What I’ve Learned About Japanese Customs

Rirakkuma - Japanese Rule of 7

It rained last week. And as I walked into the lobby of my Japanese office building, there was my coworker in front of me, the strawberry-blonde gal who speaks pretty good Japanese. And perhaps because she’d mostly mastered the language, it was surprising to note she’d failed to successfully navigate the entire minefield of Japanese customs: she hadn’t wrapped up her umbrella. You know that little strap you wind around to hold the umbrella closed? Yeah, she hadn’t done that. This is the Japanese equivalent of not zipping up your fly.

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How to Make Japanese Food

Japanese Cat - Japanese Rule of 7

Making Japanese food’s like making love. Doesn’t have to take a long time if you know what you’re doing. And when people ask why Ken Seeroi does it so well, hey, it’s all those kitchen hours spent with Japanese women bent over the stove. Sure, you can make it a lengthy, hard endeavor, or you can get busy and get done. So let’s take that route. Seeroi Sensei ain’t trying to put in overtime. And if your average salarywoman calls that laziness, fine. I say it’s efficiency. Semantics.

But What is Japanese Food?

Right from the start, even defining Japanese food presents a challenge. As with everything in this damn nation, what’s blindingly obvious to Japanese folks is utterly baffling to outsiders.

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Cheating in Japan

Kyoto - Ken Seeroi

“Hi Ken,

What do you think of cheating as a subject in Japan? I recently watched this video and it says over 80% of women here cheat. How true is that?”

Okay, so several years ago I met a dude in Osaka, who’d just moved there for work. We were standing in an empty shell of a building, drinking shochu and eating dried daikon with bits of cream cheese. Who says Japanese bars aren’t the best?

Me? Oh, right. Well, anyway, he mentioned a wife and daughter back in Chiba, so I replied, “Must be hard being away.”

“Nah,” he answered, “my wife said I can have a girlfriend.”

And I was like, “Whaaa? She said whaaa?” Probably should work on sounding out my consonants a bit more.

Cheating in Japan

Then fast-forward a couple of years, when I told my girlfriend at the time I was moving out of Tokyo.

“I’m leaving,” I said.

“Yeah, okay,” she said. Really thought she’d take it a bit harder, to be honest.

“I don’t mind if you have another girlfriend,” she added.

“Will you have another boyfriend?” I asked.

“No guarantees,” she replied.

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Permanent Residency in Japan

Permanent Residency in Japan

The Monday after submitting my application for Permanent Residency in Japan, I started checking the mailbox.

Yeah, I knew it was a bit soon. The woman at the Immigration Office with the mismatched eyes said it’d take months, and I believed her. Still, I couldn’t resist the pull; every evening checking for a postcard from Immigration, walking past my dear friend Ato-san dying of lymphoma and the weird kid who shot me with the pellet gun. Ah, Japanese neighbors, you are my new countrymen. But of course the mailbox was always empty and somehow I was always disappointed. Such is the pitfall of my perpetual optimism.

And then one day out of the blue, I got a phone call. It was almost three months from the day I submitted my application.

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Naked Japanese

Guest post by Akita Ben

Well, wish I could say I’ve been too busy enjoying life in Japan to write any updates, but that depends on whether you consider spending the better part of February binge-watching The Sopranos as being busy. Or Japan. Nothing like watching an American drama about Italians to make one really appreciate living abroad.

I survived the long snowy winter, which coming from California, was my first real experience with freezing cold. Actually not so bad, though I was lucky since this year was exceptionally mild by Northern Japan standards. Still, any amount of snow is a lot to me, but I was able to endure it and drive in it without incident. I’m actually quite proud of myself. I even enjoy the snow – though, not gonna lie, I’m thrilled that spring is coming. I’ve now been in Japan for half a year and have come to discover a bit about myself and the place in that time . . .

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