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It’s finally Friday here in Tokyo, and hundreds of thousands of people are gearing up for a night on the town. The weather is fine, the pubs plentiful, and with work done for another week it’s time to cut back and relax with a few beers.

Unfortunately, a lot of people in Japan tend to overdo it when it comes to drink. Combined with an alcohol intolerance that is surprisingly common amongst Asian people, this results in a shockingly high number of alcohol-related mishaps, with businessmen, beautifully dressed girls and college kids alike passing out on the street, in stairwells, on trains and station platforms pretty much every weekend.

The Yaocho Bar Group has been out looking for these sleeping drunks, however, and when they find one they swoop in like a band of rogue graffiti artists, using duct tape and pre-printed messages and slogans to construct a billboard around them, clearly labelling the drinker with the word nomisugi, or “drank too much’.

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It happens to pretty much everyone at least once in their lifetime. You’re out drinking with friends and feeling pleasantly buzzed when you get roped into doing a couple of Sambuca shots. Then it suddenly hits you: you’ve drunk too much. By the time the room starts spinning it’s already too late, and as you order a giant glass of iced water in a vain attempt to combat the alcohol going to work on your brain or at least lessen the inevitable hangover, you realise it’s going to be a long, miserable night.

For Japanese people, however, the effects of alcohol are often so much worse. Many Asian people simply cannot tolerate alcohol well, so when they drink more than they should – even if that’s just a few beers – their bodies simply shut down and they fall asleep, dead to the world around them.

We’ve all seen photos of the guy passed out on the floor of a Tokyo subway train, and many have no doubt wondered why, particularly in as conservative a society as Japan’s, this behaviour could ever be considered acceptable. But the truth is, while Japan values hard work over pretty much anything else, its people are also extremely willing to forgive drunken mishaps precisely for that reason. If a salaryman overdoes it and passes out on the train, he was probably just kicking back after a tough week at the office, fellow passengers think as they step over his legs or gently nudge him off their shoulder on the train. Those college kids who can barely stand? They probably just passed some big exam or were offered a job after they graduate.

Getting drunk is something that people do to let off steam, and goodness knows the Japanese have a lot of that pent up inside them.

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But besides the trauma they put their body through when drinking to excess (there’s a reason they call it alcohol poisoning, after all), sleeping drunks also risk physical injury, being robbed, and become a hazard to others, so it does seem strange that people should tolerate the behaviour when they can’t the stuff that causes it.

In order to address the situation, Japan’s Yaocho Bar Group decided to turn a few of Tokyo’s snoozing boozers into living billboards. By surrounding them with tape and pre-printed messages including the hashtag #nomisugi – literally meaning “drank too much” and which the group encourages people to use when they inevitably photograph the scenes and share them online – Yaocho hopes that people will change the way they think about drinking to excess.

Here’s their video in full.

We highly doubt that the group used actual drunks in the making of their video (especially since it would be wrong to assume that every person passed out in the street is drunk–they could in fact be in need of medical attention), but even so we have to commend them for coming up with such a powerful and entertaining method of sending a message to the people of Japan, and hopefully this will encourage a few more drinkers to say no when they’ve reached their personal limit.

I mean, can you imagine how unpleasant it would be to wake up in the street with a hangover, surrounded by a makeshift alcohol-awareness ad, and with strangers taking your photo and sharing it on Twitter? If that’s not enough to make you rethink ordering a round of shots for the road, I don’t know what will.

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Source/screenshots: YouTube Yaocho Bar Group