This Drunken Life: At the End of the World

This Drunken Life is a weekly series of stories that chronicle the strange and wonderful things that can happen while out drinking.

The Year: 2005
The Place: Middle of nowhere Japan
The Drink: Sake

I was living in Japan as a teacher, which more or less translated to dancing like a monkey to entertain a bunch of high school students who did not want to be learning English. It was a dark time. I’m not even being dramatic here, the town itself was so rainy and so overcast that we rarely saw the sun. Oh but when it did come out, the entire town began to steam like fresh roadkill out on the highway.

So, unsurprisingly, I went out to drink. A lot.

I’d stumbled into an odd friendship with the owners of “Maple Bar”, who were a friendly couple in their early 50s. I enjoyed feeling like a welcome in a town so small that when you try to use StreetView nothing comes up and they enjoyed siphoning off as much of my measly $30k salary as they could manage. It was a glorious partnership.

On one late October night, I was at Maple Bar partaking of the local sake served to me in this big ‘ol rocks glass by the wife-owner / “Mama-san” of the bar. At the fourth or fifth round I became, for the very first time, the “friendly guy who buys drinks for people.” I’d later discover that while some people get sad or angry or obnoxious when drunk, I get dangerously generous.

Take note for the next time you’re out drinking with me.

Anyway, I was buying drinks and the hours were slipping by and before I knew it, it was 3am. On a Tuesday. The only people left in the bar were the Mama-san, the only other foreigner in the town and me. Just then, the husband-owner (called “Master” by the Mama-san) came back from night fishing with squid he’d just caught.

He proceeded to cut it up in front of us and serve some of the freshest sashimi I’ve ever had. Then the Mama-san put on “American” music, which included obvious classics like the Mission Impossible Theme and the Imperial March from Star Wars.

So there I was at 3:30am on a Tuesday, drunk on sake and eating squid that had been alive minutes before while listening to Darth Vader’s theme reverberate throughout this tiny bar on the edge of the world. It was a good night.

And a terrible next morning.


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