My Date with a Japanese Babe

This is a short story about the surprises one can expect in Japan. Like the other day, it was two in the afternoon and I was heading to this bar.

The end. See, I told you it was short. Hey, it’s hard to find an izakaya open before six. But leave it to Ken Seeroi to locate a ramshackle joint with a 3-drink deal, including sashimi appetizer, for ten bucks. I’m a sucker for specials.

I decided to ride the bike there, to get in a bit of health before the booze. Continue reading “My Date with a Japanese Babe”

I want a Japanese Girlfriend

Uh, sure you do

I made a lot of mistakes with Saki, my first Japanese girlfriend. The most notable of which was attempting anything resembling a conversation.

“So you said you’ve got a sister, right?” I asked. “Does she live in Tokyo too?”

“I think so, maybe.”

“Well, when did you last see her?” I continued.

“Yesterday.”

“Huh. Okay…well, um, does she live by herself? Does she have a boyfriend?”

“Mmm,” she said, “I’m not sure.”

“So you don’t know where she lives then, your sister?”

“Mnnnn,” replied Saki, “maybe Chiba?” Continue reading “I want a Japanese Girlfriend”

Why are you Still in Japan?

People routinely ask, “Why are you still in Japan?” and I guess the answer depends upon which phase of Japanese life we’re talking about. Because first there’s

1. Amazement

Living in Japan’s like being born again. Everything’s filled with wonder, nothing makes any sense, and you’re insanely pleased by the simplest stuff. Look!—-I’m riding the subway. It’s like a train, only underground! So many people! Man, I gotta take a picture of this!

You can’t understand a thing. Not a word, not an action, and it’s hilarious. You can’t even stroll down the sidewalk without knocking over office ladies and soba-delivery boys. Continue reading “Why are you Still in Japan?”

The New Japanese Etiquette

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 so safe and clean.” (Lots of countries are. Okay, maybe not the U.S.)

“The Japanese value harmony.” (Yeah, fear of authority will do that to people)

And visitors asked quaint, naive questions about cultural practices, such as: Continue reading “The New Japanese Etiquette”

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”