Sangenjaya Samba Festival

August 28, 2008

On Sunday I stumbled upon the annual Sangenjaya Samba Festival near my house. Hundreds of colourfully-costumed Brazilians and locals were exuberantly dancing down the street. There were lots of head-dresses and g-strings, a sci-fi themed performance, a sumo ritual, some guys having a pillow-fight while doing the samba, and even some bored-looking boy-scouts used as security! Weirdly enough, I seem to happen upon at least one samba festival every year, and this was significantly more impressive than the tiny, incongrous little event I ended up at last year, in the small Kanagawa town of Mitsukyo. Here are some snapshots I took on my phone.

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Toki 80’s Bar

July 9, 2008

I’ve discovered a tremendous 80s bar in Tokyo’s Sangenjaya. They play classic music all night long, by the likes of Depeche Mode and the Cure. And it’s a “1 coin bar” which means all drinks and food are only 500 yen, and there’s no service charge. The bar is called Toki’s, after the amiable barman who runs the place. Toki looks much too young to have actually been around in the 80s.
I often round off the night with a drink in Toki’s, and inevitably end up chatting to solitary middle aged women, who were into the cheesy pop music the first time round. (These recurring drunken conversations can only lead to no good!)

A nice touch in Toki bar is the big, phone-book-sized list of songs from which you can make requests. It’s fun picking out old favourites, singing along, and wallowing in nostalgia. There’s all sorts of obscure stuff to choose from in that mammoth-sized catalogue, pretty much any tune you could imagine from the 80s. They’ve even got songs by New Order and the Police- sung in Japanese! Sting singing “Do Do Do, Da Da Da” in Nihongo is quite a mind-mashing thing to hear after too many cheap cocktails. I thought I was suffering from some kind of incurable brain-disaster.
Best of all, Toki has an unbelievably cheap happy hour everyday between 7 and 9PM (even on weekends.) Drinks are only 300 yen, which is a Godsend to a poverty-stricken wretch like me.

Toki 80’s Bar
Tel: 03-3487-4665
Open 19:00-04:00