), and decided to sleep for a bit before going to class.

Of course that it was a bad idea from the beginning to sleep. I managed to turn off my alarm and fall back asleep. I somehow woke up at 9 am. CRAP! My class and test starts at 9:15! AND it takes me an hour to get to school! I threw on clothes and ran. Got to school at 10 and had the last 20 minutes to do the test. Lol usually you were given an hour and five minutes!!! I finished though and did get there in time to hear the listening questions.

That day I realized how much of a difference someone's attitude has on the whole situation. The guy that made it home that night was freaking out. Cussing, getting angry, not only making the situation harder for himself, but also for me and Frank. Your outlook can make all the difference. If you keep a cool head, think rationally, and make the best of it, it makes everything more bearable. I feel like I don't panic as much as I would have when I first get here. Just do what you can, there's nothing more you can do. Make the best of everything and look for the positive.

Like my dad always tells me, "Think, what can I learn for next time?" And after the night was over, Frank said, "At least we don't have to stay here every night." No matter how bad it may seem, it can always be worse.

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