Pretentious Snapshots…Osaka At 4:15 In The Morning
May 31, 2010
I walked out of the club into that strange time of day that’s not quite night but also not quite morning, the violet-tinged hour. I’ve just spent the last five hours of my life being battered by sweaty strangers in a vaguely hipsterish, vaguely Jersey Shore…hot tub on the roof speaks for itself…club. Due to bad timing and other little surprise roadblocks, none of my friends could come with me for the night. In most situations I would have backed out of going, choosing to stay in and watch the cute animal show on channel four they broadcast every weekend. I’d wanted to see the artist performing, Flying Lotus, for a long time though, so I forced myself to make the trip alone (aside: feel free to read my concert review here). I ditch the club when the local DJ takes to the tables, choosing to avoid one more hour spent in the Smirnoff Ice-heavy venue. A quick check of my watch reveals that it’s 4:15 in the morning…an hour before the first train rolls out of Namba Station.
With nothing open besides the am/pm and 60 minutes to kill, I choose to wander around aimlessly under the purple sky. It’s as I walk down one narrow street after another that I realize why I put myself through this sorta stuff, why being alone at this hour doesn’t phase me and why I love Osaka. Whereas most cities…even big ones like Los Angeles or Chicago…become model train set pieces at 4:15 in the morning, Osaka belongs to the small category of cities that continue to buzz at this young hour. I’m not talking about a few drunks stumbling along the streets looking for a convenient bench, but rather the places like New York or Paris or Tokyo that seem just as alive in these late-early times as they do during more sane operating hours. I admit to a little hyperbole there…it’s not nearly as crowded as, say, at noon or even three in the afternoon…but still feels alive. All sorts of people, not just young drunks or more experienced salarymen, hustle about.
It’s not just the fact people actually walk around this early that makes me so happy, nor is it the fact that I feel completely safe because every city I’ve visited in Japan feels safer than even suburb-rific Evanston. No, the reason I love Osaka probably reveals more insecurities in myself than anything else. Thrown into this situation in other places, my mind would turn to jealous thoughts…how surely after a night of clubbing all the pretty people hooked up or went up to something nice, while I wander around alone and aimless. Being in Osaka serves as a nice splash of cold water…people are everywhere. They sit around in the park smoking. They wait patiently outside the train station gates for the doors to be unlocked. They flock to the one place open 24 hours a day…the local two-story McDonald’s. And it’s not just schlubs like me ordering Big Macs as breakfast, but people dressed like high-end mannequins who could be paid to just stand around a club and look nice. Yet here they are, struggling internally over whether to spend the extra 500 Yen on the limited edition World Cup glass. Just like me.
So thank you Osaka, for being a very humanizing city that can snap me out of those assholish bouts of self-centered moping. Though being a little sad, it’s still kinda of hopeful to realize that I’m not the only one sorta stumbling around at four in the morning.
And then, after all that, being the city where an older woman approaches me on the street asking if I’d like a massage for 300 yen. Osaka…also boasts a great/creepy sense of humor!
(Japanese Fun Fact #64 – Japanese movie theaters have really tacky gift shops that sell calendars of Hugh Jackman headshots. They sorta balance it out though by also selling candy.)
(In Other News – Today I had a banana for lunch. Two students saw me eating the banana. They started calling me “Mr. Banana.” Cute, but honestly I’m “Mr. Apples And White Bread.”)