Here
and
Now

kuchikomi

For many Japanese, laid-back overseas vacations a one-way ticket to nowhere

80 Comments

"While traveling in India, a Japanese backpacker gave me a joint, and I got a great high," 27-year-old Masahiko Tanaka (a pseudonym, as are the other names in this article) tells Spa! (March 1-8). "Ever since then, I've been hooked on the stuff."

Back in Japan and unable to quit, Tanaka sought out fellow potheads for group sessions. "It's dangerous to do it in Japan, so I keep thinking of going abroad again for wild ganja parties."

Six months after his return to Japan, Tanaka was caught up in a police sweep and arrested. As he only had a small amount in his possession, the sentence was fairly lenient: eight months imprisonment suspended for three years.

Since then, he has been receiving financial support from his parents. Initial efforts to find employment via Hello Work failed as soon as prospective employers learned of his legal status. He's currently working at a pachinko shop, where he hopes to acquire status as a regular staff member.

"They don't investigate very thoroughly, and if I can support myself this way, it'll be good enough," says Tanaka.

Then there's Daiki Takada, 33. Since graduating from university, he has pursued the pattern of working at various jobs for a year or so, until he saves up enough for his next overseas trip.

"A lot of backpackers I know are system engineers, who don't have any problem finding work after they come back to Japan. But I don't have that kind of real experience, so I can't become a regular company staff member. The only jobs open are as a temp-help worker and the like."

Takada now works as a "freeter" in Okinawa, where his monthly salary is just 150,000 yen. "At least here, I can feel the fragrance of Asia," he says.

But these two examples may be luckier than most. At least they have found work. Others return from abroad and find there's nothing waiting for them. Ten years ago while on a visit to Southeast Asia, Hiroshi Sumida, age 42, was cheated out of his entire savings (about 1 million yen) and since then, he has subsisted as a NEET (not in education, employment or training). Sumida had managed to work sporadically until three years ago, but then while on a visit to India, he got turned on by marijuana, and, as he describes it, "either achieved 'satori' (enlightenment) or completely lost my desire to compete with other people anymore.

"Once my parents pass away, I plan to sell the house and use the money to take one last trip," he vows.

Surveys of overseas travelers purchasing tickets with an open return date that permit long stays abroad suggest that the average age of Japanese backpackers is becoming older. One agency says sales of such tickets has been growing at the rate of 1.3- to 1.4-fold each year, males in the 40 to 60 age group accounting for 70% of total demand. Some of these males are said to be visiting those destinations in order to find a marriage partner.

Interestingly, the destination of half of these long-stay travelers has been mainland China, with another 30% to Southeast Asia followed by 20% to North America. It is believed that because comparatively cheap carriers such as Air India and Biman Bangladesh Airlines have suspended their Narita routes, travelers on a shoestring now head for closer Asian countries and make the rest of the journey overland.

While the middle-aged backpackers make fairly frequent journeys abroad, vacation travel by students, by contrast, has reportedly been declining at the rate of 5% to 10% per year.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

80 Comments
Login to comment

“It’s dangerous to do it in Japan, so I keep thinking of going abroad again for wild ganja parties.”

wild ganja party? that sounds like some scare line from a PTA or police poster. legalize it and turn japan into a major tourist spot. probably reduce suicides and many other positive benefits as well. japan would be a great place to be a stoner: lots of public transit, konbini everywhere, okonomiyaki...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My bet is these people were lacking in brains and ambition to begin with. Weed is NOT a physically addictive substance but the feeble-minded folks out there might just enjoy it way to much and give up on life.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ever since then, I’ve been hooked on the stuff.

going abroad again for wild ganja parties

Is this for real? Or are they just slogans from a 70's anti-drug educational video?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bogi, I think it's pretty safe to assume that any quotes that appear in Spa! were the product of the person writing the article. I don't think I've ever read a Spa! article where the quotes sounded like real people rather than sensationalized caricatures.

Ymmv.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

“Once my parents pass away, I plan to sell the house and use the money to take one last trip,” he vows.

keep your heads up in the papers for this guy. i don't see anything good coming from this statement.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A freeter in Okinawa can make 150,000 yen?! What's he doing? The wage there is 600 yen / hour. The background checks here consist of your word so I don't see why "Tanaka" lets prospective employers know. I've seen ads for pachinko workers. They make beaucoup salary and hire only younguns.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"At least here, I can feel the fragrance of Asia,” he says.

