Chasing Cherry Blossoms
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Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring Break 2k13

April’s here again and another Spring Break’s travels are over. Last year it was Korea with Rachel, this year Tokyo with Aisling. We set off from Matsuyama on Tuesday morning, touching down in Haneda once more, where we spent a whirlwind five nights. It was my fourth trip to Tokyo, and although I wouldn’t say I “know” the city by now – it’d take a lot more than four fleeting visits to conquer this behemoth – I’ve certainly gotten a lot better at navigating it.

First on our itinerary, Aisling and I paid a nighttime visit to The Lock Up, an apocalyptic prison-themed izakaya in Shibuya. Leaving the kaleidoscopic lights of the city behind and going underground, you’re immediately plunged into an unsettling, dimly-lit dungeon, all loose floorboards and rattling chains. Once you make it to the entry, you’re handcuffed by a PVC-clad policewoman (Aisling promptly pushed me forward and let me take one for the team here) and led by the wrist to your cell. There, a whole selection of shady concoctions await – in test-tubes, syringes and chemistry beakers (if Sharon Needles were to make an izakaya, it’d look a lot like The Lock Up). 

As if that wasn’t enough, it’s then that the Main Event of the night takes place: there you are, innocently sipping your popping-candy and vodka beverage, when suddenly an ear-splitting siren rings out throughout the dungeon and all the lights shut off; all at once, a horde of monsters appear from side-doors and start roaming the corridors, banging on your cell door (some of them venturing inside to spook you further) before being shot and chased off by police officers. It was all very dramatic and, having arrived in a modest party of two with few others to distract attention from us, we felt the full force of the monsters’ wrath. I’d definitely recommend a visit there if you’re ever in town – it’s one of those ridiculous “Only in Japan” type experiences that characterize the wackier side of Tokyo and I had a blast. I’d love to know if there are any more similarly themed izakayas around!

After a spooky start to our holiday, we left Tokyo for two nights and travelled to nearby Kofu City in the neighboring prefecture of Yamanashi (home of legendary Mt. Fuji) to visit my friend (and drag sister) Josiah. Coming from backwater Ehime as we do, I was blown away (and more than a little envious) that Josiah could be blessed with a placement in the heart of such a cute little city, only an hour-and-a-half away from Tokyo by train. It being cherry blossom season at the moment, the city’s Maizuru Castle Park in particular was idyllic, and we were able to enjoy our own impromptu hanami under the spring petals. We even managed to see Fuji itself, still snow-capped despite the summer-like heat.

Being not only my friend but my drag sister, a planned staple of my visit to Josiah was of course going to be getting up in tits-‘n’-tights and hitting the Tokyo city lights once more. So, come Friday night, that was exactly what we did. Ratchet as we were as women, it didn’t stop us from providing enough of a spectacle to keep the Nichome crowd entertained. Once more, strangers were running to have their photographs taken with us, and wherever we went – whether out of admiration or pure shock – we turned heads. Some were, if anything, a little too entertained by it all: sitting on the street curb with our combini wine, it wasn’t long until a few of Shinjuku’s tranny-chasers came out of the woodwork wanting to know more about Miss Janetta and Miss Josie. Considering how busted we looked, I couldn’t help but laugh: all in all, a beautiful hot mess of a night.

Not every Tokyo citizen was gagged by our eleganza...

Having found no difficulty in fulfilling our week’s quota of debauchery, it was time for something a little more wholesome, so on Saturday afternoon, we ventured to Harajuku and to the Meiji Shrine. Luckily, we were timely enough to catch what appeared to be a marriage procession making its way through the shrine. 

And with that Spring Break was over for another year! Forgive the limited selection of photos - I've gotten increasingly lazy when it comes to whipping my camera out these days!

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