Stepen’s Guide to be Bad-Ass Homeless in Japan

Since April, I have been embracing the chaos by taking the path of a sage, letting go all of my possession and started living as a homeless. Some doubted it, some were against it, but most of them questioned whether I took a shower or not during this time. Yeah, I always wonder why people always question other person’s personal hygiene while there are more things to be worried about like whether I should buy Blizzard’s new game: Overwatch or not. Well, through this post, I am gonna share the trick of doing the homeless lifestyle and answer the question: “Am I taking a bath during this time?” so that you stop doubting me and maybe follow my path to inner peace and zen and become a real homeless.

And here it is: Stepen’s Guide to be a Bad-Ass Homeless in Japan

  1. Travel Light

First of all and perhaps, it is the key to homeless lifestyle is: travel light and pack smart. As a homeless, you will be moving a lot and sometimes running (either to catch the train or to avoid the policeman sweeping the street for some homeless), so the key is to keep your luggage as light as possible. The lighter it is, the more you conserve your stamina, hence more mobility and more point of interest to achieved in one day. For this, you need to throw away your conventional logic about things to bring and start adopting Stepen’s The Art of Homeless way of thinking.

What is Stepen’s The Art of Homeless? Here is one example.

Usually, you would pack a set of clothing (and by a set of clothing I mean cloth+pant+underwear) according to the number of days that you are going to be homeless. If you are gonna be homeless for n number of days, you would pack 2xn or 3xn sets of clothing. YOU ARE WRONG. No matter how long you are going to go homeless, you only need 3 and no more than 3 sets of clothing. Yes, three sets. One set is your clean set, which you will be using only on a clean condition while resting in a net cafe. One set is your travelling set, which is your most decent clothing that you will be using while you are moving from places to places or when you are in a normal sightseeing point of interest like a museum or a park. And the last one is your dirty set, which you will be using when you going to get dirty or wet, for example, when you are hiking or snorkeling. With this three sets concept, you usually can last for 10 days (my personal record is two weeks) before you start feeling itches. When this happen, it is time to find some coin laundries, which are surprisingly easy to find in japan, and wash your clothes. Remember, when you adopt the 3 sets concept (patent pending), make sure you change to the appropriate set for each activity.

To adopt the 3 sets concept a carrier bag is a must. Why? Because it’s structure allows you access almost everything inside it without the need to take out anything and then rearrange stuff again, given if you can do the packing well. 40Litre sized carrier will do the job just fine and avoid using larger sized carrier since it will tempt you to put more stuff in it. It is also a good idea to wrap the inside of your carrier’s main pouch with aplastic or trash bag to prevent your stuff from getting wet when it rains and always roll your clothes so that you can pack it neatly.

As for the packing configuration itself, here is a top view of the carrier packing structure to give you a good idea of a good packing configuration that allows you to access anything in a snap. I call this the blunder-blunder configuration (also patent pending).

In the blunder-blunder configuration, most of the space are taken up by my sleeping bag. Some of you may argue that sleeping bag is not necessary, but YOU ARE WRONG. Sleeping bag is very important to keep the blunder-blunder structure aesthetically beautiful and elegant and sexy. In the event of emergency, you might also need the sleeping bag for some warmth and if you don’t need it for warmth, you still can use it as a pillow to help achieve a good comfortable goodnight sleep, which will make you recover more stamina at night. Besides, the sleeping bag will make your carrier bag look full and bloated, making people think that your carrier is heavy and think that you are strong for being able to carry those carrier for a long time. Who knows, some girls may get charmed seeing you carrying a seemingly-heavy carrier and you may end up with a girlfriend or at least a secret admirer. Killing two birds with one stone, baby!

