Sep 12, 2018
This is a story that I had never shared with anyone else, until now. Not that it had any lasting negative effects on me, but rather it was just so shocking that I could not shake it off until eventually I felt like I was over it so I didn’t think about it anymore. I didn't even get around to tell my girlfriend as I think it would make her worry. At the same time, it is quite an interesting story to share, so there is no reason to keep it to myself. A yakuza(ish) guy picked a fight with me in the middle of a busy road.
The story is quite simple, from my perspective at least. I was riding my scooter home from work as usual. For those unaware, scooters in Japan come with a bunch of restrictions, such as the speed limit being 30km/h, we must stick to the most left lane when we ride, etc.
Now, I was riding on a pretty major road with about 4 lanes, and it was leading onto a bridge crossing a river. The most left lane was a left turn lane, right lane to turn right, and the other two where in the middle. I had to cross the bridge, so as usually, I made sure it was safe. The next car behind me was really far away. I shoulder checked twice before merging from the most left lane onto one lane over. Little did I realize that the car behind me from quite a distance away was going fast, quite fast, and he overtook me and cut in in front of me. Both of us stopped at the red light right before heading onto the bridge, and he got out of his car.
Towards me came this skanky looking man in his mid to late 40s, dressed casually with a black blazer, and he had this stroll with his knees slightly bend and feet facing outward. He was giving me a message that he was not the type to mess with. Was he a Yakuza? I can never confirm, but at least he was posing as one.
He started yelling at me with the typical tongue roll that you would hear in the Yakuza movies. “What the **** were you doing in this lane? You were ****ing in the way! Get the **** out of the way!!!” (my translation). And as he approached, I also stopped my scooter and stood it up. He came close enough for anyone to feel uncomfortable, and spit from his mouth started to become visible on the visor of my helmet.
I was staring at him thinking what I should do. Cars began to queue up around us with the red light as well, and it was a major intersection, so not only there was a considerable amount of cars, the red light lasted forever for him to keep screaming at him.
Before I could do much, his right hand was already grabbing the front of my helmet, and he kept on yelling at me while shaking my head through the helmet. In my head, my first thought was: “I am being assaulted. This could be considered self-defense. My first punch would be towards his guts, then a kick to his balls before a punch to his face. Then I can probably push him onto the ground and sit on him, then….”
Then the next thought came to me: “If things don’t go the way I imagined, what would happen to me…? Deported…” I wasn’t worried about losing the fight, but about losing my place in this country. So I held my fist no matter how much I wanted to fight back, and I opened my mouth.
“I had to merge in to get onto this lane, and I can’t stay on the left to get onto the bridge! I had to get onto the bridge!” Keeping my stern face staring right back at him, I started yelling back, but in English “I had no choice! I had to get onto the bridge so I cut into this lane!”
I was simply repeating my words, but I never broke eye-contact. His yelling eventually stopped, and his took his hand off my helmet. The man took a tiny step back and said, in Japanese “Oh gaijin ka (Oh it’s a foreigner)… gaijin ka…” and he said in English “Sorry. Sorry!” and walked back to his car.
I knew this miscommunication would resolve the problem, as ironic as that sounds, but I never expected him to apologize to me, in English for that matter. He got back into his car and drove off. The light had turned green by then. The three minutes wait felt five times as long, and at the time, no one else in their cars came to help, though I did not know if anyone had their phones ready to contact the police or to take evidence. As he drove off, I also saw this old lady sitting in the back of his car. It could have been his mother, who he just left in the car to start a fight with a man on a scooter. My heart was pounding the whole way back, and for weeks afterwards, I couldn't help but to imagine what would have happened if I fought back. But at the end, holding my fist back and creating confusion using a language was apparently the best thing I could have done.
This was my story, and a situation that I hope you will NEVER find yourself in. Take care.
That is crazy!!! I can't believe that happened!!
That’s horrible! Good thing nothing worse happened to you. When I got to that part where the man said “Oh gaijin ka, gaijin ka”, I began to wonder if that person is Japanese at all. Let me explain. In Filipino language, we also use “ka” to mean “you”. For example, “Amerikano ka” (You’re an American). So when I read that and then the man apologized in English after, I thought that man might be Filipino who has driven on the streets of Manila for way too long and (sadly) has brought his driving attitude to Japan. If he is, I am so ashamed of what he did to you, and I apologize on behalf of all Filipinos.
@Weellee Thanks, I'm glad it was somehow resolved without escalating too. Ah I can verify that he was 100% Japanese. I may have used the wrong word there and remembered it incorrectly (due to a rather tense situation lol), but everything about him, including the perfect Japanese-accent "sorry", I had no doubt. Please by no mean take responsibility for this scum, and thanks for reading :)
Well done you for showing restraint. You definitely did the right thing, for me. I'd have been a nervous wreck had this happened to me (as much as I like think I would have stood up to him)!