The Kimochi Warui Diary
The Japanese salaryman had one hand in the leather strap attached to the train car’s ceiling, and the other hand wrapped around the handle of his briefcase. The weight of his body swung limply with the movements of the train.
His drowsy face rose to meet ours, only mere inches apart.
“You ever experience it?” he asked. “This kind of Japan?”
Even if we wanted to back away, we couldn’t. The train was packed full of workers, students, housewives, and even some foreigners sprinkled here and there.
The train slowed to a halt. When the doors opened, more people poured in, forcing everyone to shuffle in even closer together.
“It’s a new experience,” Jotaro replied.
The salaryman let out a solitary chuckle. He seemed completely detached from the situation—either through the effects of alcohol, a long day in the office, or some combination of both.
The doors near us began to close, but then we heard a feminine yelp. The doors opened right back up again.
We turned toward the nose and saw a short girl—a foreigner—being shoved further into the crowd of passengers.
“Hah,” Jotaro laughed. “Her ass got squished in the door.”
The Japanese salaryman cackled, his eyes wide with pure madness. But then, he abruptly stopped and regained his sleepy composure.
“Tonight,” he said. “Very special night. I feel it.”
Our hotel was slated to be a quick walk from the train station, less than five minutes by foot. Fortunately, we had gotten off around 11:15. This gave us plenty of time to spare.
We followed my phone’s GPS through dimly lit Japanese streets. We turned a corner and, at the end of the street, saw a slender Japanese woman wearing a black coat. Her long hair flowed behind her as she paced slowly down the street.
As we passed, she coolly looked us up and down without turning her head. She gave us a smirk of approval.
It was awfully forward of her to call us cute. What the hell was that about?
Then, just a couple meters further down the road, a short Japanese man appeared.
“Hey! You! You want sekkusu? Six thousand yen!”
We kept walking without acknowledging either of them, and soon enough, we arrived at the hotel.
I gave my name and ID card to the hotel clerk behind the glass window. They spent a few minutes looking through the computer.
“We don’t have it,” the clerk said.
Maybe they spelled the name wrong, or something? I fished through my confirmation emails to show them proof of the reservation.
After finding the email from the hotel I booked this morning, I slid the phone under the window to the clerk.
“No. This wrong.”
I looked at the email again, and that’s when it hit me.
“What the fuck did you do this time?” Jotaro asked.
I reluctantly explained the situation:
I’d gotten the confirmation emails mixed up. The hotel we just arrived at was the “bedbugs hotel” that I cancelled this morning. The hotel we were actually supposed to go to was in another town.
I was anticipating Jotaro’s purple aura of death to enshroud us—but there was none. He simply said:
“You really shit the bed on this one.”
The end of check-in was fast approaching, and the trains would be closing even sooner. We tightened the straps on our backpacks and hurried back to the station.
On the train station platform, I saw a Japanese kid who looked just a few years younger than me. He had thick rimmed glasses, a guitar case, and Snoopy t-shirt.
With no time left to fuck around or be self-conscious, I nervously belted out my best Japanese:
He replied with a string of Japanese words that I couldn’t keep up with, but I remembered sensei’s lesson:
Always listen for the verb.
I heard the verb for “to go” in the positive form. Combined with his positive body language, I could tell we were in the clear.
The train pulled up a few minutes later, and I even saw him look over to make sure that we were getting on.
It was just the three of us in the train, standing next to each other in silence.
Why hadn’t I been trying to make friends with any Japanese guys? Was there a reason I was so fixated on girls that I couldn’t just chill and try chatting with some guy in a Snoopy shirt?
We made it to the right station and, as we left, the Japanese kid was giving us another sincere look:
“You got it from here?” he seemed to ask.
I told him ありがとう and waved goodbye. He waved back and went on his separate way.
In reality, things had just gotten worse—but it was nothing a Japanese speaker would have been able to help us with.
“There’s something else…” I showed Jotaro the map on my phone’s GPS. He said nothing, likely to save me the trouble of being scolded again.
The map said it would take nearly twenty minutes to walk to the hotel. But our deadline for checkout was fast approaching—within the next ten minutes.
“So, the bedbugs place didn’t even have a vacancy?”
“It was full.”
That was a lie. I hadn’t thought to ask.
I did a quick sweep of the area. Around the corner, I saw bright lights. I ran over to see what it was, and I discovered that we were in luck—there were several hotels conveniently grouped together.
Once again, we found ourselves being rejected at every hotel.
The first hotel told us いっぱい—“full.”
The next one gave us the “No” symbol—arms crossed into an X. This hotel clerk hadn’t even given me a chance to ask. Are we being mistaken for a couple again?
The other thing these hotels had in common was their strange aesthetic, such as decorating their entrances with imitation marble statues of cherubs. Well, with so many hotels all in the same area, I figured they were just doing it for competition.
The fourth hotel had me getting desperate. I asked the front-desk obaasan for the room, but before she could give me a real response, I laid on the desperation:
“Please, we just need somewhere to stay. I had to cancel a hotel and we have nowhere else to go.”
I pointed at our backpacks, trying to express that we were backpacking and travelling together.
“We’re brothers, by the way.”
The obaasan pursed her lips and took a few seconds to think. She shook her head slowly as if to say, “I really shouldn’t be doing this,” but then she pulled out a keycard for us.
I thanked her profusely and paid her with no regard to the cost. We took the elevator up to our room, slid the keycard in the door, and opened it.
After we saw what was in the room, it all started coming together—the reason why everyone was so against letting us stay in their hotels.
Our bed was circular, decorated with heart shaped pillows and covered with red sheets. A projector from the corner of the room beamed bouncing, heart shaped spotlights on the wall. A sensual saxophone solo played from a speaker above the bed.
Jotaro picked up something that was waiting for us on the nightstand.
“What the fuck…”
It was a condom.
We ignored the generous accommodations and treated it like any other room. We even used the shower—something we hadn’t been able to do properly at the various hostels across Japan’s countryside. All in all, it was a pretty nice room.
My last thought, before drifting off to sleep, was that I could finally tell my friends I had stayed in one of Japan’s famous love hotels.