The Kimochi Warui Diary
The two police officers looked at each other with genuine bewilderment, as if they had never encountered this situation before.
“You are telling us… You didn’t book hotel?”
They started speaking in Japanese to each other, working out a solution to the conundrum I had created. Here’s what they finally told us:
Over in a certain region of Otsuka, just a few blocks down from the train station, there’s a district with plenty of hotels. If we take the train there right now, we should have a shot at finding something for the night—but there’s no guarantee.
They pointed us to the train station and sent us on our way.
It was dark outside the train window. The lights from inside the train created a glare, giving us only our own reflections to look at. Streetlights and neon signs occasionally whizzed by.
“Tell me,” Jotaro said. “Is there any part of this trip that you do have planned out?” He was staring into me, ready to parse the lies out of every next word.
I turned to the window and tried looking past my reflection, trying to catch any glimpse of Japanese scenery.
“I know which cities I want to go to, yeah.”
We left the train station at Otsuka and made our way toward the area marked on our map. Sure enough, several hotels began materializing in the distance.
The first few hotels brought us no luck:
「いっぱい」, they told us.
In other words, “full.”
We eventually found one hotel that didn’t reject us outright.
Jotaro took a seat in the lobby and crossed his arms, waiting for me to get the room. I could feel his oppressive aura lingering like a thick fog around me.
The girl behind the front desk looked up at me. I immediately started begging:
“Please, we need a room. Everything else is full. We just got in to Japan and have nowhere to stay!”
I tried sounding extra pathetic and helpless, but the look on her face said she didn’t understand my English anyways. She left through a door in the back and disappeared.
A few seconds later, an older man with unkempt, graying hair came out in her place. He seemed even less sympathetic.
“Please, we need a room for one night,” I said.
The man looked at Jotaro. Then he looked at me. And then he held up two fingers:
“You get two room.”
“Oh, it’s alright,” I said. “We only need one!”
He looked taken aback at this, almost offended.
“Two men, one room… very bad. You get two room.”
Wait a minute… “Whoa, no, that’s not it. He’s my brother. 私の兄ですよ。”
He wasn’t having it. It was two rooms or nothing, and we were in no place to complain. Which level of Japanese classes teach you how to have this conversation…?
I paid the man and took the keycards for our room. The total cost was about $200. I couldn’t help thinking that, if my Japanese skills were better, I could have talked us into something better.
We were exhausted, so Jotaro and I went straight to our rooms to sleep. While taking a shower, I recounted the day’s failures. We’d managed to slip by them without much issue, but what about the rest of the trip? Will my lack of Japanese skills continue to hold us back?
After the shower, I went to brush my teeth, and something strange happened.
I noticed that the hotel had supplied a plastic-wrapped toothbrush on my sink counter. Printed on the plastic wrap, itself, was a sentence of English words in cursive lettering:
“Life is full of trials and tribulations. A man of strong will delights in adversity.”
Huh? What was this power flowing through me?
Who the hell was I kidding!? Non-fluent people visit Japan all the time and have a blast!
A sudden burst of energy shot through me, and with it arose an incredible idea. As soon as I finished brushing my teeth, I pulled out my phone, ready to fix this whole mess I had created.