Homeless in Japan not Big Fans of America

Last Friday, I decided to celebrate the lovely fall weather by drinking a refreshing beer in my neighborhood park and working on my tan.  I’ve discovered this really beats the hell out of sitting in a smoky izakaya wishing the proprietor’d had the foresight to provide some outdoor seating or at least install a teeny tiny window.  Why the Japanese have such an aversion to open-air dining, I’ve never been able to figure out.  So full of mysteries, the Far East. Continue reading “Homeless in Japan not Big Fans of America”

Who’s Really Japanese?

When I first came to Japan, things were so much simpler.  Men were men, Japanese were Japanese, and foreigners were gaijin.  Now everything’s gone to pieces, nuanced to the point that when somebody talks about “the Japanese,” I don’t even know who they mean.  That it’s not me is the only thing that’s clear.  Things are complicated in modern Japan, is what I’m saying.  Three things, actually, or maybe four. Continue reading “Who’s Really Japanese?”

The Great Japanese Name Switcheroo

At first, you might think the Japanese place great importance on addressing others properly.  After all, it’s a nation where even elephants get called Zou-san.  That’s Mr. Elephant to you.

The reality is that this naming convention works flawlessly until someone who looks “foreign” enters the scene, at which point thousands of years of custom go straight out the window. Continue reading “The Great Japanese Name Switcheroo”