Hahaha, this is good! I'd love to see what he actually said, in Japanese... There's no way anyone would say that. What does Asia's smell feel like?

he got turned on by marijuana

Hahaha, stop, please stop!!! The opposite is usually true.

Interestingly, the destination of half of these long-stay travelers has mainland China, with another 30% to Southeast Asia followed by 20% to North America.

Where's the mistake?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ohhhh well ! ! ! Get caught in another asian country get ready to call your mummy for 5 grand.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Where's reality when you need it... oh wait...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"wild ganja parties"

I'll bet they're wild.

"Once my parents pass away, I plan to sell the house and use the money to take one last trip"

LOL.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You can smoke pot on the streets in Vancouver like a cigarette, no paranoia or jack-booted cops after you. Best weed in the world.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

completely lost my desire to compete with other people anymore.

One of the major reasons weed remains illegal.

What would happen if people (especially in Japan) started saying - hey - why fight? why kill? why live in fear?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No one gets addicted to pot. That is such a lie.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@ haruka- not chemically. But it is easy to get addicted to happiness, peace, love and bliss.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

1.3 to 1.4? Not even statistically significant.

Why do they write these brain dead articles? All this says is that a few pot heads and fed up salarymen are checking out of the working world. So what? At those low percentages it would not even impact the unemployment rate.

What is really sad is the loser who is waiting for his parents to kick so he can spend the last of their poor savings. Get a job and a clue you oaf!! Where is your self respect and respect for your family? You deserve to end up living under a bridge somewhere cut off from your parent's wealth.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

DentShop "One of the major reasons weed remains illegal."

First off I support the legalization of weed. Not for any desire to use it, but because I think it could be taxed and would reduce drug associated crime.

As for weed motivating the people to social and political change. LOL, really? You must be kidding. Maybe they will stop wanting to compete, stop wanting to follow the rat race or cause violent harm. Maybe even give up excessive drinking. But positive change?

More likely some people will use and carry on with regular life as before. Others will drop out and become class A losers living off Mom and Dad even more. But it could hardly be expected to generate a major positive social movement of any value.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Actually most countries don't have a ban on "Hemp" because it can be smoked but mostly because of "Hemp Oil", etc.

Hemp products are allowed in japan, I buy hemp rope at the 100yen store and hemp-clothing, etc.

Marihuana is restricted with very strict rules for hemp growers, and, yes, Mary-Jane can be become physically addictive if it is mixed with other drugs like Tobacco, Alcohol, etc.

There are 2 types of addiction physical and mental/behavioral, the 2nd is what makes Tobacco so hard to give up. The physical addiction is mostly gone after 2 weeks of abstinence, the behavioral might never be gotten over.

Either way those guys don't make an impact.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Maybe they will stop wanting to compete, stop wanting to follow the rat race or cause violent harm. Maybe even give up excessive drinking. But positive change?" Whats NOT positive about giving up excessive drinking and causing violent harm?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

killdamessenger. If we assume that only MJ can achieve that then I am all for it. As I said, I already support legalization.

But, my guess is that MJ would just replace one excessive behavior with another in Japan. And that there is no scientific evidence supporting that use of MJ makes people into peaceful, cooperative individuals. And certainly no proof that other measures like better social awareness programs, changes to the education process and rethinking of labor and competition in our societies would not far exceed any nominal impact from MJ.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So...Is this article about wanting to get out of this uptight place because it`s driving them nuts or because they want to puff without worry? Japan is too closed minded to ever decriminalize pot. Too many brainwashed old people brainwashing the younger generation.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I see. Well, there are statistics of violent crimes linked to MJ use and the numbers are very low. It is pretty common knowledge of the pacifistic effects of MJ use. If replacing one excessive behavior with another, the other being peaceful then I say replace away. I also believe its pretty common knowledge that the laws were made post world war 2 with pressure from the tobacco companies who didnt want competition from hemp- same as the USA. It is really surprising that such a clinical culture as Japan takes such a dogmatic and ridiculous stance against something that would ultimately create loads of profit and jobs and would decrease the tax payers burden on the government hours spent combating the production and consumption of MJ.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

completely lost my desire to compete with other people anymore.>

This man is wise beyond his years.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Honestly, what is this article even trying to say? Don't travel abroad, you will become addicted to drugs or not be able to work in this over-standardized and rigid society upon returning? Bummer.

