My Date with a Japanese Babe

This is a short story about the surprises one can expect in Japan. Like the other day, it was two in the afternoon and I was heading to this bar.

The end. See, I told you it was short. Hey, it’s hard to find an izakaya open before six. But leave it to Ken Seeroi to locate a ramshackle joint with a 3-drink deal, including sashimi appetizer, for ten bucks. I’m a sucker for specials.

I decided to ride the bike there, to get in a bit of health before the booze. It was a warm Sunday, and I was casually coasting down this long hill, when suddenly the back tire went flat. Must’ve hit a nail or something. Then the front brake popped off the handlebar. When you only shell out forty bucks for an old rusty basket bike, that’s about par for the course. So as I was working to slow down with combination of shoe leather and prayer, I passed a naked baby. Nothing surprises me any more.

Japan, the Safe Country

I ground to a stop along the side of the road, looked back, and there he was, just stumbling off into the distance, butt naked. Not so much as a diaper. It was a pretty busy road with no sidewalk, cars and trucks whizzing past.

Jeez. again? Millions of Japanese folks in this country, and it’s up to the white guy to save everyone? This brought to mind a conversation I’d had with lady from China several years ago.

“Japan’s such a safe country,” I said proudly. “Even little children walk places by themselves.”

“Safe?” she said. “More like a nation where people don’t care about their kids.”

Funny how individuals can see the same thing yet reach differing conclusions. To her point, the newspaper does carry stories of abductions with startling frequency. I really gotta stick to reading the news in English. So much happier. I turned around and pushed the bike back toward the child.

Naked Japanese Babe

As I got closer, yep, he was clearly a boy. Because wiener. He was reaching up to a vending machine, fixated on the cans of coffee. He kept trying to put in change, only he was literally like one foot tall.

My first thought was, Maybe I should boost him up? I mean, if he wanted a can of coffee that badly, well, I can certainly understand that. I get that way too. And then I was like, wait, why would a baby want a can of coffee? Maybe…he’s not a baby—maybe he’s a midget, like a naked midget. Yo, sometimes things in this country are so weird that even crazy stuff seems normal. So I bent down and said in Japanese, “Hey man, you uh, need some help?”

And then I saw in his tiny hand he had all of 27 yen, and I was like Ken, you fucking idiot, that’s not a foot-tall midget who forgot his pants—that’s an actual baby. A midget would have more than 27 yen. So then I was like, maybe I should lend him a buck for coffee. That’d be the sensible thing to do.

He just kept reaching up, like he really wanted it, but he was so short, it wasn’t even close. So I squatted down and said, “Coffee? Is that what you want? Black coffee?”

He didn’t say anything. He just handed me the yen. So it occurred to me, maybe he’s mute. I mean, he doesn’t even have clothes, so that kind of made sense. But I thought, well, at least he could gesture, unless he’s deaf too, so I asked “Where’s you’re mom? Mommy?” But he just kept pointing at the cans of coffee. Hey, priorities, I get that.

A Japanese Parade

Just then, I became conscious of someone else nearby. I turned around, and across the street was a Japanese man holding a child of about three or four, just staring at me. And I was like, okay, this doesn’t look all that great, a big, hairy foreign guy crouched next to a naked boy. So I hurriedly started trying to give the baby back his 27 yen, but the little bastard wouldn’t take it. “This isn’t how it looks,” I yelled across the street. “He just wanted some coffee,” I added. Cleared that right up.

Then the baby turned around and stumbled back the way he came. A truck went by and missed him by no more than a couple of feet. I followed behind. I mean, I still had his coins. I really wanted to pick him up, but I thought that’d make things even weirder, so we just continued our little parade, naked baby, big white guy.

We crossed a side street, and over a small causeway. We actually went a pretty good distance, until we finally came to a house with the gate open, and the baby tottered his way through it. I hesitated for a moment, then followed him up to the front door, which was also open. He disappeared inside.

Visiting a Japanese Home

I stood there and thought, Well, now what? I still had his change, so I called inside softly, “Uh, hello…”

A boy of about eight came to the door.

“Was that your little brother?” I asked in Japanese.

He nodded.

“Are your parents home?”

He nodded again. Not real chatty, the Japanese.

“I found him walking by the side of the road,” I said. “I think he wanted a can of coffee. Here’s his yen.”

“Thank you,” he said.

I considered having a word with the parents, but something about the fact that I’d walked around with their naked son and stolen his money helped me decide I’d done enough for one day.

“You should keep the front door closed,” I said. “And get him some pants.”

The boy nodded again, and I went back to my bike. The guy across the road was still staring at me. Christ, what a country. I tucked the front brake into the basket and rode the flat to the bar. No sense trying to effect major repairs sober.

And then everything was normal. I sat at the counter, had my sashimi, a beer, and two shochu’s. Japan’s a long stream of predictability, punctuated by flashes of weirdness. And then after a while, even that starts to seem normal. What a country.

