Flashback Friday Moment of The Week: 9/5/2014

by Just Juan

Ahhh…September is finally upon us. That means 4 things are closing in on happening in the near future: (1) the official welcoming of autumn, (2) October 24th, (3) Muck Fichigan Week, and (4) my annual attendance to The Nutcracker. Today happens to be the First Friday and I’m reminded of how I’d roll out on the Friday Night Express into Tokyo. There was one particular First Friday I’m reminded of though…the one in September 2008. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the last hurrah for the 3 crazy Christians.

How I first came across this moment? For many months in 2008, me and my 2 good friends literally took Yokota Air Base, the city of Fussa, and various parts of Greater Tokyo by storm. Whether it was our Cold Stone Sunday tradition, our interactions with Krispy Kreme security, CoCo Ichibanya for the 1st time, the infamous Showa Park incident or the many, other adventures we embarked on, we always had fun. We were 3 of the few adult singles in the church and we hung out all the time. We even had our own special fist bump during the welcome session at church and we challenged each other to be better, not just as Christians but as humans. In the Summer of 2008, all 3 of us took vacations at the same time and when we all returned, we got back to our regular shenanigans but the tone was somewhat different. I became entrenched in my graduate program and my quest to experience all of Tokyo. My friend, AJ, married the love of his life and began preparing for the arrival of his wife and daughter to Japan. The leader of our clan, Latisha, started the pursuit of some of her longtime personal goals. I think she secretly had a boyfriend, too. As we entered into September 2008, I kinda felt that our opportunities to hang out in the great frequency in which we had for several months were waning so for my turn in the activity rotation, I proposed we kick it at Roppongi Hills. We set everything up for September 5th—the First Friday. After we all got off work, we convened at Latisha’s posh townhouse and walked over to Fussa Station to hop on the 6:27pm Chūō Special Rapid. By the time we got to Haijima Station—just 2 stops away—we were already in full gear busting on the “uniquneness” of the locals. We got off the JR at Shinjuku, hopped on the Tokyo Metro to Roppongi and dined in at TGI Friday’s. After dinner, we made our way around the corner to Roppongi Hills. For myself and AJ, it was our debut there and only the Lord knows how many times Latisha had been there. With the summer season fast expiring, we scored an incredible deal for all 3 attractions of Tokyo City View for only ¥2000 yen combined. So off we were to the top 3 floors of the Mori Tower. On the 52nd floor, we hung out in the observation deck and took in Tokyo in the PM and it was a beautiful sight. We took many pictures including the purikura shot above, which is 1 of 4 we took together. Afterwards, we visited the Mori Art Museum on the 53rd floor and we were all impressed by the exhibit there. We didn’t get a chance to go up to the 54th floor and the open-air deck because the wind conditions were intense. It didn’t matter though. We just went back downstairs and hung out in the mall, where we all splurged a little bit before taking over the Roppongi Hills Cold Stone location with our American presence. Afterwards, we took that train back home to Fussa and that was that.

What it meant to me then? In the moment and the days to follow, that night was grand for all of us…at least from my vantage. We wilded out like we usually did, in our clean, fun Christian way. We reached out to a few Japanese people, which lowered our goal to 126,999,900 or so from the pastor’s original mandate of reaching the 127 million in Japan. It was just a great time for all of us. I don’t think either of us would’ve thought that it would be the last time that just us 3 would hang out together in the big city.

What it means to me now? Looking back on it, I realize that it was a special moment and as I mentioned at the outset, it was our last hurrah so to speak. Everybody did go their separate ways in some form or fashion. I buckled down for my fall blitz towards my first graduate degree. Latisha charged hard after her personal goals in that season. And AJ’s family joined him a few weeks later. Of course, we still hung out and did stuff…our crew just expanded. So now, when I look back at those pictures, I think of how much fun we had that particular night and how we ended that era of the 3 Crazy Christians on a spectacular note.

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