Learning by Drinking: Nagabuchi Yozo

Nagabuchi Yozo
If you made it to work but you’re hungover
Baseball player | 4 May 1942 –

Whenever someone asks me why I drink, it always makes me flinch.

Because it feels good,” I answer them. But if you picture a man who’s drank himself to an unconscious state, breathing heavily with an anguished look on his face, while the man himself might be feeling good it sure is a pretty repulsive sight to anyone else.

Sure, it’d be all good if you could just stop right before you reach that “dead drunk” stage. But unfortunately, it’s difficult to recognize when you’re about to cross that line you’re not supposed to cross.

Here’s something that someone told me right around the time I first entered the workforce. “Even if you get hammered when you’re young, you’ll get the hang of it eventually. You’ll gradually learn to drink more responsibly. So drink away and don’t worry about it.”

So I took their word for it. I’ve simply kept drinking, “not worrying about it” while devotedly and haphazardly continuing to drink myself to a state of drunken stupor, and pretty soon I will be past the age of forty.

But the thing is that even when you do drink yourself to oblivion, morning still comes.

Continue reading

Learning by Drinking: Kobayashi Hideo

Kobayashi Hideo
If you fall from a train station platform
Critic | 11 April 1902 – 1 March 1983

A suit and a cast. The silliest-looking getup there ever was.

Surely no one would disagree with the notion that in the Japanese corporate world, suits are this “thing” you’re just supposed to wear by default; a survival tool in a demerit system. So when you combine a suit with an orthopedic cast—something that just screams, “I messed up in my private life“—it makes for an outfit that comes across as very, very strange.

There’s this one esteemed person I know through work. He used to be a competitive skier in his student days, but he later stopped going to the slopes entirely, his reasoning being that were he to break his leg and get hospitalized or something of the sort, it would be a hindrance to his work. Subconsciously, we all have the impression that a suit with a cast is just the lamest-looking thing there is.

Of course, you never know how or when disaster might strike. One day you may be forced to wear a cast through no fault of your own. Although even then there’s no denying that it just looks stupid.

But the truly tragic thing is when you have to wear a cast all because of a mistake you made on your own.

Continue reading

Learning by Drinking: Kawakami Tetsutaro

Kawakami Tetsutaro
If you wake up in police custody
Critic | 8 January 1902 – 22 September 1980

Each time the New Year holiday season rolls around I’m always deeply concerned, not knowing when I might find myself waking up somewhere unfamiliar.

What with it being the season of drinking parties, there is an exponential increase in the likelihood of me getting slobberknockered.

Drinking in Ikebukuro, yet finding myself at the foot of Mt. Takao the next morning. Feeling a little lost in thought on the JR Yokosuka Line between Chiba and Kanagawa, then wondering how I managed to end up in Zushi of all places. Drinking out in Otemachi, but somehow ending up falling asleep on the streets of Shibuya.

And, of course, you always miss your last train. As someone living in the suburbs on a meager salary, not only is it hard on the wallet but it’s also mentally and physically draining.

In times like those, I like to remind myself of a certain person and it always makes me smile. A person by the name of Kawakami Tetsutaro.

Continue reading

Learning by Drinking: Yokomizo Seishi

Yokomizo Seishi
If you just can’t handle riding on trains
Author | 24 May 1902 – 28 December 1981

On my days off, I like to start drinking at noon.

Well… Truth be told, I’d like to start drinking the moment I awake. It’s the cowardly office worker spirit in me that stops me. It’s telling me how, if I make a habit of drinking in the mornings, I might start doing so on the weekdays, too.

But man, do I want to drink. I want to drink. I want to drink. I want to drink it all.

To suppress my cravings for alcohol—which, unlike the waves that come and go, only ever come—I try to force myself to make plans in the A.M. for all my days off. There’s the old saying, “The devil finds work for idle hands.” And indeed, us drinkers, we like to spend any free time we have on drinking.

Yokomizo Seishi, best known for his works like The Inugami Curse and The Village of Eight Graves from his Kindaichi Kosuke novel series, was exactly one of those people who found himself in trouble after spending all his spare time on drinking. Even someone like Yokomizo—an author for whom the descriptor “idle hands” was by no means appropriate—would spend every moment of leisure on guzzling down the drinks.

Continue reading

Learning by Drinking: Kajiwara Ikki

Kajiwara Ikki
If you’re just drinking, when suddenly you’re under arrest!
Manga writer | 4 September 1936 – 21 January 1987

A monkey that falls from a tree is still a monkey, but a politician that falls from grace via election is now just a regular person.

Many of you may have heard these words of Ono Banboku, long-serving vice president and key figure in the formation of the Liberal Democratic Party. The point of his message is: when a member of parliament loses an election, they’re immediately out of a job.

But now in the 21st century, even the salarymen of the world can’t breathe easy.

Gone are the days when the salaryman career was considered low-risk, low-return. Even if you’re someone who works for a major corporation, you could easily wake up one morning only to find that your company has merged with some other company, or that you’re now funded by foreign capital. That kind of thing is not at all unheard of. When companies merge, it’s commonplace for them to do some restructuring to eliminate any redundancies between departments and such, and you could well be a candidate for the chopping block.

Continue reading