Sunday, February 24, 2008

Shafted in Sendai

Last night we went to the aptly named "Shaft," a ridiculous bar in Sendai. It cost 2000 yen to walk in the door, and then you got to pay 5 bucks for a plastic cup of beer once inside. The music was loud, the walls were painted black, and they had a gold disco ball.

The clientele seemed to be mostly Japanese guys with baggy pants and sunglasses, perfectly emulating US "street" culture. There was a lot of posturing, and I'm sure these guys spent a lot of time poring over urban fashion magazines to get the look right.

I managed to shoulder my way through the crowds and grab a seat. The guy next to me was Irish. I told him that Americans think Irish people are drunk 24/7. He said that was true. "How many pints have you had today," I asked him.

"I don't remember," he replied in something that only vaguely sounded like English.

Another guy looked at his drink. "If you're Irish, then why are you drinking Zima?"

"I don't remember," he replied again. His hair was sort of pasted to his forehead like the way Hitler styled his.

"Do you like Japan," I asked my new Irish friend.

"No, I hate it. I hate Japanese people."

"Do you have a girlfriend?"


"Is she Japanese?"


"Do you hate her?"


"Why do you hate Japanese people?"

"Because they never understand my Japanese!" ---only, it came out more like "BECZ TH NVR UNNRSTEND MAH JAPNYYS spoken really fast.

We went back to playing cards. The girl next to me got up and was replaced by a guy from Portland who I'd met 2 hours and apparently like 10 beers earlier.

He slumped into the seat next to me and sipped water. I said something inane about Oregon. He stared glassily ahead, not really blinking.

The guy across from me had fashioned an eye patch from tissue paper, and was wearing it underneath his glasses. He said the cigarette smoke was irritating his eyes. The girl next to him ate birthday cake (it was nobody at our table's birthday) and drank covert sips of a red wine she smuggled in.

Eventually the guy from Portland stood up and staggered off to be awesome. A hardcore looking shaved-head baggy pants-wearing Japanese badass strutted up, then broke character and politely bowed and asked if the seat next to me was free. I said it was. He sat down, and resumed looking hard.

Soon he left. A guy from Michigan replaced him. He looked goofy and I told him that nobody likes cars from his state anymore. He agreed, and said he drove a Honda. We chatted for a while and he tried to drink the 5-dollar Asahi I had been nursing for the last hour.

He giggled goofily and apologized. He looked like a big 12-year-old. Soon, he left. My beer was missing. My next 5 cars will be Japanese.

Mercifully, the poker game ended when the Irish guy went all in and no one else cared, so he gleefully raked in all his fake money.

We finally left. The last night train was long gone, but luckily we were only about 45 minutes away from the first morning train. The vortex of suck in the bar had stolen like 2 hours from us, so we just went to the station and took the 5:04 a.m. train back to Ishinomaki. I was tired.


Anonymous said...

This is soooooo "gaijin in a bar" in Japan.......if you've been there, you've done that. You've captured it beautifully. I'm loving your blog! Keep it up.

d said...

OK, so in Ireland it's something like 3 pints an hour from the end of work to the close of the pub (~5:30 - 11:00) and that's about 17 pints per evening. I've tried to keep up myself to that schedule but to no avail. Thursdays are the big day since the paychecks arrive then and Fridays are the grand trip to the hinterlands for family interaction - hung over mind you.

Japan has a long way to go for that kind of habitual, friendly drunkenness, but it sounds like your club is on its way.