日本FLASHBACK: Fight Club

5.3.13 ShaSha LaPerf 4 Comments

I thought I'd actually written about this incident, but I guess I missed it. My friends and I stupidly found ourselves in the middle of a situation that thankfully didn't get to crazy, but could have been much worse.

Picture it. Summer 2005.

It was around the time of Obon so me and my friend Terri were on vacation. We were both excited because another friend from college and my ex-roommate Tasha was coming to visit us in Japan. She had just finished law school and wanted to have some fun before she had to buckle down and study for the bar exam. Now in Japan it was still pretty rare to see black women in Japan, let alone two. But now we'd be a trio hanging out in the streets of Tokyo and Yokohama, that was probably a sight to see.

So the day Tasha arrives, Terri and I pick her up from Narita airport. Instead of going back to my apartment to chill, Tasha is wired, running off caffeine  So suitcase and all we ahead to a karaoke place in Tokyo. Yep, suitcase and all. Eventually it gets late so Tasha and I go to my apartment and Terri heads home.

Apparently jet lag completely eludes Tasha because she's still pretty hyper and we're out and about Shibuya the next day. A day later we're hanging out in Yokohama. While we're in Yokohama, Tasha decides she wants to take a picture with two police officers who were at a police box. LOL yeah Tasha is a pretty random person. But what really shocked me is that two of the officers were more than happy to take the picture with us--another cop actually took the photo.

So we after that weird moment my friends and I make our way to Chinatown in Yokohama for dinner. While we're out looking for a restaurant we come across a little kiosk with toys. One of the toys is a little robot panda that walks. The panda is chained to the kiosk, I'm assuming to keep someone from taking it out to keep it from going into the street.There's a little girl, maybe 5 or 6 years old, who felt for the panda. My friends and I watch the little girl try furiously to free the robot panda, pulling on the chain. We think it was ridiculously cute to watch this little girl and this panda and we an't help but laugh at the situation. We even consider actually helping the girl but decided that was probably stealing, LOL.

So it's coming to the end of Tasha's trip and Terri and I decide to take her clubbing. We plan to take her to Unity, a newer club in Shibuya that had pretty good DJs though sometimes the crowd is a mixed bag. In Japan, people generally go clubbing after midnight and stay until the trains start running again. So it was about 12:30 went we got to the club...and it was empty save for a few foreigners who didn't know the clubbing after midnight rule. LOL what's so bad is we knew the rule, yet were too early. We assumed a lot of people were probably hitting up some other clubs or were maybe out of town at the time, the place is usual popping by the time we get there.

Eventually the club does get more crowded and there's this black guy who's with two Japanese women, fully decked out in B-kei wear. Now we noticed the first group of foreigners because they were basically the only ones in the club when we'd arrived. However with the black guy, we took notice of him because he was enamored with Tasha. Despite coming in with two women he tried desperately to dance with Tasha and get her number. Tasha isn't interested in this dude, especially since she's in a serious relationship (with a guy she later married), and is heading home in two days. Eventually the guy does move back to his two ladies and my friends and I continue to do our own later.

We have been on our feet for maybe three hours now, but we're still laughing and dancing. That's when Terri is suddenly pushing me and Tasha towards the back of the club near the doorway. "There's a fight!" she's yelling to us. We make our way to the back and Terri explains what happens. Apparently the black guy accidentally spilled the drink of a guy dancing next to him. This lead to the two guys arguing and it escalating into pushing.

The crowd has parted a bit so we can see the two guys still pushing each other. One of the Japanese girls with the black guy tries to step in and is pushed into the crowd. That's when she spots me and my friends and rushes over to us with her other friends.

And even today I still vividly remember her words to me: "This black guy is crazy!"

I think the expression on our faces was a collective look of "what the fuck?"

The girls are basically asking us to stop the fight. There are already bouncers over at the scene and the two guys split up.

And for some stupid reason my friends and I go over to the guy. I think we decided to do it because there are so few blacks in Japan, and we felt we should stick together. We were on a mission to calm the guy down. Well that's what we thought we were doing in our heads.

So we go over to the guy, asking him what his deal was and to calm down. The guy has already started to calm down. He was pretty wasted, which might have played some part in his actions. The women with him return to the scene. The guy starts telling us some story about how he's a MMA fighter in Japan and that guy was an opponent he was going to have at a later date. My friends and I don't really buy his story, but since he seemed calm now, we didn't really dispute anything either. The Japanese guy makes his way back over to us and we're the ones that are blocking the two men. The guys don't try to hit each other thankfully, and the Japanese guy back away.

Despite mini battle, no one is kicked out the club, and things go back to normal. The two men stay away from each other.

By this time my friends and I are already tired, so we decide to leave. Before we go, the black guy apologizes to us and thanks us, though we're not really sure we needed either. He tells us to be careful in Japan--not in a menacing way but in a we're women and we need to be told that kinda way. LOL does that make sense? But we politely thank him for the apology and head home.

My friends and I are still reeling over the exchange that had happened and head to McDonald's to get something to eat. As usual McDonald's is packed but we find a space, eat, then head out.

Two days later I was saying goodbye to Tasha. It was a great trip and she'd had fun. So did I.

So that's the story. Again it was really stupid of us to jump into the fight and honestly if I'd been in America, my friends and I woulda been out the door. However the stabbing and shooting incidents at night clubs in Japan is relatively low compared to here, so I think my friends and I really didn't think we were in danger or anything would happen. I think it some of it was due to the "shit we're from Detroit, we'll fuck both of y'all up!" mentality that we sometimes deployed on people to keep people from messing with us we don't want to be bothered. It's the type of attitude I had far too often in Japan. But it's something I probably wouldn't do again. And it's something I suggest you folks don't do either. If shit starts to get real, get your ass outta there!


  1. Wow! That's really something! You ladies were certainly tough, that's for sure.

    That's actually something I was curious about if you're in Japan; if you're walking down the street (or on a bus, etc.) and there's another foreign person around being unruly, does anyone ever expect you to talk him/her down because 'You're both American/Canadian/African', etc.? My initial assumption is no, but you never know.

    1. I don't know actually. The incident at the club was the first and only time I had to deal with it. I think in general a lot of foreigners try to stay away from each other. There's always discussions of how foreigners would be rude to each other in Japan and not want to hang out with them, meet them, etc. So I think some foreigners would totally try to ignore the situation all while the foreign IN the situation probably wouldn't ask for help. I think it really depends on the people and maybe how serious the situation is.

      I think what really drove my friends to go over there was because the two women with the guy came directly over to us. It's still unclear if they did because we were black women or because they figured the guy would calm down when he saw my friend--I'm leaning more toward the former. I was also well aware of the fact that some clubs will refuse to let foreigners in to club because they think foreigners are unruly. So my friends and I were also probably thinking about not wanting to "lose" a club, and not wanting to be lumped in with foreigners who don't know how to act. Of course those actions could have been a worse reflection on us too since we were not bouncers or anything. But I don't remember any issues when my friend Terri and I went to the club later on that year.

  2. Oh my goodness, what a wild night! I'm glad you ladies weren't hurt. Jumping in between two drunk and violent men is a bad idea in any country.

  3. wait! u're from detroit?! sorry! new here! gyaaaahhhh~! i'm from detroit too~!