Tokyo Damage Report

more Shinjuku station war stories

I know i talked before about how awesome people-watching at Shinjuku train station is. It’s not a Mardi Gras or Carnivale type situation by any means, but COMPARED TO REGULAR UPTIGHT JAPAN it’s pretty fun. Shit, i go there regularly to people-watch and i’m not even a tourist.


East entrance on Friday or Saturday between 10 and midnight. Start by the turnstyles, inside, in the basement. kick it there for a while, then make your way to kabukicho, and then head back and check the turnstyle crowd some more. I would reccomend being sober because you notice more and plus it’s more fun to laugh at drunks when you’re straight. I also reccomend hella coffee.

Toilets can be found in most video game arcades, BTW.



On Saturday, January 26 , and wiithin the space of 80 minutes I saw:


Some guy punch a wall as hard as he could

Two drunk 50somethings sobbing uncontrollably while groping

2 spectacular prat-falls

An almost-fight

5 college kids throwing their friend in the air

A drunk trying to navigate over a foot-high chain and failing

Found some purikura on the floor

Someone dropped money right next to me and I watched how long before someone got it.

I ran into my friend – turns out she was running with the guys who were about to fight.

Some college kids saying good bye when the one dude just up and kisses his pal on the mouth like ZOINKS!

Plus, innumerable collisions, including:

5 instances of people saying goodbye to their friends (bowing and walking backwards) and running into a stranger.


The next Friday, I went BACK and saw this:

As soon as I get there there’s some passed out old guy right in the middle of the station, dudes all walking over him.

Walk to k-cho and see some gigolo with a really overweight customer, and some guy ? drunk? Yakuza? Giving an African tout a cheek massage and inspecting his teeth. (?!?)

back to the station and see 2 hard-lesbian couples, and – for the first time – see a drag-king gigolo host with 2 female customers.

But no pratfalls or people breaking up this time.



naturally, all big cities have a diverse population compared to the country. but Shinjuku even more so. Homeless, petty hustlers, hookers, businessmen, hayseeds, confused foreigners, glam rock people, nerds, convicted felons, students, fashion trendies, wizened WWII vets and very out gays all mix here.



Especially if you are a tourist, this is a good way to see a whole different face of japan, but no less important or real: instead of the very reserved, quiet japanese of legend, at night they get rowdy and funny and stuff. Now again, that is kind of DUH – drunk people ANYWHERE get loud and stupid. but the Japanese have a very unique way of being drunk — it’s not violent, for one thing. People can run into each other on a crowded sidewalk and no hard feelings. On the other hand, if someone is really in trouble, no one will try help them out. I always said that drunk Japanese act like normal Americans – loud and clumsy.

Anyway, once you are done laughing at the misfortunes of strangers and you want to get a little deeper, try comparing daytime japanese to drunk-at-the-station japanese. which social rules are bent/broken? which rules remain the same? How are Japanese drunks different from those in your home country?





Especially if you are a tourist – this could be your only chance to have a fun talk. since the social rules are relaxed, you can walk up to unkown-ass folks and ask them how y’all doing tonight? Most of them will not want to, of course, but 10% beats the usual 0%! Not saying you’ll make a pen pal or a girlfriend. Not at all. Just if you want a hilarious conversation with some sweaty laughing people for a few moments, this is your place.


I mean, use common sense. I’m not saying it’s IMPOSSIBLE to get hassled, just that because of Japan’s low crime rate and non-violent drinking habits, it’s harder to get hassled. Drunks here don’t see a dude staring and start a fight. If you are female, dudes might steal your underpants from the washing machine but they won’t get up in your face.


First person in your group to spot a dropped item gets a free coffee. the amount of dropped shit is high. cell phones, bracelets, books, train tickets. After a long night of laughing at other people’s foolishness, it’s a good feeling to give something back, in both senses.


All right, have fun but don’t be a dick about it. Also, if you see something cool, send me an email!

4 comments Tags: , ,

4 Comments so far

  1. Dan October 22nd, 2009 12:47 pm

    Man, you should come to visit Finland for some time,
    i live here for like six months now and i see these funny drunkards
    EVERYWHERE almost everyday. And on national holydays it’s just a BLAST!

  2. admin October 23rd, 2009 6:55 am

    @dan: I was only in Helsinki once, at 2AM at a MacDonalds with some Spinefarm Records guys, and we saw a guy in full Grim Reaper costume, he was spending 4 minutes picking out little packets of ketchup and mustard and putting them back.

  3. Chris August 16th, 2013 3:16 am

    Thanks for the advice, I will totally go and watch people there xDDD

    BTW, I friend of mine told me about K-cho “Tank Girls” girls bar, have you ever been there? Is it any good?

    Regards from Spain.

  4. Tokyo city guide – Utblick April 4th, 2014 6:37 pm

    […] This is why late at night is a good time to round off a day in Tokyo by going people-watching – a free and most interesting way to study Tokyoites when they’re out and about. Or an anthropological goldmine if you’re trying to find out how drunk Japanese (returning from an izakaya party) attempt to navigate through Tokyo’s busy subway system. The awesome blog Tokyo Damage Report (your number one insider’s guide to Tokyo, including a search for the legendary Japanese vending machines of schoolgirl panties and vacuum-wrapped used sanitary pads – complete with Polaroid photo by the previous owner) does a hilarious report on this practice: and […]

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