Tokyo Stories from Curious Outsiders

012 : Adam Greenfield at The (old) Pink Cow, Shibuya-ku
Born 20th century in cruising altitude, Adam Greenfield currently works as a int’l agent provocateur. He came to Japan on a Specialist in Humanities visa. Why Japan? dot.com.excess. He digs the following Tokyo bits: the multilayered nature of the streetscape, the backstreets and canals, that it’s safe enough to go anywhere, anywhen, the transit network and tiny specialist design shops. He, however, is a touch miffed by protocol over practicality just about every time; ditto fashion over function; that cabs is expensive, son! The utter self-assured arrogance of the privileged and the NHK man refusing to accept that not everyone has a television. For more info on Adam Greenfield you should send an email or visit Speedbird.

image: michibanban

“A simulacrum of someone else's home, equal parts comfort and loss.”

Megumi broke up with me at midnight on a Sunday. (I say “Megumi,” but of course that’s not what she called herself. No: “Meg,” and English. Always English.) Our relationship was a simple armature of sex and language lessons, and it came to an end at the bar of a gaijin joint in the back streets of Harajuku.

It was the kind of place she favored and which I tended to avoid, a simulacrum [1] of someone else’s home, equal parts comfort and loss. The chairs, the posters on the walls, the food on offer — nothing wrong with them but their familiarity, or rather the sense that they had been consciously deployed to read as familiar.

Above all, this was true of the song which happened to be playing at the moment I walked away from Megumi for the last time, Van Morrison’s [2] version of “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.” Whatever its other and considerable merits, this is not the soundtrack you want for a breakup, no matter how gossamer [3] the relationship that’s ending.

I worked my way through a scrum of oblivious Aussies and up to the street before its last notes had faded from the air. I already knew I was too broke for a cab [4], but with a little luck I’d just catch the last train.

A maze of streetlets stood between me and the Ginza-sen; [5] I got to the subway entrance just as the steel shutter rolled down and the rain started to fall.

And it’s a long walk from Omotesando to Kamiyacho.

referenced works

  1. An image or representation of someone or something. (Apple's Dictionary.app)
  2. "Van Morrison was born in Belfast in 1945, the son of a shipyard worker who collected American blues and jazz records. Van grew up listening to the music of Muddy Waters, Mahalia Jackson, Lightnin' Hopkins and John Lee Hooker. As a teenager he played guitar, sax and harmonica with a series of local Irish showbands, skiffle and rock'n'roll groups before forming an r&b band called Them in 1964." (Read more here.)
  3. Used to refer to something very light, thin, and insubstantial or delicate. (Apple's Dictionary.app)
  4. As of June 2007, Tokyo taxi meters start at ¥650 (US$5.30) and unless you live near city center, a ride home after missing a last train could easily set you back US$40-$50. Thanks to rising oil prices, meters will be starting even higher before 2007 is over. From a June 1st, 2007 Kyodo News article: "The government will withhold endorsement of the taxi industry's proposed fare hike [of 18.7%] in Tokyo until after August, in an apparent effort to avoid public furor before the House of Councilors election in July, government sources said Thursday."
  5. Our good friend Wikipedia has this interesting fact on the Ginza line: "The portion between Ueno and Asakusa was completed on December 30, 1927 and publicized at the time as "the first underground railway in the Orient." Upon its opening, the line was so popular that waiting times to board for the 5-minute trip often exceeded 2 hours."

location information

  • Name: The (old) Pink Cow
  • Address: 東京都渋谷区原宿駅周辺
  • Time of story: late night
  • Latitude: 35.669848
  • Longitude: 139.705882
  • Map: Google Maps


019She laughed at my effort and responded in English, ‘Long time, no seduction.’ — Qi Rari

018In my dreamy state, oblivious to signs and announcements I often boarded the wrong train.— Momus (aka Nick Currie)

017I was fifteen years old and it was one of those nights.— Yuko Enomoto

016That ear of corn just wanted to go home— Guttersnipe Das

015With his painstakingly coiffured mane blowing in the wind— Digits Wolfowitz

014Her voice, even across languages, betraying her worry.— Olly Denton

013I saw them drawing bamboo sticks from a silver rectangular box.— Daphné Haour

012A simulacrum of someone else's home, equal parts comfort and loss.— Adam Greenfield

011Jumbled Escheresque insanity where geo­graphy in any traditional sense ceases to exist.— Joseph Badtke-Berkow

010I could hardly make out anything apart from his glowing eyes...— Uleshka

009Shibuya was like a stroke.— Alice.d

008I cried for a while and wiped the dead bracken off my karate pants.— David Cady

007Both my tie and my disposition hang limp as I calculate the remaining distance to the station.— Chris Tobber

006I once read about a Chinese maiden whose feet were unbound by a cruel man …— Claire Tanaka

005The Bad Girl strutted off and I was left with a ham egg pie.— Guttersnipe Das

004I arrived expecting an irritated Japanese person to step out of the crowd and identify himself as Hideki.— Ashley Rawlings

003The woman at the ticket window seemed surprised to see another human being. I was the only visitor.— Andrew Douglas

002Flanked on either side by adult manga shops and the like, the smell of yakitori in the air.— Jean Snow

001For two weeks the day began with this morning walk, our shared routine.— Joseph Squier


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