What a poor mix of reefer madness (seriously, "I’ve been hooked on the stuff" and "wild ganja parties"??), nationalistic propaganda, and general fear mongering. I think that Japan's thriving travel industry would frown upon this kind of publication.

As for the addictiveness cannabis:

Mary-Jane can be become physically addictive if it is mixed with other drugs like Tobacco, Alcohol, etc.

There is no compound in the plant that is physically addictive. Any addiction that occurs from this is a mental association stemming from whatever you mix it with. It's like the psychological version of Pavlov's dogs: if you smoke weed every time you drink or smoke tobacco, your brain will associate the two. That way when the presence of one is detected, an expectation for the other is developed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

1.3 to 1.4? Not even statistically significant. ....At those low percentages it would not even impact the unemployment rate.

Not percentages; 1.3 fold means if 100 people went last year, 130 people are going this year and some 170 people will be going next year, 220 the year after, 285 the year after that, etc.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Chemically, alcohol and especially tobacco are addictive, marihuana is not. Mentally, religion is way more addictive than MJ, I don't remember any pot head blowing up buildings or starting wars in the name of the hemp

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't remember any pot head blowing up buildings or starting wars in the name of the hemp

You may not, but "assassins" derives a name from 'hashish eater'... No, they did not fight in the name of hemp, but they did fight for power and money, and the mind control was done utilising canibis. another story...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Go for it dude. At 27 a person can either make a good decision or cannot. It is the same reason backpacker's go to the border of tyrannical countries like NK and Iran. Gump said it best - "Stupid is as stupid does."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Found my way to India and had a smoke and somebody spoke and I was back in .... Japan?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You may not, but "assassins" derives a name from 'hashish eater'... No, they did not fight in the name of hemp, but they did fight for power and money, and the mind control was done utilising canibis. another story...

So says the urban myth. However, based on what I've read, it sounds like Hassan was such a pure follower of the Koran that it seems unlikely he would have allowed this.

Also, using cannabis for mind control?? I don't see how this could happen.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And hashish, while from the same plant as marijuana, is much stronger.

This is an interesting pair of sentences that indicate the quality of the article:

Sumida subsisted as a NEET (not in education, employment or training). Sumida had managed to work

Someone "Not in Employment" who is working?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sad fact. This article is terribly written, pointless fluff.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I like it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sad fact. This article is terribly written, pointless fluff.

Perhaps. And if Japanese who are the buyers and readers of Spa! agree with you, I suppose its circulation will drop. I guess we can assume you are neither.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't get it :(

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well said Timeon.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

WordStar. Popularity and quality are not the same thing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

“freeter” in Okinawa, where his monthly salary is just 150,000

What do you mean just 15,000? That's starting pay for damn near anywhere on this rock.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Also, using cannabis for mind control?? I don't see how this could happen.

Don't know about that, I knew a few chicks you could control with a fat joint!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Tkoind2. I have struggled to learn to read Japanese, but don't know if I'll ever get to the level where I can judge the quality of article in its vernacular press. You may be right about it being c**p, and perhaps the management of JT will take heed of your comments, remove this department and stick to syndicated reports in English filed by the wire services. And then we can remain blissfully ignorant of what appears in the Japanese vernacular media. Probably no great loss to the world.

Moderator: Readers, the purpose of the Kuchikomi section is to provide readers with summaries of what the Japanese people are reading in the various magazines, a service that no wire service provides. It is one of JT's more popular sections. Some of you may not like the topic but that doesn't make it "crap." If you don't think much of the story, then state why in a mature manner. That is what the discussion board is for.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Talked with a few Japanese people who read Spa! today. One said that their significant other rages when the magazine is found in the house due to its "exaggerated" and "biased" writing. Personally, I am glad to read what others are reading. Mostly for the fact that I do not wish to buy these magazines, but I find that it is good to get the best of both worlds in regards to information. This article is a pretty good read, although slightly strange in its point (unemployed people EVERYWHERE, except this guy and that one). I personally feel that this is a crack at the whole, "Japan is the best country ever!" mentality of quite a few people here. Cheers, JT, for keeping me informed as the what is being said in Japan from Japanese sources.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't think you can get addicted to pot. I have observed that it makes you lose all ambition and be chill with whatever life throws your way, which is not good for Japan, since we must all work hard, climb the social ladder and pay lots of taxes. Funny that we'd see this kind of "reefer madness" reporting, but whatever.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Me too, I got a great high reading this masterpiece. No need to buy an expensive ticket to beautiful India.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Once my parents pass away, I plan to sell the house and use the money to take one last trip,” he vows.

