December 11 - 21, 2003

Saturday, December 20th

This was it -- the big day. The day we'd find out how many Santas would heed our call, and the day we'd try and discover how many Santas could fit in one drunk tank.


Bling Bling Santa has a posse

The meeting time was 12 o'clock at Hachiko, a statue that commemorates a legendary dog who waited at Shibuya Station every day for its master, even after his master died. Surrounded by that type of sentimentalism we gathered our Santa brood.

Magari, Erica and I took a long time to get out the door. I was actually up at 10:15, before my alarm went off, and I had taken a shower and typed up some of the previous day's events before Magari woke up. I'm not sure what made him seem so lethargic. Must've been the ginger ale from the night before.

I was a little shy walking out of Magari's apartment building in Santa mode. It's a lot different being a gaijin Santa in the back streets of a smaller neighborhood. (And by smaller I don't mean less urban sprawl, because there is no such thing as a lack of sprawl in greater metropolitan Tokyo. I just mean that the buildings aren't as tall and there's less big streets). But I had two Nihongo (Japanese) Santas with me for protection.

When we arrived at street level from Shibuya Station I thought I saw a large crowd of people gathered around some Santas, but it was just the usual lot waiting for the light at the intersection to change.

These two joined us later in the day. Finally, someone responded to my pleas of "Join us! Join us!" Maybe it was the hand gestures. (Photo stolen from Bad Ass Santa)










The size of our group was smaller than we would have liked. But we did well in deputizing Santas throughout the day, so even with the Santa attrition rate we maintained a quorum of about 15 Santas. I believe Oyabun Santa said he felt the proper number for a rampage was 12 Santas, so we were above the mean.

I know that I was personally responsible for half of the group that was with us -- the reason being that I told Magari, Steve and Yahan, and they each brought at least 3 friends. So I feel really good about my Santa recruitment abilities.



After sitting around on our Santa asses for 45 minutes, we finally left. But we didn't get far, as we had to go yell out supportive responses to some guy with a loud sound system who was railing against China, or America, or who the hell knows.

We managed to stop the guy's spiel a couple of times with our antics, and he almost cracked a smile. Our first success!

Santa gets political

Then we took off for the 109 Building. Along the way we encountered these people in red vests armed with Polaroid cameras. Apparently if they took your picture and you brought it into a participating Outback Steak House you'd get... some wallaby meat or something, I don't know. All I cared about was getting a Polaroid, and instead I got two!

So I'd heard that the 109 Building was worth checking out as it had a lot of weird shops in there, but unfortunately I never got to find out as the security was quick on its feet. So after our Japanese speaking Santas tried to negotiate a Santa settlement, we gave up, singing "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" on our way out. It was then that we saw these TV screens outside that display pictures of Japan with pictures taken on the street out in front of the building mixed in. So at one point there were a bunch of Santas up on the screen. But unfortunately no one was able to get a picture that I know of -- I burned about a minute of tape filming pictures of temples and resorts and crap.

Me with my girly apple drink and my homegirl Yoshi. (Photo stolen from Bad Ass Santa)


By the way, I accidentally mistyped 'able' as 'ale' in that last sentence, and that brings me to our next destination -- a liquor store! I was introduced to a girly drink by Kirin that's apple flavored alcoholic soda. It was damn tasty and it gave me a nice buzz.

Our plan was to go to Yoyogi-koen next, but we got sidetracked by a couple of great diversions. First I rallied everyone into a video game complex where a Japanese couple was playing a very popular koto drum-based game. It's just like Pararappa the Rapper or Dance Dance Revolution where you have to have rhythm, but in this case you use drumsticks instead of a joystick or your feet.

The best part of this was that the Santas decided to test the players' concentration by dancing along in a silly manner to the silly song coming out of the machine. I was laughing too hard to keep my video camera still.

I went outside to dance to the funky beats coming out of a hip hop gear store (how do you say hizzy in Japanese?). I am Bling Bling "Funky" Santa, after all. I took every opportunity to dance whenever I heard hip hop.

