Prison in Japan: Part 10 “Epilogue”

Stippy Prison in Japan SeriesThis is stippy’s final part in a ten part series (See also parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9) about one foreigner’s experience of being put in a Japanese prison (留置場 or “ryuchijyo”, a prison for locking up people for as long as 23 days until they are convicted, or cleared of a crime).

Below is the epilogue of George’s story written after he had spent 22 nights in a Japanese ryuchijyo. Finally George’s story has come to an end. I enjoyed putting it out there, and I hope that it may have changed just one or two aspects of your version of what is really important in life, and what should take a back seat. For context, you should read the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eigth and ninth parts of this series before continuing on with this final installment of George’s jail journal.

From here is the journal’s epilogue, the final chapter of this 10 part story, again in George’s own words (We hope you enjoyed it!):
All of the previous journal entries were made over the 22 days when I was locked up. I regret what I did and have paid for my stupidity and really, let’s face it; it wasn’t even a spectacular crime. Pretty lame actually. The journal was written in fits and starts as my passion to lose myself in my manga or daydreams, or my depression would allow. Being locked away and not knowing how things were going to work out was obviously an incredibly stressful experience and one that I would have found much worse if I did not speak or even read Japanese. Or have any money in the bank.

I had no communication with the outside world other than with a lawyer who could speak no English. I had accepted him as I had assumed that my case was not complex and would be easy for even the most basic of lawyers to handle. My uncle in law is a famous lawyer and in his opinion my lawyer did an exceptionally good job in reducing my penalties, so I am ever grateful to him. The original charges of robbery and assault never stuck and I came out of it with a fairly deserved charge of “causing bodily harm” as the prosecutor’s translator called it. I forget the Japanese word for it and as I type this, my wife is watching TV. I don’t want to disturb her in that even though she is able to laugh about all this (as am I) now.

I was thankful to the guys in my cell, Mr. W and Mr. H. They were great guys to be roommates with and they supported me with advice and encouragement that all would be okay for me. Probably – for the better – we will never bump into each other again but I will never forget them and I sincerely wish them well in life. I sure hope things get better for them.

I treasured the photo of my wife and boys I was given from the guards from my wife but as much as I love them all, I did not have any urge to see them during my detention. I could only imagine talking to my wife through a glass window as a burning sore that would always taint her image of me and I could not handle presenting myself in that light to her or anyone I knew. My wife was, as expected, quite traumatized by the experience as she only heard the professional opinions of my lawyer, who would give her the worst case scenario so as not to build too much hope. She suffered worse than I in many ways, as she also had to explain my predicament to her closest of friends (including my friend’s wives as word got to my work friends and bosses). She was incredibly grateful to all those wives who supported her and was glad that they could all laugh grimly at the fact that I was doing all of their husbands a favour by setting an example not to be followed. It is no secret that several of my friends could easily have ended up in a similar situation given the part that alcohol (for better or worse) plays in our lives.

When I left the Kasumigaseki prosecutors office on the evening of the 22nd day, ironically, I decided to take a taxi home. I could not get one to stop as the roads were very busy and the taxis seemed full and I had my private boycott of “company fleet” taxis. I started to walk and called my bosses. I could not get through to one who was out of the country but got through to another who I was glad had nothing but real concern that I was okay. I said I could come in and tell him the story but he said to leave it until the Monday. I explained the basics and I felt that it had all been a weird dream of sorts and it was really quite a laughable story. In fact as I recited the story of how it all happened, my stupid actions were so ridiculous that it did bring about a laugh. I wasn’t sure whether or not to tell “the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth” to everyone, as my behaviour had been so appallingly dumb. I pondered that and drifted into a kind of trance, walking on and on, intending to take a taxi at some point but finding a real energy for walking. Passing some tube stations, I thought of going home by train but my stench was so great and it was, after all, rush hour. I just kept walking, enjoying the freedom to move and it was over 5 kilometers later that I eventually did hail a taxi and go home to my family.

No-one saw my disappearance as something for me to be ashamed of and word got around our office quickly that I was “out of prison”. Most of the staff had no idea and had believed the initial rumour that I had been in a motorbike accident. Another friend had thought I had gone overseas without telling him. I had already called my wife immediately on getting out and she had told me of the calls she had been getting from concerned friends trying to confirm if I was in hospital. I received calls later that night from those friends and colleagues, all drunk and laughing as they had been filled in on my whereabouts. Where was the stigma of being a criminal? There wasn’t really anything and even in the office the occasional joke pops up but on the whole, as I had suggested that first day back to work, the subject has been fairly much taboo after that first day of explanation.

