Chapter 29:

Osaka: Chapter 24

The Kimochi Warui Diary

I haven’t mentioned this until now, but I’ve been recording this whole trip in my journal. When all is said and done, it’s this journal, alone, that will be there to remind me of my experiences during this trip. Bookmark here

And because anything can happen at any time, I always keep my journal folded up in my back pocket. It’s a thin, blue, Japanese style “Campus” notebook that’s capable of taking plenty of abuse. Bookmark here

But for safekeeping and convenience, I decided to place it in the same grocery bag with the magazine I just bought—and that was how I made my mistake.Bookmark here

But before that came to fruition, I walked out of the 7-Eleven and into a nameless karaoke bar across the alleyway. Bookmark here

You wouldn’t have known that’s what it was at first glance. It was incredibly well-lit for a bar, and the counter was lower to the ground—like something you’d see in a diner. And strangest of all, the place lacked any kind of décor aside from some picture frames on the walls. Bookmark here

And yet, there was a stage in the back for people who wanted to sing karaoke. There were also numerous TVs on the walls displaying the karaoke lyrics. Bookmark here

I sat in the next empty bar stool, next to a random Japanese guy. He started asking me the usual questions:Bookmark here

“Are you from America?”Bookmark here

“America,” I said. “No, wait, shit, I mean Canada. I mean yes, both.”Bookmark here

“Okay, okay.” He didn’t know what I meant, but he understood I was drunk.Bookmark here

The bar tender materialized into my field of vision. She was cute and nicely made up.Bookmark here

“You drink? You sing?”Bookmark here

She was much more direct than any of the other Japanese girls I’ve met.Bookmark here

“Are you from Osaka?” I asked.Bookmark here

“No. I’m from China. Tell me if you want order something.”Bookmark here

“I’m going to sing!” I decided.Bookmark here

She looked at me a bit concerned. She even scoffed at me. Bookmark here

“Really? You sing right now?”Bookmark here

“Yes, I’ll sing! Do you have any iDOLM@STER songs?”Bookmark here

“No…”Bookmark here

“What about Shugo Tokumaru?”Bookmark here

“I don’t know what that is.”Bookmark here

I turned to the Japanese guy next to me and leaned over. “Dude, this girl doesn’t even know Shugo Tokumaru.”Bookmark here

“Sorry,” he said. “I don’t know it.”Bookmark here

Him too? Something was seriously wrong with these people, but I wasn’t going to let it bother me. I finally convinced the waitress to let me sing Haruka Tomatsu’s “Motto Hade Ni Ne!” and she brought me the microphone.Bookmark here

The song began to play, and the lyrics appeared in Japanese. Luckily, there was hiragana for me to read, but I couldn’t keep up. I started becoming self-aware of how drunk I was as I slurred through each word. I kept thinking that, if I at least focused really hard on moving my mouth and annunciating the words properly, it would all come out the way it was supposed to. But the Chinese girl didn’t give me a chance before she took the microphone back.
Bookmark here

“No! You done!”Bookmark here

Those people didn’t even know who Shugo Tokumaru was, so I had no reason to stay. I stumbled out of the bar and back onto the streets.Bookmark here

Streetlights and store signs surrounded me in a blur as I made my way to the next alleyway, the one just next to the hostel. In this alleyway were two vending machines: Bookmark here

One with beer and sake jars, and another with packs of cigarettes.Bookmark here

Thank God, more cigarettes. But somehow, the cigarette machine wouldn’t take my money. What the fuck!Bookmark here

An older Japanese man carrying plastic grocery bags walked by. Bookmark here

“No, no, no,” he said with a smile. “You can’t buy unless you have card.”Bookmark here

“What card? From where?”Bookmark here

“Buy card from store.”Bookmark here

This sounds familiar… It’s all coming together now… He’s talking about a card you can buy only if you’re 18 or older. It’s to prevent minors from buying cigarettes. Bookmark here

“We have to protect the youth of Japan!” I said. Then I added, “Hey wait, but what about the alcohol? Do I need a card to buy that?”Bookmark here

“You want alcohol? You just put money in. No card.”Bookmark here

What in the hell… Bookmark here

The man then produced a box of cigarettes and loosened one out for me.Bookmark here

People from Osaka were insanely chill. Bookmark here

“You are from America?”Bookmark here

“That is correct sir,” I said, and I nodded so hard it almost looked like I was bowing.Bookmark here

“I want to travel to America. Why you come to Japan?”Bookmark here

“I don’t know man, I just like Japanese stuff. Hey, do you know Shugo Tokumaru?”Bookmark here

“Sorry? Who?”Bookmark here

“Shugo Tokumaru!”Bookmark here

“I’m sorry, it’s the first I’m hearing of it.”Bookmark here

My world is spinning. How do Japanese people not know about this one Japanese indie musician that my white friend told me about? Are we too hip even for the average Japanese person? Do I like Japanese things even more than Japanese people?Bookmark here

The Japanese man, however, had gotten just what he needed from the conversation with the foreigner. He bid me farewell and went along his happy way. I was glad of it. Bookmark here

I sat in the alleyway for a few minutes more as I nursed the last of my cigarette. Then I flicked it down the alleyway, watched it explode in a shower of sparks, and allowed myself a few breaths of fresh air.Bookmark here

I went back to the hostel, and the first thing I did was took a shit in one of the communal bathrooms. As I let it rip, the bathroom and the world outside of it spun around me. I could feel the earth spinning beneath us all, hurtling me and my turds through space. I’m definitely done drinking.Bookmark here

I went downstairs to the lobby where the other guests were all hanging out together. I plopped down next to one end of the table. I sat there and absorbed the atmosphere, thinking about my time so far in Japan, suddenly getting all introspective. Bookmark here

Now was the perfect time to capture some thoughts in my journal. But as I reached for my back pocket—there was no journal where it usually was.Bookmark here

Of course, that’s because the journal was in the grocery bag! So I looked to the floor next to me… And then underneath the table—under my ass too. Bookmark here

Nothing. Bookmark here

No bag. No porno mag. Bookmark here

Bookmark here

And worst of all, no journal.Bookmark here

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