Justin Hall's personal site growing & breaking down since 1994

watch overshare: the story contact me

Most of the time when I rode the Subway in Tokyo, I couldn't make eye contact or sustain conversation with any young Japanese folk.

The day before my departure, dragging my luggage across Tokyo; I was headed from Joi's office near Akasaka to the hotel where he had offered to put me up, the Park Hyatt in Shinjuku.

Sanae window I saw a young lady, professionally dressed in a dark green skirt-suit, a pale yellow leather jacket. Her slightly bleached hair was up in a bun, and her eyes had some faint blue eyeshadow. She was cute and she was curious; I noticed her eyes drifting closer to me more often than other ladies.

I started to look at her a little longer, though I didn't want to be agressive. She was attracting me, to be sure. I started to feel that swelling in my chest that pushes you to talk to a pretty stranger. Then the stop came up. She exited at my stop!

I grabbed my bags and hustled out after her, keeping a few feet behind her, which was a lot of work with a suitcase, a briefcase and a backpack. I noticed her turn her head to look back towards me two or three times; that convinced me she wouldn't feel threatened entirely if I spoke with her.

"Do you speak english?" I asked.
"Yes," she assented.

We began talking; she was a graduate student in business with aspirations to work overseas, probably in Europe. I was a reporter looking for people my age who spoke my language.

elevating We headed out for coffee, checked into my hotel, and had a very nice afternoon chat. We split up for dinnertime, and reconvened that night. After I'd interviewed Kenji, he agreed to take us out for some sushi. Towards the end of the meal, he had figured out that Sanae and I had just met; he announced smiling, "Some day I will come to California and meet a woman on the train and have you take us out to dinner." Sanae and I, Hanami Senae and I walked from Shinjuku station to Kabuchiko, so she could show me a "red light district," home to gamblers and prostitutes and great ramen shops. Then we passed through the dark and empty streets around city hall, and finally the quite white tree-lined paths of Shinjuku park.

Along the way, she was asking me to teach her American slang. I was a little hard pressed here; I mentioned "hella" as in "a lot" or "all up in that" or "get your [verb] on." These phrases most all come from Black America, filtered mainstream mostly through popular music, perhaps television. However strange I feel about appropriating these phrases, sharing in that lingo to communicate with my American peers, it was very strange to hear a young smartly dressed Japanese businesswoman saying "Can you feel me?" on the subway. Not unfun though - a great culture mix and something that tickled my brain.

I'm most always stimulated by curiousity, and Sanae had the courage to communicate (she was not self-conscious) and she had an appetite for new English words. She carried a pocket computer dictionary we used to facilitate our communication, but she didn't need it much. Msost Japanese young folks learn english in school - clearly she took it seriously.

We had a great night of talking in the hotel and eventually fell asleep quite late. In the morning we were taking our time up until the checkout limit - we were planning to regroup again that night for dinner and she would accompany me to the seventh in my series of hotels. We were good travelling companions. But I couldn't afford to change my plane ticket, meaning our first night was one long first date that would have to suffice to keep us connected after I left.

lunchin' We ate a light lunch in the airy-atrium where she worried that I was being too loud (but the two older Asian ladies next to us were carrying on like happy hens). A euro-sandwich on bread, the first bread I'd had since I arrived, some soup and vegetables for dipping - good food; she didn't eat much.

She escorted me to Narita airport. On the train, I was tired out from our night and I lay my head on her shoulder and slept some. When I woke up I was somehow possessed to be sure that she knew a good range of profanity and sexual slang. She was slightly concerned for my voice volume again; I was feeling playful and inspired. We made it through body parts and synonyms for sexuality. I became confused about disembarking; an older Japanese man who looked as though he had been sleeping the entire ride spoke in very clear english, "yours is the next stop."

Since she saw me place my suitcase in an XRay machine, we've passed email back and forth. Plotting Oakland-Tokyo visits!

Japan | trip | life

justin's links by justin hall: contact