The Santas sure were taking awhile inside the video game place. One Santa went off to buy a cream filled crepe cone, a popular sweet in Tokyo. I went in to investigate what was going on and I found about 12 Santas crammed into a photo box. The name of the photo boxes, and possibly the stickers themselves, are puri-kura. They got those little sticker photos made and handed them out to everybody. What a great memento. I'm gonna put one on this laptop:


At that point Hello Kitty Santa (aka Steve, aka Billy) finally piped up with his incredible knowledge of underground Tokyo and took us to the schoolgirl's panty shop in Shibuya's redlight district. He got a little lost trying to find it and Sneery informed him that he had 2 minutes to find it, but Hello Kitty replied that we were already there.

The first thing you see are used schoolgirl uniforms hanging up all around. (A girl was actually in there with her mother buying or selling something!) Then next you'll find boxes of panties. It was just too much.

The place was really tiny, and it was wall-to-wall Santa. Yet I somehow missed out on some naughty pictures up in the back. However, there's a photo on the door of a girl kneeling on the ground with her ass up, her skirt lifted and her panties on full display. I wonder if the owner asks every girl if he can take a shot of their backsides. "No, your face won't be shown. Okay?"

Next, Santa Zaru aka Big Head Santa showed us a famous bar right up the hill, and a Buddhist shrine where me and a couple of other Santas made offerings of coins and prayer. The procedure is you bow, throw a 5 cent piece into a box (what the hell is the Japanese equivalent of cents, anyway?), close your eyes, say your prayer, pull on the rope twice to ring the bell twice, then clap your hands twice. Other religions are so much fun!

Then we were shown a couple of "full service" massage parlors. "This one is especially nice," Big Head informed us. (For some reason it didn't occur to me to ask how often he visits the whores until later.)

Next we saw the outside of popular rock club Club Asia where Sneery, Oyabun and Totoro went Wednesday night while I was resting my poor tired feet and preparing to go to the fish market early the next morning.


Oyabun and me tipping some for our dead Santa homies. (Photo stolen from Hello Kitty Santa)


The elevator was small. And there was a poor civilian crushed in there with us. But judging by the subways, Tokyoites are used to that sort of thing. (Photo stolen from Bad Ass Santa)

We continued on towards a bar or some other destination that required the Santas to pile onto elevators. But wherever we were heading was closed.

Then we went up the hill and there I saw two guys working on a sweet motorcycle which was idling. I asked if it was okay if I get on and they obliged.

Boooorn to be Sannntaaa








We then wandered back past the liquor store and video game parlor, which ordinarily would set of my anti-backtracking alarm, but then I saw the most fantastic Engrish sign of all the Engrish signs:

Real Stupefying

Boy did that make me happy. Although it's all relative. I was pretty fuckin' happy all Rampage long.

But things got good and happy on the way to Yoyogi-Koen, in what was my favorite part of the day. On the previous Sunday we waited hours for one band to set up in the courtyard next to Harajuku. But now, all of a sudden, we found, like, seven bands rocking out on a causeway. Oh my God, was that great! (Click here to go read Hello Kitty Santa's account of the day, which includes a picture of a keyboardist from one of the bands that puts the keyboardist from ABC to shame. Seriously, go there now.)



I had a good ol' time dancing and memorizing the phonetics of the choruses where the back-up vocals came in so I could sing along as best I could the next time the chorus came around.

The next band we passed started playing a spot-on version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town or some other carol, and Oyabun and I shared a mic.







We also saw more of the Outback girls, and I proudly showed off my Polaroid that had been procured in Shibuya while posing with one:

Polaroid and Outback Steakhouse -- Official sponsors of the 2003 Tokyo Santacon
(Photo stolen from Bad Ass Santa)

Next up there were market stalls where we grabbed some octopus balls and then some of the Santas took advantage of the band shell there to get up and warble. Soon after a video shoot commenced where Japanese hip-hop dancers were getting their freak on in unison. I regret not crashing the shoot. But I guess there are limits to even my camera whorishness.

