I left my eardrums in Shinjuku

Shinjuku is one of the liveliest places in Tokyo, and probably the world. At night, in amongst the dazzling brilliance of the neon signs and the smoky claustrophobia of the izakayas (drinking places), it positively crackles with energy. And at its epicentre: this guy.

His objectives, as far as I could tell, were to:

  • Look crazy and androgynous. Check.
  • Have crazy hair. Check.
  • Range his voice across four octaves, one and a half of which he could actually form notes in. Check.
  • Have some sort of simulated seizure during the 180 BPM hardcore nu-rock synth-guitar synthesizer solos:


He would accompany his backing music in the traditional karaoke style, but sans words, since such words do not yet exist. At the end of each song, he would take a big belt from the Coke bottle sitting behind him, probably to make sure his emanations were suitably carbonated. Then, another song would start. At least, I wasn’t sure if it was another song, or there was just one song he really liked a lot.

During each piece, he would gracefully glide through his full gamut, ranging from catlike wailing to guttural howling. Perhaps owing in part to this, he could really draw a crowd, who all seemed to be at least as fascinated and horrified as me:

It’s important to note how much distance they’re keeping. And those girls sitting close? One of them is wearing a surgical mask. Smart.

At the end of his set, he triumphantly toured the crowd, stopping to pose for photographs with everyone and hand out pamphlets. As he got near, I was going to ask him for a photo, but he sailed right past, pretending not to notice me. Perhaps he thought I looked a bit odd.


One thought on “I left my eardrums in Shinjuku

  1. You’re a brave man though I expect your ears aren’t thanking you at all right now 🙂 It looks like the best possible way to get your own personal space in an insanely crowded city though – just be mad and loud!

    Awesome whot of him head-banging too!

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