April 13, 2000
Last weekend, we went to do
hanami – cherry blossom viewing – in Ueno Park. Ueno Park (in Tokyo) was very crowded, but not in the way I expected. The cherry blossoms themselves were beautiful – a canopy of blooming trees. When the wind came up the petals would spray everywhere adding to the blinding sight of all those pale-pink flowered branches.
The crowds moved along down the middle, and on either side people were having their parties. I thought that we could sit anywhere there was a space – it turned out that people had their party spaces “occupied” and informally “reserved”. When we first tried to sit down, we were shooed away by a Japanese guy saying “This is our space.” Amy huffed that they can speak English when they want you to go away. (Never mind that they weren’t using the space in question, it was just marked.) There went my idea that seats under the trees could be had in some anarchic fashion.
Walking along a little further, we spied an area that was open, but occupied by a group of young guys who didn’t seem to be doing a whole lot in there. Rather than make the mistake of just sitting down again, we asked them if we could sit in their space. They said that they had a party starting around six, but why should they turn down us pretty foreign girls (plus Canadian Robin) until then?
Without too much effort then, we scored a prime spot to sit. We were right under the trees, and right next to the crowd. We had a little table, onto which we quickly emptied our pile of wine, beer
, sake, and food.
It was a good party we were having. People walking by stopped, or slowed, to stare at us. They took pictures and video of us. I think we were a bit of a spectacle, what with Stacy and Amy lobbing chip balls at Robin, who caught them in his mouth.
The only problem was having to go to the bathroom. The first time I visited the Porta-Potti, it was covered in poo, even on the back (?!) of the squatter. This being Japan, there was no paper. It was so small that I didn’t want to reach for my pockets, lest some part of my clothing touch the surface of that thing.
And once you start to pee while drinking, it seems you have to go so often. The worst part was the lines. I don’t know why, but people take so long in public toilets. I knwo they are pleasant environments to hang out in, but come on! Anyway, the guy at the front of the line went in – and just about never came out. Maybe he passed out, maybe he suddenly needed to take a long, leisurely shit on the squat. Perhaps that Porta-Potti was some kind of portal, time machine or black hole. He may have been sucked into a vortex, but remembered to lock the door.
I was drunk, easily provoked. The guy in front of me turned half-around to shrug “What can you do?” I took the bait a little too much, gave in to my impulses, went up there, and banged on the door. Wake up! “
Isoide! Hayaku!” I yelled. (Translation: Hurry up!) Of course, everyone stared – one delicately dressed cherry blossom viewer gave me a very strange look.
I was a little embarassed at my display – but the guy never did come out that I could see.
Most of the time, I think I’m pretty responsible about my “cultural ambassador” role, but this was one time I let the inner “Ugly
gaijin” (foreigner) take over. What the hell. Maybe they thought I was an American. Teehee.

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