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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I Was A Criminal In Japan

I've always been a pretty much by-the-book kindda guy… …never getting in trouble… most people like me, and I them.

I had always figured that when I was in Japan, that I was pretty straight… but upon further review, I wasn’t.

I was recently involved in a conversation with my friend and blog reader Vinny, and I suddenly started recalling some of the dumb stuff I had done in Japan…

For brevity, let’s just note that I had stepped outside my self-perceived moral compass of Lawful Good, and dipped into Chaotic Neutral.

Those are Dungeons & Dragons references—which I played—so you’ll understand that not only was I a nerd... but I was a dangerous nerd.

Now… in Japan, there were three times, by my reckoning that I broke the law... Four, perhaps, if I include the times I crawled up via the balcony railings of my apartment building so I could stand on the roof to get photographs of the city (It was the tallest building in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken at that time, standing a whopping seven stories high)…

Other than that: 

  1. I once passed out drunk/fell asleep in a hotel's taxidermy exhibit, awaking to see through bleary eyes a deer standing over me, which confused the Hell outta me because I had no idea how I had ended up in a forest... Sobering up quickly, I had no idea how I had got into that forest diorama or even why. Apparently I picked the lock… or it was open. I have vague flashy memories of doing it (as I write this), but I do know that there was no damage to the exhibit, and I actually locked the exhibit when I quietly left—I didn't even frighten the deer;
  2. At 4:30PM in Osaka and on vacation with Ashley and two Japanese cohorts we met along the way, we were told that although a pottery museum Ash wanted to see was open until 5PM, no new visitors were being allowed in at this time. We would probably never be in this area again, and so, while I no longer recall who’s idea it was, we found an open door at the rear of the museum and strolled around viewing the artsy pottery until they kicked us out at closing time. I should note that I actually closed the door as we entered, because I didn't want anyone with true evil intent coming in to swipe stuff;
  3. With a local friend who shall remain nameless, we were out late night after drinking at a local establishment when we spied small 30cm wide flags of various countries. Myself not being tall enough, my lanky friend plucked a flag for his country and one Canadian one for me. There were at least 10 more such flags visible as a kind of bunting, dotted all around the area that was devoid of any other human being. I locked my door when I got home.
I used to lean back and read books on the balcony ledge and catch some sun. That's one hell of a suntan. Personally, I don't think anyone minded that I appropriated (or perhaps the photographer did) that Canadian flag. It's not like I tried to hide it. Man, that was good hair.
It all seems rather innocuous, doesn’t it… until the older me examines it for what it really is:

Two trespassing (the roof and museum), one B&E's, and one theft (or at least in possession of stolen property).

Holy crap!

When you look at it in black and white, it's all rather stupid and so was I.

It's not armed robbery, rape, drug or weapons possession, or murder, but it wasn't exactly me being a law-abiding non-citizen either.

Throughout this blog, I have always been open and honest in my exploits in Japan. I know I sometimes acted humorously, most times intelligently, other times stupidly, and still sometimes immaturely.

I think I acted like most 20-somethings would when away from home for the first time in their life—but I was in a foreign country.

For any of those things, if caught, I could easily have been kicked off the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme and sent home (at my expense), and in disgrace.

So… go to Japan, don’t be as much of an ass as I was, enjoy yourself and stay out of trouble.

Andrew Joseph

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