Poverty in Japan

Recently, the subject of poverty in Japan came up, so, uh, let me tell you about my friend Emi. She’s a dancer. We’ll get around to the poverty in a minute. Don’t worry, it’s not going anywhere.

“Want to come to my flamenco performance?” she cooed. We were sitting on the riverbank drinking cans of malt liquor and watching the sunset. Emi does this thing with her eyes that makes every crazy thing coming out of her mouth sound like an excellent idea.

“Do I?” I blurted out. “In Japan? I thought they were only in Florida?” I love pink birds!”

“No, you dolt, flamenco. Like the dance?”

“Oh.” I tried to hide my disappointment by downing half a can of Kirin. Continue reading “Poverty in Japan”

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”

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”

Buying a Japanese Car

Buying a Japanese Car

It took about five minutes at the Japanese car dealer for my dreams of buying a Japanese car to go screeching off the road and crash flaming into a tree.

But let’s back up a second, because in America, Ken Seeroi was a born legend when it came to fast cars and slow women. With a longneck beer in one hand and a blonde in the other, I crossed the mountain passes and desert plains of that wide nation countless times, driving everything from motorhomes and massive diesel trucks to hotrod Chevy Vega’s and riceburner Nissan 350Z’s. Gotta steer with your knees, is the key. Continue reading “Buying a Japanese Car”

Nature in Japan

Nature is one of the great wonders of Japan. In that you wonder what happened to it all.

But look around. The hillsides of Kyushu terraced with rice paddies, fields of Hokkaido lavender as far as the eye can see, and deserted white sand beaches on remote Okinawan islands. There’s definitely some nature in Japan, still.

Japanese School Daze

So I was working at a Japanese middle school recently, dozing off in the teachers’ lounge, when a cockroach the size of a cat skittered across the floor. Michiko-sensei screamed. That’ll wake you up in a hurry. Then the Vice Principle screamed. He used to be a wrestling coach, so that was a little alarming. Then the old lady who makes tea screamed, and nothing scares her. Continue reading “Nature in Japan”