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EARLIER THIS YEAR I RECEIVED AN EMAIL FROM A READER WHO HAD STUMBLED UPON MY TWO WEEKS IN LOCK UP IN JAPAN SITE (AND I APOLOGISE TO ALL WHO READ IT FOR ITS CURRENT DISHEVELLED STATE!) Somewhere out there in the world there must be a lot of people who have done time in Japan, and it is good to get feedback from at least some of them. When I was released from my 16 days behind bars in late May 2007, I thought I had the story of a lifetime on my hands, a true Prosutian epic, and it was just a matter of me putting it into words, and pasting it on to the Net, to create a literary and journalistic masterpiece. Strangely, when it came to actually writing my story, I couldn't find the words. When the words came they were cliched, humdrum, somewhat lacking in inspiration. I started to feel that my experience was not quite so sensational as I had believed, when I was inside. And consequently I began to lose interest in the Proustian epic I had set myself to write. Of course, doing time in a foreign country is always a big deal, and I am sure my story will interest some, who want an insider's view of the Japanese prison system. But I am just one person, and instead of focussing on my own experiences, narcissically, I have decided to compile the experiences and adventures of all those who have served in lock up or prison in the Land of the Rising Sun, whether they be Japanese or foreigner. And that means I am always glad when I get email from people who have done time here.

My correspondent, J.T. from England, wrote: "Hi i recently came across your website and i have to say i'm really thankful that you've shared your experiences online. I'm an English student who 2 years ago underwent pretty much exactly the same kind of ordeal as you've described. After a stupid drunken outing in the Roppongi district in Tokyo i was arrested, interrogated for 10hrs straight (while still drunk) and then held for 11 days.

"The aspect that most pissed me off was that i found out afterwards that on the 4th day the courts dropped all charges, yet they just left me there for another week for the hell of it! From this experience i have come to be one of the few unlucky foreigners to discover the fucked up Japanese judicial system, and to realise the authorities hatred of foreigners..."

Robbed By Homeless Japanese Hobos on the Edge of the River From Hell

WHO COULD IMAGINE THAT A DRUNKEN NIGHT ON THE TOWN COULD LAND YOU IN JAIL FOR 16 DAYS? Who would have thought that a moment of spontaneous and essentially trivial stupidity could land you behind bars, getting heavied by the cops and subjected to interrogation after interrogation, in full <em>Monty Python</em> mode (I am thinking in particular of the Monty Python of the Spanish Inquisition!)? You think wierd stuff like that could never happen to you, but sometimes, very occasionally, it does.
Drunken Tomfoolery Leads to 16 Days of Harsh Justice in Tokyo LockUp

Crowded World Online
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Me Hentai
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Me Hentai
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Akihabara Maids
akihabara maids

(To make things worse, it was his own birthday party!). He is the first to admit, he did something wrong. But, being locked up for more than three weeks, without any trial or offer of bail for what he did, it is just not fair.

"In Japan, suspects for any type of crime, can be held in a type of prison called a ryuuchijyou, under the daiyo kangoku system of imprisonment without trial. Prisoners can be held for interrogation for 23 days without charge, without being offered bail, and without proper legal representation. Both Amnesty International and the UN Human Rights Committee have condemned the practice, which persuades many prisoners to confess to whatever they are accused of in the gruelling interrogation process."

I had been living in Japan for six and a half years when I had my own Holiday in Hell. I used to joke that I wanted to experience all that Japan had to offer, I wanted to learn about every facet of society: from the bottom to the top and every particular side. In six and a half years, I had seen a lot. I had spent time in the Japanese education system, working as an ALT in elementary and junior high schools (in 2001/2002.) I had expressed interest in taking part in the medical research trials in Kagoshima, to make big money and learn something about the Japanese hospital system. Sooner or later, it seemed, I was destined to get up front and personal... with the law. Japanese style.

Thankfully we only got 16 days, which was probably enough for my purposes (ie, the chance to experience the criminal underside of Japan, and then blog about it, and then ultimately someday, write about it.) Two weeks in Hell --- it was a combination of extreme boredom and humiliation, comaraderie and crushing claustrophobia... and now and then the odd eruption of ecstasy! (John from Australia was forced to take it further, beyond lockup to actual prison: read here CONFESSION .)

There were some beautiful moments and some really desperate times, but the thing which struck me most, upon my release, was just how REAL it was inside -- the life outside seems a charade compared to the living intensity of Jail. It's the law of the jungle inside, but since Man arose in the jungle, it seems to be the place where he is most at home. Modern life is trivial, that's kind of what I thought upon my release -- actually I didn't think it, I FELT it as an overpowering truth, a spiritual epithany. Those who lived in New York on September 11 know the feeling -- the sudden realisation of the vacuusness of the consumer world, with its fixation on celebrity and consumed experience. The consumer buys experiences to make up for the fact he or she doesn't experience anything. That's not real life, that's a sham. People in developed countries these days have a lifestyle, not a life. It wasn't until I spent my 16 days in lockup in Japan, that I learnt what real reality was all about. At the same time, the whole experience was like something out of a movie (just like September 11, but this time I was actually IN the movie, not just watching it on TV as I was back in 2001. This was my personal 9/11.) I got dragged before the Public Prosecutor 4 times in the huge police department at Kasumigaseki, and she drilled me relentlessly, as if I were some major crim or something (like I said, it was a farce of Monty Python proportions!) You don't have to be an expert in interpersonal relations to understand the reason why they were being so hard on us. As my lawyer said at one of our first meetings: "the Public Prosecutor is one a personal vendetta against foreign crime." And during my first three encounters with her, I could certainly feel her anti-gaijin vendetta coming through. )

This story began in the early hours of May 14 2007 when some of my Australian/NZ friends (Garnet the Australian vagabondist and notorious scammer and spammer, Menace the porn actor and nampa enthusiast, and Crystal Meth the wannabe TV star) thought it would be fun to try running out of a karaoke box without paying the bill. I wasn't that keen on the idea from the start but I tagged along and got caught, along with Menace. For that minor offence, they kept me and Menace in prison lockup for 16 days, and literally threw the book at us! That's two weeks in jail for skimping on a $80 karaoke charge -- one day for every $5 we had tried to steal from the karaoke parlor company! Justice Japanese style -- I never thought my time would be deemed so cheap! It was the most surreal experience of my life, kind of scary and humiliating at times, but interesting in that I got to see a side of Japan very few foreigners are able to see. It was also kind of ridiculous, like a farce -- they were trying to charge Menace and me with fraud (sagi), and even my lawyer was saying I could spend up in prison if I was found guilty.

This site is intended for those facing IMPRISONMENT in Japan, the friends and relatives of those serving time in the Land of the Rising Sun, and for anyone having visa and legal troubles in the country. If you need to find a lawyer in Japan for immigration or general legal matters, this site may be able to HELP. This is basically the blog of an Australian in an Asian jail... or police holding cell, to be more accurate. In particular, it will tell you what to expect if you find yourself DOING TIME in Japan: what kind of food you will eat (think cold bento boxes), how you will be treated, and how to play the game when it comes to dealing with the cops. There is a list of lawyers supplied by the Australian Embassy. Maybe that could help you, if you found yourself in trouble.

Read the complete Prison Japan chronicles:

Contact the author Rob Sullivan at All comments will be published at the bottom of this page. Anticopyright August 2010.
For a Japanese language guide to Japanese lockup, click here.