40 Replies to “My Date with a Japanese Babe”

  1. Now in Japan we have naked babies on caffeine.I thought for a moment the guy on the other side would actually be the naked baby’s father, plot twist maybe?.
    Well, that sure was weird, man. But speaking of naked, in China, should the kid want to piss, that’s ok, they put them to piss right on the streets in front of everyone, without even blink.

      1. Public urinals in Europe weird me out. I’ve had men tip their hats at me while going to the bathroom. Recently in Amsterdam. Am I an uptight American?

  2. Your adventures are like those of a super-hero with no super-powers other than strong ethics. Chaperones naked babies, confronts bb-gun terrorists, manages not to get shot by American cops, gets between a yakuza and his victim… Rates a cape, surely

    1. And yet, that’s the last thing in the world I want.

      I’d actually prefer not to get involved. I just can’t seem to find any other option. I don’t feel strongly driven by ethics, and clearly my moral compass points directions like the wind blows. I’d like to think my behavior is simply consistent with common sense.

      Which apparently isn’t all that common. Well whatever, I flat-out can’t see any other way of acting. You can’t just turn and walk away.

      1. Yep,common sense, morals and ethhics,3 things interpreted very differently.

        Common sense,sense not so common,my head is still spinning from my years in Japan.Funniest thing to watch is my Japanese wifes head start to spin in the opposite direction as she approaches these issues through a new (western) lense.Correct? Incorrect?
        Right ?Wrong?
        2 year old going to get himself a Big Boss double shot from a vending machine? I’ll take that over my 16 year old next door neighbour unable to walk 800m to the bus stop without one of his parents chaperoning his every step (not Japan)
        Thanks again Ken.
        Beer tickets on the way when I get on my grown up computer.And hey…you bod’s who love Kens work,lets keep him motivated.

        1. Ah, thanks much. I really appreciate the support.

          It wasn’t too long ago that kids in the U.S. used to walk around by themselves. I grew up before the age of SUV’s and soccer moms, when children walked to school alone and played outdoors until after dark in the summers.

          If anything, the U.S. is probably safer now. But along the way, people’s attitude toward safety changed. In this one respect, quite ironically, Japan’s more relaxed than the U.S.

          1. It’s happening here too. The regular folk are letting their kids walk to school, but the more upper class folk cannot fathom leaving their 13-year-old alone in the house. My eikaiwa guy drives his daughter to school every day, even if it’s a 5 minute walk in one of the classiest neighbourhoods in the city.

            1. It’s sad to see that. Although I don’t think Japan’s as safe as some claim, I hate to see people ruled by fear.

              There are plenty of dangers in the world, no matter what country you’re in, although people don’t seem very good at evaluating risks. Rather, we all tend to be swayed by whatever gets the most media coverage.

              I’m pretty sure more kids die from their grandmother’s holiday mochi than from walking to school.

        1. Thanks, I think. I never know how much my stuff meets the criteria of “story,” but eh, one does what one can. Anyway, guess I’ll keep doing it a little longer.

  3. You remind me of Don Diego, aka Zorro; you always make us think that you’re only into beer and women, but really you’re very insightful, Ken Seeroi. Please write a book soon! Looking forward to the next one already.

    1. Zorro? Pardon me while I sharpen my rapier. That’s a very kind thing to say. Apparently I’ll have to work harder to protect my secret identity. This calls for an increase in beer and women.

  4. It would really make my day if you answered thr following question i have….

    how does one womanize and get laid in japan if they don know japanese and are not white like myself….? i was thinking maybe i can use google translate lol….your input would be very helpful.

    1. There’s nothing special about Japan. I doubt language, or even appearance, are the biggest challenges.

      Look, the woman makes the choice. An attractive woman gets approached by men all the time. Interesting, funny guys. Guys who speak well and that she can relate to. Guys with great bodies. Guys who are handsome and dress well. Guys who are wealthy and socially powerful. She even gets hit on by girls. For her to choose you, you have to be her best option. And that assumes she even has the time and disposition to meet someone at all.

      It’s not easy to meet women anywhere. That’s why it’s called getting lucky.

  5. Hi Ken, I was so excited when I got the notice on my facebook about your new article, your date with Japanese babe. So I was like ‘yay, happy ending story for Ken finally, can’t wait to read’. so I read it and it was an actual baby (^-^). Oh well, at least he sounds cute and you kept him safe. Oh and thank you so much for adding me facebook (^0^). your fangirl from NZ (^-^) ( with Chris brown’s music in the background makes so much more sense)

    1. Hey Chichi,

      I thought this one had a pretty happy ending, although I know you were hoping for the prince and princess to ride into the sunset on a tandem mamachari. Well, me too. Anyway, thanks for encouraging my positivity. You’re wonderful for doing so.

