Samurai Dave: The Roving Ronin Report

Rambling Narrative of Travels, Thoughts, and Embellishments

A Fight on New Years in Roppongi, Tokyo

On New Year’s Eve, I first went to Zojo-ji Temple to see the countdown. From there I preceded on foot to Roppongi where the clubs were expensive and packed. Tensions were high. I bumped into a fight between three security guards of Gaspanic’s Club 99 and two patrons. Some bystander leapt in to kick one of the guys but the crowded shouted at him. Another guy got involved but he just tried to break it up.

Actually fights aren’t so common in Roppongi despite what critics might think.

Keep the Peace!

January 10, 2008 Posted by | brawl, fight, japan, New Year's Eve, New Years, night out, nightlife, Roppongi, tokyo, travel, video | 1 Comment

Roppongi Nights – Roppongi Mornings

Roppongi Nights – Roppongi Mornings
Tokyo’s Nightspot a Mecca for Nightdwellers

Three Roppongi-ites ring in the New Year

Love it, hate it, loathe it, leave it. Roppongi is a people magnet. Perhaps it doesn’t attract the most savory of characters, but all walks of life rub elbows and more in Roppongi, unlike anywhere else in Japan.

One of Roppongi’s ubiquitous doner kebab stand

Roppongi is Tokyo’s little den of sin for ready-to-go gaijins and adventurous Japanese. Its humble origins date back to the Edo period 400 years ago when it was a quiet little temple town with nary a vice to its name. Tragedy seems to be in Roppongi’s blood. It has faced ravaging fires, W.W.II bombs and drunken foreigners puking all over its long, questionable past. Its party reputation began a hundred years or so ago, when Japanese soldiers were quartered there and, as it usually happens around young men with money and testerone to spare, a sordid nightlife sprang up. The U.S. military continued this fine tradition after the war.

The notorious meatmarket: Gaspanic

King of Roppongi
Gangster Nick Zappetti got the ball rolling

Enjoying the Nightlife Created by Zappetti – “Thanks, Nick!”

Much of today’s Roppongi nightlife can reportably be traced back to one man: an American, Nick Zappetti. Zappetti came to Japan as a member of the U.S. Occupation Force at the end of World War II. With black marketing, racketeering, and a host of other illegal activities abounding, this native from Mafia country, USA, found Japan much to his liking.

After being pulled in by the police for his tenuous involvement in a bungled but notorious diamond heist, Zappetti went legit by starting a pizza place in Roppongi. Roppongi’s nightlife was still in its infancy at the time. The most excitement to have back then was the occasional Yakuza sword battles as gangs etched out their territories. Nick’s place became so famous that Hollywood actors and even the Imperial Crown Prince Akihito patronized his restaurant. And of course, there were plenty of Yakuza employees to be found sampling the wares.

Zappetti’s topsy-turvy life in Japan is detailed in Robert Whiting’s wild and intriguing book: “Tokyo Underworld.”

Tokyo’s finest looking to keep things civil in Roppongi

These days, a night in Roppongi can be spent fending off the lusty advances of horny Nigerians, frustrated sailors and pent-up marines. For the young male out on the prowl, he has to run the alluring but annoying gamut of the massage girls. Shouting: “Massagee! Massagee!” they rush out to grab any passing single male, not letting go until their victims have either given in or brutally fought them off.

Some Halloween Hanky Panky – just an average night in Roppongi

Night is a friend to Roppongi and to its inhabitants of party-goers and pleasure-seekers. The streets are filled with beautiful people stumbling about in a haze as they hop from club to club. In rich, rolling Nigerian accents, club hawkers call out to the passing crowds inviting them with promises of fun and people. Perhaps it’s the blinding flashing lights, the blaring music or the alcohol, but the insides of the popular clubs do boast a population of the most incredibly good-looking, charismatic people who personify the word “cool.” It’s the type of place that any trendy groupie with low self esteem would aspire to become part of.

A jam-packed club

Some nights, however, aren’t a good time to visit – a few sour critics would say that there is never a good night to visit Roppongi. I went for the first time on New Year’s Eve 2001. Nearly the entire crew contingent of the USS Kittyhawk aircraft carrier was there to meet, compete, and throw-up on me – a good place to go if you were female or gay, but not both.

Naughty Roppongi girls out on the prowl

The danger is staying too long. If you don’t find your special someone to fill your emotional void within a few hours or you miss your last train, you will see the horror of Roppongi in the morning. Morning is not a friend to Roppongi. It’s cruel. Daylight hits Roppongi with the gentleness of a sledgehammer wrapped in barbed wire. Morning shatters the glamour, the egos and the illusions given by the night.

A New Year’s Eve street bar dispensing liquid encouragement

When a club’s flashing lights switch to a stagnant piercing glare, the beautiful cool people you were just grooving with are suddenly replaced by a bunch of haggard hung-over hags and trolls. Rushing out into the streets doesn’t save you either as the streets are choked with packs of shambling, stumbling walking dead. In the shadows, pale party-goers avoid sunlight like quaking vampires by seeking the darker recesses of the subways lest they explode in a noxious cloud of bone and dust.

Love the Nights – Fear the Mornings!

In the bowels of the subway station, the survivors of the night huddle like war-weary, third-world refugees as they await the train that will carry them away from this hell. Very few are capable of standing. Most pass out in their or somebody else’s filth. The few who are conscious stare into the void with bleary, blood-shot eyes like shell-shocked war veterans who have been too long up at the Front.

Sporting a Roppongi Souvenir

You tell yourself: “Never Again!” as you lurch for the train along with the rest of the wretched masses yearning for escape. You know deep down, however, you will be out here again and again.

A trio of Roppongi Nightlife casualties

January 10, 2008 Posted by | Blogroll, drinking, japan, Nick Zappetti, night out, nightlife, party, Roppongi, sexy, tokyo, travel | 8 Comments