What I really found amazing in the weeks of catching up with friends and filling those who I wanted to share my story with, was that there were so many other stories that people had to share. Quite a number of people seemed to have a skeleton in their closet that they could not share with anyone until I gave them this chance. I heard of a friend’s brother who had been locked away for several years and of another friend who holds a highly respected professional job who had smashed a driver in the face during a bout of road rage and driven off. His wife sitting in stunned silence as he completely lost it. These were two people that I would never have expected such stories from and it lifted me to hear them.

Stippy Prison in Japan Series - Make you think?Yes, I had been a fool and I did not go drinking again for the following 3 months. I did not even have a beer for several weeks as it took time for me to readjust. The first few days were fine but mid-week I felt extremely stressed from the activity and sudden interaction with so many people. I found myself wanting to go home early and just hide. But I knew that if I battled the week out, all would come back to normal in time – and it generally did.

All I can say is that Detention in Japan is a pretty horrible experience. But I don’t really believe it is so much worse than anywhere else in the world. I am a white Caucasian male of middle-class origins. It is not like I faced blatant racism or a system that is against me because of the colour of my skin. There are worse scenarios that I can imagine. The system in Japan is equally tough on the local population and non-Japanese, as far as I could tell and in fact, as the “Gaijin” I was treated very well by the guards and by the inmates in general.

The Detectives were on the whole good guys. I had to return to the station to pick up my Gaijin card and it was Bad Cop who had called me and had waited around until after his shift to give it to me in person. My wife had told me that he had been extremely comforting to her from the outset. He was in fact not a Bad Cop but just a guy doing his job in a system that encourages him to do his job the way he does it. According to my wife Good Cop (Detective K) and Bad Cop, whose name I found out after I got out, had told her that they thought the driver had set me up. Apparently it is not altogether uncommon for some drivers from struggling companies to pick a target (usually a drunken salary man) and create a scene from which he can make an accusation and potentially get a settlement from. I did not know if this was just a ruse to make my wife feel better but some Japanese friends also said they had heard of these stories. I had “ridden” the gag all the way to the punch line where the guy got hurt. I even took it further by going and turning myself into the Police (自首) the following day to try and fix the situation. Apparently the cops had been on my side all the way but especially after they had met the driver in person around Day 12 or so. They told my wife that the “set up” scenario was highly likely but I had done what I had done and all they could do was feel some pity for me and follow procedure. I was more than surprised to hear that those cops, has said things like this – which they never once mentioned to me when I was on the inside.

The real point to this whole story is that it was a shock to find out that I could be locked away for so long and kept out of society, even though in my home country I expect I would have been let free to go home with a date set at the courts to face trial, fine or settlement. 22 days with no communication and mostly no idea of where my fate lay was tough. There are third world prisons and legal systems that are much worse of course, but in a civilized country like Japan it is quite shocking. Further it angered me that the Police had not bothered to make contact with my friend, the only witness (who was riding with me in the same taxi), until Day 16, meaning that Day 19 was my last day at the prosecutor’s office and a fine was to be arranged on Day 22. Surely if they spoke to him on, say, Day 5 or 6, I could have been home with the kids in 12 days, I thought.

It was an experience I will never repeat and one that I hope no one else who is not a career criminal has to go through either. My physical health has been poor since. I had lost 5 kilograms and was weak from having had no significant body movement for 3 whole weeks. It was emotional. Even when re-visiting and organising these journal entries into readable paragraphs, I had some emotional moments as I recalled how lonely and anxious I had been. How much I missed my family and how much I realized I loved my wife. How much of a fool I have been.

To end, this is a short email message I just got from “George” which he asked me to include:

Just for the record, I did not edit anything for “Blue” except the names of the cellmates and it could obviously have been written better for the purposes of presentation but my actual notebooks were a jumble of entries in a confused order. The actual names were changed but I kept pseudonyms I gave my quirky roommates, as they were the guys who I really got to know, and it was how I expressed their personalities in my journal.

I hope this has been interesting for you all. I found myself glued to Stippy to see your comments and judgment. It was, as my sister pointed out, kind of sad to see people take the comments so far off track at times but such is life on the internet. Thanks to Blue for encouraging me to give him that original email that I had sent to my sister and push me from there. Glad we did it.

