A Happy Accident in Japan

Occasionally, from tragedy, something new and magnificent is born into this world. Throughout the current worldwide crisis and raging meltdown, Seeroi Sensei stayed locked down and got busy, until the inevitable happened. And so it’s with great pleasure that I’m able to announce the delivery of Ken’s first.

Book, that is. He doesn’t have a name yet, but we’re expecting him in late June. From all indications, he’ll be a healthy 10 inches tall and weigh approximately 1.2 pounds. He’ll be available for sale on Amazon, as all offspring should be. Stay tuned for further details.

When it Rains Rainbows, it Pours

And then recently, another surprising development, uh, developed.

So Japanese students always ask, “What’s your dream?” That’s because we teach them this phrase in English class, and they think it’s a normal question. Anyway, for several years now, my answer’s been, “to be a Japanese teacher.” And that’s true. Teaching Japanese would be the culmination of years of pointlessly hard work studying this obscure language.

Because you know, if you live in Japan and look like me, people are always asking “Are you an English teacher?” Like there’s no other job a white guy could do. Well, okay, so that’s actually true, but still, it’d be nice to have another reply. And to be able to say, “The hell, I teach Japanese” would surely blow some minds. Although I’d say it in Japanese, so it’d sound polite.

Living the Dream in Japan

Somebody once said, You gotta be careful what you wish for. Actually, I’m pretty sure I said that. Whatever, it’s true. So last week, I got a Zoom call from a language school I work for, and they were like, “Seeroi Sensei, we’d like you to teach a couple more classes.”

“Cross my palm with silver,” I replied. I mean hey, I live one floor above poverty, and I’ve seen what’s down there, so my weekly to-do list starts with “Avoid starving to death.” But of course they didn’t understand that, so I had to rephrase it as, “Could you kindly provide some details regarding the position?”

“Yes,” they said, “we’d like you to teach Japanese, online.”

And I was like, “Is my camera not working? You can see my face, right? Round eyes, high nose…”

“The students are adult foreigners. We think you’d be great.”

Of course I’d be. When is Ken Seeroi not? That’s rhetorical; don’t feel you need to answer. But my guess is they called every single Japanese person in the nation first, until they were finally like, “Ah jeez, guess we’re gonna have to go with the white guy.”

“Let me check my schedule,” I said.

Google Calendar in Japanese

Ultimately, I didn’t take it, because when I consulted Google Calendar in Japanese, turns out somebody’d blocked off Thursday nights until infinity with “drink BEER,” in English. So I was like, Well maybe Friday…strange…same thing. Wait a minute, every night’s blocked off! Must’ve done that when I was drunk. Stupid Japanese Google Calendar.

So while teaching Japanese sounded weirdly prestigious, like a Japanese dream come true, it also seemed like a lot of work, which is in direct conflict with my life goals of improving my tan and putting off till tomorrow what I could do today. So between holding English classes, hanging out with dubious women in shady bars, writing a blog, and now my new baby, I figured I had enough on my plate. Gotta be careful what you wish for in Japan, because you just might get it, is what I’ve learned.

68 Replies to “A Happy Accident in Japan”

  1. Congratulations on the incoming bouncing baby! And as I started to read you may teach Japanese, I was waiting for the sign up link!

    I’m currently self studying Japanese and trying to get my head out of English Grammar mode is repeatedly tripping me up, not to mention when things switch from Hiragana to Kanji without warning and yep…another thing to trip me up!

    But as they say in Japan (according to every anime I watch) Ganbatte Seeroi San!

    1. Yeah, we do say that a lot.

      Good luck with your Japanese studies. My only advice, and I mean this seriously, is to begin using kanji immediately. Just start getting used to it now, and in about twenty years it’ll start to make sense.

  2. I would also have been seriously tempted to sign up to study Japanese with you. Probably lucky for you that I will only get to buy your book instead. Looking forward to it!

