Colton's Asia Experience

Meeting Makoto

By Colton Powell

It was our final night in Tokyo, and we were exhausted from exploring most of the city on foot.

We decided the best way to cap off our Tokyo sojourn would be to try one of Japan's famous beers at a local establishment. So we headed for Shinjuku, an area in Tokyo known for its neon lights and popular nightlife.

We walked the endless streets of flashing lights and were approached by people selling anything from jewellery…to a more intimate style of nightlife. It was our last night so we were set on finding a traditional Japanese watering hole, but nothing seemed to jump out at us.

A man approached us asking if we were lonely, to which we politely declined and told him all we wanted was a cold beer. He responded in Japanese and gestured for us to follow him. We were somewhat hesitant, this being our second night in Asia, and were unsure if we could trust our new acquaintance. I could hear the voices from various family members in the back of my head telling me not to follow.

"Don't talk to strangers!" my mom had always told me as a kid, preparing me for this very moment.

I definitely failed my training as we continued to follow the man down a small alley off the main street. As we entered the alley he yelled something in Japanese, and a small potbellied man appeared from a shop. He nodded and disappeared back into the woodwork through a pair of curtains.

We were told to sit, and the stranger we had just met said "Beer, enjoy."

Then he bowed, waved, and left us sitting in a small quiet alley wondering what we had gotten ourselves into. The small man reappeared out of his shop with two large bottles of Asahi, one of Japan's most famous brews, along with three small glasses.

He sat with us at the table, and with a big smile said "Drink!"

After having a few sips of what I think may have been the coldest beer I've ever had, we learned that our new friends name was Makoto. He spoke very little English, but that did not stop him from trying to learn where we were from and what brought us to Tokyo.

Meeting Makoto in Tokyo
Our New Friend Makoto
 
He continued to speak in Japanese, obviously hoping we would understand, all while nodding and smiling. We asked if he wanted to have a glass of beer, and that sent him into him rubbing his belly and explaining he was getting a little too portly around the waist.
 
He continued to puff out his stomach, rub it and laugh with a glowing smile. We talked with him for a while until the bottles were empty and it was time to make our way back across the city. We asked to take a photo with our new friend-he got excited and said "Hai," which essentially is a hearty "hi" in Japanese.

We headed back to our hostel, excited to have met such a character and astounded by how welcoming he had been to us. If you ever find yourself in Tokyo, make your way down the back alleys of Shinjuku and try and find Makoto-he'll be the guy rubbing his belly and ready to hand you a cold Asahi.

I know I will definitely be back to Japan to explore more of Tokyo, and the rest of what I'm sure is a beautiful country. Now it's off to Hong Kong.

Click next to continue to Part 5 of Colton's Asia Experience

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