Drunk in Tokyo: A Story of Regret



I’m an engineer in robotic sciences, and one of the best things that happened to me was this 6-month internship in Tokyo, Japan. I was over the moon with happiness but immediately understood that with a job like that comes great responsibilities. Everyone was counting on me to not count the time I was spending at the lab. Which, for me, was no problem. I’m used to working a lot, waking up early, going to bed late and all the while to keep smiling. But the counterpart was that when I finally had an opportunity to party, I went all out. Not counting the time I spent in a club, the energy I spent dancing, or the distance I had to walk when I missed my final train for the day.

A view of Mount Fuji from Mount Takao.

Well, long-story short, I’m a scout from Montpellier, France, and after 1 month, I was already missing forest, mountains and birds. So I decided to go on my first Japanese hike to the top of Mount Takao, which is only a two hour train ride away from Tokyo (if you live in the downtown area). Because the view from Mount Takao is so beautiful, my friends and I wanted a group picture. I asked a girl if she wanted to take a picture of us but it seems that my English accent isn’t as perfect as I thought because the girl immediately asked “T’es français?” (“Are you French?”) Surprised at first, I quickly started smiling.

Finally, a fellow French speaker!

It’s weird how three simple words can give you a feeling of home even though you’re on the other side of the world having to speak English non stop. We exchanged contacts and kept in contact ever since.

A few weeks later, we decided to go to a bar in Koenji, which is one of my favourite districts in Tokyo (thrift shops, organic doughnuts that don’t taste organic, cosy restaurants, pubs and rock-’n-roll, all the streets smelling like happiness and cheap clothes). As usual, I was late and had an awful excuse, which is probably why I don’t remember it anymore. We took a seat at one of the numerous pubs, which we only chose because there was a ‘Free WiFi’ sign, to only find out a few moments later that the sign was a lie. However, the bar was great and it had the holy BTM trinity: Beers, Music and Terrace. We ordered some drinks, maybe a tad too much, but we were there to have a good time, not to count our beers. The problem is, I easily get drunk. My friends say it’s great because it’s thrifty but in my opinion, it’s only a weakness and I wouldn’t have been in twice as much weird situations as anyone else if there hadn’t been an extra glass of wine.

Holy BTM trinity: Beers, Music and Terrace

Kо̄enji by night.

Anyways, it was already 11:30 pm and because we were really happy (if you know what I mean), she said to me ‘”Hey, ça te dis on sort dans un club?’” (‘Hey, do you want to go to a club?’). And that was the start of my crazy drunk night in Tokyo.

We didn’t know any clubs in the area, so we wanted to search them online. But, as I mentioned before, there was no WiFi and neither of us had a SIM card. So, I decided to find the closest 7-Eleven to steal their WiFi, 500 meters further (they are everywhere, and they’ll save your life many many times), I finally got online. There was a club close to Shinjuku, one of the liveliest places in Tokyo. I got back to the pub, we paid the bill and we ran to the train station. Yep, the last trains are usually around 1 am in Tokyo – and we were super close to missing the last one. However, we were lucky enough to catch one and we were scheduled to arrive at our destination a few minutes later. But you know, nothing is funny if it’s too easy!

First, you have to know that in Tokyo there are different types of trains: from the stopping train (the slowest) to limited express train which skips 80% of all train stops (the fastest), between those two you have the rapid and the express.

The one we caught was a stopping train. I was so hard looking forward to going to the club, that my genius brain came up with the idea of stopping at a major train station, Nakano, to catch a faster express train. The problem was that our train was the last of them all.

Thanks, beer…

Thanks, beer…

We could’ve given up at that point, but didn’t I just say that I wasn’t counting the kilometres (my friend wasn’t either, btw)! So we decided to walk the 4.5 km between Nakano and Shinjuku at 12:45 am. Yes, we thought about sharing a taxi, but they’re quite expensive.  And honestly, I’m not the kind of guy who pays for comfort because… money, honey! And I must say, there’s something special about walking alone with a friend in the middle of the night, while listening to one of the few songs I had on my phone.

In Shinjuku, you can find a statue of me when I'm hungry.

We were too happy to be tired and we quickly (in beer time) reached our goal.

I’ll skip the part where I left my coat in a hidden corner of the club to save some money on the lockers which are, by the way, only uncustomized boxes costing the same price as a mochi. This is one of the advantages of not spending all of your money on expensive a$$ clothes, people.

5:00 am.

We decided that we had enough and headed to the nearest 7-Eleven to buy food (this is not a sponsored article I swear, they just save my life every day). After we got some food in our tummies to help against the inevitable hangover, we go to the train station. I say goodbye to my friend and wait 30 minutes for my train because there’s only a few of them in the morning, especially on Sundays. The problem when you’re not counting how much energy you spent is that at any given moment your battery can be depleted. For me, it was just one station before mine. I fell asleep, only to wake up 6 stations later, which meant I had to wait for another 20 minutes to get back to my train station. Finally arriving home, I jumped out of the train and began to head to the exit.

And that was the exact moment when I crossed the very thin line between having a good night out and a bad one. My stomach suddenly started to claim his freedom and without any warning, I threw up in the middle of the station. My poor and lonely soul noticed some toilets 5 meters away from the crime scene and two security cameras aiming at me, but it was too late. At first, I tried to find someone that might have seen what happened and who could’ve helped me but my brain just said “f*** it” and made my body run away from the crime scene.

To this day, I’m still ashamed of that moment. A few weeks before, I read an article about the Daiyo Kangoku (substitution jail) in Japan, where you can get detained for 23 days without any evidence that you’ve done something wrong. But there was no way I’d ruin my internship because of this incident. That is why I ran home, cleaned myself up (shout out to the series Dexter) and fell on my bed, exhausted. I didn’t take the train for two weeks, I was too afraid to be recognized by the authorities as the ‘guy who ruined Japan’s cleanliness’. I read a thousand articles about throwing up in public in Japan and asked some ‘for a friend’ questions to my Japanese colleagues to know if I was in danger or not.

GUESS WHAT? This kind of incident happens very often and even has a name in Japanese: bushu suru (“To do the Bush thing”), in tribute of President Bush vomiting on national TV in 1992. My colleagues just explained to me that it happens a lot with salarymen who drink a little too much after work. There are even some accounts where someone fell on the train station’s platforms. With this knowledge in mind, I managed to finish my internship in peace, take the train again and learn how to party in moderation, aware that somewhere in Japan, there’s footage of me recreating a very realistic version of the vomiting scene from The Exorcist.

I was too afraid to be recognized by the authorities as the ‘guy who ruined Japan’s cleanliness.’

Have you ever had a similar experience? Comment below about your experiences so we can all join in and laugh about those silly memories you’ll remember forever!

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