Posted by: wesleysensei | October 27, 2008

Fate, Elevators, and A Night in Sendai

So I was going to go to another DJ concert but this time in Sendai. The event was on a Saturday and I decided to drive to the city instead of taking the train as usual. Rather than buy my ticket in advance, I was going to risk it and try to find a Lawson’s in Sendai. As a sidenote, Lawson’s is a very popular convenient store in Japan and like all convenient stores is a great place to shop, buy lunch, pay bills, or withdraw money. Lawson’s in particular is known for their kiosk that sells tickets to countless events.

I finally made it to a Lawson after driving around for thirty minutes looking for parking. I waited in the candy isle for what seemed like another thirty minutes while a guy stood at the kiosk searching for tickets. When he was finished I walked up to the machine and realized that I didn’t read Japanese. I wasn’t worried though because I had watched someone buy tickets before and there’s nothing against pushing buttons till you get what you want. After trying for some time I accepted defeat and summoned a Lawson’s employee. They were able to help me but when the concert info came up the clerk said it was sold out. Rats.

Here I was in Sendai without a ticket and with nothing to do. I decided to make the most of it and walked around to get familiar with the place. I have been there a handful of times but I would like to know the place well enough to give directions. I also wanted to explore to find new restaurants and stores that I can take anyone willing to come visit me in Japan (hint hint).I came across this one place called Beer Festa that was in the basement of a building and who’s slogan was something like “A Great Beer Restaurant.” Needless to say I had to try it.

When I sat down I had to make a conscious decision as to whether or not I was going to drink. In Japan there is zero tolerance for drinking and driving. I think the percentage is 0.001%, which means that if you even smell alcohol you’re not allowed to drive. Being that I was at Beer Festa I had to get a beer. When the beer–along with my order of onion rings–came to the table I knew I made the right decision. The problem now was that I would have to stay in Sendai for the night, which meant finding a place to stay. I figured something would come up and if it didn’t then I would just go to one of the many internet cafes and stay there.

After a few beers and a margarita pizza I emerged from Beer Festa and began roaming the streets. I found another great place that served Hoegaarden and had a good atmosphere. I didn’t go in though because there was only standing room left and I didn’t want to awkwardly stand alone. Instead I continued to walk and saw an advertisement for a used clothes store. With Halloween coming up this Friday I decided to check it out. I didn’t realize that the store was on the fourth floor so I walked into this ritzy store on the first floor. When I noticed a pair of pants was over 10,000 yen I knew I was in the wrong store.

I went up the elevator and when the doors opened I was greeted by the used store clerks. After looking around for a while I went back to the elevator. On the way down, the doors opened and I got off; it was the wrong floor. I was a little embarrassed but frustrated more than anything. I caught the next one going down, made it to the first floor, and headed out of the building. At first I took a left but then for no reason decided to go the other way. I turned the corner to the subway station and ran into two ALTs that live in Sendai. Had I not gotten off at the wrong floor or decided to go right instead of left I wouldn’t have seen them and who knows what I would have done.

I had met these two Sendai girls once or twice before but never really hung out with them. A little buzzed and in search of some fun I asked if I could tag along with them. They were headed to some girls birthday party and were meeting up with other JETs. We picked up a drink at the nearest conbinni and waited for the others. Once everyone was there we were off to find a place to eat and celebrate the girls birthday.

There wasn’t a particular place in mind, but rather the group was searching much like I had done earlier that night. We went into a building to check out a place but the price was too high. We then went up the elevator to check another out another place. When the doors opened we saw balloons and a lot of people. No, this wasn’t a surprise party for the girl. It was someone else’s event so we figured the placed was too packed. On the way down to the first floor, the elevator doors opened–at the wrong floor–and who was standing there but five teachers from one of my elementary schools.

I held up my hand and let out a huge “Ahhh, Hello!!” At first I jumped off and told the group of people–four out of six whom I had just met–to go downstairs. I said I was going to meet them but really I would have been fine with hanging out with the teachers. Instead, one of the guys in the group jumped off and everyone followed. As it would turn out, he spotted one of the teachers and thought she was smoking.

After a short conversation, both groups–the JETs and the teachers–decided to go to the place we thought was too packed. We all ordered food and drinks and started to socialize. Two hours past and the two groups went there separate ways. I can’t wait to talk to those teachers this Wednesday when I go teach at their school.

By now it was about midnight and three of the JETs decided to go home. The other four of us decided on Karaoke and walked across the street to a place. We ordered one hour but had all the intentions in the world of staying for two. An hour slipped by without even noticing and then suddenly it had been two hours. Funny how time flies in a karaoke box.

Now it was me and two people I had just met about five hours prior. I was still in the same situation before: I had been drinking and needed a place to stay in Sendai. I asked one of the people if it was ok to crash and they said yes. It’s good to know that JETs stick together and are willing to look out for each other.

We found a taxi, got in, and headed to the apartment. Her apartment was prime real estate; it was right next to a subway stop, right next to a conbinni, and only eight minutes away from downtown. The trade off though was that it was a one room apartment. You walked into the kitchen and there was one door leading to one tatami room. I wasn’t complaining though because it saved me from having to sleep in the internet cafe again (see Sendai Jazz Festival Weekend).

What started out as a failed night and aimless walking around turned into a great night in Sendai all thanks to fate and elevators.

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