Strange English I can’t Understand

Strange English I can’t Understand

Living in Japan, you’re basically trapped in a tiny spaceship, peering down through clouds and picking up intermittent snippets of news floating skyward from earth. I first heard “Poker Face” in a smoky Shinjuku karaoke bar, when some girl belted out Mum mum mum mah. Some complicated lyrics, those. And I learned the results of…

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Japanese Racism

Japanese Racism

The first time I had a white kid in my English class, I couldn’t stop staring at him. He was floating among a sea of Asian faces in our sweaty, countryside classroom. I rattled my head and gazed briefly out the window. Steam was rising from the mountains in the distance, and in the foreground…

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How Americans get Shot by the Police

How Americans get Shot by the Police

It’s a funny feeling, being surrounded by a gang of cops, what with the yelling and pointing of guns and all. My first thought was, being shot to death on vacation’s gonna suck. It’d started off well enough. Hidemi and I had breezed in from Haneda two days before. She’d wanted to go to California,…

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Are Japanese People Retarded?

Are Japanese People Retarded?

When I turned around from the chalkboard, there was chubby Mr. Kamei with his plump fist stuffed inside his waistband. We were in the middle of English 301 and he’d either developed one fearsome case of poison ivy in his pants or was masturbating like crazy. This is what it’s like teaching college in Japan….

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Your Brain on 10,000 Sentences

Your Brain on 10,000 Sentences

You’re gonna need a way bigger hat All my life goals come from the internet. And so somewhere, in the ten minutes a day I spend surfing sites that don’t need to be immediately cleared from my browser, I stumbled upon the notion that studying 10,000 sentences was the one true path to learning Japanese….

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Renting an Apartment in Japan

Renting an Apartment in Japan

I recently moved to a new apartment, my sixth since coming to Japan, and I couldn’t be happier. My first place left a wee bit to be desired, consisting of a dreary, small box with alternating views of a machine shop and a cinder-block wall. Well, at least it had two windows, so that was…

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7 Rules for Karaoke in Japan

7 Rules for Karaoke in Japan

If you happen to find yourself in Tokyo, then Shibuya’s a great place to start an evening. So we were there at Starbucks, just Aki and me slamming back steaming black grandes and Hitomi sipping some kind of whipped cream desert marketed to her as a coffee. I swear I don’t know how she stays…

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What Japanese Girls Want

What Japanese Girls Want

Mei’s the girlfriend you’d love to have but can’t, because my buddy Yuki got her first. She’s got big eyes, enormous boobs, long brown hair curled into ringlets, and an ass that’ll make you reevaluate your life. When Mei wears a sweater more people line up for a viewing than Star Wars. Is she smart?…

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Japan’s a Scam

Japan’s a Scam

I was drinking with Sandy in the park recently. It was dark and naturally we were on the swing set. “I’ll just never be happy here,” she said. “Congratulations,” I replied, “you’re finally Japanese. Here, have a chu-hi. It’s got real lemon flavor.” Then we kampai-ed as our swings passed, which is hard to do…

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Making Friends in Japan

Making Friends in Japan

People say Japan’s a lonely place. But people say a lot of things, including that America’s the greatest nation on earth. Well, they do have a lot of eagles, cheeseburgers, and guns, so I guess it must be true. Anyway, recently a reader asked if it was hard to make friends in Japan, to which…

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