As the train pulled into the station my bottle of water spilled on the cushioned seat beside me. As liquid kept flowing from the bottle, both the seat and my jeans began to grow dark. The puddle stretched to the end of the seat and started to drip, eventually flowing onto the ground below me. When the water started to seep into my boxers, I finally awoke.
I opened my bloodshot eyes and rumage through my coat pockets for the Advil I had brought the night before. When I finally found the pills the speed of the dripping had halved, and in one swift motion I picked up the bottle and headed to the next car. My legs felt almost as heavy as my eyes. I used what was left in the bottle to swallow the pills and while my head was tilted I could see the sun peeking over the arboreous mountains. The train jolted to a stop and a man stumbled into me, sharing the same smell of spirits and tobacco that I must’ve dawned earlier that night. He apologizes and we both find seats opposite across from each other on a completely deserted train.
Remembering that my pants were completely soaked I remove my jacket to cover myself. He was a 40-something year old salaryman who looked like he had gotten no sleep as well. His suit was still crisped, but his tie and collar had been ruffled and were tinged with oil spots. Perhaps curry or ramen. While looking through his phone, he pulled out a small Black Label bottle from his shoulder bag and took a hefty swig. When I start to chuckle he notices, and shakes it over his head: “medicine, this is medicine.” Truly he was right, and we were both thoroughly medicated.
After we both laughed for a bit the word medicine started to linger in my head. My mind wandered to my friends back home back home who would’ve concurred. While I was still facing the man as he drank, I was seeing my boys packed in a dorm room drinking our own “medicine.”
The train stopped again and as more people file in I come back to reality. The man has put away his bottle and the lady beside him is staring at the suspicious coloring of my jeans. When I try to make eye contact with her she looks down at her anime ornamented flip phone and starts to read her messages. I should be embarrassed, but the only sensation that I feel is exhaustion.
The biggest difference between spending a night out in Japan vs New York is that there is a last train. Once this last train comes (around 12 or so), there is no other way to get home besides a taxi. While taxi’s are good and all, the price difference is astronomical. While going from Manhattan to Brooklyn might cost you 25 to 30 dollars on a good day, (if the cabbie is even trying to go to Brooklyn) a taxi from Osaka to Kyoto would cost well over 10,000 yen which would look something more like 100 dollars on your visa.
While this is exorbitantly expensive, it inspires an incredible nightlife culture. Anyone you see in a bar or club, or loitering on the street is almost definitely going to remain until 5 in the morning. And the people who live this nocturnal lifestyle are very different from what I would say an American thinks the average Japanese person is like. During the day I see a myriad of people, but the people that dominate the streets are usually school girls with hiked up skirts, the businessman with a black or gray suit, and if I’m lucky a couple of hipster Japanese girls. However past 1 o clock schoolgirls and boys as well as salaryman are almost nowhere to be found. The people that occupy the night are pretty swaggy to say the least. You can find rare adidas tees, Stussy bucket hats, Comme des Garcons sneakers and such on people who look like regulars to SoHo. There are also girls who makeup a more classy side of the night that are more Hampton’s sheik, but they’re usually pretty basic.
If I see a salary man he is usually passed out at a Mc. Donalds or seated in some club puffing on a cigarette while hitting on the bartender that happily keeps serving. Specifically Satoshi, a man who I meet when I walk in. This 27 year old businessman kept taking the bunny ears of the bartenders head. While all the bartenders were in tight fitting bunny suits, he definitely had his eyes on this one. As I leave them and climb flights of stairs to get to the dance floor my heart skips beats.
The conductor announces the next stop and again I awake from my daze. As the next group of people filed into the train, I took my jacket off and placed it on my lap. I check my phone; 6:10, and 5 new messages. I hold my thumb on the home button but the screen shakes and asks me to try again. I put my phone back in my pocket and close my eyes.
We walked to the club around 12, and by that point all the tourists and day-dwellers have gone to catch their last trains. The streets are no longer bustling, and you can hear the babbling of the river that is only a stones throw away. We decide to go to G3 again, which has become one of our favorite spots. Besides the dimes in the bunny suits serving alcohol, there is also a pole and a stage for girls to dance on. The weekend before Quoc-san got a face full of ass as one girl danced in front of him for half an hour. Since the spots near the stage are limited, his spot under the skirts was quite coveted by all the guys who were pushing, shoving, and reaching just to get a brush. When girls went on the poles they instantly became idols, and the Japanese men looked to them as if they were celebrities. However this man was immovable, glued to a spot pounding his fists; waiting for the next beauty to dance in arms length.
We enter the club and again there is Satoshi, staring at her bunny tail while she pours drinks. I again feel that excitement as we walk up stairs while the reverberation of the bass only gets stronger and stronger. When I reach the top and see the bouncing crowd bathed in a purple foggy glow, the train doors open and the conductor calls my stop.
I pick my coat off my pants which still seem to be soaked and run through the doors. I search for my train pass as I walk down the stairs and I can see the day dwellers who wait for the incoming Osaka bound train. After leaving the station the natural sunlight sobers me up a little. Seeing my pants in daylight makes me realize that it looks more like I had fell in a toilet seat than peed myself. The cherry blossoms on my walk back have yet to bloom, but I can start to see premature budding.
As I’m walking I get a dull pain in my gut. I don’t think it’s the ramen. There is just something off. I take another Advil and put in my headphones.
“Champagne Showers, Champagne Showers,” the music blares while I can barely make out the faces of the girls around me with all the strobe lights. I look to the stage and the dimes dancing on the poles have found Quoc-san again. His smile is beaming as he engages with these girls in a game that some might call “Grab Ass.” He turns to me with his hands around a woman’s hips and it looks as if he had just hit the lottery. It was still early in the night then and once the girls leave the pole for a break, there is a long stretch of Redbull induced dancing. After a while a new set of women start dancing on the pole. When I look up…
I realize I am at my doorstep. I put the keys in the lock and quietly walk upstairs to my room.
“What am I missing?”