Tokyo Stories from Curious Outsiders

010 : Uleshka in Yoyogi Park, Shibuya-ku
Born 1977 in Germany, Uleshka currently works as a writer, inspirer, motivator. She came to Japan on a spousal visa. Why Japan? veni-vidi-vici…! She digs the following Tokyo bits: dancing on tatami at home with her closest tokyo family, losing about anything and coming back finding it untouched in the exact spot, riding her bike, crazy music and performances, and the fact that when visiting parks at night alone as a woman she feels perfectly safe! She, however, is a touch miffed by old men starring at her with an open mouth particularly in summer, Japanese males who have no idea of what flirting could possibly be, hesitation and indecisiveness, labeling things kowai or bikkuri or taihen or muzukashii when they are actually only slightly unusual, and switching from heating to cooling inside the trains within one day. For more info on Uleshka you should send an email.

image: T. Oshima

“I could hardly make out anything apart from his glowing eyes...”

I had just finished teaching business English to salarymen in Yurakucho one evening when I noticed some beautiful flowers growing next to where I had parked my bike. Not quite knowing why, I picked one and started riding.

When I finally reached Yoyogi Park—always the best part of my ride home—I inhaled deeply, breathing in the cooler air as millions of negative ions [1] swirled about me. The park was empty, dark and peaceful. The silky breeze on my arms offered respite from the sticky summer heat, bringing a smile to my face.

Suddenly, I noticed this utterly beautiful music; a heavy, moody saxophone traveling through the trees. I stopped and listened for some time. I actually found myself crying out of pure gratitude for … everything—love, life, finding a way to somehow make it in Tokyo.

After listening to a few more songs, I decided to find this person who had just brought me so much joy. I walked toward the dark trees. The music grew louder, but still I couldn’t see anyone. I suddenly found myself standing right in front of him, and both of us let out a scream of surprise.

His skin was so dark that I could hardly make out anything apart from his glowing eyes and the saxophone. I apologized for sneaking up on him like that and thanked him for the music. I then handed him the flower I had been carrying and quickly walked away, wondering what he must have been thinking of me.

About four years later, while pushing my bike along a small road next to the same park and talking to some friends, I noticed my husband up ahead, talking to a black guy walking in the same direction. When I caught up with them, my husband asked us if we new each other. Puzzled, we both answered no.

My husband explained that he had noticed the man’s saxophone case and asked him if he sometimes played in the park [2]. He said he did.

“It’s you!” I screamed. “I gave you the flower years ago when I surprised you in the dark!” As soon as I had spoken, I realized how silly that must have sounded and how small the chances were that this guy had any clue as to what I was talking about.

But before I could think any further, he sprang over and hugged me wildly. “I found you!” he said. None of us could believe it.

His name was Zion. For several minutes, we just stared at each other, wearing the biggest grins and patting each other on the back. When it was time to move on, we shook hands and parted with a “see you again some time.”

referenced works

  1. Known as "minus ions" in Japan, these charged atoms are a big business in Japan, with everything from hair dryers to electric fans to washing machines touting their ability to purify the air -- and even induce a feeling of well-being among their users -- by producing these particles.
  2. Yoyogi Park, with its secluded groves and air of openness, is a magnet for musicians of all stripes. Hand drums are possibly the most common instrument seen here, but the author of this footnote once had the privilege of watching a musician "play" a boom box/CD scratching device that was slung over his shoulder while simultaneously dancing and painting the author's portrait, a highly entertaining performance that climaxed with the artist reaching out toward the author and screaming "Get!"

location information

  • Name: Yoyogi Park
  • Address: 東京都渋谷区代々木公園
  • Time of story: afternoon
  • Latitude: 35.669935
  • Longitude: 139.698458
  • 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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