As we made our way back to Harajuko station, my cousin and I were greeted along our path by a beautiful display of luminaries and projected light.
All of which lead us to a spectacular performance of Kabuki Theater.
As we marveled at the production in front of us, wondering at what cultural heritage event we had stumbled upon, an older gentleman behind us took pity on these two clueless Americans. In halting English, and with many hand gestures, he explained that these performers were actually from Fukushima. All in all, the whole production appeared to be a very big “To Do”, with many people enjoying the rare chance to see the Meiji Shrine and its park after dark.
And why, you ask, was this entire event going on? Well, it wasn’t until after the fact that we realized we’d stumbled into the beginnings of the 100th anniversary of the Empress Shoken’s passing.
But we had made dinner plans already, and we needed to scurry on to Shinjuku and the tasty yakiniku hiding there.
As you can see, there was much tastiness to be had.
I even tried my hand at manning the grill!
Once stuffed full of tasty meaty goodness, we ventured out to find a nightcap. I now regret to say that we did not have the time or inclination to wait for a spot in the Robot Restaurant, but we can all at least sleep happier knowing that a place like this exists in the world. Instead we found a small, hole-in-the-wall cigar bar, where the main table actually wrapped around the piano, and everything was served in crystal.
It was pretty fantastic.
I had spent a wonderful day, out and about, but the most surreal moment had yet to occur. As we took our train home, I experienced the crush of the late night crowd, and maneuvered my way to grab a much-coveted seat. I may have even joined my fellow commuters in fighting off the inevitable urge to doze off once sitting. Once exiting the train, I immediately found myself naturally heading up the left side of the stairs with the rest of the crowd, without even being prompted. With them, I watched in a detached state, as two inebriated salary men began shoving and punching each other on the stair landing.
I continued on my way out of the station and into the slight drizzle; a realization finally starting to bloom in the back of my mind:
“Huh. I’m in Japan.”