“Washing your own dishes? That’s commendable.”
This is my co-worker Ms. Oshiro, leaning over my shoulder at the office sink. I’ve got a scrubby in one hand, bento box in the other, and my first reaction is, “Well, who else’d wash ‘em?”
But then common sense kicked in. The same person who made my delicious bento: my wife, of course. Because in Japan, that’s the way it works. Ken Seeroi’s wife hand-makes him a lunch box of rice, mackerel, a hard-boiled egg, and mini sausages shaped like octopuses, then at the end of the day he takes his dirty dishes back to her. Honey, I’m home. Japan’s real 1950’s like that. Continue reading “Feminism in Japan”
I thought long and hard about buying an Amazon Kindle for studying Japanese. Like five years kind of long and hard. And as with most life enigmas, it came down to a simple question: Why spend hundreds of dollars on a giant phone that doesn’t even work as a phone? Not to mention you could just buy an actual book for ten bucks.
Although to be fair, most of my enigmas are more along the lines of Why’m I waking up on a park bench? or What happened to the Filipino girl I bought all those cocktails for? But anyway, I finally broke down and bought a Kindle, and holy balls, if you want to learn Japanese, it’s the greatest thing ever. So at least that’s one problem solved. Continue reading “Why I Love the Amazon Kindle for Japanese”
“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?”
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”
In three words . . . uh, yeah, kinda. Foreign language learning is quickly moving into the realm of the unnecessary. So like it or not, we can all cross interpreter and translator off our list of career choices, along with elevator operator, taxi driver, doorman, cashier, bank teller, and Latin scholar. Continue reading “Is Foreign Language Learning Obsolete?”