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One Wrong Turn

JAPAN | Friday, 9 May 2014 | Views [182] | Scholarship Entry

It was 9:30 at night when I finally found my tiny hostel in Osaka, Japan. It had been a long, monotonous day- an eight hour flight, one hour train ride, and then hours of aimless wandering in the rain. All I wanted to do was to have a hot shower and climb into bed.

But then I remembered: I hadn't eaten anything since leaving for the airport fifteen hours ago.

On a quest to find food, I stepped back out into the dark streets. The wet bitumen glistened brightly under the fluorescent street lights, coloured in some parts by the gaudy neon lighting of small pubs and izakayas. Behind their windows were jolly-faced businessmen with microphones in one hand, and cigarettes in the other. Bar staff stood grinning amongst the smoke, enthusiastically clapping along with the rest of the patrons.

Hoping to find a quieter place, I took a turn towards the end of the street. An old lady dressed in a kimono stood outside the first shop, illuminated by the warm, yellowish light spilling from its open doors. She smiled and bowed as I neared.

Finally, a place to have dinner! I leaned in to take a peek at what was on the menu.

Instead of seeing a counter, benches, or small tables and chairs, I was confronted by the sight of a young lady sitting demurely in a bare Japanese-styled tatami room. Her short robe left her pale shoulders and cleavage exposed, and also struggled to cover the top of her thighs.

Oh...

Trying to hide my surprise, I hurriedly moved on to the next store. Greeted again by another lady standing outside, I soon understood that this would be a very similar experience. A quick glance inside confirmed this, except that the girl inside this store was wearing only fluffy lingerie and cat ears. In dismay, I looked down the street. Every store had the same format: an older lady out the front of the shop, and a younger lady inside. Only then did it occur to me that I had stumbled into an area where the only thing on the menu was women.

Too embarrassed to turn right back, I ventured further down with hopes of finding a connecting street that would take me back to the bar and food area. Three streets later, I had no choice but to admit I was lost, still deep in the depths of the red light district. I sighed as I brooded over how all of it had come to be... All I wanted was a quick, peaceful dinner!

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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