It was Anita’s birthday on Friday but she had plans to go to a gig that night so we went out for dinner on Saturday instead. We met at Ikebukero station (a bloody mission I can assure you) and after wandering around for a while decided to bite the bullet and opted for a restaurant that was not only upstairs, so we couldn’t see what it loked like, but also had no English menu, let alone plastic food outside.
We were pleasently surprised to find it packed with people eating various sorts of yakitori, so we ordered some skewers along with a few other dishes and got stuck into a glass of beer. We soon decided to try some sake, and the hugely helpful waitress recommended a good cold variety.
Across there room was a group of salarymen (it’s common to work on Saturdays here, although I’ve been assured that it’s more to show your face than to do anything productive) who kept looking at us. Eventually one came over to chat to us, quickly followed by the other two. Communication was tricky at best, with our limited Japanese and their limited English, but we discovered eventually that the oldest one was the department boss and that he was treating one of the middle managers and the office junior to a night out.
Anyhow, we tried to pay our bill only to find that bossu-san had already picked up the tab – not good as I’m sure the whole thing of men feeling you owe them something when they pick up the bill applies here as well as back home! They were off for some karaoke though, and asked if we wanted to come along. We were assured that bossu-san was rich and that money was no problem! After a quick discussion we agreed to join them for an hour (the subway closes early here – at midnight – so we couldn’t have stayed out even if we wanted to).
We headed round the corner to a karaoke place, which was a ten story building filled entirely with small rooms equipped with sofas, a hi-tech TV/stereo system, cordless microphones, food and drink menus and a phone to place your orders. They sang Japanese pop songs and we tried the odd Western tune, including Michael Jackson’s “Bad” and “I Will Survive”. The versions they had were quite different to the ones that we were used to though, so the performances weren’t exactly award winning, but hey – I don’t think that was noticed!
All good fun. Bossu-san had taken a bit of a shine to me by the end of the night, but he was quickly put in his place by being thanked for a nice evening and no-thanked for anything more! This is a video of him singing (embedding is killing IE for some reason). I’m not quite sure exactly what it is that makes Japanese men so funny, but funny they are (in ways that I’m sure they wouldn’t find entirely flattering!).