What was that I just said regarding limitations to my being a camera whore? Never mind. (Photo stolen from Oyabun Santa)

While the other Santas went to take a load off at a park cafe, I asked a little boy and girl who were kicking a soccer ball back and forth if I could join them. My old soccer skills from AYSO, what little I ever had, slowly came back to me. It was really great, even though it was a stupid move considering my feet. I hadn't even had more than one drink and a couple of swigs of whisky to numb the pain. And there I was running around and kicking a ball.

I was playing with the kids for like 10 minutes before the other Santas finally saw what was up and started running towards us. I yelled, "Don't hog the ball, Santa! And for God's sake, don't step on the children!" I tried to use hand gestures to indicate to the boy that I wanted us all to play a game and I pointed out a good goal. Finally the boy asked in a loud, high voice, "Soccer?" And I replied, "Hai! Game-uh!"

I was goalie, and I stopped two shots on goal from the kid before a Santa got the ball when I was away from the box and scored. Of course I yelled out, "GOOOOOOOOAAAAALLLL!" (I wonder if the Japanese announcers do the same thing. After all, there's apparently a Japanese baseball announcer whose cadence is exactly like Vin Scully's.)

At that point Santa packed up and left. I feel bad that I didn't let the kids score at least once. And what with all the 'egg nog' Santa had been drinking, the whole soccer thing was probably a bad idea. But luckily neither child was injured physically -- only emotionally.

So finally we crossed over into Yoyogi Park and there was a huge group of kids there. Just packs and packs of image conscious youth. A circle formed with a line of space down the middle. It reminded me of that story of a Christmas night during World War I when some Germans and French got out of their trenches for the first time in months and stopped fighting, then continued trying to murder each other. Not that we had anything to fear from the kids and not that they feared us -- but perhaps they should have. For the second or third time today, Oyabun scared off the cute girls with his mighty reindeer penis, and another Santa started chasing her around. ("Hey little girl, wanna make Rudolph's nose glow bright?")

The best thing that happened in the park was Magari's friend Mike, who borrowed a kid's skateboard and did tricks with it, including lying down and skating right towards me while I was shooting video.

One of my favorite things of the day happened next at the mouth of Takeshita Street, a great place for shops, kids decked out in club, rock and hip-hop wear, and, as it turns out, Santas.

As Sneery was fond of saying to these types of girls, "Cheer up! It gets better after high school."

Some of the Santas started walking over the overpass, but my feet didn't feel the need to walk up and down a flight of stairs when we could just cross in front of Snoopy Town. So I yelled, "Hey, fuck you, Santa! We're going this way." It's really fun to yell, "Fuck you, Santa." Highly recommended.

Okay, so at the top of Takeshita there were two Japanese hip-hop homies handing out fliers, and all of a sudden Santa started beat boxing and then, lo and behold, Steve busted out with some funky fresh flow! He really had skills. I was very impressed. Then it was Sneery's turn to launch into Public Enemy's "My Uzi Weighs a Ton" -- a note-perfect rendition.

I also taped the video while waiting for our errant Santas. When they finally arrived we went to the 100 yen only store (the equivalent of the 99 Cent Store in the States) to find our naked Santas some clothes. But unfortunately they were all out of men's sizes. However, Yahan and his fellow Aussie-Asians were brave enough to purchase the girl's cloak and hood set, with the hood openings being so small that they ended up having little white puffball soul patches. They looked great.

Down the road a Santa mambo line broke out, which headed straight for the 7-11. At first I wanted to try the alcoholic yogurt drink someone pointed out, but then I saw a combo set that contained a mini-keg of Kirin Ichiban, a tiny little beer can and a cask of helium which was cutely attached to the mouth of the can. [As I'm writing this on the plane I realize that not only did I never partake of the helium, but it's in my checked baggage. Hope those contents under pressure don't explode!]

Little Red Santa Hoods and me and my Kirin party pack



As I posed for a photo, one of the other Santas referred to my drink purchase as "Fat Man and Little Boy". I laughed my ass off before remembering what country I was in and where I'm from.




