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What 3 bottles of beer make out of a Japanese architect?
Everyone knows that Asians are not really great friends with alcohol. Of course they love drinking but unfortunately they are not very good at it. I’ve heard a lot of stories about drunk Japanese. Some of them start fighting having drunk a bit, others turn into acrobats. My acquaintance even saw one trying to pick up a girl at the hotel’s reception. But I considered all these stories to be stereotypical till I went to Japan myself.
First things first. Drinks are cheap in Japan. Such drinks as Jack Daniel’s or Jim Beam or other western beverages beverages in Japan cost much less than here. But why go to Japan and drink something you can buy here? What about sake and Japanese beer? Alcohol sections in Japanese shops look really attractive. Firstly, the choice of drinks is great. Secondly, prices are more than acceptable. But to be honest even if you speak the language it’s really hard to examine it. For instance, you see a package that looks like a carton of milk in your home country, and you think: “There must be wine or something light inside”. Hell, no. There’s something similar to milk inside, but 20 degrees stronger. Another important thing: if the picture on the bottle is cartoon-ish (e.g. Kumamon) it does not mean that alcohol is weak. We got wasted the most from the bottle with a picture of a funny bear on it.
Now to the procedures. I drank a few times with the Japanese, but there is one particular case. That one time me and 2 of my friends were in the house of a 50-year-old architect named Furuta. Meeting us with the news that his wife and kids are off to the relatives, he suggested we drink implying there’s nothing else to do.
Furuta invited us to his “fortress of solitude” where he kept his musical instruments and collection of analog and digital mediums and equipment. Before he became an architect, our Japanese friend had been a rock-musician. That is why it took him less than a second to organize an appropriate playlist for the “party”.
First of all he offered beer. Dark, light, knock-down, unstrained, everything you could possibly desire. My friends were not in the mood (one of them doesn’t drink, the other didn’t feel like getting drunk), so I got all the impact.
Finishing the second bottle of beer, I noticed that Furuta started to transform from a shy clerk into a party king. The talks became more lively, but still were in the borders of common sense. Soon enough our friend decided to change clothes. And when he did, he turned into a completely different person. Old Led Zeppelin T-shirt, enormous boxers – that is definitely not how we usually imagine a successful and independent Japanese person.
After that Furuta decided to change the course of the evening. He grabbed the guitar from the wall and started singing old American hits (but we know what happens when Asians start using English). Literally 20 minutes later his dancing was already accompanied by weird acrobatic moves, during one of which his stuff became visible to the whole room.
All our stereotypes were destroyed when he told us that as we’re young we need to be taught a lot of things, e.g. picking up Japanese girls and why we should not do that by e-mail.
Physical exercise and 3 beers had a fascinating effect. Firstly, our Japanese host became fully open to us completely changing from “tatemae” to “honne”. Secondly, he could not stop anymore.
I was far from Furuta’s condition at the time so I watched all that with fascination and excitement.
Then he disappeared for a while. We started to think that he went to bed. Yeah, no, once again. He took out expensive whiskey and insisted we drink. Having got a satisfactory response from us, he poured a drink, added ice and some soda. The next 30 minutes Furuta talked about the peculiarity of the Japanese nation: its traditions, mentality, women, of course, while getting even more drunk. By the time I was “a bit cheerful” so I tried to drink more to catch up with him but in vain. He didn’t last even 40 minutes. He was almost unable to walk, started preparing our beds and apologizing for not being able to go on drinking.
Now that’s what I call “culture shock”. He tried to persuade us to drink without him and went to bed. The next morning he made us a breakfast and helped to reach the town center without any signs of hangover.
The most fascinating in this story is that Japanese open up to you only if they are drunk. All this hierarchy just gets destroyed, and we see the nature of a person in front of us. It’s not similar to Russians, but still somehow familiar and understandable.