It was an exciting night for our female Japanese-language reporter, but how did it turn out exactly?

Our Japanese-language reporter Kamezawa Ikuna had been single for a while, and as a hardworking adult in her 30s who still had to make ends meet, she could hardly find time to socialize and look for a boyfriend. Not to mention that a lot of Japanese men she had met through the years were the passive sort.

Regardless, she surmised that her Prince Charming was not going to magically appear before her, and the quickest way to cross paths with one was to head to Ebisu Yokocho in Tokyo, a hotbed of an alley for many people looking to hookup with members of the opposite sex.

▼ Despite her outgoing personality, Kamezawa had never been there
as it seemed like a scary place with all the throngs of young people milling around.

▼ Leaving the western exit of Ebisu Yokocho Station,
she was immediately overwhelmed by the chic and trendy atmosphere of the place.

She unconsciously clung to her friend for support; good thing she brought someone who lived in the neighbourhood. Scanning her surroundings, Kamezawa noted that the alley contained about 20 pubs or so.

▼ A handy map nearby ensured that visitors would not lose their way.

According to her friend, Ebisu Yokocho was once an ordinary bar-packed alley where locals gathered for cheap eats and great drinks some ten years ago. Celebrities could even be seen mingling here then. Yet somewhere along the way, the place slowly turned into a hotspot for like-minded individuals looking for potential partners.

▼ The cozy atmosphere might have something to do with it.

▼ The pubs were absolutely packed with people…

▼ …but despite the entire place being drowned in utter chaos,
everyone was in good spirits.

All the bars sported open-layout designs, which was not so optimal for individuals who prefer a bit of privacy, but it did allow Kamezawa to see that every group of people contained a good mix of men and women.

To prevent potential sexual harassment, numerous signs were placed to warn men not to hit on women. Yet some form of picking up was obviously going on as many male customers went under the pretense of casually calling out to them in a friendly manner wherever they went with invitations like: “Why not come sit with us?”

Kamezawa felt that the surprising forwardness being exhibited here was rather refreshing, but she figured that squeezing cheek by jowl with other strangers was not exactly the best way to know people, particularly for a reserved person like her. The place was crowded; it was peak period at 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve after all, and so the pair decided to try their luck again at 11 p.m. when things settled down.

▼ Many seats had opened up by then, much to the joy of Kanezawa.

Upon sitting down, they were immediately approached by two well-dressed men and asked if they could join their table, to which the women happily obliged. Introductions revealed that the two men were 28-year old salarymen working in a renowned company in Osaka.

“I’ve wanted to come here for the longest time,” said one, a testament to the fact that Ebisu Yokocho’s reputation as a dating spot had reached even western Japan.

After a round of toasting, Kanezawa confessed that she was in her 30s. “You don’t look your age at all! I thought you were younger than me,” the other said, which made her blush so much she would shame a beet.

▼ “Young people are the best!” she replied jovially, a move she regretted later
as it immediately set her up as an older sister instead of a potential date.

Even though the pubs in Ebisu Yokocho remained open till the wee hours of the morning, the men were no doubt concerned about catching the last train home — an opportunity that Kanezawa was not letting slip by so easily.

“Let’s create a LINE group to stay in contact!” she suggested. Making use of the chat app group function was the perfect way to get their phone numbers.

And as soon as the two left their seats, another pair of men occupied them and initiated conversation. They were 28-year old and 30-year old employees working in Tokyo, both first-timers to this friendly part of the neighbourhood.

When asked about her age again, Kamezawa bristled with a curt, “I’m in my 30s, what about it?” That certainly caught the men by surprise, and perhaps lowered her chances of future dates with them.

▼ Her friend seemed to have better success with the 30-year-old.

The two men left as it neared 2 a.m., and Kanezawa and her friend decided to call it a day too. Those still roaming Ebisu Yokocho at this time of night appeared to be a little older, perhaps 40 to 50 years old.

Kanezawa felt that the alley had an overall cheerful vibe to it, where people could wind down and enjoy a good time without descending into seedy chaos. The men she met seemed like a decent bunch. Isolated cases of sexual harassment or stalking have been reported before, but the frequency did not differ much from other places of entertainment.

Three weeks after meeting the first pair of men from Osaka, however, the LINE group was as dead as a ghost town.

▼ Ah well, it was worth a try.
(Translation below)

Thanks for yesterday!

We had a good time that night. Take care returning to Osaka.
All the best!

Thank you! We have arrived home safely.
Please visit Osaka when you have time.

**** has left the group
**** has left the group

Sighing sadly at the lack of development, Kanezawa resigned herself to being single for a little longer. She needed to up her game and work on those conversation skills a little more, but at least she now knew why Ebisu Yokocho was labeled as one of the top drinking districts in Tokyo.

Images: ©SoraNews24
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