This is blog 2/21 of the 21 day blogging challenge.
In November Vi, my friend from my undergraduate days in JKUAT, came to visit Japan. I took time off from work to show her around. To be honest, I also needed the time off due to recent events that I shall blog about later.
It is should not come as a surprise that we ended up exploring Shinjuku. For me, Shinjuku represents the heartbeat of Tokyo. The West Side of Shinjuku Station has the business side and the East Side, the entertainment. I love this city soaked in Neon lights.
So one night there we were, drinking Strong Zero (a cheap, easy to drink cocktail, sold in cans) outside a convenience store in Kabukicho, having the classic tourist experience. The trash bin in front of the Family Mart was overflowing. Empty cans littered one corner of the street. This part of the city is so shockingly dirty. The rest of Japan is usually spotless. A lot of young men and women were milling about, they appeared to be in their early 20s. There are also a lot of black men standing outside clubs, appearing to promoters of some kind. I wonder what visas are these guys on.
Anyway, some time later we made our way to an underground (literally and figuratively) club. We were listening to the music and talking with a few other tourists and locals when this Japanese guy walked up to us and struck up a conversation. He was a very good looking man who appeared to be in his late 30s or early 40s. We talked for a bit and exchanged phone numbers and he later left. We also left soon after, barely catching the last train.
The following day was mostly spent recovering from the after effects of Strong Zero and several cocktails. JKUAT trained us to handle our liquor, but age has been catching up with us haha. We were basically just lounging in the living room, watching Netflix and ordering fast food on Uber Eats. My favorite Japanese show is Midnight Diner. We were watching Season 1 Episode 8, featuring “Erectro Oki, a legendary adult film star and Fujiko shared a past, which they kept secret for a long time..”
That was when Vi casually mentioned that the actor portraying the porn star Oki in the show looked like the guy we had met the previous night.
I was like, wait a minute, could he.. could he really be? There was something really familiar about his look.
Allowing excitement to take a hold, I paused the episode.
The guy we met had told me his name is Toru.
There was only one way to find out. I Googled the episode and checked out the credits.
Guess the name of the actor???????
Toru Kazama! That’s 風間トオル in Japanese.
My heart immediately leaped out of my chest!
No f*cking way!
I had to put down my phone to compose myself before picking it up again to resume the investigation. “My Toru” had told me a few things about himself. He was from Kawasaki, divorced, loves surfing, and in his late 40’s (he doesn’t look as old though).
We looked up more information about Toru Kazama, to see if it was really our Toru.
Toru Kazama is from Kawasaki, is divorced and loves surfing! OMG! He has a really interesting life story and has starred in very many movies and TV shows.
Some things didn’t add up though, like the age. Kazama is 57 but our Toru had said he’s 47. Why would he lie about his age? Maybe he didn’t want to scare us off. Or maybe we misheard.
The coincidences were too many to ignore. Toru had given me his number, so I immediately decided to text him.
“Hi, it was nice meeting you yesterday. Let’s meet again soon.”
Waiting for a reply felt like forever. While we waited, we continued reading up on him. We were now on an FBI-like investigation. We looked up photographs including some of him as a young man. We read blogposts in Japanese using Google Translate. The phone’s notification sounds were but there was no reply from him yet. We rewound the episode and watched it closely, pausing to check the image on the screen against our vague memories of him in a darkly lit club. We got more and more convinced that he must be the one. A sound alerted me of an incoming text.
“It was nice to meet you too. Let’s meet next week. Toru.”
No way! He had texted back. And signed off his name. Why do older people do that, signing off their names in text…
I texted back and we set up the date for the following week Monday.
I was going on a date with a Japanese actor!
I called my friend Savanna to let her know the good news. As my bff in Japan, she is entitled to an immediate update of all the news, good and bad, that happens in my life.
She was so happy and excited for me.
“Harriet… you’ve made it! Don’t forget us when you become famous!”
I promised her that I would give her regular updates of the date and that I will not forget her when I become famous. I promise not to forget the readers of this blog too.
That Saturday, he called me.
“Harietto-san,” he said, “I just wanted to know what you like to eat. Beef? Fish? Is it okay if we meet in Shinjuku?”
How considerate! I let him know I eat everything, but I am not fond of raw fish. He said he would reserve the restaurant.
Vi and I spent a considerable amount of time picking out my outfit, and deciding on what shoes to wear, what make up to put on, what perfume would be appropriate, etc.
I immediately called Savanna to give her a status update. She said she had looked him up, but she couldn’t understand why Japanese movie stars look so ordinary, like the guy next door! “I just hope he’s a nice guy,” she added. I didn’t agree with her about the ordinary looking part, but I also hoped that he’s a nice guy.
Sadly, Vi’s time in Japan had come to an end and she left for Kenya that Sunday. I saw her off at the station where she took a bus for Narita Airport.
When I left work that Monday, I went home, showered and changed, and took the train to Shinjuku.
He was already waiting in this fancy restaurant when I walked in, convinced I was meeting the actor.
I said hello and sat down opposite him. Still a very good looking man in front of my sober eyes and brighter restaurant lighting. But is he the actor? I felt like pulling out my phone and doing a face to face comparison. I settled instead on trying to answer the question by studying his face.
When he picked up his fork, I noticed there was a name stitched on the cuffs of his shirt.
“Toru-san. May I ask your surname?”
You didn’t read that wrong. I have encrypted his name for privacy reasons.
It wasn’t the actor.
I was disappointed for one second.
Then I was like, let’s go back up to the cuffs.
“Wait a minute. You have your name stitched on the cuffs of your shirt?”
“So a custom made shirt.”
“Tell me more….” I took a sip of my drink and leaned forward.
How did the date end? Was there a second date? And other questions… will not be getting answered hahaha.
Updated: I decided to do part two here.