A young Israeli programmer gets an authentic Tokyo experience
|It was 23 hundred hours and Yarin was feeling sleepy. “By Monday you have to fix these two bugs and add the the new banner controls?” Asked Goro.
“I will get it done.” Said Yarin. “I’m going to eat.”
“You don’t want to come with us to McDonald’s?” Said Goro.
“Not tonight, thanks.” Yarin turned to go and Goro shouted after him “Keep the deadline!”
Yarin waved and left the office. Goro turned to Masima who was chewing a long red licorice stick and typing away at his laptop. “What do you think of him Mas?”
Masima raised his head from the computer. “Nice, guy, very good skills, no discipline.”
“Yes.” Said Goro.
Being in Tokyo for the first time Yarin was amazed by all the lights. He came here because he wanted a change of scenery. The last Job he had back in Israel working in a startup was full of stress. He was still relatively young and feeling adventurous. They contacted him through LinkedIn, offered good pay. He loved Anime, he read books about Samurai culture and watched a lot of Japanese cooking shows.
He was here a month and was getting bored with fast food, which his colleagues from the startup always wanted to go to. It seemed like it was some kind of ritual for them to indulge in western culture. He still did not get used to these late working hours and very little sleep. The pressure here was different, more structured, well thought out and exact like a box cutter. Currently He felt like the knife was at his throat. Now he wandered the streets alone, going into the most hidden alleyways, trying to find the most authentic joints that weren’t mentioned on Tablelog, which was the equivalent of Yelp in Japan.
It was a nice summer’s night with a warm 29 degrees Celsius and he just walked and walked enjoying everything he saw. Finally he reached the old train station where he had read on some blog was a good place to hunt for authentic joints. A group of black suites walked by him and into an alleyway. He knew those suits to be Yakuza and decided to follow them. What a smart move, they had lead him into a small alleyway filled with karaoke places, strip bars and there was this very small looking bar. He looked in, ‘The place must be empty.’ He thought, but then he heard talking and laughing from inside. Opening the sliding door he walked in. Everybody became silent looking at him. “Hello.” He said.
The place was very small, most of it was taken up by a big bar were the customers sat, each one having his dish in front of him. The cook was in the middle behind the bar. He had a big frying plate and was turning over an assortment of meats. Yarin swallowed hard and went in taking a seat in the corner next to a black suit.
“Is there a menu?” He asked the suit.
“No menu.” The man laughed. Then he told the others in Japanese and everyone including the cook laughed.
“Where you from?” The suit asked.
“Israel, my name is Yarin.” He felt like reaching out his hand to shake but stopped himself knowing how Japanese don’t like to be touched by strangers.
“Ahh Israel,” said the suit. “I order for you. My name Fugi.” He spoke some very quick Japanese and the cook nodded. All the others returned to conversing with one another and eating their dishes. One fat guy was slurping up noodles very noisily which made Yarin smile.
The cook placed a plate with an assortment of meats and vegetables sliced very beautifully and a small bottle of sake next to Yarin. Yarin was in heaven as this was very delicious. “Muishee.” He said, bowing to the cook. The cook was delighted, bowing back and one woman laughed. Now that Yarin was feeling more comfortable he noticed her, she was very beautiful. He smiled at her and she averted her gaze. The suit next to her gave Yarin a threatening stare so Yarin went back to eating.
“You here long time?” Fugi asked.
“Just a month.” Said Yarin with his mouth full.
“You are programmer?” Asked Fugi.
“Ah, I always wanted to program.”
“What are you working at now?” Asked Yarin.
“Collection.” Said Fugi. “I collect money for protection of place like this.”
“Ah,” said Yarin feeling lightheaded from the Sake, “Mafia eh?” He smiled.
Fugi looked serious for a moment, then laughed. “Hai.” He noticed how Yarin’s eyes were always taking quick glimpses at the woman, “You like her?”
“Don’t worry, all idiots, don’t know word of english.” Said Fugi.
“She is beautiful.” Said Yarin.
"We use her as temptress. For black mail." Said Fugi. "She is bad news."
"In America they say, no news is bad news." Said Yarin.
"Ha!" Fugi laughed.
The door was flung open and another suit, younger looking charged in blurting something quick in Japanese.
"Excuse me," said Fugi as if he was Yarin's most gracious host and left with the other suit.
Now the woman was sitting alone. She looked at Yarin so deeply into his eyes that he felt his toes tingling. He got up and sat next to her.
"Shalom." He said in hebrew, knowing it didn't matter what language he spoke to her. "At yafa." 'you are beautiful'.
"Toda." She replied with the hebrew thank you knocking him off his feet.
"You know hebrew?" He was thunderstruck.
"Yes, I did ulpan in kibbutz."
"Really?! Then what the hell are you doing here?"
"I am paying off my parents debt to the Yakuza. I have two more years left as a temptress."
"Are you crazy? I'm taking you with me."
"No, please go. If they see you next to me they will beat you up."
"I don't care."
At that moment Fugi and the suits returned coming in through the sliding door.
The suit that Yarin took his place started pushing Yarin out of the chair.
Yarin got up and kicked him in the nuts. Then pushed him outside through the sliding door that crackled into little bits of wood and paper.
The younger suit jumped on Yarin's back and Yarin flipped him over knocking him face down onto the frying plate that flipped over.
Then Yarin jumped outside dragging her with him. "Ikzu!" He said.
"Lo!" She screamed, and continued screaming at him in Japanese. "Go!" She slapped him across the face but at the same time handed him a note into his palm.
He took it and ran off through the alley and into the open street laughing all the way. Finally a real Tokyo night like he had imagined.