Last Friday night a group of 7 fabulous gaijin ladies flocked to Nakano together. How do I know? I was lucky enough to be one of them. After a champagne-fueled conversation at 57 one night, a small group of us decided that we had to go to Nakano to try this black sesame ramen that I had been raving about. We started to question our identity as gaijin however, when we ended up setting a date more than a month away to ensure that we could ALL be at this momentous dinner.
At the appointed time we began arriving one by one, until there were 7 of us, compliments of the GGG, or the Gaijin Girl Grapevine. I don't know if it was the fact that it was Friday, or our special gaijin girl superpowers, but we were so giddy that while walking to the restaurant, people started to give us "who let them out" looks. Not in a bad way though, but it was clear Nakano has never seen the likes of it.
After being shown to our table, the combination of the Asian-chic red lantern hanging over it and the dim lighting of the restaurant made our dinner feel like some kind of mafia meeting, except the heads of each family were gaijin girls. I think the restaurant staff were certainly surprised by us but nonetheless they did our bidding, bringing us bowls of black sesame noodles, accompanied with gyoza, spring rolls and ebi chili.
Full, we headed out to the long narrow street that runs parallel to Nakano Broadway, which is becoming overrun with snacks and hostess clubs. Is this part of Nakano the new Kabukicho?! Not knowing quite where we wanted to go and dodging the advances of dodgy men, we headed down to Juke 80's, a "one coin" 80's bar where all the drinks are 500 yen and the song requests are free. Before long we were getting down with the locals, singing along to songs of the 80s and admiring Michael Jackson's cheek bones.
I have not laughed that hard in a really long time. If I say that the night out with the girls brought me back to life it sounds trite and also as if I haven't been doing very well lately. Which isn't true. I've been doing fine but I've allowed myself to forget how fun it is to have a warm and fun group of girlfriends to hang out with. By the end of December I will have lost three close friends to their home countries this year. And according to my calculations, that leaves me with not a whole lot. The past couple years in Japan have been pretty lonely for me, sporadically dotted with fun time spent with friends, for which I am grateful, but constantly wish there were more of.