I don't touch personally for the same reason I don't make a habit of drinking, but if my brother said that, actually planning on using my parent's passing for something as hedonistic as that, I punch his face in and I'd expect him to do the same to me.

As a side note; as a man whose had more than a few friends that smoked pot I believe that it isn't the substance itself that users are addicted to. Rather, they are addicted to the stoner culture that extends across boarders creating a subclass that is fairly unproductive. One could smoke pot and not have their life affected (as many alchoholics can function also) but as soon as they fall into that stoner mindset they're useless.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One could smoke pot and not have their life affected (as many alchoholics can function also) but as soon as they fall into that stoner mindset they're useless.

Good point.. the mindset. The same could be said about a lot of things. Being a bartender, play in a band, buy a harley-davidson.. if one adopts the negetive unproductive attitude they or some might attribute to the act, then the attitude is what does the most damage.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

kuchigomi is far from mainstreem Japanese. Mostly about freak Japanese and their lives and thoughts.. the 1% that noone really cares about.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They say marijuana is a gateway drug....

A gateway to good times!

I've known many a pothead in my time, and the ones that stayed "addicted" didn't have anything to do with the herb, only their lazy personalities.

I suspect these "system engineers" vs. the NEETS would be that way regardless of any toking.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The term "NEET" is pretty dumb. Clearly the term "NINJA" is more accurate for these Japanese (No Income No Job or Asset).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The number of commenters here who think that marijuana is in any way a good thing make me sad.

Down with illegal drugs. If you are smart, then you don't need them (or alcohol) to have a good time. This kind of article is really annoying to read, because it glorifies the use of drugs. Ugh.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wild ganja parties? ORLY? Where?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Let's sum up this article: -Marijuana is BAD. -Travelling outside of Japan is SCARY.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Let's sum up this article: -Marijuana is BAD. -Travelling outside of Japan is SCARY.

I think a better way to summarize it would be: "Individualistic behavior is undesirable. So if you dare to live out your dreams, be aware of the likely negative consequences."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

“Ever since then, I’ve been hooked on the stuff.” Haha... I've smoked pot at the age of 13. In no way is marijuana addictive at all. Most of my friends in America smoke marijuana simply to release stress after hard work. Which is very similar to say drinking alcohol after work. Of course people will always find ways to abuse this crap. Lol

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan's "reefer madness" attitude to mj always makes me laugh. :0

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is a very strange article. Am I missing some kind of hidden joke? And 8 month of prison, wtf? How is smoking weed any worse than drinking alcohol?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is entertainment. One of the nuttiest threads in awhile. I gave up weed in college but I swear if half of Japan started to hit the bong it may just save the nation. I try to imagine the DIET firing up a blunt in session...they may just get something done. Take it from Jay and Silent Bob... "BONG!"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The only thing getting stoned does is make you completely useless as a member of society. Shocker these potheads are finding it difficult to hold a steady job. If I have to fire someone due to the economy and I have to choose between someone who only works an 8-hour day and someone who spends half the day raiding the snack machine, guess who's going to be unemployed?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

watched my older brother smoke his life away, he married a fellow stoner, raised his children - all are hooked on weed,uppers one on heroin as well. because they were raised that drugs were ok. he is dead last 10 years, none of the children amounting to much and all in thier late 20's, such a struggle

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This topic is telling me that Japan is failing to deliver hope, dream and future to the youth. Shame.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Au contraire, my best friend and my brother are both totally addicted, and it doesnt matter if it's mental or physical addiction.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

never trust a hippie...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Could be worse. He could be a salaryman addicted to alcohol and tobacco.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

watched my older brother smoke his life away, he married a fellow stoner, raised his children - all are hooked on weed,uppers one on heroin as well. because they were raised that drugs were ok. he is dead last 10 years, none of the children amounting to much and all in thier late 20's, such a struggle

You may as well have substituted "drink", "alcohol" and "alcoholic" into your post and it would have read just the same. I am not saying it is great to be hooked on weed, but it is no worse than abuse of alcohol and it does not mean that it should be banned for the bulk of, ahem, "responsible" users.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What a silly article!!

