I Was Drugged in Tokyo.
I’ve spent the last week debating on whether or not to write this, and if I wrote it, what exactly to say and how exactly to say it. By now, most of my friends have heard at least the basic story, and so, I will retell the story here exactly as I remember it. Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned from my experiences, I’m still trying to learn from it myself.
Friday night, January 27th, I went out alone to party in Tokyo. From previous experiences, I felt confident that I would make friends quickly and proceed to have a good night with new people. Knowing the Metro stops running at midnight and begins running again at 5 am, I was planning on being out all night. I caught one of the last trains from Asakusa to Roppongi. I had heard from my hostel that this area was the place where tourists go party. Seeing as I speak no Japanese, I decided meeting tourists would be a lot easier than meeting locals.
Knowing I had to pace myself until the early afternoon, I didn’t have my first drink until after midnight. A had a Guinness and a Heineken from an Irish Pub called “Legends” and then proceeded down the strip to another tap house (the name of which currently alludes me). At the tap house, I drank a Shiga Kogen IPA and made a few friends from Canada and Australia. Having found a group of people to hang out with, we moved on to the club next-door to the tap house. I may have had a drink at the club, but honestly, I don’t remember having one. Anyway, it’s irrelevant. The main point is that I wasn’t intoxicated before the following events, which is partially how I discovered that I had been drugged.
Anyway, for some reason or another, I stepped outside of the club without any of my new found friends. Immediately outside the door, I was spoken to by a black man who spoke perfect English. He told me in short that the place I had just left wasn’t all that much fun and I should come with him to a better bar. I know, red flags, but after being in Japan for over a week and not hearing American English I was quick to trust this man. Obviously, this was a mistake.
I remember walking into an elevator, I remember screaming, I remember 3 taller black men shouting at me while pointing guns in my direction, I remember looking at a picture of me signing a receipt and I remember coming to full consciousness about four blocks away from my hostel in broad daylight at 9 am.
In the hours to come, I realized that there were around $10,000 in charges made to my credit card, and all the money in my wallet was gone. I withdrew about $200 USD from the ATM (So that I had enough money for food and what not) and canceled both of my cards immediately and reported the fraudulent charges. Whatever I was drugged with put me in real bad shape for the next 2 days. I couldn’t sleep, I kept shaking uncontrollably and I kept getting bouts of extreme paranoia and anxiety. After the 48 hours, I decided to come back home early, and so I did.
Since then I have managed to get the charges off of my credit card and my mannerisms have returned to normal. The periods of paranoia stopped shortly after I got back to the US and the anxiety has since subsided. I have read up on the incident and apparently there is a warning currently in Tokyo issued by the US Embassy for this very crime that happened to me.
I am extremely thankful for my parents, my brother, and my girlfriend, who spoke with me during this time. They helped calm me down when I was having withdrawals and they provided the emotional support I needed to get back to America and get back to normal again.
At the moment my only advice I can give from such an event is to be careful. If you are out alone in a foreign area, don’t be too quick to trust. If something feels weird, definitely second guess what is going on. Also, most importantly, be aware of warnings in the area you are in. The embassy is usually pretty good at providing this information for travelers.
And yes, I will continue travel, this is just one bad experience out of thousands of great ones.