  6. Another great article, thank you Ken! You are an excellent writer.

    Do you think the majority of Japanese men drink regularly? I have this picture in my head that everyone from company X goes out and gets sauced with their co-workers every Friday night, but I honestly can’t even explain why that image is in my head. Maybe too much Japanese Drama. Maybe too much Ken Seeroi.

    1. Thanks for the props, seriously.

      I think the short answer to your question is going to be, well, maybe.

      Drinking in Japan is really different to drinking in, say, the U.S. In Japan, drinks are usually consumed with food. So it wouldn’t be unusual for a man or woman to have a couple of beers with dinner, in the same way that Europeans might have wine. Alcohol doesn’t have as much of that “vice” association—it may not always be healthy, but it’s not a sin.

      The fabled obligatory-drinking-with-coworkers does still exist, although you’ll also see folks ordering oolong tea instead of booze. There’s also the notorious nomihoudai, or all-you-can-drink special, but even then I’d say most people drink fairly responsibly.

      Of course, the counterpoint is the fact that you’ll occasionally see men in suits passed out on the sidewalk. But then, in a city the size of Tokyo or even Osaka, it’s statistically not really that many people.

      What you don’t have in Japan is a lot of actual bars. (Which is unfortunate.) That is, a place you can just duck into, order a beer, and then leave and go to the next place. There are a few Irish bars, and once in a while a standing bar, but they’re relatively few. Most of the drinking involves sitting down and consuming food of some sort. So the casual mingling and striking up of conversations with strangers is relatively curtailed.

      It’s kind of hard to explain, actually.

  7. Hey Ken, thank you for continuing giving us your wise and insightful unbiased thoughts on Japan. They kind of prepared me very well before coming here so at least I wasn’t that much surprised by some of the stuff that goes on here, for which I am eternally grateful. I hope that my question is not off-topic but I really wanted to ask what is your opinion of Osaka? Do you think that people there are really more easy going and open-minded towards foreigners or this is just another stereotype? I know that is hard or just not right to generalize like that but still I would like to hear your thoughts about the city.

    1. I don’t know how to reply to your eternal gratitude, except perhaps by saying you have my eternal “you’re welcome.”

      So Osaka, yeah, I’ve been there a number of times. Pretty cool city. Good food, especially if you enjoy heavier flavors. Kinda reminds me of Chicago in an industrial, urban grime, second-city kind of way. Not really much to look at, but more down to earth than New York or Tokyo. Apologies if I just pissed off the residents of two cities at once.

      Moving on. My understanding of the Osaka stereotype is a little different. Residents are known for being loud, straightforward, having a peculiar sense of humor, and wearing gaudy clothes. But I’ve yet to encounter a region of Japan that’s open-minded towards foreigners.

      The fact you said “more” easy going and open-minded is telling, as I believe we tend to use Tokyo as the basis for comparison. The truth is, everywhere you go outside of Tokyo is (relatively) more relaxed, louder, and more straightforward. Open-minded towards “foreigners,” well, that’s another matter.

  8. Re: Osaka. When I went to Japan for the first time, I went to Osaka ny train to visit a museum there. I did not know anything about Osakas reputation or the reputation of its inhabitants.

    The moment I left the train and went down towards the subway I felt insecure, as I thought the people were moving differently, were having a different body language than those in Kyoto and Tokyo. I watched quite mesmerized the people n the subway train.

    When I returned to Tokyo, I felt sure it could not be, I must have been an error, something wrong with my looking at my surroundings, and I could not put my finger on this difference…somehoe they moved more ‘western style’ there…

    So I went back to Osaka, at the cost of a precious day in Tokyo- I had not much time- and there it was again. They moved differently.

    It was only after this experience that I started asking people about Osaka, if people in Japan thought them to behave somewhat differently…

    Fascinaiting.

    I have to go back to Osaka again

  9. …have to add, at this time I spoke not a word of Japanese and was seeing, watching all the time, just mostly watching…trying to sample as many impressions as possible just by looking at things and people.

    So I cannot say anything about the ‘ Osakans’ beimg more or less open-minded, but they sure move differently. Perhaps this is what gives them their reputation??.

    1. One of my memories of Osaka is seeing an old lady on the sidewalk surrounded by cages with cats in them. She was shouting as passers-by through a megaphone, presumably to come check out her cats. When I paused to look at the cats, she started shouting at me — through the megaphone — to stop looking at the cats! Am I misguided to think that this scene would not have occurred in Tokyo?

      1. You’re right. It’s probably less likely.

        Despite all propaganda to the contrary, Japan’s not one uniform nation with homogeneous people. The regions vary considerably, and locals treat folks from outside their area with suspicion and ridicule.

        Which is to say that the crazy cat lady in Tokyo may not look favorably upon the crazy cat lady from Osaka.

      1. I did when I was younger and it was more verboehten as they mentioned. Not sure how “fun” it is now that it’s somewhat accepted…but like many things, alcohol and good people tend to be a great combination.

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