How many Tokyoites can you squeeze into a Mini Cooper? How many times has Godzilla attacked Tokyo? Why was Paul McCartney banned from having bananas?
1. Most people in a Mini Cooper
On May 5, 2011, Tokyo’s Shiodome Nihon TV Studios witnessed one of the greatest human feats of all time, when 21 members of the Caless Dance School squeezed into a Mini Cooper. The reason? Quite simply, to see if 21 women could squeeze into a Mini Cooper. Why else?
2. Megasize me!
The McDonald’s in Ryogoku, on the east bank of Tokyo’s Sumida River, has a very special deal for the fat men that make the area famous. On any given day of the triannual Tokyo basho, the overall winner is entitled to one free McD’s meal. What’s more, the restaurant boasts a huge sumo chair for him to enjoy it in – three times the size of a normal McDonald’s chair. Talk about lard-arsed luxury!
3. Who was the biggest badass, Joe Strummer or Paul McCartney?
According to Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer, a 2007 biography by Chris Salewicz, the 1982 tour of Japan was the first time The Clash performed without the aid of pharmaceutical substances, giving the gigs a renewed energy and clarity (The Clash: Live in Tokyo is a perennial favourite amongst The Clash hardcore).
It’s likely that the notorious punk band entered Japan cautiously, having seen Paul McCartney, everyone’s favourite Rupert the Bear botherer, busted for carrying eight ounces of marijuana into Narita Airport two years earlier.
Macca spent nine nights in a cell at Kojimachi Police Station, mucking in with other prisoners, even leading them in communal bath-time singsongs of ‘Yellow Submarine’. According to his biographer, Howard Sounes, McCartney requested and received vegetarian meals, though his request for bananas was turned down. ‘Regulations forbade detainees from having bananas… a man might peel a banana, throw the skin on the floor and a prison officer might slip and fall.’ And so ends the strangest McCartney-refused-banana story you’re ever likely to hear.
4. Why is Harajuku so damn hip?
The Harajuku area, Takeshita Dori in particular, has long been associated with far out fashion. As with any hip and happening hotspot, it’s difficult to give an exact reason for the emergence of a popular trend, but in an interview with The Japan Times earlier this year, Seiichi Matsui, head of the local business owners’ association, pointed to the postwar arrival of American expats, many of whom settled in the area and brought with them a need for import shops. Tokyo teenagers interested in the exoticisms of ‘gaikoku’ (abroad) found their curiosity sated around burgeoning and bright Takeshita Dori.
5. Yoko Ono studied her timetables with… who?
Yoko Ono was a graduate of Tokyo’s Gakushuin School, where she was classmates with none other than the current Emperor of Japan. In a 2007 Japanzine interview, she explained, ‘We were classmates. But, you know, it’s just a fluke.’