    1. Thanks, Linda. Maybe the next one will be about how to learn Japanese. Who knew that’d be such a popular subject?

      1. Not sure if it’s such a popular subject or if you have a very special group of commenters 😀 but it would have to be more fun studying with you than anything else I’ve tried. Don’t get a big head or anything though – I’m sure you know that’s a low bar to clear.

  3. If the father has such an outstanding blog I can only imagine what the kid will write in 30 years. I’m excited. Congrats on teaching japanese! A white guy can indeed achieve! Astronaut is our future.

    I’m white too. I’ve studied 3 years to be a chemical technician, and already spent 4 years in medschool and now, my hard work and genius was recognized. I got a job a NASA. I’m going to Mars.

    Sorry did I say “NASA”? I meant “Uber Eats”. And “Mars” is the striper club that needs my greasy cheesburgers. I’ll hurry before I get flagged and not tipped. Wait for me Elona Musk. (sorry for stealing your joke lol)

    But seriously now, congrats. I think it’s a big milestone all the way to be able to teach japanese. Perhaps is the small things that are not sexy the best we might get. Wish you the best.

  4. Congrats Ken! Pretty sure your baby will bring laughter and food for thought to a lot of people.

    Speaking of which, a lot of Ken’s aficionados have been requesting you to… er… “procreate” for a very long time, which made me realise that I’ve been reading your blog now for seven years, and have been a proud resident of the heavenly archipelago for five and a half (and counting). Man, time flies, but your blog has been an excellent companion throughout this journey. Thanks again for all your work

    1. Congratulations Seeroi San! Babies are quite the ride I hope you enjoy it! Hoping for some great parenting in Japan whilst keeping your beer grasping hand free posts 🙂

      1. Oh, I expect this one’ll be a handful, for everyone. But no worries, I have a beer helmet for just such contingencies.

    2. Yeah, time in Japan passes like of dog-years, literally seven times faster. That’s a true fact.

      Thanks for reading all these years. It’s people like you that make me want to procreate. Somehow, that sounded better in my head. Anyway, thanks.

  5. Good news indeed, and congratulations to your first offspring! How lucky that he can start studying Kanji immediately. Plus you got a new job. That’s really some relief not only for you but also for your loyal readers. With the baby at home our chances of you ever writing that coveted for book have significantly diminished. But frankly speaking: Screw it, you have a real human to love and educate. Much better than scribbling on a blank sheet of paper.

      1. oh, so the offspring really is for sale? That changes a lot of my understanding of the first paragraphs, plus should give you more sleep at night. Anyway, congrats!

          1. i like the fact that he still hadn’t caught on before signing off…. You’re gonna have a hard time clearing any misunderstandings from just “congrats” from now on

            1. Yeah, that was really my fault for not being direct enough. At this point, the only way to correct for this is to actually have a baby. Well, back to practicing…

  6. Ken I haven’t even read the article,but gathered pretty quickly what’s going on.Congratulations,Miho and I hit it pretty hard last night so tonight was going to be quite,now you’ve given me a reason for a Negroni or 2.
    You do realise your going to have speak your birth tongue to the new unit,can’t wait for the post on the struggle and implications of using English,or not using it…..Anyway,gins in the freezer.

  7. Oh boy youre getting a boy. What a interesting plot twist for the 2020 season.
    Does that means that we won’t be reading how you drank beer with an old man in the park or how you tried to flirt with an office lady but instead how you change diapers at 4am while having to go to work at 7am?
    Or are you hoping she gets the child custody trap to every foreigner relation and she raises the kid? Either way my condolences, a good tip would be to use fabric diapers instead of disposable ones. They are good for your economy and the environment.

    1. Yep. I was too obtuse. Apparently, I need to be a bit more direct. That’s my fault, but you might want to re-read the end of the second paragraph.

    1. Thanks, Sendaiben. Can’t wait to hold him up to the light.

      As for the comments, to be fair, sometimes even I have trouble parsing what I’ve written.

