A Great Night in Asakusa

It's around 2:30 in the a.m. here in Tokyo and I just got back from Asakusa where I had a fantastic evening with co-bloggers Esinem and Kogure as well as with Esinem's partner Electric Fairie and Kogure's partner, the one and only Arisue Go.

Esinem, Electric Fairie and I had originally planned to get together at the offices of SM Detective, drink some beer, chew the fat and do whatever else came to mind. Then the opportunity arose to meet up with Kogure-san and Arisue-san and that seemed like a much better use of our time. Thanks for the invite, guys. I really appreciate being allowed to tag along.

I'm writing this post now, in the wee hours of the morning, because, 1.) I'm a night owl and, 2.) at my age, if I wait too long, I'm likely to forget important details and I don't want that to happen.

Speaking of age, I found out all three of us men are very close in age. There's only about a year gap. Arisue-san and I share the same month for our birthdays. We are only a few days apart. I must say, though, that Arisue-san looks the youngest. Of course, the two ladies look much younger than us. Not surprising since they are much younger than us!

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I live way out in the 'burbs so I didn't get to Asakusa until around 9 pm. Arisue, Kogure, Esinem and Electric Fairie were already drinking at some watering hole in the area when I arrived at our designated meeting spot, Kaminarimon.

Asakusa is a really cool place and a must-see destination for any tourist making his way around Tokyo for the first time. There are a lot of great restaurants and interesting shops and, in May, there is the world famous Sanja Matsuri where, if your timing is right, you may witness certain individuals displaying their full body tattoos. Believe me, you won't see a site like this at just any festival in Japan.

kaminarimonSo we met up at Kaminarimon and walked to a basement okonomiyaki restaurant about five minutes away. While we were eating, the subject of tattoos came up and I learned something I didn't know before. I guess it's pretty well known that if you go to an onsen (hot spring) in Japan and if you're sporting a tattoo, you won't be allowed in. I do think it's possible to cover the tattoo with a bandage of some sort and you will be let in. This is impossible, however, if you have a full body tattoo like these guys in the Sanja Matsuri. I'm not sure but I think there may be some "special" onsen just for these types.

But, there is something called a sento (communal bath house) and, apparently, you can go into these places no matter what kind of body ink you've got going on. In fact, Arisue-san commented that, when he was a child, he often went to the local sento and that's where he was first introduced to these elaborate and ornate tattoos.

I couldn't help but ask Arisue-san if he had a tattoo. He said no. He then asked me the same question. I said no. I then looked at Esinem and repeated the question. No, only piercings. I already knew about the piercings. They make going through airport security interesting, to say the least.

I asked Arisue-san what his favorite thing to do was: putting on live shows or being in movies/videos. Neither. His favorite thing is teaching kinbaku. Interesting. I hadn't even thought about including that one.

Now, you may know that Arisue has a studio in the Roppongi area of Tokyo where he teaches the art of kinbaku. I should have used the past tense. The studio doesn't currently exist as the building was demolished. Kogure-san said they will be looking for a new location but not immediately because they are planning a 10-day trip to Western and Eastern Europe this summer.

I learned that Arisue-san has visited the U.S. in the past but apparently didn't teach kinbaku or put on any shows. I know he was busy with other business at the time but, I must say, I was sad to hear this. I hope that if he makes another trip to the U.S., the locals will have an opportunity to learn from this great man. After all, Arisue Go is the Ichiro Suzuki of kinbaku.

okonomiyakiIt's amazing the stuff you pick up while just chit chatting around a steaming teppan (hotplate).

Arisue and Kogure had made a trip to London before and were the guests of Esinem. Arisue put on a kinbaku demonstration/seminar in front of a small audience right there in Esinem's living room. Now why hadn't I heard about that before?

Arisue-san was, of course, the kinbakushi of choice for the recent Hana to Hebi films starring the beautiful and mesmerizing Sugimoto Aya. I read somewhere that he landed the role of the bondage guy based not only on his considerable skills but also because he was known for being able to pull off such a rough activity in a gentle manner. I think this was necessary since an actress such as Sugimoto was involved. After all, she is an actress, not an SM actress.

That said, Arisue commented that he believed that Sugimoto, under her "S" exterior, was really an "M" personality. I believe Kogure mentioned that Sugimoto must have been truly an "M" personality or else she wouldn't have accepted the role as Shizuko in the Hana to Hebi films. I thought this perspective was interesting since my preconceived idea was that an actress pretty much accepted a film role based on the money offered. I guess I'll have to reconsider this one.

Well, all in all, it was a great evening. Too short, actually, but I'm very grateful for having been invited along. I must say that Kogure-san was a wonderful hostess. Her English skills are impressive. I tried to speak as much Japanese as I was able with Arisue-san but his English isn't too bad at all. Still, Kogure's abilities in both languages made for a much more communicative evening.

Esinem, as many already know, is a very sharp guy and funny to boot. His pretty young partner, Electric Fairie, is a pleasure to be with. One thing I really appreciate about her is her great attitude. For example, it seems that she can eat just about any kind of Japanese food. She likes it all. No comments about how this or that is "icky", if you know what I mean. She's a great traveler and Esinem is a lucky guy.

That's it for this one. We've got some other stuff planned and if any of it turns out to be at all interesting, I'll let you know about it here. I know Esinem will be writing about his Japan trip just as soon as he has the time and access to a keyboard.


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It was really a great evening . Many thanks for coming down to Asakusa. Pity that you missed the full of cherry blossoms!! It was a must-see! v-252v-252v-252
We were so impressed that you were such a funny guyv-14
Let's get together soon whenever we can manage our time.

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Hi Kog,
That was great! Thanks to you and Arisue-san for putting up with me. I think Esinem and Electric Fairie really enjoyed themselves, too. Looking forward to the next time.v-218
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