Friday, March 4, 2011

Advice on Japan: Yes to Karaoke, avoid Yakuza

I've been given a fair amount of advice regarding my trip -- some for formal occasions, other tidbits for my unscheduled time in Tokyo.
My brother's tips include:
  • Be prepared to karaoke (even if I'd sworn it off)
  • The Japanese are incredibly formal -- suit up
  • Be on alert for boys who look like girls
He also shared this gem of a podcast about one of the dark sides of Japan. The "Snap Judgment" audio program talks about a brother seeking fame in Japan.
I've also got some solid advice from my editor and a couple photographers at my gig, but the advice I got from a friend stationed there takes the cake. Fair warning some may view his colorful language as objectionable. I don't. Some of the best stuff comes at the end when he offers advice for dealing with the Yakuza.
If you find yourself going out alone Sunday night in Roppongi, you have to watch out for a lot of stuff. If you have a group present, I suggest going to Shibuya.

Just too many fucking foreigners there looking to mess your night up in Roppongi too. If you see a fight, get the fuck out of there ASAP because Japanese cops will hold everybody for a very long time to sort shit out the slow way.

In Roppongi you better keep positive control of your drink at all times. Don't go into bars you can't see from the street (i.e. climb flights of stairs, take an elevator to get to) as you will probably be ripped off/drugged then ripped off/seduced then ripped off.

Also when in a group you don't run the risk of being held up by a group of men for a tab you owe at a bar you have never patronized.

Not trying to scare you. I can get by alone and have but then again I don't look like a typical white guy ready to be victimized. You, being Ed, will look like a potential pimp to them, so your experience will be much different, but if you get drunk out there, please have some back up.

Then again, if you don't carry too much on you, then being seduced and subsequently ripped off for chump change sounds like a great deal. Those Russian/Japanese women can be juicy.

Not to worry; there are good areas. I only know a couple places in the short time I was there. The good stuff in Roppongi:

Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills Sunset place for pics and drinks
Hobgoblin-british type pub in Roppongi and one in Shibuya too
CityView-Look over Tokyo at night and get a classy pic.
Hildago's-teppanyaki/shabu shabu type restaurant, bring your work buds with you if nothing is planned for dinner.

But business places come and go so easily, ones I recommend could have moved/shut down so go without any expectations and have a blast. Safely. Please don't stay in your room though.

Lastly, if you say fuck it and brave a random seedy bar, you need to know what Yakuza looks like.

-suits with collar popped
-missing joint on a little finger.

If one or more approaches you, thinking you are a small man with local "business interests"(bar promotion, trafficking in bitches, drugs, other assorted hobbies) and asks you to drink with him/them, then motherfucker, you better drink. If you don't entertain the request, the hostess or waitress will remind you to. They like to "one shot" their juice so when he asks you what your weapon of choice is, you better pick the pussiest drink you can think of because that fun party is going to last all night.

Also, they drive flashy cars and usually keep a license plate with the number 1 on it. You can have duplicate plates in Japan so if you see one out front or in a parking lot you may not be wrong in assuming Yakuza has parked and is currently partying and getting paid.

If you hit on one of their bitches, you can tell by butterfly tattoos below the neck/small of back area. I can't tell you in words how smart it would be to avoid this.

No doubt you will be approached by skankilicious Juicers even if you don't try since they all love a bit of the chocolate infusion out there. You have a 100% chance of getting laid your first night. By multiple women.

I'm not even lying about any of this shit because everybody here has a story.


  1. Ed, Kyle says to give you his email: Hope you got my earlier comments, but Kyle's my and Peter's son, he's cool and he's wearing a mask. You can ask him why. It's not what foreigners usually think, that Japanese don't want to catch the flu. It's that they are so damn polite, if they have a cold they wear masks to protect others from their germs. freaky, yes?

  2. Hey Ed,

    I didn't give you this kind of info because I'm a scholar - not an idiot. This kind of crap is easily and wisely avoided.