  8. It better be of an acceptable girth, this baby of yours. If you try to shortchange me with a paltry 30,000 words, you are going to feel my wrath.

    Sidenote – you fessing up to the above has the potential be hilarious.

    1. The wrath of Rohan? Actually, that’s a pretty good-ass title, thanks.

      30,000? No sweat. I don’t think you’re gonna be feeling too wrathy.

  9. Congrats Seeroi San on your new lovechild! Wanted to let you know that our favorite Coffee Bean has permanently closed. I remember going from java to pitchers of beer at that prime location. Glad to see you’ve found other ways to waste a perfectly good Sunday afternoon!

    1. Curly! How you been? Great to hear from you.

      Ah, that’s some hard news to take on a Sunday morning. Those were indeed the best of times, sitting out in the sun watching people go by. I remember one time, don’t think you were there, this guy and a girl were walking down the street along with the crowd. Jeez, she was smoking hot. Then just as they passed, he looked at me, stopped, and was like “Yo man, you checkin’ out my girl?” like he wants to fight with a guy enjoying a cup of coffee.

      I was like, “uh, yeah.” I mean, she was bangin’. Guess he didn’t expect that, ’cause suddenly he didn’t know what to say, so they just walked away. Wish there was more to that story, like, “…and then I left with the girl,” but that’s it.

      God, I’d love to go back to those days. Tell me it’s still good there.

      Give my best to all the boys.

      1. It’s still good here! But, nothing is like it used to be….

        On another note… I searched for Ken Seeroi in Amazon Books and first result was ” Pharmacology of the Contraceptive Steroids”. Obviously, news of your athletic prowess has already been well documented.

  10. Ken, you are not thinking these things through properly.

    You’re adult foreign learners will need to know how to drink alcohol and converse with their boss/workers. Plus pick up lines…

    Here, I fixed this sentence for you:

    > So between holding “Japanese” classes “while” hanging out with dubious women in shady bars,

    Happy new career!

  11. Seeroi San,
    I was going to congratulate you on birth of Number One Son, but then thought; 10 inches tall, 1.2 pounds.
    Sounds more like a book to me.
    Either way, congratulations!
    Paul Trautman

    1. Thanks much. Well, let’s see what the stork brings at the end of this month. Hopefully something good.

  12. 0_0

    Ah- it’s come, it’s come…
    Well, the thing about that child is that you’re probably not the only one expecting it. XD

    I guess 2020’s not all that bad.
    Congratulations Sensei!
    Looking forward to more updates. F

  13. Wow, big congratulations! Can’t wait to hear more about Japan life from a new angle of you as a parent

  14. Ahahahahahhahahaha!

    This particular comment section’s very lively XD. Should you really be adding fuel to the fire?

    But teaching Japanese! You’ve gone a long way sensei.

    Anyway, oyasumi for now!

    1. The trouble with touch-move… that’s supposed to be a reply to my prev comment. Oh well!

      Oyasumi again!

  15. Ken – Congrats! I have a baby gift picked out already, its a special jacket just for the dust common to some houses, especially the ones for wares in the Amazon. ok too contorted, I am eagerly awaiting a peek at the new masterwork. How will we find it – via the family registry? or maybe he will use the other parents name – Bloomsbury?

    1. A jacket to keep the little guy warm? Thanks, he’ll love that!

      And I’ll let you know how all the family registry info by the end of the month, no worries there.

  16. Congrats man. Just learnt of another happy accident on the way yesterday when skyping with a Tokyo friend. We were 30 minutes into a convo before he dropped that he was getting married as a result of said happy accident.

    Gotta say I’ve also been thinking of doing some Japanese teaching. Foreigners have the advantage of knowing what its like going through the whole thing as an adult, what can trip you up, etc.

    1. Hi Danchan,

      I see now that I was far too obtuse in my messaging. That’s my fault. But I’m actually publishing a book, not having a child. Sorry for not being much clearer.

