Road to RSR09 in EZO → Sunset Day 10

Today was another slow day, which would have been okay except that I went to Shimokitazawa, which is probably my favorite part of Tokyo, and spent 2 hours trying to find my friend's shop. Shimokitazawa consists of a million tiny little roads filled with tiny little shops that all intertwine and twist all over the place. Plus they do that on both sides of the train tracks around the main train station, and it can get confusing as to which side of the tracks you're on. Anyway, after 2 hours of confusion, I finally found Empty (it turns out that one of their locations had recently moved), and my friend Ai-chan, who is Shingo's (one of my favorite dancing buddies from Rising Sun) younger sister. I was lucky that she was even there, since she's no longer working there full time. But I hadn't ever really seen her outside of Empty, so I didn't know how else to hunt her down. Ai is Shingo's younger sister. She gave me directions to the other Empty shop, where those belts I'm always wearing come from, as well as some of my favorite t-shirts. Even after two years, the owner remembered me, so that was cool. After Ai-chan got out of work, she met up with me, and we went out for some Okinawan food. This was my first time actually hanging out with her, so it was really fun. She introduced me to Awamori, which is the Okinawan equivalent of shochuu. Normally, I'm not a huge fan of shochuu (bad memories of terrible hangovers) because the cheap stuff is terrible. But the good stuff is exceptional, so I tried a class of aged awamori that was 45 proof. Or 45 percent alcohol. I guess I'm not really sure what "45 degrees" in Japanese means when it comes to rating alcohol.

Anyway... it was a really fun bonding experience with Ai-chan. Also, at some random point I came to realize that I had eaten at that very Okinawan restaurant at least once before, which was weird.

On the way back to Jai's, I decided to stop by to visit Gravity Free's office, since they weren't far away. I can't believe how incredibly lost I got in Shinjuku... actually, yes I can, because Shinjuku Station is unbelievably enormous. See this picture to get an idea of what I'm talking about.

Anyway... eventually I found their office. It's a shame that trains stop running so early in Japan (1am at the latest, but usually not much after midnight), because I would have loved to hang out longer. Oh well, It was awesome seeing them again, and especially awesome because Masa (he doesn't do the live painting, but he takes pictures of them, and does other... businessy stuff... I think) was there, and I didn't think I was going to get to see him on this trip. I really hope they (and Dachambo) can come back to the States again.


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