95 thoughts on “Prison in Japan: Part 10 “Epilogue””

  1. Marcus – wow, what a story! Yep, plenty of moron Japanese around just like anywhere. Not sure where some people get off thinking that Japan is so perfect and nice. Good place and all but there are dickheads here too.

  2. Indo_dave,
    Nope, not at all.

    Does seeing a story in the newspaper about someone stabbing someone else discourage you from using knives? It shouldn’t.

    It is all about whether alcohol is drunk in excess or not. Nothing is dangerous (except arsenic maybe) unless we abuse it in large amounts.

  3. WOW!!!!!!!!! great story, man i must have been naive when i was in japan from 03-06, because i couldnt understand why the cabbies in tokyo wouldnt want me in their cabs, i guess if they dont want your $ f*ck em.

    WEll there was a guy from my ship(yeah i know now I lost any credibility) that went to japanese jail for breaking a window, and he said it was the best jail he had ever been to!!!

  4. I enjoyed reading this piece as it brought back a lot of memories for me personally as I have spent 30 days in a juvenile detention center in Japan. Even though it was a truly frightening and desperate time for me too, I can look back and laugh like he can, at the situation you somehow managed to get into. I’d worry about someone who couldn’t look back at laugh their mistakes. George articulated himself well and came across as a bright, realistic and good man. God help any of you eejits who are castigating him if any of you make mistakes…one flash moment in your life can change everything and it’s how you deal with it and react to it which shows what kind of person you are. Also I find it quite hilarious how some of you are calling for him to go to AA meetings. Give me strength. The man is an adult and has a right to a social life. I don’t think you people live in the real world. Hope you are happy George.

  5. Thanks for posting this story. It was a very inspirational read and gives a clear message of how things can get out of hand for even normal people. I had a similar run in with the police in Japan 5 years ago. Some punkish chimpira wannabes blocked my entrance from entering the combini, in a country town. I had many drinks at an izakaya and a long heavy work day prior. I was with 7 Japanese guys so the odds were in my favor. In my case, I dont remember what happened, just the wrestling around on the asphalt towards the end. I have to take peoples word for it what actually happened (nihonshuu truly does knock you out of your senses) Apparently these yanqui youths 18 and 19 heckled me when I passed thru them and I started pushing and kind of flipped out…dont really know though I dont remember, I could have run away but I stayed got placed in a police car and taken to the station. I dont know why but it seemed like a big joke (it truly wasnt) but I had only been in Japan for a couple months and it could have been Mars for all I was concerned, I was singing Jim Morrison tunes in my ‘karaoke box’ at the police station…to make a long story short I lost my job out of the deal because I had to tell them where I worked to get let out and I paid out 100,000 to the kid apparently I wrestled and lost his diamond pierce. Anyway I have been a good boy since then. To the lady that slammed you for drinking again, obviously she doesnt understand whats happening here at all…I have am a social drinker and this was not the cause of this at all. I would never blame my behaviour on something external from me…guns and alcohol dont kill people, people kill people. In my case, I am naturally high strung and I have to get plently of exercise, play guitar, do yoga etc to balance, if I dont it comes out in negative ways and thats just…hey who we are…I really look down people that judge from their slant on life so…. thanks for posting man, I never look down on you or judge you, could easily have been myself especially if i felt threatened by the taxi driver.

  6. Clive McKay

    It is good to look back and laugh at your mistakes; but it even better to learn from them. One does not make mistakes and go right back to doing the same thing that led them to the mistake in the first place. Even adults sometimes need advice and a “social life” does not have to include drinking too much or even drinking at all. I know that might be hard for some to believe, but it is true. You don’t need alcohol to enjoy yourself….even in Japan.

    John David Thoreau

    You obviously didn’t your father (or is it your brother), Henry David Thoreau’s, philosophical genius, did ya? I lived, worked and studied in Japan for 8 years and have seen people do a lot of stupid things under the influence of alcohol (both Japanese and foreigners). Social drinkers do not drink themselves senseless and while you can relate to being drunk and losing control of your self and senses, please don’t kid yourself that the alcohol did not play a big part in your actions. I doubt it very much if either you or George would have reacted the way you did had you not drank too much. I don’t think you can tell me what else is happening in Japan that I don’t know about, but, hey, if there is some other thing that will excuse your behaviors, please enlighten me.

