Somehow, we wound up back in Harajuku
We stopped at a Lawson Station and fortified ourselves with nigiri. Hung out and watched the world go by some more.
We started working our way back home, and paused to check out the コスプレー族. Quite a scene–probably about 40 kids in various anime/lolita/EGL/EGA (they all sort of run together) outfits, many of their own creation, and probably as many tourists taking pictures of them. They all seemed quite happy to be the center of attention and to pose for pictures. I noticed a couple of white kids among their ranks.
代々木公園. That’s the place to be in Tokyo on a Sunday, and that’s where we went next. The park is sort of like Barton Springs on a good weekend: a bunch of people hanging out, clustered in little groups, doing their own thing. Except it’s about 20 times as big, it’s free, and there’s no swimming. Despite a large, sternly worded sign at one entrance to the park forbidding any kind of musical performance whatsoever (probably dating back to the Battle of the World’s Worst Bands days), I saw a knot of bluegrass musicians (including a guy who had dragged his upright bass to the park), one of martial artists doing their thing, a couple guitarists sitting under a tree trading licks, and so on. I happened on not one but two separate groups of poi spinners (the second of which had a damn good DJ with a huge table set up). I said Hi to both groups and wanted to rush back to the apartment to grab my own poi and rejoin them. We wound up continuing to take a leisurely walk through the park, though, going past a large homeless encampment–one of several in the park. Gwen observed that some of the dwellings would pass for regular homes in Mexico, and indeed we saw one that seemed to be made of 1×2 sticks, carefully measured and nailed together square with a peaked roof, with blue plastic tarp stretched taut and neatly over the whole thing. We saw a guy sweeping clear the packed dirt in front of his tent. All the camps in the park were about as orderly as you can imagine a homeless camp being (this is Japan), and Bryan likened them to the Hoovervilles of the 30s, an apt comparison in a lot of ways.
We made our way back to the apartment, I grabbed my poi, and headed back to one group of twirlers, hanging out with them for a little bit, and then going back to the other group I had introduced myself, and hung out with them for a little while. Found out that one of them has a friend in common, Vance.
Hanging out in the park made me regret not having spent more time there when I lived there, it was so much fun. When I lived in Japan, I had a somewhat pessimistic view of the quality of life enjoyed by the average person in Tokyo; being in the park, surrounded by so many people doing their own thing, gave me a much more optimistic view.
For better or worse, I had to take my leave at about 6:00 PM and head back, because Bryan and I had a dinner with a prospective client that night. The dinner was at an interesting basement izakaya, with narrow twisty-windy corridors that led to a private room for us. Bryan had a friend in the company, who was present at the meeting but said almost nothing. Instead it was a marketing guy (who had attended Stanford and spoke very good English) and the CTO (who was certainly competent in English when discussing his subject). It was a bit odd that the whole thing went off in English–I’m not sure how that happened, but since everyone at the table (except Gwen) was to some extent J/E bilingual, I guess the choice of language becomes somewhat arbitrary. Although my own Japanese speaking ability is bad enough that it does nothing to promote my image as a capable translator, I still would have felt more comfortable somehow if things had been a little more in Japanese. We briefly discussed the nitty-gritty of the company’s key product, a computer technology that genuinely is interesting, and perhaps I was able to convince them that I know my stuff by asking intelligent questions and understanding their answers.