A Week in Tokyo

Tokyo festival

I was flat on my back in the dark grass, pressing my eyes shut while bombs exploded overhead. “Are you watching?” Mizuki asked.

“Intently,” I lied.

After five years away, I’d come back for a week in Tokyo, to visit old friends, old neighborhoods, and apparently endure a fireworks festival on the banks of the Arakawa river, crowded in with a million Japanese people.

Our small group finally found an unlevel spot in the weeds of the riverbank, where we laid on blue plastic sheets and drank cans of chu-hi while colorful shapes exploded overhead and the crowd went oooo, then ahhh. Then oooo again. Only in Japanese. Continue reading “A Week in Tokyo”

The Day I Got Shot in Japan

The first shot was like a needle to the sternum, and I was trying to figure out how a bee had stung me in the chest. The next one glanced off my right thumb, and the gravity of the situation quickly dawned on me, since that’s my beer-graspin’ hand. The guy next to me took a hit to the glasses and spiraled backward off the bench with a groan. To be fair, it’s hard to keep your balance when you’ve been drinking since noon. Continue reading “The Day I Got Shot in Japan”

Should You Move to Japan?

A reader recently asked: should I move to Japan, or Norway? I get similar questions a lot, and I think we all know the answer.

Okay, first off, Norway’s great if you like cross-country skiing, hats with horns, and wood. On the other hand, Japan might be your spot if you enjoy wearing bathrobes with swords, eating Cup-o-Noodles, and riding tiny bicycles. But either way, none of that matters, and I’ll tell you why.

Dating Japanese Women

So last year, I was dating a couple of ladies. Let’s just call them, um, Satoko and Emi, since those are their names. And things finally got to the point where going out for two Christmas dinners to Kentucky Fried Chicken and giving two sets of White Day chocolates got to be a bit much, and I decided to make a choice. Continue reading “Should You Move to Japan?”

How Americans get Shot by the Police

It’s a funny feeling, being surrounded by a gang of cops, what with the yelling and pointing of guns and all. My first thought was, being shot to death on vacation’s gonna suck.

It’d started off well enough. Hidemi and I had breezed in from Haneda two days before. She’d wanted to go to California, but I was insistent we spend our vacation in Thailand, lounging on the white sand with a frosty Singha in one hand and a papaya salad in the other. Which would explain why we were lost in the suburbs of Los Angeles with a car full of McDonald’s wrappers, driving in circles.

“I told you to take the next exit,” she said. Continue reading “How Americans get Shot by the Police”

Japan’s a Scam

I was drinking with Sandy in the park recently. It was dark and naturally we were on the swing set.

“I’ll just never be happy here,” she said.

“Congratulations,” I replied, “you’re finally Japanese. Here, have a chu-hi. It’s got real lemon flavor.”

Then we kampai-ed as our swings passed, which is hard to do without spilling. The great thing about Japan is it has these little dirt plots that serve as corner parks, complete with rusty jungle gyms and broken see-saws where you can drink at night. I guess theoretically kids could play there during the day too, if the population hadn’t all died off. Anyway I figured it kind of worked in our favor. Continue reading “Japan’s a Scam”