  7. since I can’t ” tell (you anything) happening in Japan that (you) dont know about”
    doesnt seem worth my time to have dialogue with you, your totally enlightened my brother
    please speak forth so all can hear your NOVA experience

    Alcohol does and did play a part in my actions but its not the root cause
    its as if to say video games or anything else are the reasons people do the things they do
    but its ignorant to judge a man when you have not walked in his shoes

  8. needless to say alcohol accentuates what already exists in a man
    not the root cause. there is a lot that stays lodged and private in a person
    that comes out when one drinks…and it is an inappropriate means for
    releasing that emotion or tension (in my opionion) but it could be argued
    if one learns from it and it doesnt hurt fellow man it could be productive
    if as you say one learns from ones infraction, which indeed i did.

  9. LOL @ NOVA experience. ROFL \^o^/

    I won’t prolong this discussion by responding to your first comment (because I am very sober and don’t want things to get out of control. LOL)

    Anyway, I totally agree with your second comment especially where you said that “…if one learns from it and it doesn’t hurt fellow man it could be productive…” You are sooooo right on!!! Good on you!!

  10. Wow, I was glued for an hour reading your prison story. Well done for surviving the ordeal.
    I remember one of my friend’s boyfriend was in a detention centre for about ten days, and I have never seen such a lively, spirited guy, be reduced to tears and depression so quickly.

    This experience will bring about positive aspects and who knows, you may even publish your story in the future.

    All the best and hope things work out for your future George.

  11. A bad man (alleged child molester) was stalking my ex wife. I warned him repeatedly to stay away from her and our daughter. He didn’t take me seriously. One night I smashed his face into a bar room bathroom wall while my friend held the door so he couldn’t run. Thank God I didn’t have a gun, I probably would have killed him. The cops staked my house out for three weeks before they invited me to come with them to the station. I admitted everything and signed their very myopic coerced statements and they didn’t lock me up. It was only a few grand, but I couldn’t pay the fines so I fled the country. That was 5 years ago. I’ve been paying for it ever since. George you are a blessed man. Keep your head up.

    I would like to return to Japan but I’m afraid that I’ll get sent home or to jail or both, especialy with the new imigration entry procedures.

  12. I also experienced being locked up here in Japan. I understand how George felt because I felt it the same way. I was thinking about my past experience being detained for stealing say shoplifting. I search the web and came out stippy. I know its really tough emotionally and psychologically. Imagine you have no idea whats going on about your case when your in the cell. I will never forget the experience the rest of my life. Especially my first night when the guards put me in my cell. The sound of the steel doors when they lock it. When I read this journal, while reading it I can hear again in my ears the sounds. The echoes, the footsteps, the murmurings and the snores. George stayed 22 days. Ive done 100 days inside the ryuuchijo before moving to the next level, detention branch kouchijo(拘置所) before waiting the trial. I spent a month there in a single cell alone. The cell is half smaller than the cell in ryuuchijo. Made me really claustrophobic. Really depressing. Youre not allowed to move free in your cell. You are not allowed to do things which are not in the manual. You have to sit in a position in a designated place inside the cell. Guards periodically roam around to watch the inmates.The day I received the verdict the judge says “guilty” and sentenced “suspended 1 year prison 3 years of probation”. That day I’m a free man. One of the happiest moment in my life is to be freed. But I was a different person I was before. I should stay out of trouble for the next 3 years or else go to prison instantly. Now I live happily with a nice job and with my loving wife and daughter. Good luck to you George and God Speed.

  13. MattK

    Thanks for your post. You seemed to have learned from your experience. Good for you!! You are brave to stay in Japan, I think I would have left the country the day after I became free. Good luck with you life.

  14. I hope this is fiction. Otherwise this guy comes across as a self-serving dickhead whose so full of himself that he’ll never truly understand how big of a fucking knob he is. And that’s the only travesty of justice in this story.

    I like that by the end, the cops feel pity for him, he’s lost 5kg, and he’s been emotional. The poor guy. And it was the evil scheming cab drivers fault all along, it turns out, everyone can see that now.

    “My physical health has been poor since. ”

    It’s fucking baffeling how full of shit this guy is. He gets drunk and smacks some guy around, goes to jail, gets out, and then has the gaul to moan on the internet that he’s stiff from sitting in a cell for three weeks?

    What about the cab driver? The asshole who had no choice but to ferry your drunk ass around it all hours of the morning, whose head you dropped against the curb because you’re bigger than him and started getting pushy?

