A world of change

New York is known for being the city that never sleeps. Osaka, at least thus far, is a city that seems to take its sleep seriously. Contrast between day and night is something not too different than the post rush hour desertion the Financial District in Toronto experiences. I've always considered the downtown Toronto core to be a huge waste of space and resources in the evening and sympathize with the night owls frequenting Chinatown, College, and Bloor.

Now, though, living in a city with so much mixed zoning, looking out of my apartment window into the office building across the street and the train that passes by on the loop line every few minutes, how dead at night it gets still gives me chills. Walking around at hours past 02:00 will leave you searching for others walking the streets. Apart from some taxis and service vehicles salt and peppering the roads, it's not far off from a ghost town.

Halloween

The video itself reinforces my thoughts. From what seemed like thousands of costume-bearing, party goers, the streets of 02:30 cleared out and on my 60-minute walk from 心斎橋 to 天満, I could count the number of others roaming the streets with me on one hand.

コンビニ and exact change

When you're walking around here, sidewalks full of cyclists, pedestrians, and キャッチ alike, you often find yourself doing a play-by-play to navigate to your destination. You get used to moving left to avoid a collision, listening carefully for the terrible screech every bicycle in Osaka makes while breaking, and it becomes kind of fun to think "how can I get around this group of old ladies walking four-across while not being run over by the eight bicycles in sight?". You're left constantly examining your surroundings and considering your options.

change purse

The same goes for when you're buying a can of coffee at Family Mart. You get really, and I mean really good and paying with exact change. Even when you don't have it, you do everything in your power not to break another bill. In this cash-driven society, I'd bet 0% of purchases under 5,000円 are made with credit cards, so you can expect heaps of change to come your way. Sadly, 1円 coins still exist and aren't (along with 5円 coins) accepted in vending machines. I'm lead to believe their sole purpose is for creating exact change and avoiding more of the same coin; perpetual purpose.

Nothing feels better than when you pay your health insurance and utility bills with your final 1円 coin and walk out of 7-11 without an anchor of a change purse crammed in your back pocket.

Forget 食べ放題, 飲み放題 is a thing here

Not at all specific to Osaka, but terribly popular throughout Japan, 飲み放題 is part of a Salaryman's routine. Flat-rate, time-limited, all-you-can-drink means Kenji can get back to his family early enough to get that bare-minimum hour of face-time with his wife and child.

kanpai

But people handle this limitless flow of libations well. You will still find people struggling to stand on the subway, strong smell of Suntory streaming across the rolling stock, but they're rarely obnoxious and don't cause much trouble. I would love to see how this would play out somewhere like Toronto.

Catching the last train

Trains stop running surprisingly early here. Imagine a night out with your friends, classmates, or coworkers. You're at an izakaya doing all-you-can-drink and suddenly, everyone has this dying urge to leave. You naively ask why. "To catch the last train", they'll respond. Last train is around 00:30, so give yourself some time to actually get to the station and queue up as the last train is never late and is almost always busy!

watch the clock

Now, I've faced similar last train times while living in Hong Kong, but Hong Kong had an impressive array of mini-buses that would take you essentially anywhere for essentially nothing. They were the perfect hybrid between for-hire cabs and city buses, except they drove faster than both combined. Osaka, unfortunately, leaves you with few options after a late night of drinking, sight seeing, roaming the streets, or getting lost. You can walk home, take a 5,000円 cab, sleep outside, find a 24-hour internet cafe, or stay in a budget love hotel (often cheaper than a taxi).

New old fun

It's really easy to find ways to kill some time while waiting for friends, or a little more than some time until the first trains start running again. Tons of after-hours are spread around the city, you can go to a 24-hour internet cafe and play Counter-Strike, go to SPA WORLD, or my favourite- hit the arcade.

beatmania

They still exist here, and they're popular. Games are updated to the latest versions within a week and only cost 100円 per play.