The Great Tohoku Earthquake

When the Tohoku earthquake happened, I was sitting at my tiny Japanese desk, in the middle of a giant Japanese office, in the middle of Tokyo, just hating life.  I was working elbow to elbow with about a hundred people, facing a row of unsmiling coworkers across from me, crouched in front of my pc, without speaking from morning until night.  The most exciting part of the day was lunchtime, when we’d all take out our bento boxes and eat lunch together without talking.  I couldn’t imagine it could get any worse. Continue reading “The Great Tohoku Earthquake”

Back on the Chrome Horse

Thanks to the Swine Flu, I now own a bicycle. If that Pig Influenza hadn’t sidelined me in bed for a week, I would have surely blown another paycheck on yet one more all-you-can-drink karaoke session. But as it happened, once my fever broke, my wallet contained a spare hundred bucks worth of yen, so off I went to the bike store. I bought the largest bike I could find. It was still tiny, like riding a midget, but also just as fun.

Continue reading “Back on the Chrome Horse”

One Really Long Year in Japan

Fellow citizens, our long national nightmare is finally over. Let us now embark upon that shining road to recovery. Of course, by “national” I mean Japan, and “long nightmare” as in my teaching English here while everyone else listens to my grumbling about it. In retrospect, I guess I should have read my one-year school contract more carefully. I assumed “one agrees to be poked by devils while drowning in a pool of anguish” was just boilerplate contractual stuff. Who knew they meant it literally? Continue reading “One Really Long Year in Japan”

Japanese Winter, Mighty Frosty

It’s been a cold winter, but spring is coming.  I haven’t yet burned my apartment building to the ground.  I cherish the simple things in life.

I recently bought a space heater to help save some yen on my electric bill. Before moving to Japan, I somehow pictured living in a high-rise apartment with a panoramic city view.  Champagne and sushi, that kind of thing.  The dream did not include sitting on the floor of a dark, four-story building, staring at the factory across the street while wearing a beanie and drinking cans of Chu-Hi in front of a tiny heater.  Reality can be so cruel.

Continue reading “Japanese Winter, Mighty Frosty”

Growing Old in Japan

When I finally looked in the mirror after a month of eikaiwa teaching, my first thought was—who the hell’s that? My signature dark and flowing locks, which had once glowed with the radiance of a dozen hair-care products, had gone white almost overnight. While it’s true that I might have had one or two gray hairs before, my class load was clearly making me look like Keith Richards before my time. Continue reading “Growing Old in Japan”