when you only have the weekend to travel and want to keep an eye on your budget, you really need to get creative on how to balance travel and sleep. That at least was the situation I found myself in, when I traveled to Osaka spontaneously last week.
A good advice my friend Miriam had for me, was to take the bus instead of the famous Shinkansen rapid train. The bus to Osaka, however, leaves in the morning and I can not take days off in my internship, which meant it wasn’t an option for me. I did struck a good deal for a night bus, though, at the same company. It was a bit more costy, because it was overnight and because I was late on booking, but at least I saved on accomodation for the first night, I told myself.
The bus I had booked was “ladies only”. The seats were surprisingly spacious and each seat had their own curtains to give the passagers some privacy while sleeping. We were provided with a blanket, two pillows – one for the neck, one for the back – and the seats reclined almost all the way back. It was way more comfortable than I had imagined it.
We left Tokyo at 10 pm, had a short break at a motorway service area to brush our teeth and change into comfortable clothes at 11 pm, and then drove all the way nonstop to the Kansai region. I listened to music at first but soon managed to fall asleep and actually had a good five hours of sleep, until we stopped again at 5 am the next day at a motorway service area to get ready for the day. I ignored that stop entirely and tried to fall asleep again. But since the stop in Osaka was scheduled for only two hours later, I woke up every 10 to 15 minutes panicking if I had maybe missed it…
The five hours I had however kept me going for the entire day and maybe, if I had stayed at a hostel for that night, I wouldn’t even have been up so early. So, because of that I really felt like seizing the day in Osaka.
For my way back however, I wanted to try something else.
A co-worker of mine had talked about very cheap airlines for domestic flights in Japan, so I thought I should give them a try. I booked my flight for 7 am on monday morning, so that I would arrive in Tokyo slightly past 8 am and could still make it to the embassy by 10 am.
It was a neat plan. The thing I did not consider, was that the airport was a bit out of town. Even for a domestic flight, you usually have to check-in 40 minutes before departure and especially when you don’t know the airport and where to go exactly, you should be there almost two hours in advance…
Two hours before 7 am would be 5 am and guess when the first trains go in the morning? Exactly. 5 am. The only way to go to the airport on time was to take the shuttle bus at four in the morning. No hostel I could have afforded would have let me check-out without complications or further charge in the middle of the night.
At this point it paid off for me, that I’ve been reading blogs about Japan for some years. People have been impressed by the possibilities of getting some rest inbetween in Japan in almost every blog I had read. May that be that people here sleep in schools, at work, in the trains while commuting, in capsule hotels – or internet and manga cafes.
Internet and Manga Cafes are paid by the hour. You are given your own booth with a reclining chair or a floor mat, where you can either access the internet or have a library of japanese comics to choose from. In my case, I had both.
I was also given a blanket, had free drinks, from soft drinks to hot coffee and cocoa, free ice cream and there was also a suspicious looking vending machine for soup.
It was actually a bit sad, that I was just going to sleep there. I would have loved to actually read a bit and then connect with the fandoms online to talk about the new developments… Instead I just flipped though the pages, cuddled myself into my free blanket and eventually fell asleep in my booth.
Once more, I did not get much more than five hours of sleep. I checked out without problems in the middle of the night, got the shuttle bus and arrived at the airport just in time to see an amazing morning glow.
I went for the check-in, had some breakfast and fell asleep for the entire flight again. I arrived savely back in Tokyo and made it to work on time.
Maybe I was yawning a bit more than usually but for such a fun trip and my interesting sleeping adventures, I guess I’ll do that again some time.