May 28, 2004 – Watching the Stanley Cup Finals in Tokyo

Watching NHL playoffs at the Maple Leaf bar

Watching NHL playoffs at the Maple Leaf bar

I woke up with a raging hangover from the previous night and the inability to find my glasses. Our plan for the day was to watch game 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs at the Maple Leaf bar in Shibuya. Hippie and I slowly got our stuff together, and then walked up the step stairs towards Jem’s apartment to collect Flounder, Code Red and Green.

When we arrived, we found that the other guys were just as tired and hung over as we were. I don’t think anyone in our group got more than 4 hours of sleep. We finally collected all of our belongings, making sure that the video camera was safe, thanked Jem and her roommate for graciously saving our drunk asses, and then walked out into the cruel morning air.

Descending a steep staircase on the side of a hill can be challenging at the best of times. When tired and hungover it is a very unpleasant experience. The stairs were spinning slightly below me and my eyes couldn’t focus properly. I was legitimately worried about falling down the stairs and coming to a sudden stop on the concrete far below. As a group we all stopped halfway down to catch our breath and regain our balance.

The 15 minute walk back to the station seemed to take an hour. At Hodogaya we got on a crowded rush hour train towards Yokohama. At Yokohama we got on an even more crowded rush hour train to Shibuya. The train was packed wall to wall business people, and the air conditioner wasn’t working correctly. We silently held on to to the handles trying our best to survive until Shibuya. When we arrived in Shibuya we took a few minutes to enjoy some fresh air before walking to the Maple Leaf Bar. Fortunately we scouted the location on a previous trip to Shibuya so we didn’t have to search for it while hungover.

The Maple Leaf bar is, as you might expect from the name, a Canadian bar in Shibuya. On the inside everything is Canadian flags and wood. The bar is not usually open in the morning, but they make exceptions for hockey playoffs. We sat down at a table and ordered the special Canadian breakfast: 1000 yen for eggs, bacon, baked beans, toast and a beer. The wonderful staff, noting our condition, made sure to keep bringing refills of ice water.

Breakfast and fluids helped us all feel like humans again. This was partially offset by watching the Calgary Flames lose to the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1. During the game a photographer was taking pictures for a story about Canadians around the world watching the NHL finals. Our picture ended up in the Yomiuri Newspaper and on the wall in the Maple Leaf’s washroom.

After the game we all headed back to Hello House for a relaxing and uneventful afternoon and evening.

(2014 Update) The Maple Leaf bar closed several years ago, which is a shame. If anyone can find a copy of the picture that was run in the newspapers of my friends and I watching hockey I would truly appreciate it. I have spent hours on Google over the past few years searching with no luck.

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