The older man and the beer can

Festivals in Japan tend to bring out the worst in some people. The kinds of people who carry four cameras and a stepladder, and don’t see a problem with that.

For example, this is from Aizen Matsuri last year:


But stay alert, my friends. People will try to ruin your day even when they’re not carrying face-sized flash cubes.

At the last festival I went to, I was lucky enough to nab a front row spot for the opening parade. It was packed, over an hour before the event started. Knowing there were loads of cameras hovering behind my shoulder felt like the lenses were burning into my back.


This guy next to me (not pictured, other side) was drinking a beer at 11am. It likely wasn’t his first of the day. I think we’ve all been there. Possibly not at an anime cosplay festival, but each to their own.

Having to share air with people like this is inevitable.

He kept turning and looking at me. Blatantly. Maybe he thought my wearing sunglasses meant I couldn’t see him. Once he realised that was a stupid plan, he took out a mirror and started watching me through that.

Then he turned away, finally. He crouched down to empty the last dregs of beer onto the ground. And tucked the empty can away under his coat as he stood back up. Considering the lack of bins and the ‘take it home with you’ mentality here in Japan, that wasn’t unusual.

What was unusual… was that he brought the can back out a few minutes later and emptied it out again. Dangerously close to my shoes.

Let’s be clear, this wasn’t a case of ‘needs must’. There was a convenience store (with a loo) on the street right behind us. This guy was so pissed he just pissed, and I was pissed off.

I turned to the person standing the other side of me.

“Um, can I switch places with you please? This guy is…”

…and as I turned to not-so-subtly point, he was leaning in to try and listen.

The nicer spectator happily swapped with me. He also had parade security remove Beery McPeeface pretty damn sharpish. We didn’t see him again – maybe he missed the whole thing. That’s karma for you.

I hope that guy learned a valuable lesson. And I hope that the kids who took his place washed their hands afterwards.