Is this the kind of "news" japanese newspapers give to people?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

fadamor

what about yr employees who are hung over half the time LOL!!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

These are not vacations. If you buy a one-way ticket, you are traveling because you like the adventure of it. The guys described in this article sound like they don't want to have a regular, stable job and settle down. They are living exactly how they want to live. What's the problem?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Was this article written by a teenager? Scientific fact: marijuana is not addictive, alcohol and tobacco (nicotine) are addictive.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

0 ( +0 / -0 )

To think that I have never touched tobacco, drinking liquor, or illegal drugs all these years. Sometimes I wounder who these people are.

True my ex-parents were heavy smokers of tobacco to normal liquor drinkers & all that time I could have done the same but did not & no this in not a religious thing, but doing on my own.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

smythe the hero biscuit.....................is yrs!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

To think that I have never touched tobacco, drinking liquor, or illegal drugs all these years. Sometimes I wounder who these people are.

Then youve been missing out on a lot of good stuff... next youre gonna tell us that you`re a virgin or at least waited till you got married.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

you can get legal "wd" in japan. Its easy. Remember Spice? Spice Gold. Spice Diamond. (if you dont hit up google or Wikipedia) Well that was outlawed. But Japan only outlawed the products called Spice. Slap another name and label on them and they are 100% legal. You can order Japanese varienats from any number of Japanese websites. 1 day delivery. legal drugs to your door. learn what "legal drug" is in Japanese. Put it in your goolge search and choose your "flavor." your welcome.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I recommended happy-herb.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

p@y p@l support for us who are not so good at complicated over priced Japanese bank transfers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"To think that I have never touched tobacco, drinking liquor, or illegal drugs all these years. Sometimes I wounder who these people are." thats just sad. I am a recovering alcoholic. sometimes you have to know when to throw in the towel. but I don't regret my experiences. my life would have been so.... BORING... with out.... medicine.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Guys, Im from India and can tell you that marijuana (Bhang in local lang.) is widespread and local police too dont seem to mind unless its designer drugs and high profile personalities. Hindu tradition allows to consume "bhang lassi" (Note:Its allowed legally but very diluted quantity) once a year during a festival called "Holi" which is considered to be in the spirit of the festival. People having good family support systems dont fall into the drug habits but sadly and majority of poor Indians are addicted but noone seems to notice them least take care of them. Tourists should be carefull not to fall prey to these habits, as it only gives a false sense of momentary hope but lifelong despair..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

they check your record in Japan? I didn't even know they had a system set up for it. I would have thought it was all manual and in paper form and would cost a fortune to even try to find the paperwork, let alone most of it is either gone missing, misplaced or destroyed. No company is going to do background checks with those odds. On the other hand a quick search on the web will produce interesting photos of the wild parties on facebook (security sucks so you can bypass most of it if you know what to look for)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What a ridiculous article. So if you don't take a package tour you're going to get "hooked" on weed and throw your life away?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So if you don't take a package tour you're going to get "hooked" on weed and throw your life away?

Actually it's a ridiculous statement (again). The article doesn't say anything about packages! Besides, going on a package means you won't get hooked on something? Again, Smith...if you don't have anything to say it's better not to post than to post nonsense.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I mean, just look at you!! You're on a posting spree!!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

you can get legal "wd" in japan. Its easy. Remember Spice? Spice Gold. Spice Diamond. (if you dont hit up google or Wikipedia) Well that was outlawed. But Japan only outlawed the products called Spice. Slap another name and label on them and they are 100% legal. You can order Japanese varienats from any number of Japanese websites. 1 day delivery. legal drugs to your door. learn what "legal drug" is in Japanese. Put it in your goolge search and choose your "flavor." your welcome.

A little more help please!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites