Thursday, November 27, 2008

Friendship Key to Maintaining `Balance` in Tokyo

Recently, I hung out with my pal Hamed. I have known him for a few months now. We met though work and have kept in contact. It is always fun to hang out with Hamed because he is kind of on the same vibe as me. We think alike on many things which makes it easy for me to talk to him. This most recent adventure with Hamed has got me thinking about how important it is to have a few friends in Tokyo.

I have read on several blogs the topic of finding or maintaining emotional and social balance a problem for a lot of people adjusting to life in Tokyo. I have almost been in Tokyo for a year, and while I do not feel that I am an expert about life in Tokyo, I can say that you have got to have at least one running mate. Living in Tokyo can be a very lonely and depressing experience for some people. This city has got a way of crushing people under its massive weight of emotional and social pressure. If you are not Japanese this pressure can be enough to send someone into a deep hole of hate and jadedness.

Now there a lot of people who have a large cycle of `friends` yet still find themselves just as unhappy as before. I think that some people get stuck in the `a lot of people know me but no one knows who I am` kind of situation. It seems that there is a focus on who you know rather than what you know in Tokyo. Social networking is the name of the game so many people end up knowing a lot of people and think that they have friends. The reality is that almost all of those people who say they are a friend are actually out to get some type of benefit. In order to have a true friend and maintain balance a person has got to separate friends from those who you just social network with at times. With that said there are some people I social network with who I would not mind moving over to the friend list; that is a topic for another day.

I guess what I like about Hamed is that I have never had a social networking relationship with him. While we did meet because we came up though the same company together I have never felt that Hamed was a point of contact for business or other wise. From the first time I met Hamed it has been very easy to talk to him. Too often I feel some pressure or stress with people I just social network. I have never felt that pressure with Hamed. We always seem to have a good time together and never have any disagreements.

So, a few days back I met up with Hamed for a few drinks and good old hanging out. I really enjoy just hanging out with people. This works best for me because the god of chaos is always watching and waiting to punish me for making plans which are too structured. When planning to hang out with a friends in Tokyo I keep a few ideas as to what to do in my head but I do not write anything in stone. This half-ass method of planning adds some adventure to hanging in Tokyo. I like the idea of never exactly knowing what is gonna happen. I kept the same method in West Virginia which usually led to some strange experiences. I think that now days leaving the details to be worked-out as I go along keeps things fresh for me and adds value to the hang out experience.

My half-ass plan for hanging with Hamed involved meeting up at Shibuya station. While, this was completed with little trouble things quickly ventured off into a totality different direction. The idea struck me to venture over to Harajuku and check out a few things. We made our way over to Harajuku by way of Yoyogi park. It actually did not take long at all to walk to Harajuku. I am always surprised by how close Shibuya and Harajuku are to each other.

I took Hamed to a shop called `Love Me Tender.` It is a Elvis tribute and `50 retro store. You can buy just about any kind of Rock A` Billy CD. The shop also offers vintage outfits and plenty of Elvis stuff. One of the things which gives Love Me Tender its charm is the Elvis statue out front. You get greeted by the king himself at Love Me Tender. Sadly, the shop will be closing its doors forever on Jan. 16,2009. I got word from Jack(who runs another 50`s retro shop) there are two send off parties going down for Love Me Tender. If I find out more I will share the info.

I also dragged Hamed to Jim Sin/Yellow House. This place has been in Harajuku forever. It claims to be the first punk rock shop in Tokyo but I am not so sure about that fact. Anyway, I go to this place from time to time. They have got a great selection of biker jackets, pants, and shirts.

After returning to Shibuya we headed over to this Irish pub for a few drinks during happy hour. It was a nice place but the beer prices were a little high to say to least. It did provide us a chance to just hang and chat. It has been a long while since I had a conversation with a fellow native speaker of English. It has become to real treat for me to talk to someone who can understand every word I say with no problem.

We ended the night smoking spice in an internet cafe. It seems that every person I have shown spice to has gotten hooked. The fun part for me is showing people how to get their hands on this odd little herb. Head shops in Tokyo do not use adverts much and tend to stay low key. Unless someone shows you where they are at it can take some exploring to find one.

So, having a decent drinking buddy and running mate is a very important part of keeping personal balance in Tokyo. When I lived in the country side in the states it was easy to live a more reclusive lifestyle and be happy. In Tokyo the daily grind is much more stressful. It is a must to have someone to blow off steam with.


Anonymous said...

I'm with you on this Ghost. Friends are really important in Japan. Especially Japanese friends.


TheGhost said...

I agree. If you do not have a few good drinking buddies you will go crazy in Japan.