      Congrats to your friend, though. That’s a much bigger step than the one I’m taking.

        1. Yeah, when I start to lose the native speakers, that’s when I know I’ve pushed it too far. My bad.

  17. A sure to be best seller I’m sure. English or Japanese? Or both?

    I’m sure somewhere Bud Martin is raising a glass in your direction and saying “what took you so long!”

  18. Good luck with that book of yours.
    I hope it’s not going to be the thousandth version of “OMG Japan is so weird”, but it you are the writer I am a just a little optimistic or rather, that your take on the sujet would be bearable.

    I have pondered trying to write a book about Japan myself, but I am worried it would turn out as described above. The answer would be to become (more) knowledgeable about a certain aspect of Japan (politics come to mind for me, or maybe rural culture, or something really obscure like the history of some shrine in Tokyo or sth.). Maybe some day in the future. I have plans enough for now (building the house, looking after the kids, maybe become mayor of my small town etc.).

    Oh, and about the “writing a book about learning Japanese”. What’s your status here? Have you passed JLPT N1 yet? I have the feeling these type of books are often written by people who maybe should not have written them.

    Oh btw. how about a German version of the book? I might know a guy …

  19. The strong fake-out at the start of the article has made this comment section a real treat.
    Thanks Ken!

    1. Thanks. It turned into more of a fake-out than I anticipated. Sometimes what seems subtle to me is apparently opaque to others. And vice versa, so I guess that’s just human communication.

  20. I never get to succeed with comments on your site but I greatly enjoy reading it and I secretly wished you would finally decide on writing a book. I will surely buy it and talk about it in my Japanese blog. 🙂 gambarimasho

  21. Whoa congrats, will there be a premium edition to help fund the installation of an Asahi Dry tap at your place?

    Heh taking Japanese with you seems like a great way to give up the language and find a new drinking buddy…but in all seriousness, compiling some of your advice on studying Japanese (including don’t trust people who say you can learn Japanese from just reading one book…wait…what…anyway…) wouldn’t be a bad place for a chapter in the book or even its own book.

    1. Chapter one. Open fridge, take out beer, give up language.

      Gonna be a mighty short book. Maybe some pictures as filler would help.

  22. Well here is an item off topic. “Expats buy Japanese country house for a song and get way more than they bargained for”. It seems the endless migration to the big cities have left historical family homes at risk of abandonment, or as in this case a bargain price for an irreplaceable Japanese masterpiece caught in a time loop. I am wondering if you knew of this trend Ken. You who knows everything worth knowing about Japan!!


    1. Oh yeah, I’ve certainly heard of that. I even heard of one area that would pay couples to move there (I think you have to be under a certain age and commit to living there for several years.)

      Like everything, I assume it has some drawbacks, like living in a ratty house in the middle of nowhere. And while there’s a certain romantic charm to the idea, I’m sure there’s a reason most people choose to live in modern homes that aren’t five miles from the nearest store. I mean, you could probably get a cabin in Appalachia for a song too. Still, I’ll grant you it’s a tempting thought.

  23. Congrats on the book!

    And nothing obtuse about they way you worded things. Apparently ‘TLDR’ is even a thing on personal blogs like this one, which makes zero sense to me.

    1. Thanks for the congrats on the book. It’s a big step for me.

      As for the post, to be fair, I added the words “Book, that is” to the top of paragraph two after some confusion ensued, so it really wasn’t crystal clear, although the hint was there. I could see how people would’ve not gotten the joke. Again, my bad.

  24. Henry Miller, “Tropic of Cancer”:

    “This book has begun to grow inside me. I am carrying it around with me everywhere. I walk through the streets big with child and the cops escort me across the street. Women get up to offer me their seats. Nobody pushes me rudely anymore. I am pregnant. I waddle awkwardly, my big stomach pressed against the weight of the world.”

    1. Yeah, that captures it. I know that feeling. I have that every morning following an evening at the all-you-can-eat buffet.

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