I am a Japanese Farmer

Did you know that when you get a coffee from a convenience store in Japan, it comes in a can, not a styrofoam cup? For real, it does. My favorite brand is Black Boss, just because it sounds hilarious. For some odd reason, Tommy Lee Jones is the spokes-model for the coffee. They have his old wrinkly-ass face on posters all over Japan, above the headline “Black Boss.” Personally, I think Rick Ross would be a better choice.

In other news, last weekend I worked on a farm. While I thought it would be kind of exhilarating in a back-to-nature sort of way, it was more like hitting stalks of wheat with a bamboo stick for eight hours. Man, working on a farm sucks. Being a farmer must really suck. All I did what hit this effing wheat with a stick and little wheatlets would fall off. Like you ever hear the expression–separating the wheat from the chaff? Well, me neither, but that’s apparently what I did. And that was kind of cool, to see where wheat actually comes from, for about 30 seconds. And then I was like, man, I need a break. Gonna drink me a Black Boss and get my relax on. But instead we did that shit until sundown, all covered in wheat dust.

The stuff gets all up in your nose and eyes.  It’s like working in a sand factory.  Apparently, we were involved in an early stage of soba noodle production, but all I know is that I never saw noodle one.

At night I slept on the farm with these two old snoring Japanese dudes on a tatami floor and drank a mess of beer and ate boiled crabs and woke up with a hangover and then whacked more wheat with a bamboo stick. At the end of the second day I got a bag of rice and 400 tangerines for my efforts. Seriously, what the hell’s a single guy going to do with 400 tangerines?  My skin’s already turning orange just from trying to eat them all. Those damn things sure are juicy though.

7 Replies to “I am a Japanese Farmer”

  1. Hi Ken,
    I found your blog randomly browsing through GaijinPot. I really dig humor in your posts plus I can relate to a lot of stuff you write about as a fellow eikawa teacher etc I was wondering how is your sense of humor when you are talking in Japanese. Are you trying to sound so witty and sarcastic as you do in the posts or you don’t bother at all due to cultural differences?

    I still have like 90% of your blog to read. Great stuff so far!

    1. I think you nailed it. The cultural differences make it a real challenge. Although it’s possible to be funny in Japanese, for the most part the language doesn’t seem to lend itself to clever humor. You may have noticed that there aren’t a lot of Japanese stand-up comedians.

      Like, try pointing out something unusual about Japan, to a Japanese person. Why are there no screen doors? Why chop the limbs off trees in the fall, just to avoid raking the leaves? Why is there a blaring loudspeaker announcement at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning? Instead of laughing at themselves, and saying, Yeah, that’s crazy all right, I find many people launch into justifications. Sure, I get that things can be explained. But at least some of humor is the ability to laugh at yourself. And Japanese folks don’t seem too good at that.

      1. Yeah, they get offended very easily. It’s like folks from ガキの使い or similar shows can make fun of everything but if you are a gaijin then saying anything is a big no-no.

        Another thing is the culture. When I’m talking with my Japanese friends about some comedians/celebrities like マツコ・デラックス or similar they are surprised that I know them but it’s impossible right now to delve into some deep conversation about origins of this type of humor. You can touch the topic but like you mentioned in your post about being fluent, it’s more about absorbing the culture than the language itself which really helps. Without living here for years they will treat you like novelty and that’s all. You are still probably getting the same set of questions even after all these years, haha.

        Talking about stand-up comedians – everything is about comedy duos here. Dunno if it’s a group mentality or a long running tradition like these old storytellers you can see in TV from time to time. You know, these 4 or 5 guys sitting on pillows and coming up with random stories. I guess that’s Japanese stand-up for you or sit down if you want.

        Two grown up Japanese comedians are impersonating dogs in TV while I’m typing this comment. Speaking about right timing.

        1. I’m no expert here, but Japanese rakugo comedians have been doing sit-down (as opposed to stand-up) comedy in a tradition dating back about a thousand years or so.

          Here’s a joke from three hundred years ago (courtesy of Wikipedia):

          “A man faints in a bathing tub. In the great confusion following, a doctor arrives who takes his pulse and calmly gives the instructions: “Pull the plug and let the water out.” Once the water has flowed completely out of the tub he says: “Fine. Now put a lid on it and carry the guy to the cemetery.”

          The stories aren’t random, but well-polished. Modern rakugo artists have stories about contemporary topics like mobile phones and convenience stores that aren’t so different from stand-up comedy.

          1. By random I meant that it looks like they are improvising in similar fashion to e.g. Whose Line Is It Anyway? and stories have no particular order. Thanks for additional info. I watched mostly Katsura Utamaru and was often surprised how clever he is despite his age.

    1. Actually, I’m pretty sure being a farmer anywhere isn’t very easy. At least here you get to eat good food, and plenty of it.

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