Japanese Racism

The first time I had a white kid in my English class, I couldn’t stop staring at him. He was floating among a sea of Asian faces in our sweaty, countryside classroom. I rattled my head and gazed briefly out the window. Steam was rising from the mountains in the distance, and in the foreground a line of wild monkeys dashed across the schoolyard, heading for the pool. Japan’s a weird place. I looked back at Keita, with his curly blonde hair, struggling to pronounce the U.S. states.

“Flolida,” he said.

“Florida,” I repeated, like Please tell me you’re joking.

“Folida?” he said earnestly, his little eyes welling with tears.

“Can you say ‘Miami’?

“Miami.

“Perfect. From now on, just say that.” Continue reading “Japanese Racism”

Fitting in in Japan

Now, here’s a conundrum for you: let’s say that you’re working in a Japanese office, and it’s the end of the day. Of course, all the Japanese folks are typing like mad, as they’ve done since dawn. You want to be a team player but Hey, it’s 6 p.m., and let’s add that it’s Friday and you’ve been at work since 8:30. What to do?

A reader named thompson recently put it like this:

Everyday, after 8 hours, can I just stand up, say “sorry for going early” and then “HAHAHA, time for japaneseruleof7!!!” while walking out with big steps while ignoring that feeling that someone wants to stab you?

And maybe the bigger issue is: are you going to move to Japan and be a perpetual outsider, or not? Not be “that gaijin,” and try to actually fit in? Let’s see what Magic 8-Ball has to say. Continue reading “Fitting in in Japan”

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 other, nobler pursuits, like studying Japanese and drinking beer. Then I moved to Japan and everything got nuked to zero. Continue reading “Avoiding Meltdown in Japan”

Japan Wins Every Sport in Winter Olympics

Last week, I ate school lunch in the staff room, sitting at a table with plates full of mini omelets, rice, daikon salad, and some goo of tofu mixed with beans, which is rather redundant, if you think about it. Well, probably best not to think about it, actually. Plus a slice of orange for desert.

“Seeroi sensei,” asked the school nurse in Japanese, “Do you like green tea?”

“Yeah sure,” I said. I mean, who doesn’t like tea?

And they all laughed. Continue reading “Japan Wins Every Sport in Winter Olympics”

Loco in Yokohama, an Interview with the Author

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Baye McNeil, the man behind the über-popular Japanese website Loco in Yokohama.  At least, I think he was sitting down, since we were talking via Skype.  Anyway, I was.  I’ve got this new couch, and boy is it comfy.

Ken Seeroi:  Thanks for joining me.  Should I call you Loco, or Mister Yokohama?

Loco in Yokohama:  Ha, either is fine!

KS:  Great, let’s just go with Mr. Loco.  So I understand that you’ve written a new book? Continue reading “Loco in Yokohama, an Interview with the Author”