Saturday, January 22, 2011

Lonely Japan: Alcohol

This is the first part of a special series that I hope will span at least several posts. Some time ago, I asked a friend of mine who had lived in Japan for about a year to write about some of his experiences. I knew he had a number of interesting and colorful stories. He agreed, but asked that I post them anonymously, as he's moved past certain behaviors and doesn't want to be associated with everything that is past. Without further ado, here's part one of Lonely Japan.


Lonely Japan
Part 1: Alcohol

The way everyone was talking you’d think it was Siberia cold. Every conversation I overheard involved an abuse of the word “samui” and a discussion of whether it was going to be cold again tomorrow, or how warm their coat was, or whether it was too cold to go to Disneyland. Maybe Japanese people just didn’t have much to talk about. Couldn’t fully understand what they were saying anyway and none of them were talking to me. I wasn’t cold; was already three deep in at that point. The can in my hand was down to the swill so I decided it was time to get off the train.

Don’t remember the name of the station but it was something on the Yamanote-sen, and pretty much every station has what I was looking for: the conbini. Now not every conbini has a very good selection of alcohol. Some are downright terrible. Anything connected to a station or in the shopping mall-like labyrinths connected to them (in my experience, whatever that’s worth) usually had slim pickings. Sometimes you find what I call a  super-conbini” that has an entire wall of alcohol. This was one of those. . .Into the conbini I went and headed straight for the wall of alcohol. First thing to do was to check and see what had the best alcohol to yen ratio. Can’t be drinking 350 yen Ebisu when the night is young and you are a poor exchange student. 500ml Chu-Hai were usually a good bet at around 8% and 250 or so yen, could get close to black out drunk without spending too much. Think I picked two out of the case to make sure I had more than enough.

Girl at the register was probably about 25, but I couldn’t really tell as I was intoxicated and/or I can’t ever really tell. I think our conversation went something like this:

Me: (In Japanese) How are you doing tonight?

Her: (Blank stare) …512 yen please

Me: It’s cold outside tonight right? Good thing my coat is warm.

Her: ...Thank you for coming in!

Me:( While taking my drinks and my change) Thanks for having me.

I wouldn’t want to have talked to me either. Back onto the train I went.

Part 2


  1. I've seen worse than this. I can understand wanting not to be associated with everything in one's past though.

  2. Yeah, I don't think it's so bad, either. I guess he just doesn't want people (especially friends) reading it and thinking he's a drunk or something.

  3. Blue Shoe...
    Your friend doesn't even need to hide from this. It's minor... though that depends on your scale ;)

  4. I'm intrigued! Looking forward to the sequels.

  5. Good start! Curious to see where this will go. And, yeah, i agree, even if he's AA bound this is nothing to be ashamed of.

  6. I'm hooked~ very interesting start, looking forward to seeing where this goes.

  7. He'll be glad to hear it, thanks! There are several up now if you want to read more - can check the tag!

  8. This could be any Japanese college kid. Very interesting how he remembers specific things in detail. Is your friend a writer? I'm curious how this story goes :-)

  9. Thanks for commenting, Kaori! I believe he dabbles, but not writing a book or anything to my knowledge.