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The Most Dangerous Animal in Japan

“Ah man, I’d love to have a few beers, but I promised Eriko I’d watch the kids.” This is my buddy, let’s just call him Joe, since that’s his name. He’s got two kids. So then I Line’d Dave. His wife speaks English, so to protect his identity, we’ll just call him “Matt.” Kind of...
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How Japan Killed my Vegetarianism

“Okay, how ‘bout a sheep. Would you have sex with a sheep?” I asked. “Mmm,” Ryan replied. “Boy sheep or girl? “Like it matters? “If it’s a boy sheep, that’s gay. Okay, let’s say I bought a hamburger, would you eat it? “Nope,” I said, “No way. “For a hundred dollars?” This was twelve years...
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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

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

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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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

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

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

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

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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