It was then that, lo and behold, we ran into Miyu, the girl we met at Yoyogi Park the weekend before. Oyabun bought her a Santa suit and everything back then and yet she still shined on us. Sneery was all, "Where's your Santa costume?!" and she just didn't seem to get it. So we tried to kidnap her but nothing doing.

Our first Santa convert becomes our first Santa Betrayal (Photo stolen from Oyabun Santa)

When we got to the end of Takeshita there was a call to take the subway to Ginza, and I pointed us in the right direction. On the way we discovered an outdoor DJ performance that had gathered a large crowd. The music wasn't incredibly danceable, but it sure was fun to see everyone basically ignore us Santas as we danced, danced, danced. As there were large rectangular blocks in this mall courtyard, I got up and became Go-Go Santa for a brief time.

Santa Woz Here


We finally entered our first subway of the Rampage. While waiting for Santa to get subway tickets, I talked to Steve and Arlo, this Canadian fella who was the only person at The Three Santateers' Guest House to come along for the journey. Then I saw a chalkboard and made my mark.

On the subway there was a game of Pile-on Santa, which had me and Oyabun, who were sitting next to each other, on the bottom. When the Santa coast cleared, someone started stroking Oyabun's reindeer penis and I started doing head bobbing motions over Rudolph's nose. This creeped out Oyabun. (Yay! I creeped out Santa!)

Out on the streets of Ginza, we headed for the Apple Store. On the way I saw an Italian guy working in a store and who was helpful to me earlier in the week. I got a kick out of saying hi to him while surrounded by my Santa buddies. At the Apple Store everyone piled into the elevator to go up to the second floor while I located a laptop and emailed Kosaku and Megan, confessing my increasing state of drunkenness.

Santa Does Ginza

Foreground: Magari, Erica, Me.
Background: Donald the Nut, Bad Ass (on the phone)

When Santa got off the elevator, there was some aimlessness until I pointed us in the direction of the Sony Building. While there I saw another person who had helped me earlier in the week in the Customer Support department. When I was there by myself I was told no video taking, and that's fine. Oh, but come in with 30 Santas and that's another story! Who can say no to 30 Santas?

I played with the newest model of Sony's robot dog Aibo there. According to the press release, this tail-wagging, ear-raising model is the smartest yet. Let me tell you, Aibo is dumb as a rock. I'm sure they'll get it right eventually, though.

After Apple and Sony I think our work was done. After all, Ginza was the richest, shoppinest place in Tokyo, a very consumer oriented society. So we got back on the subway and headed to Roppongi, the area where the guidebooks say you'll find the highest concentration of gaijin and shops that cater to them. As I hadn't made it there yet, I was happy to be going.

Naho and Salty, a guy who's been to Burning Man five times. And yet he couldn't come up with a full Santa suit in Tokyo, even though he lives there. Some survivalist!

I didn't really get much of a sense of Roppongi. There were some pretty big malls and some great restaurants. Many of the Santas went to a Chinese restaurant. A funny thing about Tokyo is how often you'll see references to Oriental Food, or Oriental Restaurant. While in the States this might include Japan, and even Eastern Europe when you consider the Orient Express, to the Japanese Oriental means Chinese.

On the way to the restaurant I was running across the street with my hip pack open and out fell my video camera with a smash on the asphalt. I turned it on and everything seemed fine, but Oyabun said, "Sure it turns on, but that doesn't mean everything's fine." Those words continue to haunt me as, indeed, it's busted. Alas, that's the balance, the yang to the yin of a fantastic trip with great weather. (sigh)

So my memory of what we ordered is pretty hazy. I know there were some noodles and some veggies that I requested, and another dish that none of us remember ordering but which we appreciated, and it was all good. I also had a nice 12 year Scotch, the name of which I never bothered to write down.

While at this restaurant I sat next to Donald The Nut aka Santa The Nut aka Really Drunky Santa, and his slurred speech was really something. He gave me a CD from his band Three Day Stubble, which he's the singer for. But his best performance was yet to come.

After dinner we went back towards the subway station then hung a left and headed up to Roppongi Hills mall. We were headed towards a club called Heartland.

