Tokyo Stories from Curious Outsiders

015 : Digits Wolfowitz at Makuhari Messe, Chiba Prefecture
Born 1975 in glorious Canada, Digits Wolfowitz currently works as a new games journalist. He came to Japan on a spousal visa. Why Japan? “Because Korea is gay.” He digs the following Tokyo bits: guys mens shop in Takadanobaba (guns, Nazi paraphernalia and porn), genki burger, the Sunshine Building in Ikebukuro (all the happy visitors don’t realise it’s built on the site of the prison where they hung all the war criminals), homeless villages in parks and, of course, streetside drinking. He, however, is a touch miffed by Gas Panic, gaijin houses, taxi drivers, those fucking Elvises in Yoyogi park, most people, Japanese or otherwise. For more info on Digits Wolfowitz you should send an email.


“With his painstakingly coiffured mane blowing in the wind”

A common fantasy among first-time visitors to Japan is that they will be an exotic wonder in a sea of kimono-clad mystics, revered for their otherness, but also required to prove their worth to this honour-bound nation, ideally through the medium of the karate competition.

It has long been a hobby of mine to try and spot the exact moment when this fantasy falls to pieces around the ears of some fresh-faced young nerd, and there is no better place to enjoy this pastime than Tokyo.

Almost as much fun can be had observing how people deal with the disillusionment once it sets in. I have witnessed many strategies, from barefaced denial to grudging acceptance, from escaping into the cloying clutches of the “gaijin community” (for this read “hiding in Roppongi”) to joining every “international friendship club” (for this read “Japanese losers club/sinister Christian recruitment cult”) going. Nothing, however, ever terrified me more than when I arrived at Makuhari Messe for my first Tokyo Game Show, and was introduced to a friend of a friend who exhibited the worst (and thankfully rarest) coping method of all: attempting to become Japanese. Imagine, if you will, approaching from a distance a decorative boulder to see, perched atop it, his long leather jacket artfully draped over its sides as he squats there in the delightfully named unkozuwari position with his painstakingly-coiffured mane blowing in the wind, a figure who, from a distance at least, resembles nothing more than visual kei superfop Gackt.

Now imagine drawing closer, and the pockmarked pastiness of an unmistakably English face slowly coming into focus, impossible to hide beneath any amount of plucked eyebrows and expensive male cosmetics. He turns to you, a disinterested look that is clearly the result of considerable practice strewn across his face and, as if it could get no worse, you are introduced to him and asked to call him “Hiro”. Later probing reveals that his name is Gary and he is from Romford. He is the reason that foreigners will never, ever be taken seriously in Japan.

location information

  • Name: Makuhari Messe
  • Address: 2-1, Nakase, Mihama-ku, International Conference Hall, Chiba City
  • Time of story: morning
  • Latitude: 35.647462
  • Longitude: 140.035579
  • 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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