Row of Jail Cells

It was all an accident.

He started it.

You didn’t even realize you were holding that large, frosted beer mug; you were just trying to protect yourself; your friend; your girl.  It’s not your fault, right?

The thing is, you can go over and over these ideas in your head but it won’t change the fact that you’ve been arrested and are now sitting in a Japanese jail cell.

Oh sure, your lawyer is working hard to get you out on bail…

Your Lawyer.
Your Lawyer.

…but until that doesn’t happen you need to start making things as comfortable as possible for yourself.

Embrace the seven following suggestions.

7. Money

This seems obvious but believe it or not there are some people in jail that have none of it and that sucks.  You need money for everything: buying better lunch sets to ward off scurvy and eventually suicide, purchasing hygiene products because people can’t bring you those and of course the all important “bail” money for your “lawyer.”

Because you totally get bail.  Totally.

In addition to all that it’s good to have some money sitting in your clink account for when you get out.  Kita-Senju is not the most convenient location in Tokyo and nothing is easier to spot on the train than the guy who just got out of jail.  A taxi ride might be in order or at least a stiff drink.

6. Comfortable Clothes

Spending hour after abysmal hour sitting on the cold hard floor in a prison cell with six other depressed humans might sound like a gas to some of you, but it actually isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Your ass, legs and back begin to ache something incredible and there is nothing you can do. No leaning and no laying down.  So, to lesson this torture, make sure your people bring you comfortable clothes that fit you.  Nothing is worse than doing your time in the pair of dress slacks and under shirt you were wearing when you got picked up; nothing except getting raped in the shower.

Generally, everyone is in sweat suits/track suits however if you are more “at home” in a pair of baggy jeans, very well.

The preferred sweat suit brand for  jailed Yakuza. Seriously.
The preferred sweat suit brand for jailed Yakuza. Seriously.

5. Have a Nice Change of Clothes

Comfort is paramount because life sucks in jail. That having been said, at some point you will have to go before a judge and despite the Japanese criminal population’s insistence on a quasi homeless-monk appearance to dig up some pity points, Japan is a country that wants foreigners to look a certain way. Go into all court proceedings looking like a balanced and hard working gaikokujin.  A pair of slacks, clean ones, and a white collared shirt will do.  You’ll be surprised how well this ensemble matches your handcuffs and waist restraints.


4. Books

So, you never really “got into books.”  Someone has actually said this to me, recently and it is still flipping my reality out, but some people it seems, don’t like to read.  I know it must be exhausting: looking at all those letters on a page, but if it’s between sitting and staring at one of your neanderthal cell mates dig greasy rocks out of his nose or reading a book, which are you going to opt for?  Exactly.

Get your people, assuming you have them and are not solidly hated by all, to bring a diverse selection of books. You will likely only be allowed three books at a time, so make sure they are big ones. Maybe one history and two fiction? We will leave that up to your own developed literary tastes but get books, you should.

You are locked up and your life is a steaming pile of feces and bile but at least you can take advantage of the ludicrous amounts of free time and expand your mind.

In fact, the books you read while behind bars will likely stay with you forever.  You will never so totally focus on or cherish someone’s stories again like you will in that situation.  It is a great escape.

But sometimes Hemingway just doesn’t cut it. So…

3. Porn

Whether you like it or not, read it or don’t, porn is a valuable commodity in Japanese jail.  Why? There is a distinct lack of it.

Now, rules and regulations might differ depending on the location you are at or the level of your detention, but generally soft-core porn is allowed.  So, why the lack of such a welcome diversion?  Simply put, most detainees are brought books, comics and money by their mommies or their wives.  Within Japanese society, visiting your “home-dawg” in jail is just not a thing people really do.  They no longer want to be associated with you and it is frankly shocking how quickly people who seem to have had extensive social networks  are suddenly utterly alone.

With no friends visiting and Mom doing your trips to the book store, porn is just not plentiful. So, having it gives you something to barter with. Maybe for someones extra coffee, or maybe to borrow something they have that you need or maybe just to build some rapport with a guy missing a finger.

Sex talk and stories of past dirty exploits, debauchery and what kind of woman so and so likes are basically the male version’s of universal communication.

How to make friends and influence people.
How to make friends and influence people.

2. Communication

Maybe you think you are just going to ride this out in silence but you would be wrong.  Communication and rapport, built up gradually with your cell mates and the guards is important.

By cell mates, we are talking particularly about the one sleeping up next to the door. He has likely been there the longest, even up to a year or more awaiting trial and knows the in’s and out’s.  You two don’t have to be best friends, but being able to talk to him from time to time alleviates boredom and can keep you in the lope so to speak regarding the progression of things and what to expect.  Also, his situation is likely much, much more dismal than yours and that can be sort of uplifting in a horrible Dog-eat-Dog sort of way.

Building rapport with guards is more tricky because you almost always have to wait for them to initiate it. However, there are things that you can do like following the rules  and simply reading real books, as opposed to comics, that will help create an image of you being a decent citizen who made a mistake rather than a genuine punk, that might help.

Something that also helps with this is…

1. An Iron Clad Workout Routine

Almost without exception while in police custody, nobody works out at all. There is no real allotted time for it.  The “outdoor time” is brief, for shaving and smoking, and not really outdoors.  So, if you plan on building one of those prison hard physiques it’s all on you.

While keeping in mind that bathing goes only once every five days and you have to share a cell with six or more people, an easy routine of pushups, squats and sit ups can help to keep you somewhat conditioned, flexible and mentally sharp. There is no place to do pullups. The cells are constructed this way and are nearly suicide proof.

More challenging exercises such as hand-stand pushups, wall walks and the planche will actually get you in shape and send a fairly clear signal to others: “I am not to be fucked with.”

For this to work though, the routine and your dedication to it must be unshakeable. Training should occur daily, preferably at the same times.

Sure, some of the more sedentary detainees might be annoyed by your energy and effort so just ignore them. You will notice other people getting the workout bug and knocking out sets on their own.

So if all else fails just remember: Jail, a great place to expand your mind and decrease your waist line.

And to get raped in the shower.

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