A bit of warning; this entry is a bit of an odd one and a bit less kid friendly! Don’t worry, I’m not screwing prostitutes, just doing some weird shit.
I was extremely happy that I survived the week because all I wanted to do that weekend was rest! My ankle was still annoying me and I didn’t really want to move at all. The doctor said that it would probably be a week or two until I got better but it really was a case-by-case scenario. Anyways, I knew that I wouldn’t be resting for too long because I had two enkais to go to.
The first enkai was by our Board of Education. All of the Izumi JETs and the BOE went out to a tabe/nomihoudai (all you can eat/drink). At first it was a bit awkward because they were a bit serious and the table I was sitting at was a bit hard to follow because everyone spoke Japanese pretty well. After one beer though, they became really lively. It really is funny to see how lightweighted the Japanese are. It took me a few beers and a couple of glasses of shouchuu to get as drunk as they were. We all gave our speeches and had a lot of fun conversations. Afterward, we went to karaoke, which was hilarious. I ended up dueting with Ohashi-sensei to some Billy Joel and everyone sang a bunch of classics. The pinnacle of the evening though was when one of the BOE people, who claims look like Totoro, began to sing the Totoro theme song. After a couple of hours of singing, we headed back home and I just sat and watched TV for a couple of hours. Now this was the life.
I continued my laziness on Saturday by watching more TV but I decided to be a bit productive and cleaned my place up slightly as well as do some laundry. One of the most annoying things in this country is how dusty your apartment can get. Vacuuming is something you have to do pretty often or else everything will be covered in dust.
By the time I did all that, it was time to go to my second “enkai”. While not technically an enkai, it was almost like one because it was a welcoming party to all the new Osaka JETs. Andrew and I headed to Namba as I saw a lot of my friends and veterans. The event was at a beer garden which takes place on a rooftop as you drink and eat as much as you want until 9. We talked a lot as well as drank and ate some more. When the place closed down, we decided to karaoke. Once that ended, I was at a crossroad; do I continue to stay out or head back home? It was 11:40 and I was at the station I needed to be, the last train left at 11:45. Andrew said he would spot me when we left by cab so I decided to continue to hang out with the gang. They headed towards a club but we ended up waiting outside for 45 minutes or so. After awhile, Andrew suggested we leave and go somewhere else. I decided to tag along as I was already getting annoyed that I didn’t take the train. My ankles were sore, I was sleepy, and I didn’t feel like doing the whole all-nighter thing.
Except I didn’t have a choice! I realized I only had 60 bucks on me and Andrew had a similar amount. Getting back home would be very costly on a taxi (about 100ish bucks) and Andrew didn’t want to go home so soon. We decided to go to Sakaihigashi with a cab. The city is completely different after last train. Most places are closed, the streets are actually quiet and not packed with people, and you get to see the sketchier side of Japan. Women would be asking me if I wanted a massage, drunks were ever-so-present, etc.
When I asked Andrew where we were going, he simply said “Oh, a cabaret.” When I heard those words, I thought of the American version of cabaret and went with it. When we went inside though, I realized it was not a typical cabaret! The Japanese version of a cabaret is basically the cheap version of a hostess club. For those who don’t know what a hostess club is, it basically is a place where you pick a girl to talk to and flirt with as you buy them drinks. It’s pretty popular in Japan as some people like to go there as a way to relieve stress or just get female attention, even if it is fake for the most part. No sex is involved. The male version, host clubs, are also popular. They are very expensive though as the drinks one selects (which is usually required). Once you select a host/hostess, there is no going back. You stick with them until the very end!
Cabarets however, are a bit different. First of all, you don’t have to buy anyone drinks except yourself. Then you basically you do the same thing except rather than talking to one girl for a set period of time, you talk to various girls for about 15 minutes each. This goes on for about an hour usually and then you are asked to either extend your time or be on your way.
Of course, I didn’t know this when I went in. Andrew gave me a five second explanation as we got separated and went in my booth. I was kinda nervous and confused. Was this a strip joint? Can I even talk to these girls with my limited language? What will they think of me? WHY AM I HERE? As I’m slightly freaking out, the first girl comes and sits next to me. Her name was “Ren”. We basically chit chatted with each other about where we were from, what kind of person we like, and other random things. As the conversation progressed, she began to cling onto my arm and massage my hand. At this point I was thinking “Umm, this is so weird” but went with it. I was too drunk/tired anyways. Time was up and she left, making way for the next girl.
The next girl was probably the most awkward encounter. I could tell she didn’t really know what to do when she saw me. We just sat there for a minute until I finally decide to say something just to get rid of the awkwardness. Even after we started talking, I just felt out of place at this point and was happy for her to leave. Next up was Kaori. She was the complete opposite of the second girl. She was super genki (or at least, acted genki) and was excited to see a foreigner. Apparently she has a lot of foreigner friends so she was happy to talk to me. She would keep asking me what certain things meant which is when I started remembering the advice I have received from previous JETs. The advice was that there are people out there that look like they are excited to talk to you but they really just want to practice their English. I was getting that vibe from her but I guess it wouldn’t have mattered because I was paying for her attention! She did provide me useful information though; when she realized where I was from, she flipped out and told me there was a really good Peruvian restaurant somewhere in Umeda. I asked her the name but she didn’t know. However, I later confirmed with a friend who went to said restaurant a few years ago so it DOES exist!
