You know, one of the things I like the most while traveling is the people. Friendly, unfriendly, helpful, assholes, happy, sad, a multitude of expressions and behaviors (like this guy shot in Akihabara), and I always wonder what they’re doing or thinking, or where they’re going. Usually, you just look at them and go on, but there are occasions in which you have to interact, willing or not, and that’s one of these situations: the Japanese stalker.
Tokyo, Japan, Shimokitazawa district.
Me and three friends of mine, two guys and a girl. And this Japanese stalker.
A hot evening in July 2012.
I went out with some friend to the Shimokitazawa district to spend a pleasant evening eating okonomiyakis and walking around the neighborhood when, as the day was ending, we stopped in front of a video game shop. Two of us entered, I didn’t and remained outside. And that’s when I saw him.
Not a super robot patrolling the streets for Yakuza guys. Not even a ninja, hiding in dark spots with shurikens at hand, no. He was a typical Japanese salaryman after a day of work: white shirts, unfastened collar with tie, small suitcase in one hand and the jacket in the other. A young-looking guy, with glasses, a bit tall, and with clear signs of drunkenness on his face. (The more you know: most Asians lack a particular enzyme to metabolize alcohol, so they get drunk in a blink of an eye. And they save money, indeed…)
He was walking down the street when he noticed me absent-mindedly, made a few steps with an interrogative expression then stopped. He turned around and went to the shop window on the other side of the entrance, on my opposite side, and started to give some rapid and furtive looks at me, pretending he was checking the video games.
I was confused and, after a while, I entered the shop. I knew I couldn’t shake this guy off in there, but I wanted to reach my friends and see what happened. Not by surprise, he entered the shop too.
I was having mixed feelings at that moment. Amused from a certain point of view, and curious to see how far he would have gone, but annoyed on the other side, also because I can speak no more than some words in Japanese and didn’t know what to expect. So I approached my friends while pretending to ignore this guy.
You know, it looked like a movie, when there is a scene in a library with someone spying/following another person: as I moved in a corridor, he moved too on the opposite end, keeping distances and pretending to look for games, while still gazing at me. I took a game from the shelf, he did it too. I placed it back, and he did the same. I was now expecting to pick up a box and see his eyes on the other side of the shelf: that would have been epic. くそ!
He didn’t seem to care about my friends, or simply he didn’t realize I was trying to get rid of him. Anyway, I slowly moved towards the exit, and when I saw him picking up another game, I took advantage of this and went out.
After a few moments, he appeared too, in all his clumsy glory. Agent Double-O-Sushi, the perfect example of what not to do when you follow someone!
Nothing and no one could stop him now, so he approached me and started talking. Since I couldn’t understand a damn thing about what he was saying, I started nodding, of course. Likewise, he was, of course, expecting me to say something in response but probably saying “Hello, my name is Luca” in Japanese wouldn’t have been the proper answer. And that’s when Mallory rescued me. She said something to him in a curt way, and he simply went away.
“I told him you don’t speak Japanese and to move on. He liked your tattoo…” she said.
“Really? Strange for a Japanese to like a tattoo.”
“I guess he didn’t, it was a pickup line. He wanted to invite you out for a drink.”
And that’s how it finished, I impressed him. Definitely unexpected, probably more embarrassing for him than for me, but I guess the alcohol was helpful, as always in these situations!
Stalked by a drunken Japanese salaryman? Checked!
Any strange encounter happened to you? Tell me in the comment section below!
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