2009 trip

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Yoyogi Park

Tokyo Dive




Nuts & Bolts


The Hotel Escargot in deepest, darkest OSAKA!!

Hotel Escargot
Dobutsuenmae-cho, Osaka
Tel 06-6641-0225
Yuchimori-san will probably pick up the phone.
He speaks English fine, even if he says he doesn't.


      Only 2000 yen for your own room with TV and clean sheets, probably the best deal in Japan, especially considering this is humungous Osaka. I get the sense that it is the most expensive of the many places around, but it's the only one smart enough to advertise for foreigners. There is a sign on a room next to the elevator that says, "The meeting room is over there." I think that is worth 2000 yen by itself.
      Also priceless was this exchange with Yuchimori-san on the phone the day before:
           Me: How much is a room?
           Escargot: Western style or Japanese style?
           Me: Western style is bed and Japanese style is futon on tatami?
           Escargot: Yes.
           Me: How much is Western style?
           Escargot: 2000 yen
           Me: How much is Japanese style?
           Escargot: We don't have Japanese style.
      Though the hotel itself is fine, the neighborhood, Dobotsuenmae-cho ("Zoo Town"), is absolutely unbelievable, the worst/poorest/craziest area I have ever seen in Japan. I have been here at least 4 or 5 different times now, and I am never quite prepared for what I always see: dozens and dozens and dozens of drunks, homeless and down-and-out people, many staggering around or already passed out. It's very lively, so unpretentious that people sit and squat in the middle of the street to chat. Vending machines advertise 70 yen drinks, unheard of anywhere else. Garbage cans are big and they don't care if you separate it, also unlike anywhere else. Not many people use them anyway. Garbage is everywhere and strewn generously. Dobutsuenmae-cho is the one and only area in Japan where I have thoughts about my personal security, though I can't fathom anyone messing with me when there are easier targets out there. In fact, that initial guarded feeling wears off quickly and I realize that in case one is feeling lonely, there is no other place in Japan where people will come up to you and want to talk. It will probably be a drunk at 6am, but there you go.
      Whenever I am in Osaka, the next morning I get up very early to get a start on what it always a long day of hitchhiking. (About 200 meters down the big road to the right there is an expressway entrance. It is a very bad place to hitch, but I always eventually get a ride. This last trip I made it to Kumamoto-ken in one day--800km (500 miles!)--starting from that place. 10 rides.) At 6am I emerge from my hotel and on to the street and it is surprisingly very busy. Many people seemed to be in a hurry to go to blue collar jobs. Others sat in a row on the curb, very hungover, not appearing to be on their way to anywhere anytime soon. Small little temporary breakfast operations are set up with guys furiously cooking something on flat grills. People talk animatedly over their tall beers sitting at flimsy tables. It's actually a pleasant community atmosphere. It feels perverse to say this about a depressed neighborhood, but in ever-changing Japan it's reassuring to know that Dobutsuenmae-cho is always the same. It seems to rain every time I am there, adding to the atmosphere.

      Directions: If you take the Midosuji subway line south from downtown, come out exit #6 and cross the street as you veer right, then cross the train tracks, then take the second left and it is about 100 meters down on the right side. It is a busy little side street with 100 yen shops, cheap bento boxes and One Cup Ozeki sake cans everywhere: an incredible, lively mess. The Sakaisuji and Hankai lines also go there.
Only if you've been to Japan are these photos interesting

On the side it says, "I like this a lot!"
I still don't get it.


ATTENTION!! There are newer, cheaper, much more depressing places to stay in the the neighborhood! I stayed at this place about 200 meters away from Escargot. It was about 1500 yen, but an even tinier room and the room was just bigger than the bedding. I am standing outside the room to take these two photos

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