Tokyo Santacon 2003 class photo (Photo stolen from Oyabun Santa)



Along the way we posed for a group photo and I somehow roped this nice Japanese guy to join us. (Maybe a little too nice). He later bought me some whisky, and I think he gave me his business card, but since it's all in Japanese and I can't remember the guy's name it's useless to me. But in Japanese society, you're supposed to treat a business card with reverence, regardless of whether you can read the damn thing.









While we were making our way up to the club we passed this long, straight flight of stairs that led down to street level and Santa The Nut went tumbling. I mean... he just went down, down, down. Somehow he avoided bowling over the people coming up, and it was just awesome. Apparently he was fine and he climbed back up to inform us that falling down stairs drunk off his ass and getting back up is one of his many talents. So we asked him to do it again.

"You want me to do it again?"
"YES!" we said. "Please!"
"You really want me to do it again?" The Nut slurred.
"Please! We didn't record it!"
"Okay. You've got your cameras on? Are you ready?"
"Are you sure?"
"Okay then."

And down he went again. I laughed my ass off. I'm still laughing about it.

After he came back up and we applauded, we finally made it to Heartland. The DJ wasn't great, but the lighting and projections up above the bar were cool. Lots of animated figures in a loop. Reminded me of the videos of Gorillaz.

Who are these girls? And who's got my camera?

I don't even remember where I got the bunny ears from!

I had a seat in one of the white vinyl booths. One of the Santas, Andrew aka Bad Ass, I think -- wanted me to try and cock block this French guy sitting with a Japanese girl, and I wasn't having any of it. Meanwhile, Arlo, the one guy the Three Santateers got to join us from their guest house, was dancing up a storm. He was fun to watch.

I'm innocent, I tell you, innocent! Hands off. Don't shoot!

Occasionally I had to go sit outside to get some air. While out there Bad Ass came along and suggested I slide down the escalator that was nearby. It sounded like a great idea. So I bounded up the stairs adjacent to the club, and headed for the escalator.

What's great about Japan is it's such a polite society that they don't even have those bumps installed on the escalators. So you can slide down just about any escalator and get some real momentum going.

So there I was, sliding down, getting back on the escalator, sliding down, repeat. My first time I landed real soft and graceful-like on my feet, and that was no fun. So I kept going faster and faster. Bad Ass had his camera out, and I decided I wanted a shot of me too, so I set my video camera up on a ledge, turned it on and pointed it towards the escalator.

I then proceeded to get a running start and slid down really fast, hitting the ground hard with my tail bone. That was good stuff. Hurt pretty good, too.

The plan had been to get back to Shibuya Station at midnight to meet up with any people who may have been mistakenly informed that the Rampage began at midnight. It was midnight at this point. Oops.

But nonetheless, Santa Zaru hailed a cab and I somehow ended up getting in and we headed for Shibuya. I wasn't feeling all that great and the other Santas were talking about heading for The Pink Cow in order to stay up all night and then go to breakfast at Tsijiki Market at dawn. I think I remember trying to tell them that the market may not be open on Sunday, but I don't think they remembered.

The thought of staying up all night and drinking more when my flight was the next day wasn't very appealing. So when we got to Shibuya I got out of the cab and just split. Didn't say anything to my fellow Santas. I had just enough sobriety in me to know I should get to Magari's. I wasn't even aware of when he left. All I knew was that I had the key to his apartment, which he was kind to give to me, and a vague sense of how to get there.

So I crossed the street, took out my injured video camera, placed it atop a utility box, turned it on and taped a goodbye.

"That's it for Bling Bling. No more. Bling Bling's done. Good night, Shibuya. Good night Tokyo."

Then I found my way to the JR Yamanote Line, got off at Mejiro, and successfully located Magari's apartment in one try. I was happy to find him still awake.

After taking off my Santa costume I must have passed out, because in the morning I didn't remember going to the bathroom or anything. It was just me on the floor in my sleeping bag with a white afro wig and Santa hat lying next to my head.

(Check back later for more trip additions.)



email: ryan[at]monkeyduck[dot]com