3 Japanese Ghost Stories

Japanese Ghost

1. The Japanese Ghost Apartment

Saturday night, and Ruriko and I went out for a pleasant walk. Pleasant. Such is my life in Japan, devolved from Awesome,  the Shibuya clubs overflowing with strobes and beats bouncing off bottles of Corona as I tried desperately to remember the name of whichever short-skirted girl I was chatting up. I really should use mnemonics when people introduce themselves. Anyway, now it’s come to this, walking in the dark with what’s-her-name and a lukewarm can of malt liquor.

“That apartment’s for rent again.” She gazed up at the empty space in a run-down three-story story building. “Must be a ghost there.” Continue reading “3 Japanese Ghost Stories”

Japanese Customs

“Stop that,” she said. “Sit still. You want people to think you’re a better person, don’t you?”

This is me, learning not to do sewing machine leg from Yasuko, my girlfriend.

“Better than whom?” I asked.

Well, Yasuko was crazy, so whatever. But she was also right. Not moving one’s limbs is actually a thing in Japan.

Next, I learned that you shouldn’t wear cologne from my girlfriend Makiko.

I’d worn cologne every day for years. Who doesn’t like the bracing scent of Old Spice? Not Japanese people, apparently, although nobody said a word. Continue reading “Japanese Customs”

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 something. In the mornings, the smell of machine oil would mix deliciously with my scrambled eggs. Since then, I’ve been on a mission to consistently upgrade my living quarters.

So when I saw this latest spot, a corner room with a view of a park, I made a snap decision to move. Because Ken Seeroi’s a dude who believes in proactivity. Not that I ever actually get off my ass and do anything, but more in the sense that yep, proactivity does exist. Continue reading “Renting an Apartment in Japan”

Fitting in in Japan

Now, here’s a conundrum for you: let’s say that you’re working in a Japanese office, and it’s the end of the day. Of course, all the Japanese folks are typing like mad, as they’ve done since dawn. You want to be a team player but Hey, it’s 6 p.m., and let’s add that it’s Friday and you’ve been at work since 8:30. What to do?

A reader named thompson recently put it like this:

Everyday, after 8 hours, can I just stand up, say “sorry for going early” and then “HAHAHA, time for japaneseruleof7!!!” while walking out with big steps while ignoring that feeling that someone wants to stab you?

And maybe the bigger issue is: are you going to move to Japan and be a perpetual outsider, or not? Not be “that gaijin,” and try to actually fit in? Let’s see what Magic 8-Ball has to say. Continue reading “Fitting in in Japan”

Taking a Japanese Name

Living in Japan long enough will make anyone mental. I’m pretty sure I can convince you of this.

But let’s back up, to when I lived in the U.S. There, I dated a Taiwanese gal named Amy. She had long black hair, an incredibly tight body, and loved karaoke. She was quite good at it too, among other things. So on random Saturdays, I’d call up my buddy Steve and his buddy Warren Benter and the four of us would drink a mess of terrible Coors Light, pile into Benter’s van and head out singing. The only thing is, Amy’s name wasn’t really Amy. It was Chiaolauhu. And Steve’s was, in actuality, Esteban. And Benter’s family name originally sounded like someone with a terrible cough. When his grandfather came through Ellis Island, he shortened it by simply removing every other letter.

So this got me thinking—-why not take a Japanese name? Continue reading “Taking a Japanese Name”