    Yeah, let’s never mind that, how’s your back from sitting. Cause I know how hard sitting can be on a persons psyche.

    It’s just amazing. In his head he’s managed to turn the whole fucking thing from him being a biligerant drunk cunt throwing his weight around like the asshole he is, to him being an affable, misunderstood, “not-perfect-but-down-deep-good-guy-in-a-bad-spot.” He’s not like those guys in prison, he’s a winner, he’s a good guy.

    How fucking shocking, SHOCKING.

    Better still is that despite the fact he’s ashamed of it all, despite the fact that he couldn’t bear to have his wife see him in that condition, that doesn’t seem to stop him from spewing his tale-of-woe across the entire Internet for everyone on the planet to sympathize with.

    Yeah that’s a classic earmark of shame.

    What endless garbage. This entire thing is a big ego-wankfest, with bullshit lip-service paid to responsibility and guilt.

    It affected him so much he couldn’t drink for 3 entire months. Fuck you. What a joke.

    I know lots of self-obsessed fucking knobs like this. You’d hope prison would have shone some honesty into this guys life, but he got it so fucking easy he came out thinking of himself as somehow worthy of some measure of pity.

    I REALLY hope this is all fiction but doubt it. He’s just another asshole who thinks he’s special, goes through piddly shit nothing, but manages to stretch it out into a ten long segments of endless whinging bullshit.

    Oh, and he even says real Japanese jails are easier than what he went through, REALLY, he says that, go back and read the end of section 8 again.

    Seriously, “George”, you better hope those draining three weeks of *sitting* are the closest you ever get to reality, because you live in a fucking dream world.

    “My physical health has been poor since. ”

    Everything about this guy makes me realize why the cabbie would want to fuck him over. I meet these kinds of assholes every day, and if I could fuck him over worse than just by trying to point out what a joke he is in writing, I’d probably do it too.

  15. To George- Thanks for the interesting read mate.
    To Monty- Has it, in retrospect, occurred to you what a complete and utter bitch you sound like? So perhaps we could have lived without the post-traumatic histrionics of social maladjustment and fear of alcohol, but all in all, it was a well articulated account of one man’s experience. He certainly doesn’t try to sugarcoat his actions. People get drunk and do silly things. He fu**ed-up, lucked out and ended up paying the price. Your assertions that this is some sort of self-serving proclamation of how hard done by he is is just plain weird. You certainly sound a whole lot more bitter than he does. I mean, like wow, seriously bitter. Like the guy slept with your wife AND knocked her up bitter.

    Quote- “and he even says real Japanese jails are easier than what he went through, REALLY, he says that, go back and read the end of section 8 again.”

    -Ask anyone with experience in the matter- holding cells are 10 times more draining than a real prison cell. A TV and the ability to exercise does wonders for ones state of mind.

    Did I mention you seem somewhat bitter?

  16. I used to get into a lot of trouble when I was younger, so I’ve seen the inside of a cell a few times. In all honesty, aside from a few details Japanese jails seem to be a lot more pleasant than their American counter parts.

  17. People that make either their life, either personal or professional are bound to get people like “Monty” that hide behind the protection of their computer rant and rave about how perfect they are compared to you. I run a Japanese internet company, and get lots of comments about me personally and our company on the the infamous 2ch and a few other sites; most of these I expect are our competitors, but a few are disgrunteld customers that failed to signup for a backup etc, and lost their data due to hardware failure. The don’t want to admit their stupidity to anyway, so away they go, acting as if they have balls. For people like “George”, it probably makes his blood boil even more. I am the same. I am slowly learning to just not look. I people want to say something about me, then do it to my face I say. Commenting on a good story, or what is written I can undestand. Not to personally attack someone who they absolutely know nothing about, apart from a few words on a page. I bet 99% of the time, people like “Monty” would like the people they are complaining about. The internet tends to let people imaginations run wild. But, all this is only a dream on the net. Best way is just to avoid it; but when your family depends on your job to put food on the table, it ain’t so easy.

  18. Pretty informative.

    What did the guy actually wind up paying?

    Still think the it was the guys own fault though. I mean the driver totally set him up and then like a total fool he turned himself in.


  19. George, I fully understand what you went through. When I read your account I see my time too. I was detained once upon a time, and the female centre is much more strict. I was told this and after reading your account .. I found that its true. Like we were not allowed notebooks or pens etc.

