Is Japan a Lonely Place?

Japanese Temple - Japanese Rule of 7

“Remember that place I used to live, on the 5th floor?”

If this was Emi’s way of asking if I could ever forget her tiny, damp apartment where we spent several nights a week cross-legged on the floor powering through tins of mackerel and cans of malt liquor, the answer would be a resounding Oh hell no.

“Oh hell yeah,” I answered resoundingly. “That place was the best.” And of course by “the best,” she knows I mean “the worst.”

“Well, I just found out my sister lives around the corner. We passed her house every day for two years and never knew it.” Continue reading “Is Japan a Lonely Place?”

Airbnb Japan: 4 Non-Obvious Things

Japanese Mice - Japanese Rule of 7

The coldest shower I ever took was at an Airbnb in Japan. It was in a tiny, freezing apartment in Fukuoka, in the dead of winter, as I was getting ready to go meet some girls.

“Maybe if I just wait a while,” I thought, “it’ll warm up.” You know how if you let cold water run long enough, it starts to feel a little warmer? Yeah, that didn’t happen. I searched for an invisible panel or switch to turn on. Nothing. I wrapped a towel around my waist and padded outside in bare feet to stare through the darkness at a rusted hot water heater hanging off the wall. I’d have about as much chance of fixing that as debugging R2D2. Snow flurries swirled through the night sky. Back inside, the jet stream was blowing them through an open vent in the tile wall. Japanese apartments have zero insulation. Continue reading “Airbnb Japan: 4 Non-Obvious Things”

A Sunday in Japan

Obama Japan

Last Sunday I went for a hike, I think. I mean, you’re never entirely sure what just happened in this strange country, but after a while you get used to it. That’s Japan in a nutshell.

It all started when Ruriko called at six A.M. I fell out of my futon, which albeit is about an inch high, turned off two alarm clocks and unplugged the lamp before realizing the source of annoyance was the phone. Really gotta remember to turn off that ringer.

“Ken!” she said brightly, “feel like going for a hike?” Ruriko made it sound like it was noon.

“Do I ever,” I replied. Continue reading “A Sunday in Japan”

Poverty in Japan

Recently, the subject of poverty in Japan came up, so, uh, let me tell you about my friend Emi. She’s a dancer. We’ll get around to the poverty in a minute. Don’t worry, it’s not going anywhere.

“Want to come to my flamenco performance?” she cooed. We were sitting on the riverbank drinking cans of malt liquor and watching the sunset. Emi does this thing with her eyes that makes every crazy thing coming out of her mouth sound like an excellent idea.

“Do I?” I blurted out. “In Japan? I thought they were only in Florida?” I love pink birds!”

“No, you dolt, flamenco. Like the dance?”

“Oh.” I tried to hide my disappointment by downing half a can of Kirin. Continue reading “Poverty in Japan”