So, today I took a group of six excitable high school kids to Harajuku so that they could run around and buy stuff. I also bought some stuff: a classic Clash t-shirt, sold to me by a very nice Japanese lady of a certain age; and a couple of bracelets. I like bracelets, recently. I can't do most rings because they get in the way of playing guitar, and I don't care for necklaces.
The kids were kids. I herded them across town on the train to Harajuku, and we posted up at the entrance to Takeshita-dori.
ME: All right, gather round and listen up. Listen up, please. Listen UP. LISTEN! UP! (At this point, one of the uniformed local security guards nudged the girl who wouldn't shut up. She looked at him, and he pointed at me.)
ME (to guard): Arigato. Okay, guys, this is Harajuku, and it's a great place to go shopping, so go and do some of that. Wander around, remember to drink your water. STAY IN PAIRS. (Name Redacted), what did I just say?
GIRL: Stay with pairs?
ME: Close enough. We will meet back HERE, at THIS SPOT, at 5 PM, which means what, (Clever Boy Who Has Head Screwed On Straight)?
GUY: Means 4:55 PM.
ME: Right. Why?
GUY: Because On Time Means Five Minutes Early.
ME: Right. So 4:55, right here.
GIRL: Can we be here at 5:10?
GROUP: (sounds of general disgust)
ME: What time did I just say to be here?
GIRL: 5 PM?
ME: Sigh. If you get turned around, head for Harajuku Station.
GIRL: Which one is that?
ME: (Pointing across street to what is literally the ONLY structure there)
GIRL: Which one?
ME: That one. The one that has the big sign on top that says HARAJUKU STATION in three different languages. The one we just came out of, with all the trains.
I turned them loose and went off to find a toilet, which can be a task in Harajuku, for some reason. Fortunately, I spent a good chunk of June there doing market research, so I know where all the hidden ones are. Went there, then went to a Mexican cafe and relaxed with a horchata and a text chat with @populuxecowboy, then shopping, then went back to wait for the kids, who all turned up on time, except for the dingus girl, who I assumed would have been eaten by wolves, but who rocked up at five after five.
"I thought we said 5:10," she said.
"You're an art major, aren't you," I said.
We, by which I mean I, decided on a restaurant, we got in, ordered with a minimum of difficulty, paid with a surprising lack of hassle, and got everyone back to the hotel without incident. Some of these kids would be really great and fit right in to life in Japan; others I predict would last a week, tops.