Scary Japan

Last night was terrifying.

I’m going through a break-up, so I took a 20 minute train ride into Tokyo to stay at a friend’s apartment. I helped her cook dinner, then had hamburgers with my friend and her husband. We watched some of a movie, talked a lot, and then suddenly I realized it was after ten. Having work in the morning, I hurried on my way.

The train home was fairly uneventful. An older guy kept nodding off and falling sideways toward me, but that’s standard in Japan. I just rolled my eyes and scooted over when I had the chance.

My apartment is maybe 15 minutes from the main train station. It was getting toward 11pm as I was walking home, but I wasn’t overly concerned. It’s Japan! I was, however, acutely aware that I was walking home by myself when normally I would have my boyfriend with me (what a depressing thought that was).

Between being a hopeless sap, trying to come up with really nice things I could do for said recent boyfriend to try to make things better (or at least make myself feel better), I considered my route home. At one point, I can take a road that goes almost straight to my apartment or a road that runs parallel, but I have to turn right on it to hit the first road and reach my apartment.

The latter road is brightly lit with lots of people on it even late at night. It also has two convenience stores that are super bright and open 24/7. I needed to pay my internet bill at the convenience store, so I took the bright, safe road. I congratulated myself on playing it safe and not going down the straight road just to save on a little time.

I was also proud of myself for not wallowing in sadness completely and responsibly paying my internet bill.

I stepped into the first convenience store, paid my bill, arranged everything back into my bag before leaving, and continued on my way.

Shortly after leaving the convenience store, a Japanese guy around my age suddenly started walking uncomfortably close to me. There were other people around me, so I wasn’t too concerned, but the thought of dealing with a creeper in my current state of mind wasn’t appealing.

He asked me in Japanese if I was going home. I started to worry that I would need to duck into the second convenience store to lose the guy so he wouldn’t follow me home. I replied in Japanese that I didn’t understand Japanese at all. And sped up. He sped up, too.

He said something I couldn’t quite catch, but I heard the word for “I like you” in the middle, then he thew an arm around my shoulder and put his hand on my other shoulder, trapping me. Between the two convenience stores is an alley that goes to the dark road. He said something that sounded in Japanese like, “Let’s go this way,” and tried to pull me into the alley.

I yelled, “CHOTTO!” Basically: “HEY!” I threw my arms straight up to knock his grip loose, then ran for the 7-11. I hid in there for a few minutes, noting before I stepped inside that he vanished down the alley. I tried to call some people, but no one answered. Eventually, I decided (stupidly) to go home. Forgetting for a moment that the alley leads to my road, too.

I took the right turn to go toward my road, but before I made it very far, the guy appeared, cutting me off. He said in English, “I want to talk.” But I was already sprinting back the way I came.

I hid in 7-11. Again. I had the clerks call the police, then gave a statement at the station. The police told me they would send out a patrol, then they took me home.

Every time I repeat the story, I feel a little better. But it’s still scary. I’ll be buying pepper spray this weekend. It was brightly lit, there were people around (who ignored me while it was happening), and it still wasn’t safe.

Time to step up my security measures.

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About Jessica

Jessica is an avid writer and artist who dabbles in novel writing and chases pixie dreams on social media. Currently employed as an assistant language teacher in Japan, she mainly blogs about daily life and helpful tips for future residents in the land of the rising sun.

Posted on August 23, 2013, in Japan and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. First things first.. I am sorry about you going through a break up.Just went through one myself and I have to say they are never pleasant. I am glad that you seem to fight off the sadness as well.. these things are never easy. Keep you’re head up!

    Second part.. As I was reading you’re walking story and about the different characters you faced on you’re route home, I couldn’t help it to imagine that I was reading a movie scrip haha. It even gave me the creeps with the guy that grabbed you. Love the way you write. Anyways, glad nothing bad happen and that you are able to blog about it… maybe you should write a movie scrip haha.

    • I’m glad you like my writing! As for the break up, yeah, it’s really difficult. The guy doesn’t seem to understand how people fundamentally work so he’s saying a lot of terrible things and keeps (accidentally?) making me feel bad about myself. I feel for you going through one, too. We’ll make it!

  2. Well, that sounds pretty scary. I hope you are alright.

    > I tried to call some people, but no one answered.

    There! Just there! People will often say “it’s so nice in Japan: nobody annoys you on the street or in the train”. But the fact is that people are not leaving you alone out of kindness, but out of apathy. So, once something happens to you, chances are high that nobody will help you. Especially if you are a foreigner.

    • My friends and I were accosted by a very drunk guy Saturday night. The station conductor carefully ignored it and some girls nearby were just laughing about it.

      Nice to know you have my back, Japan. Hoping for my faith in humanity to be restored soon. :\ I could really use it.

  3. Glad you are okay! You are right in assuming Japan is normally safe. It worries me to hear this. You did the right thing.

    • It’s good to hear that. I’ve already started encountering some victimization over it. “Do you have people on facebook you don’t know? Don’t do that!” “Don’t go out by yourself at night!” Placing all the responsibility of what happened on my shoulders without realizing what they’re doing.

  4. well that was scary!
    but at least there are some folks who help you that night:)

    take a good care always:)

  5. that is scary. that guy probably was already stalking you already and finally found his chance. A pepper spray will definitely help.

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