    I agree that it could have been worse, but humans make mistakes- and I dont think that having your freedom taken away from you for whatever days is deserved. so Monty- we make mistakes, but does not mean he should have to go through all that. You dont realise how emotional you can get, or how mental etc until you are suddenly stripped of your freedom in a foreign country. No one said it was the worse thing in the world.

  20. most people posting responses seem like they have no experience in justice systems outside of an isolated incident or two. holding cells are not worse then a real incarceration situation at all. 23 hour lockdowns, having to soap in a line on the way to a 48 second shower. people that might not have anything to lose because they are looking at third strikes and shit. im talking about american jail/prison.
    here’s my opinion on this: human nature is what it is. goerge seems to have learned his lessons. he shared it and fuck your opinions if you dont like his words.

  21. Hey! George,
    Your story (though many might think is a cooked up fairy tale) has startled some people who will from now on look around a couple of times before even making a turn on foot along the streets in Japan. I am very sentimental and have empathy for many like you who by the slightest display of human weakness gets dumped in a world (detention centres) where they do not fit in. I have never been there but thanks to your story I have a vivid image though I will refuse all invitations to the slammer no matter the clean walls, excellent services and necessities that can make one’s stay a little comforting..hahahaha.

    THANK YOU FOR SHARING…Is all I can say. You are extremely lucky given the fact that you had the concern and support of everyone you know…damn! (sorry I am not used to cursing) but this is just very out of our world today. In the case of an unlucky fella, …hhhmmmm…. for starters, the wife will dump or divorce his ‘drunken and irresponsible’ behind right back to his home country, get a big shame on you for the main course and serve you the divorce papers as desert and god knows sometimes the amount of money as settlements that follow. I am a foreigner married to a Japanese and can speak expertly about the nature (some good and some bad..whatever) of the people to a certain extent. THANK GOD you are fine and even had the courage to record every little detail (which some people find very hard to appreciate) so that others might learn. In that state not even the self-rightous-wanna-be-attention-seeker Monty using a language that potrays his ignorance as much as branding his personality as a low-life-good-for-nothing…would not have had the balls or sores to pen down a few notes.
    Take care George and my special acknowledgement to all who have also made some confessions.

    I had a not too good experince once with a friend and a Jap. girl (the girl friend of another friend whom I begged (stupid decission I realized) to transport my friend and I in my car (as she always does) since I had had a couple of drinks myself and couldn’t drive so was my friend. After a few kilometers, this girl started asking us to pay her for the services…not very surprising? Why this time? Its not like she will also contribute for the gas since we were all going in the same direction. Believe it or not but when I am drunk, my sixth sense is always in operation. This conversation started in an outskirt area that was dark and with very few houses. BAM! Imagine our luck…two africans (gaijins) stinking of alcohol with a 22 year old japanese girl in my car at 2am along the most suspicious area of all places. That was the scenario going up in my head and that was the case the law enforcement officers will build against us. My friend did not say much as he knew little Japanese but it was obvious that he wanted to hit the girl (with much influence from alcohol I guess). After a little show of suprise to her request and possible refusal to comply, the girl stopped the car in the middle of nowhere, took out her cell phone and promised to call ‘keisatsu’ that we brought her out there to rape her… Well, sometimes its supprising how a situation like that can neutralize alcohol. Many of you are already running down a series of options on how to handle a case like that but I guess we are all different. There was no need for further arguements as we gave her ¥20.000 as settlement. The next I heard was that the said girl is sometimes attacked by a mental illness which I did not care to find out. The next time she met us again, she smiled and acted as though the drama that early hours of dawn never took place. I kindly (in an even pious fashion) told her not to call my name, look or even smile anywhere 100 meters from where I am.

    Beware! As a foreigner in Japan and maybe in other countries, your chances of getting away with any thing whether you are guilty or not is quite small. This is not about the Japanese people but some individuals who are Japanese and find it hard to accept other people in their society.

  22. I really liked this story, I keep wondering what would’ve happened had you not turned yourself in.

  23. I really liked this story, I keep wondering what would\’ve happened had you not turned yourself in.

  24. Tusons – that is messed up! Yes, there are some scary women out there circling around foreign men. A lot of them a nut cases who do not fit in locally and are looking for any way to “escape” their misery. Then again, there are some perfectly normal and good ones too!

    PS: You guys probably did the right thing as, yeah, the cops looking at a couple of African guys as you say may not be too friendly.

