The last time I was in Japan was in 2008. My friend had just arrived back in Japan and I wanted to maximize our time together before I left for the States the next day.
We stayed up all night and she showed me the seedy parts of Shinjuku, which is a part of Tokyo. We went to a club where we women sat lined up under numbers and men chose from us based on how attractive we looked. The men and women were only allowed to interact by talking or flirting, nothing more. My friend and I were the odd ones there, since we weren’t drunk nor were we meek like the other women. My friend put on her intimidating stance while I just felt amused by the scene. “See these guys? They’re all gross here,” said my friend.
Next, my friend took us to an underground bar where she was friends with the bartender. We ate a little snack as she chatted with him in the empty bar. Also, luckily in Tokyo, all-night karaoke existed, so we went to one karaoke place to sing until 5am.
We were already exhausted when the sun came up, but we were also hungry. We went to McDonald’s, ate breakfast amongst drunk patrons, and took the train back home. We were both full of adrenaline by this point.
We briefly went back to her apartment to relax a bit and so I could pack up the last of my luggage. I had been without sleep for 24 hours or more; she had been without sleep for much longer. We were growing delirious yet we pushed on, visiting a few small stores to get a few more things for my friends back home before we parted ways at the train station.
Immediately when I took the train to Narita Airport, I fell into a deep sleep. Luckily I was able to wake up in time to get off the train and get on my flight. That plane ride over the Pacific was spent sleeping most of the time, but also chit-chatting with my seatmate and helping her with her English (while I pretended to be Japanese and responded to her in Japanese).
It was an exhilarating experience, to stay up that whole final night before leaving for the US. I can’t say that was the longest I’d been without sleep, but it’s certainly one of my more memorable all-nighters.