Real Japan: Why Everything You’ve Heard is Wrong

Japanese cedar

When Asami wiped out on her bike outside Ueno station, she lay on the sidewalk with a broken wrist “and everybody just stepped around me. Not one person tried to help.”

She recounted this accident as we sat out at Starbucks, between sips of a Frappuccino with her left hand, the right being bound in a light blue cast.

“Japanese people are terrible,” she concluded.

“Maybe they’re just shy,” I suggested. Folks here love that excuse for avoiding anything difficult or unpleasant.

And yet, I knew what she meant. Japanese people are terrible. Some of the rudest bastards you’ll ever meet. Except for the nice ones, of course, Asami included. At least part of the time.

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Japanese Values

Japanese Ramen Shop

“OK, you got me, why do they make things so difficult?” —St Germain

As a not-so-casual observer of Japanese girls, something I’ve always wondered was: Why are they so sad? They weave through crowds staring dejectedly at their platform shoes, or scrunch over their phones on the train, trying desperately to tune out the world. So I consulted Seina, since she’s got an answer for everything.

“Why,” I asked, “are Japanese girls so sad? That’s something I’ve always wondered.”

“Because they’re not happy,” Seina replied. I don’t know why I’m consistently surprised by the obvious.

“Well, why aren’t they happy?” I pressed.

“Probably they don’t want to be.”

“Who doesn’t want to be happy?”

“People who are sad.”

I could find no flaw in that geometry. You gotta appreciate a perfect circle.

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Do You Sound Like a Japanese Girl?

Japanese wind chimes

Recently, a reader posed an interesting question:

When you speak Japanese is it men’s version or women’s? I’ve known a few Americans who were taught by women and live and work in Japan. They usually get no respect in the business world because they sound effeminate.

This brought to mind a conversation I had with the fearsome Sachiko. Now, some people say the truth is elusive. Clearly, those people have never met The Sachiko.

“Look what I got you,” I beamed, “A Rirakkuma handkerchief! Check out the embroidering—see the little bear? He’s so cute! Eating a tiny stack of pancakes! Do you love it?”

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There is No Japanese Breakfast

Japanese Breakfast

Japan has no breakfast. That’s a natural fact. So a lot of mornings, I find myself munching down cold rice balls in the park, simply because there’s nowhere else to sit in this bloody country. It really speaks volumes about a place when it’s specifically designed not to provide seats at bus stops or even a low wall where you could just rest for a moment. But nope; throughout Japan, there’s a lack of horizontal surfaces. This keeps salarymen, housewives, and children in school uniforms shuffling forward, wandering the streets like an army of exhausted zombies. Well, wheels of progress and all.

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Japanese University is a Joke

Ken Seeroi

Know the biggest challenge you’ll face in Japan during the COVID crisis? Turns out it’s trying to determine what hotties with hard bodies look like under those masks. Nobody wants to get all the way to the bedroom only to have an episode of, Oh jeez, put it back on, put it back on. Ken Seeroi’s all about mitigating risk. That’s why I keep a selection of cute wigs on hand, just in case. Then if anybody’s disappointed, at least I can throw one on. You’d be surprised how good I look with bangs. Trust me, “surprised” is an understatement.

So I’m in the university office last Tuesday, and this is Ms. Eguchi, from behind her mask— “Ken Sensei, please don’t make the final assignment too hard.”

She’s concerned I’ll fail my entire class of undergraduates again this semester. I’m concerned too, considering the problem at hand, which is that I’ve never seen her face despite having a body that reminds me of warm hills and ample valleys.

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