  25. Alcohol does not have the power to make someone violent. The way an individual reacts to alcohol is down to their socialisation – the way they believe they should act. The violent reaction is confined to certain social groups in certain circumstances – the set and setting. When alcohol is given to tribespeople who have never been told alcohol makes you violent this effect is never seen. In fact it has very little effect beyond making them slur their words if drunk in large quantities. We learn our response to alcohol from society and our circumstances.

    If you haven’t read the research in this area I strongly recommend you do. It’s very interesting and completely dispels the myths around alcohol which are so ingrained they are considered ‘common sense’.

  26. Now THAT is an unexpectedly interesting trait of Japanese society !

    Sucks you were played by that oyaji but at least you’ve got some interesting stories out of it, and a new insight on how your life would have been had you made different choices.

    Plus, if you take a closer look, you’ll find the only person who has yet to regain its honor from all this is that crook taxi driver. In the end he just sold out for 1.5 mil. Kakko waru~

    I would agree that virtues such as honor or fairness don’t weight much when you’re in the joint but still you should get a nice feeling about how you handled things :D

    Anyway, that was a nice read. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  27. It sounds like George was set up, and if he hadn’t been drunk he probably wouldn’t have gotten into so much trouble. When the cab driver tried to take the long route, George should have demanded the cab be stopped and if the driver insisted then get out and call the cabbie a thief and wait for the police. The cabbie probably would have split the scene immediately.

    I think there are a few lessons here:

    1. Japan has its own standards of law. In your home country you may get due process, access to a lawyer, the right to be silent, etc. But in Japan the process is different. Never, ever forget this.

    2. If you’re in a situation that might involve the law, assume they’ll automatically think you’re guilty and the worst case scenario will be brought against you. It doesn’t matter if you’re right.

    2. If a cab driver is acting like he’s ripping you off, demand that the cab stop. If he refuses, turn the tables and call HIM a thief and demand to see a cop. If the fees are unreasonable, demand to see a cop.

    3. Under NO circumstances touch the cabbie, his devices or cell phone. Make that true for ANY person you have a conflict with.

    4. Only use physical force if you have to so that you can avoid any charge of being an aggressor.

    And lastly,


  28. George, thanks so much for sharing this experience. I wish I’d read it a couple weeks ago! Yesterday I was released from a police detention facility in Kyoto. I had been celebrating my birthday weekend, had entirely too much to drink (does this sound familiar?), and then…blacked out. Came to at the police station in handcuffs being interrogated. Great way to sober up, by the way.

    I was told that I had punched the manager at a club I was at, by the police. I don’t remember any of this, but while the “victim” was not injured at all, I had suffered a black eye, bruised ribs, and some damage to one of my knees. First time ever being arrested anywhere in the world, and as I’m not a person with a violent nature, it all struck me as being rather “off.”

    The police ended up holding me for a total of 11 days. My Japanese skills are very minimal, and it really made the situation a bit difficult at times. My first week in, I was almost dead from boredom. Seriously, it is such a torture to have nothing to do and be made to stay awake all day. Thankfully, after a week some friends brought me books, which the guards allowed me to have.

    I’ll agree with your positive thoughts of the prison guards. The ones at my station were very agreeable, and they did attempt to chat with me on a good number of occasions. The detectives were somehow assholes, but the translators they brought in to assist me were actually extremely helpful. I signed a lot of statements, but I was confident that I knew exactly what I was signing.

    Ended up not hiring a lawyer (I just did the one-time consult with the toban bengoshi), and 11 days after being kept, I was released into the world without charge. My company also tells me I still have a job, so that’s aces, as well.

    Obviously I should have been more careful with the drinking in my case (as I actually don’t remember the incident at all, which is scary), but I’d caution people from judging people relating stories here solely on if they’d had a lot to drink or not. That’s not the point of George’s story, I think. George’s story sheds light on how the justice system can work on people in this country, and I find it’s an invaluable resource to have out there.

    Again, thank you for sharing this experience, as not only is it informative, but it’s well-written and a fascinating read.

  29. Monty has many good points, and it’s amazing how far you people will go to justify your moronic actions. George did come off as a condescending, woe-is-me prick at times. Still, his story should serve as a very good warning for the other gaijin “social drinkers” out there.

  30. osh

    What do you think George deserved for his ‘mistake?’ A nice hug and a ‘don’t do it again’ talking to? SMH


    The MAIN lesson here is that you don’t drink yourself into a stupor as you could end up in a holding cell for several weeks!! It’s not about the justice system of Japan. LOL

    Having ‘been there’ one would think you, of all people, would have gotten ‘it’ because now you have two examples of what happens when you drink too much.