She eventually left and a man approached me. I couldn’t understand him too well but I was guessing my time was up and he was asking me if I wanted to extend it. Then he asked which girl I wanted to talk to again. I saw Andrew’s credit card in his hand so I figured either I extend the time and talk to someone or just wait outside for god knows how long in a quiet, creepy street. I decided to choose the former. It was an expensive decision, sorry American checking account!
I begun to lose track of time. I was extremely tired at this point and it was around 3:30 AM. Girl after girl kept visiting, talked a bit and went on their way. I was no longer drunk but just ready to pass out. The only girl I remember after Kaori was some tomboy who liked to snowboard in Hokkaido. It’s pretty funny to get the typical “Ehhh” reaction from anyone Japanese when you tell them you know a bit of Japanese or studied it in the States. Usually it’s followed with a “Jouzu, jouzu! (You’re very good at it!). Also the Kansai-ben (Osakan dialect) was present more than ever in here so comprehending them was even more difficult (note to self: learn Kansai-ben). She also got excited when I told her I knew Andrew, but apparently he told her he worked in Tokyo. I went with it, as I probably shouldn’t be telling them my whereabouts. Halfway through this conversation I really needed to go to the bathroom and as soon as our session ended, I ran to it.
Then I finally encountered it: the Japanese-style toilet! These things scare the shit out of me but I had no choice; I had to use it because I really had to go. It definitely was interesting trying to figure out the whole squatting thing but I somehow did it. After I did my duty, I just chilled in the bathroom for a minute to refresh myself; the night was far from over. When I got out, I saw Kaori waiting right outside the door, scaring the crap out of me. We went back to my booth and chatted some more. I ended up translating some texts for her from what looked like to be some creepy douche. It was funny to see all the miscommunication mistakes she was making with him though. I don’t know how long I talked to her but didn’t really feel like it was for long. In the end, she asked me for my e-mail, which I gave to her but I’m pretty sure she won’t contact me. That’d be pretty weird anyways. It was finally time to go. Kaori really wanted to learn some English from me because I could tell they were trying to wrap out conversation but she kept delaying it. Oh, hilarious. Anyways, we finally part ways with her excitedly waving goodbye to me in front of Andrew which was pretty embarrassing.
I looked at the time, it was only 4:00 AM. The first train came at 5:30 so we still had an hour and a half to kill. We left the cabaret building and once again avoided the massage ladies. We ran into two drunks leaving a convenience store, offering their steamed bun to us, to which we declined. There was a short guy whose nickname was Shoulders and a taller guy who I couldn’t remember his name. Shoulders got his nickname because he really had some broad shoulders, which looked a bit weird on his short figure. We just chatted about random shit with them and then the taller guy insisted on showing us to some cool karaoke cabaret place. Andrew was interested and I just followed them.
We eventually ended up at the same building we were at before, except at another floor. This time, they were asking for 45 dollars for 25 minutes. I was out of cash and really didn’t feel like going to a cabaret again so I opted out. Andrew decided to go and so I waited outside with the two drunks. Eventually the bouncer kindly told us to move out of the front so we weren’t loitering the entrance. We sat down in a corner and I asked what they did today. After they told me they went to a concert, the conversation went towards music. The tall guy’s taste of music was awesome because he liked old school hip hop, hated present rap and even knew of A Tribe Called Quest! I asked him if liked Nujabes for kicks and he got excited from the answer. Our taste of music was almost exact, which was a bit scary, he even liked cool jazz and jazz fusion.
Before I knew it, Andrew had come back from the cabaret. He was not impressed as it was basically the same thing as the one we went to before but even more expensive. By the time we all left the building, it was 5 AM. We parted ways with our new friends, probably never seeing them again. It’s pretty cool though how people are less afraid to approach you when you aren’t in a huge group. The fewer people you have, the higher chances people aren’t scared of you. I suppose being drunk also helps.
The final stretch was waiting at Sakaihigashi station. For some reason, I was wide awake. Andrew took a nap while I caught up with the news on my phone. It was really weird to see the sun rising as we got on the train. I can’t remember the last time I did an all-nighter except I remember the day after results were disastrous. As we walked back home, I saw people heading to work and the sun shining brightly down at us. So weird.
I got home at 6 AM and managed to stay asleep until 11:45 AM. Oddly enough, I wasn’t dying on Sunday like most of my comrades were. I decided to do absolutely nothing at all and continued my laziness. Two days of fun was enough for me. The all-nighter was definitely a lot of fun and really weird (especially the cabaret) but I don’t think I will be doing it often. I’m past the age where I can stay up until crazy hours. Next time I think I’ll just catch the last train home 🙂