I woke up in the middle of the night at the Cross Hotel Osaka and quickly found, to my chagrin, that going back to sleep was not in my immediate future. This is where the drastic time difference started to wreak havoc. Though it was 2 a.m. in Japan, my body was obviously still significantly attached to the time zone it knew and loved at home, where it was 1 p.m.
Hmm…what to do, what to do…
My first inclination was that Reed might like some play time, but when I tried to wake him up he grumpily pushed me away and said he was trying to sleep. Well okay then, jackass.
Screw that. Intent on not doing anything further to annoy Reed as well as not squandering one solitary moment of my trip, I opted to venture out to do some exploring on my own. I wasn’t quite sure what the scene was like outside, or what time everything closed down or whatever, but I could sense that the Osaka night wasn’t quite finished through the limited information I could take in from the hotel window. So I figured what the hey…I’m only wandering alone out in the middle of the night in a foreign country – what could go wrong? I hurriedly put on some clothes and freshened myself up to get this party started. I’m not even sure if Reed registered that I was on my way out or not, and wasn’t really interested in letting him know.
I walked out of the hotel to find the streets of Osaka still alive and kicking. I stood out front for a little bit to take in my surroundings. I had no idea what my plan was or where to even attempt to go. I just had a vague idea in my head of walking off some of my restlessness. But before I could even take a step, I noticed a guy coming over to me. He said a greeting (I guess) that I didn’t understand and then continued with other unknown utterances in Japanese while I stood there tilting my head like a confused puppy and giving him a blank look. He quickly caught on to the fact that I had no idea what the hell he was talking about and pulled out his phone to utilize Google Translate. Oh, the wonders of modern technology! He wanted to know if I wanted to go to a bar. Sure! He indicated that I follow him, and though I was mildly nervous about following some strange man to an unknown location, I did it anyway because I’m just
stupid adventurous like that.
As we navigated the crowded side streets and started taking various turns, I make a point to pay strict attention to our path. The potential perils of gallivanting off somewhere with a stranger in the middle of the night are obvious enough, but on top of that I also happen to have a terrible sense of direction. While there was always a minuscule chance that I’d end up vanishing and/or murdered, I was much more worried about just simply not being able to find my way back to the hotel. To kill several birds with one stone, I started sending texts to Reed to document my trail.
They didn’t go through because I didn’t have cellular service, but they were at least saved into the text message for me to either refer to on my way back, assuming I am alive, or for the authorities to retrace my steps. I also took a picture of this person from behind for good measure. In hindsight, none of that would’ve helped in the least bit in the event of my demise because everything was stuck in my phone and I’m sure that would’ve disappeared along with me, but it felt proactive and intelligent at the time.
We didn’t end up too far from the hotel. It was probably 7 or so minutes before he leads me into a building and upstairs into a nearly empty bar. We commandeer a table and he gestures to me about a drink. I respond in the affirmative and soon after am presented with some random beer. Then we commence mostly staring at each other quizzically and trying to make small talk through his phone.He asks me a question about sex with a Japanese man – I think to ask me if I’ve ever been with one. I couldn’t be sure if that was his way of trying to hit on me or if he was just asking matter-of-factly. He didn’t press either way. I thought it was odd but I wasn’t majorly uncomfortable.
Several moments later a few more guys came out of the woodwork – people who work there that he knows, I surmised. I wasn’t really sure if the bar was open or closed or what its status was, but in either case it was only us there so they sat around to chill as well. Some of them knew more English than others, but communication was still tricky and stilted.
But no worries, because if there is one thing that Japanese people love, it’s karaoke. And soon enough we had a jam session in our midst. And just like that, I’m having the time of my life in a bar in Osaka, Japan, at 3 a.m., drinking and listening to Japanese men who can barely speak English sing round after round of American pop and rock songs. Absolute magnificence. A definite once-in-a-lifetime experience. Notable renditions included Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You and Bon Jovi’s Livin’ On a Prayer. You truly have not lived until you have heard Japanese men singing these songs.
It was probably a little after 4 a.m. by the time I started to feel like I should wrap things up. I excused myself to the restroom and then came back and indicated somehow that I ready to get my tab and roll. My tab came to 18,000 or so yen, or $160ish American dollars. YIKES! Between the drinks and the karaoke rounds I sang, those bastards got me. Take THAT, stupid American tourist! But whatevs. I had a good time and I really hadn’t spent any real money yet, so it was worth it. I paid, wished everyone a good night, and left to try to find my way back to the hotel.
Back outside it was still dark, but the sky was at the beginning stages of lightening. The streets had cleared out for the most part, but they weren’t completely desolate. I felt maybe the slightest bit more intimidated being totally alone, but I didn’t have any problems. Between my memory and my notes, I didn’t have too much trouble getting back to the hotel.
What a delightful random adventure that was.
Reed was still asleep when I got back to the room. He probably had never even known I left. I still wasn’t tired at this point, and as dawn was now upon us I figured I’d just go on ahead and start readying myself for the day, starting with the marvelous shower room.