  31. thanks for sharing your experience, i found it to be a very interesting read. i recently saw a show titled ‘locked up abroad’ and there was an episode about japanese prisons. it sounded a little worse than what you describe here but generally similar (check for it on the net if you can find it.)

    glad to hear you learned so much from your actions, i suspect that even though it took a toll, such an unusual experience must be kinda cool to look back on. (i know how hard it is to be locked up, but is freedom as sweet without that knowledge?)

  32. Yeah yeah yeah, the crime didn’t justify the punishment blah blah. This is Japan, and *YOU* caused the whole chain of events, so stop trying to come off as Mr. Innocent. Keep drinking your drink, loser.

  33. Deep down inside, George agrees with Monty. He’ll never admit it to the rest of us. Truth is truth is truth.

    Monty is right. George seems to have turned everything around in his head. He became irate at the driver after he spoke to the driver “in perfect Japanese” (as he claimed at the beginning)… but he was so astoundingly drunk that he couldn’t remember basic details like if he ran or walked away. George, be a man.

    As a side note… George is so cheap, stingy and greedy that even sitting in jail couldn’t help him. Even sitting in jail –sitting in jail!– he felt the need to talk down the lawyer’s figure for settlement! And after jail, he had to confirm with multiple people that it wasn’t too much. Of course, the whole saga began over money, too!

    Something tells me that when he admits to “losing it” two times in his life, he’s lying. His anger issues are not limited to two events towards jerks who deserved it. He’s a lying liar.

    George, you are better than the other prisoners. Right?

    And why did you make the “jerk” taxi driver’s name public? Scum.

  34. Tatu overstates it a bit, but I more or less agree with him.

    I read the whole story, to the credit of the writer, because it was only his journals, and they were not particularly well strung together as he mentioned, but they still held my interest for a long time.

    The thing is, I definitely did not come out of it thinking that I was on Georgès side at the end. Especially this last section where he tries to regain some face by saying his wife was allegedly told that the whole world was on his side. Oh what a happy ending! And his the fortune and livestock of Job were restored seven fold what they had been!

    There are two many attempts to justify it, but this fact remains. It becomes clear that he took the guys phone and ran with it. Pure and simple, that is robbery and the action of a bully who thought he could use his phyisical size to his advantage in an altercation. How is that different from any schoolyard bully…

    It just comes through that he kind of got what he deserved. The taxi driver had a broken rib and head injuries directly as a result of what this lumox did, and I tend to believe the taxi driver in a few things, like the damaged navi and such. You cannot make things physical, but big George was sick of punch perm guys, punch perming around and sucking their teeth, so he was going to teach the guy a lesson. Yes, I read the story closely. I have been injured by people on accident like everyone. I know that the word accident is a cop out. This story left me feeling the Japanese system is more just than I thought going into the story.

  35. Oh one last thing:

    Georges most pathetic, lowest statement in the whole thing is when he says he was going to go to the police and offer money because he felt bad! What a sad self delusion. I know because I have done something bad in Japan before, that the only fricking reason he went to the police in the morning is because as a gaijin, even in whatever suburb of Tokyo he was in, he would stand out like a sore thumb and he suspected there was a very very high chance, knowing the thoroughness of the Japanese police, that he was going to get caught, in which case it would be much worse. What a load of tripe to pretend he was doing anything other than trying to get out of jail free, as it were. Pure cynical strategy portrayed as an act of conscience… Nice try George.

  36. Can’t quite believe some of the comments showing up from people like Stephen. You don’t know George personally and you were not involved in the situation. It’s impossible for you to know the true events and motivations behind the situation, but here you are quickly passing judgement from the safety of your computer screen.

    From the events described, I certainly think that both parties were at least a bit to blame. Regardless, it doesn’t seem like George is a bad person – you can agree or disagree, but posting your rants of disgust and blame just makes you appear an extremely petty person.

  37. When I started reading this story I was so mad at the writer that my judgment would have been one year in prison & deportation. There is NO excuse for putting your hands on a Japanese person or damaging his property unless you feel your life is in danger. The writer is making every American in Japan look bad. The only reason I agree with the judgment of the system is that the writer had a Japanese wife & children to consider. I’m sure that played a large role in his light sentence as situations involving injury to a Japanese person are quite serious indeed.

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