Tag Archives: Japanese Culture


The New Japanese Etiquette

Even ten years ago, the world seemed bigger. Japan still had a bit of that “Oriental” mystique, and visitors to its shores sent reports home of an exotic land populated by simple, if slightly daft, inhabitants: “The Japanese are so friendly and polite!” (Actually, the folks who just gave you directions were Taiwanese tourists) “Japan’s...
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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...
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Strange English I can’t Understand

Living in Japan, you’re basically trapped in a tiny spaceship, peering down through clouds and picking up intermittent snippets of news floating skyward from earth. I first heard “Poker Face” in a smoky Shinjuku karaoke bar, when some girl belted out Mum mum mum mah. Some complicated lyrics, those. And I learned the results of...
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What’s Japan Like?

This is partly the tale of three Japanese women. Erika Lives in Hokkaido In the winter, she walks to the station past mountains of snow piled higher than her head, but she can usually get a seat on the train, and her apartment’s nice and warm, so she’s happy. Plus, she likes wearing high leather...
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Avoiding Meltdown in Japan

Self-improvement is one of my long-standing goals. You know, striving to be a better human being and all, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Basically like Schwarzenegger in The Terminator, only without the scary eyes, and slightly more buffed. Fortunately, I accomplished that goal in 2004, which was good because it freed up lots of time for...
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How to Write Japanese

You gotta love Anna. Seriously, because everyone loves Anna. She’s a busty, blonde Swiss-German who grew up playing the piano and speaking Swiss. And German. And English. And now she speaks perfect Japanese. God, I hate her. Nah, just kidding. Anna’s okay. In high school, she “picked up” French, Spanish, and Italian. Well, they’re all...
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One Japanese Book You Must Read

You should think twice about taking any advice Ken Seeroi’s got to give. I mean, we’re talking a guy who ditched a sensible life in a first-world country for a freezing, tiny apartment, sleeping on the floor, and eating rice with sticks. So, really? Well, it’s not so bad once I move the shochu boxes...
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The Easiest Japanese Food

Every once in a while, I discover something in Japan so amazing that I’m compelled to share it with the world. Fortunately, that feeling passes after a few beers, so I don’t actually have to do any work, which I’m allergic to. I’m pretty sure that if I was ever given a job involving something...
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Fantasy Japan

2004, now that was a great year. It was the Golden Age of Japan. I was on my seventh trip here, crisscrossing the nation by high-speed shinkansen in search of small, traditional restaurants, ancient temples, and women with long black hair and short skirts. By then, I figured I knew the country pretty well, spoke...
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Japan Versus America – Who Wins?

Every year, I like to play a little game called “Could I Ever Live in America Again?” That’s where I board a plane in Tokyo, have about ten tiny in-flight wines, watch every movie ever made, then get off in sunny California and ask myself, “Well, how ’bout it, Seeroi?” It’s a pretty self-explanatory game,...
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