2. Take Advantage of Net Cafe or Octopus Slider

If you think that homeless means you don’t any home and stay in a hotel/hostel/motel, YOU ARE WRONG. Remember, if you are staying in a hotel/hostel/motel, then you are not homeless, at least not a bad-ass one. A true homeless goes with the wind and sleep at the closest net cafe available. Why net cafe? Well, here is several merits point of staying in net cafe:

  • It is cheap as hell and they charged you per hour. The usual 6hours night pack costs around 1500yen while the 9hours night pack costs around 2000yen. It is a lot cheaper than even the cheapest capsule hotel, which is roughly gonna cost you around 4000yen. The downside is that, you’ll get charged more if you overslept and overextend your stay. Some net cafe even take advantage of this and charged more fee for the extra hours outside the night pack. So be sure to set your alarm or tell your mom to call you in the morning and keep calling until you pick up.
  • Most of net cafe (actually, all that I stayed at) offers free drink bar. Yes, soda and some other drinks for free, as much as you can drink. You can also refill your canteen with the drink bar although I must warn you to be careful and not get caught while doing so. The safest way to refill your canteen is to use the paper cup and refill your canteen at your cubicle and repeat until your canteen is full.
  • It comes with a electric outlet to charge your stuff (Duh!)
  • It comes with a computer connected to high-speed internet with online game and adult movies available just one click away from the desktop.
  • Some net cafe have low cubicle wall that you can see the cubicle next to you when you are standing up. Combine this with the fact that sometimes the cubicle next to you may be occupied by some cute japanese girl, you get a front seat row to watch an innocent girl sleep soundly in her cubicle. (Okay, this part is creepy, moving on…)

See? After seeing those merits, why would you still wanna stay at a hotel?

Nevertheless, keep in mind though that smaller city may not have net cafe in them. When this happen, don’t panic. Simply look for a park with an octopus slider, get up and inside the octopus, and lay your sleeping bag out then sleep like a boss. But if it is really bad, the last choice is to find the closest McD and apply the french fries trick as I’ve explained previously in the first homeless post.

3. Know Your Surrounding

Like G.I. Joe once said, “Knowing is half the battle,” same thing applies when you are homeless. It is always good to know several checkpoint like open food court or nice park to hang out or chill for as long as you like without the need to buy anything first, public toilet to charge your phone in case of emergency (thank god for those fancy toilet in Japan, they usually needs electricity, hence there are always electrical outlets inside the toilet stall at your disposal to charge your phone), and some other facilities that you will be using like coin laundry and the net cafe.

Well, that’s pretty much all the tips that I can share to be a bad-ass homeless in Japan. Now, let’s tackle the most interesting topic of this post: “Am I or how do I take shower during this period of time?”. A friend pointed out that I rarely took a shower even when I have my own bathroom when I was staying in my dorm, so he speculated that I must be not taking any shower during this homeless day. Well, HE IS WRONG.

As an adult with no girlfriend or anything close to that, I believe that your smell is the key to your soul. If someone does not like your smell, he/she is not going to like you. And as a man who is in constant look-out for the mother of my child, I strictly uphold my commitment to take like a really good long and clean bath at least once every three days. Yes, three days. So, the question is, where do I take my bath? Well, for starters, you can always take shower in the net cafe. Some net cafe, although not all, have shower that you can use either for free or for an additional price. But then, it is kinda hard to find a net cafe that have shower or let you use their shower for free. Yes, because if it is not free, then it is too expensive. Thankfully, there is another place that you can take shower for free: City Sport Center.

Yes, most cities in Japan has their own sport center and all sport centers have shower room that you can use for free. Some prohibited you to use soap or shampoo in their shower room, but from my personal experience, noone is gonna find out that you are using soap or shampoo in the shower as long as you are subtle. Wrap your shampoo and soap with your towel and you’ll be fine. If you are caught, just remember to use the special super effective gaijin power: “Sumimasen, nihongo wakarimasen” and you’ll be fine.

Well, I guess that is all that I have to share for today. I hope this clears up the speculation about me taking a shower or not. Let me remind you once again, if you still think that I didnt take a shower and write this post to lie and clear my image, YOU ARE WRONG. I am an honorable homeless and I took a great care of my personal hygiene.

Stepen – An Honorable Homeless

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