Feb 14, 2018
Travel in the United States where I grew up has mostly only ever been by car. Sure there was that one long train ride which took 4 days, or the few times flying back and forth to university by plane, but every time, I always had reservations for hotels or hostels booked months in advance. If I was traveling by car though, that's a different story. I could always just sleep in the car like that one time in a Wal-mart parking lot, or on the beach in Galveston, Texas, or that rest area in the middle of Wyoming.
Here in Japan, however, we've got a completely different situation. Almost everyone here relies on a public transportation system that generally ends around midnight or even earlier for those who need to travel outside of the twinkling lights of Tokyo. There has been many a night spent rushing to the train station only to watch it chug away while I watched panting, out of breath, and in need of a place to rest my head.
There are a few options when this happens in Japan. If you have got the big bucks, then you can just take a taxi to wherever you are calling home. For me, during study abroad in Japan, it was my host family's apartment and I typically didn't have the dough for a cab ride. If you do take a taxi, remember to have to hand the address in Japanese of the place you are staying.
So what is a girl to do after missing the last train? Well, you could be crazy and throw all caution to the wind like I did and sit in a random parking lot petting a stray cat until the first train. I seriously would not suggest this though because most nights just aren't warm enough, but also you could get mugged or worse. Japan is super safe, but you just never know. Instead, if you are really strapped for cash and can't just walk home because it is too far or you just wouldn't be able to find it but you are willing to hold out until the first train, then just hunker down at a convenience store. They are typically open 24 hours, well lit, heated and have reading material to entertain you for the next few hours.
Your next option is to order a drink at Gusto/Joyfull/ any family restaurant that is open all night. Family restaurants have "drink bars" which are basically all-you-can-drink self-service counters. Typically it will cost you about the same price of one drink at Starbucks and you can stay as long as you need. It isn't free like the convenience store, but it is warm and cozy with better seating.
Another spot to pull an all-nighter in Japan is a karaoke bar. They are charged by the hour, so you are just paying for the time spent there. Beware though, because some close at 2 or 3 am, leaving you another two or three hours until the trains start.
The next level up would be an Internet or manga cafe (manga kissa). Depending on the place, these can be rather swanky. It'll be cheaper than staying at a hotel, and many of them have rental showers, sofas, and the wonderful drink bar.
So, if you are looking for a place to rest, perhaps because you missed the last train and are out of money or you are just having a super unlucky night, then these are a few options available in Japan to get you through the night.
American step mom with beautiful Brazilian babies. Raising them in Japan. I'm a crafter too