Monday, 3 October 2011

The night I lost my Tenjinity

No, it wasn’t gentle with me, although it knew it was my first time; yes, I felt sore afterwards. The other night, the Japanterous core of the group did what it should have done a long time ago and went and had a little nocturnal boogy in the boogyin’ heart of Fukuoka, Tenjin.

The prélude to the story is set in the Cambridge House dining hall, where a precocious Korean dude decided to sit next to us and join in with what was inevitably some first class Japanter. Tim, Japalumni from last year, had told us what a cool guy he was so we invited him for the impending carnage and he, being the trooper that he is, came along.

We took the last train into Tenjin on the Nishitetsu line and bounced across to the going-out area, and to a bar/club called FUBAR which I subsequently discover is an acronym: Fucked-Up Beyond All Recognition. Perfect. Little mystery then that, Seong-Min, our new Korean friend decided to stand outside the entrance, through his arms in the air and scream “Let’s get fucked-up”. There was never a prouder moment for me as a teacher of English as a foreign language.

FUBAR is one of these nomihodai joints: you pay a flat rate on the door (lamentably cheaper for girls than for boys) and drink as much as you want/can for the rest of the night (till five in the morning).

The first thing that struck us was how small the place was, despite being billed as an institution in Fukuoka-going-out. The next thing to hit us was that it’s full of smoke. Ain’t no ban here! And the third thing is that it’s full of bloody foreigners, coming over here, drinking our drinks, chatting up our girls &c. In over a month I had not seen anywhere near this many white faces in one place; I also saw my first two black people, one camp Michigan-Texan and one seductive New Zealander. Takes all sorts.
The drinks were all cocktails, and Seong-Min recommended the “Kahluah-milk” a recommendation I summarily ignored. For political reasons (I needed some caffeine) I drank Cuba Libre all night, as the beer in Japan is fizzy and pissy.

The atmosphere of the place was wonderful:
The music had peaks and troughs, as they alternated between a trio of wannabe gangster DJs, big caps, oversized hockey-jerseys and the rest of it. We all chuckled with delight as they whacked in the English song titles between torrents of Japanese. When it was camp and good we danced, when it was hardcore we drank. Sadly, our (Henry-san’s) request for LL Cool J’s 1990 classic “Mama said knock you out”, which is quickly becoming a karaoke stalwart, did not make it onto the decks (there’s always next time).  
It was quite clear that the crowd was a regular crowd. Lots of bright young things (with the occasional weirdo I might add). There was one guy who wouldn’t leave us alone, kept getting very close to me, copying my dance moves (and that’s a big no-no with such fine shapes), and insisting that I drink some of the tequila shots he was carrying round on a tray. I (decreasingly) politely declined. When I was standard at the bar, he hit me in the side of the head with said tray then staggered off.
I loved the school-disco feel of the place (abstraction faite de the open displays of drinking and smoking, though the snogging was right on message). Every body was clearly having a smiley good time and though many of the Japanese people hardly spole any English they kept coming up to us and having a dance. When one accidentally knocked into Mashu-san, he stopped mid-thrust to give a very deep bow, palms together and everything. Though they couldn’t sing the English words properly, they more than made up for it on the songs that had non-vocal bits: “Oooooooh-oooooh-ooooooooooooooooooooooooh” &c. Perhaps this explains Lady Gaga’s near fanatical devotion here. Or maybe it doesn’t. It was sweet to see strangers arm in arm, belting out tunes in imperfect unison.

The others got bored around 3:30 I think so disappeared for forty-five minutes. But they knew on which side their bread was buttered (completely inappropriate idiom for Japan) and soon came crawling back. Yeah, that’s right.

Getting home was perfectly simple too. In the still warm early morning air we shuffled along to the train station where the 5:15 first train was waiting for us.
On we got and home we got.

The night was fun, safe and easy and it’s often difficult to say that on the other side of the globe I think.

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