ScreenHunter_59 Mar. 05 16.43

There are two types of people that, no matter how much they love the culture, are ultimately going to have a bad time in Japan: Vegetarians, and teetotalers.

Basically every meal in Japan has some type of meat in it, and the more strict you are with your vegetarian/vegen diet, the more difficult it’s going to be to find something to eat. Even supposedly vegetarian options sometimes contain pork or chicken broth or other sneaky animal product additions. And when it comes to those who choose not to drink, or can’t because of medical conditions, it’s almost as hard to get by, if not harder.

Thankfully, Suntory is here to help. Sort of.

Japan’s very societal framework is underpinned by a massive, enthusiastic drinking culture. Alcohol is eeeeeeeverywhere, and heavy drinking is not only condoned, it’s downright required in a lot of situations. We’ve all heard about Japan’s notorious nomikai – drinking parties that are typically work-related and involve the guzzling of copious amounts of beer, cocktails and liquor, often at the behest of your superiors. When a bunch of people from one department all call in sick on a Thursday, you can damn well bet there was a raging nomikai the night before.

It’s also notoriously difficult to decline offers from coworkers to go out drinking. While the consequences might not be immediately visible, those that decline consistently or skip out on major nomikai like the especially crazy bounenkai year-end parties (where you are guaranteed to see at least one co-worker naked and dancing on a table or puking in the restroom) will find themselves conspicuously skipped over for promotions, cold-shouldered by coworkers, admonished as not being “team players” or find themselves the butt of constant, passive-aggressive jokes about how they can’t hold their liquor.

Luckily for non-drinkers in Japan, though, beverage company Suntory is running a new ad campaign designed to help you reject those unwanted party invitations with style and grace.

These posters are modeled after guides for fancy figure skating moves and feature various one-liners guaranteed to get you off the hook. Such as:

“My leg just popped in the weirdest way. Gonna have to pass.” 

“If it’s not near the station…”

“I already decided to go straight home.”

“Pretty sure it’s this guy’s turn tonight!”

“I’m not wearing makeup today. Definitely not going!”

“The weather looks like it’s turning for the worse.”

“No no no no no no!”

“I could have gone if it were tomorrow…”

“You guys have fun without me!”

Obviously, Suntory is having a bit of fun with their overarching “take a break from the booze once in a while” message, but, real talk here: Most of these aren’t even really excuses at all and none of them will help avert a public shaming for skipping out on a nomikai. Really need to skip out and want a solid excuse? Just tell your co-workers you’re on pain killers and can’t drink. No matter how sadistic the drinking culture gets out here, your boss isn’t going to risk killing you.

Or, use the tried and true technique of pointing behind someone and saying, “What’s that over there?!” before bolting for the door.