Japanese Rule of 7, the Book

Ken Seeroi’s first book is finally here!

First of all, I want to thank all the readers of this blog for your consistent support over the years. Without your encouragement and, let’s be honest, incessant badgering, this work would’ve never been produced. It’s not that I’m lazy; I just can’t be bothered to get up before noon. That’s a legitimate medical condition–I submitted it to WebMD myself. Don’t hate on the disabled, is all I’m saying.

So what kind of book is it? is your first question. Glad you asked. Is it packed full of gritty, real-life stories about life, work, and sex in Japan, or just a hackneyed rehash of the same nonsense you’ve been reading here for a decade? Yeaaah, about that…

The New Versus the Old

Let me say that if you thought the stories were good before—well, actually, they were pretty good. But now they’re better. They’ve been improved and expanded, old errors corrected, and a batch of new errors introduced. Hey, that’s like finding a buffalo nickel with the buffalo upside-down. Sure, it looks like a mistake, but now that nickel’s worth a million dollars. So if you locate any typos, you’re welcome. Now your book’s a collector’s item.

Strange Nights, and Some Days Too is a collection of 58 shocking and inspiring tales that originally appeared online, many here. It also includes three new, never-before-seen stories. All presented chronologically from my first five-or-so years in Japan. When I edited them, I laughed, cried, and tried not to whiz all over my jeans. Wasn’t always successful, but hey, white wine’ll do that. I was like, Ken Seeroi, you are a super genius. Stick to malt liquor. Then an hour later, Ahh Seeroi, you’re a miserable sot. You need salvation. Or at least to start eating better and working out. But the book’s still genius. Anyway, I finally got some words sandwiched between two covers, which was surprisingly effort-intensive. Turns out editing’s an actual job, and not just somebody getting paid to add and remove commas. Who knew.

Can’t I Just Read the Same Stuff Here for Free?

A good bit of it, absolutely. I’ve never had a paywall or annoying subscription pop-ups, and we’ll keep going like that. So if you don’t want to blow mad yen on a physical volume, I get that, and it’s cool. Buy the Kindle version. Both paperback and Kindle contain the same highly polished tales that gleam with the radiance of a thousand rising suns. Well, they’re a little better than the website stuff, anyway. Plus, did I mention it’s a freaking book? I don’t know about you, but I can read one of those for a pretty long time.

Of course now, here’s the usual disclaimer: Contains adult language and situations. Not suitable for anyone under thirty. I mean me, not the book. But probably that too.

What About the Rest of the Stories?

Man, you ask a lot of good questions. Originally, I wanted to include everything I’d ever written in a single volume, but it grew to over 700 pages. Hey, I’m not trying to write War and Peace here, just some amusing shit about life in Japan. So I said, Okay Seeroi, focus. Let’s just concentrate on getting the first 58 stories out the door and into reader’s hands. But all that concentrating sure makes a brother thirsty, so I had to run to Lawson with a quickness for some beer and Doritos and by the time I came back I’d forgotten all about the book.

Finally though, through a combination of strong coffee and amazing willpower, I managed to compile a couple hundred pages, which is pretty excellent. So while you can’t use Ken Seeroi’s book for bicep curls (especially the Kindle version), it’ll still keep you entertained for a while. And don’t worry, I’m already working on the next volume.

Ken Seeroi’s Book, Comment and Share

Strange Nights, and Some Days Too is available on Amazon websites worldwide. If you pick up a copy, please add a comment on Amazon. That really helps.

Thanks for making the dream a reality.

Love you all,

Ken

135 Replies to “Japanese Rule of 7, the Book”

  1. I have to say, seeing the title of this entry gave me a rush of happiness, honestly. A bit of justice in the world, if you will.
    I just ordered from Amazon Japan, it is sugoi cos-pa ii, considering the value you have provided over the years.
    Seriously, everyone go buy the book right now, do not delay, and give this man his due. Hi contribution to our knowledge of the world, and psychic well-being for those in Japan, and indeed the life paths of those who have considered living here, are not to be underestimated.
    Not to mention his unparalleled skill in comment moderation. Ken, you could teach that instead of language, and the world would benefit immensely. A second book please.

    Am a bit suspicious of the guy who reviewed it yesterday somehow. I’ll be the second one though!

  2. Hey Ken, I just wanted to say congrats! Just waiting on the physical copy to arrive, but can’t wait to read it and whatever else you have in store. I’ll be sure to leave a good review once I get it as well.

  3. Cover Art by Ken Seeroi! Well I knew you were an artists Ken, just not that kind of artist! Congratulations on the arrival of your baby. Not shipping to Australia so I guess it’s the Kindle for me if I can remember where the fuck did I leave that thing? Can’t wait to get stuck into it. Does it contain any photos of the author on the back cover?? All the best mate, good job!

    1. Thanks man. It sucks that they can’t ship it to Australia. But I’ve got it on my Kindle and it looks pretty good, so that’s something.

      Originally, I tried an author photo on the back cover, but it just looked too self-serving. I don’t know; I guess I’m still under the illusion that the book’s not really about me, but about Japan. Maybe that’s crazy, but such is the fictional world inside my head.

  4. Hey Ken! Haven’t commented in a year or so, I hope you are doing well. I have a whole script set up to automatically add your new articles to my “To-Read” list, which I continue to never actually read. Nothing personal! The list is like 100 articles deep.

    I just purchased the physical copy, is there any chance of a DRM-Free ebook being available? Hate to be that guy, I just like keeping things digitally as well.

    Will definitely power through this and leave you a review, really excited. Thank you, and congratulations.

    1. Hey Alex, thanks much for your kind words and for picking up a physical copy. In terms of the ebook, I didn’t enable DRM on the Kindle version. Does that work for you?

      1. Oof, doesn’t look like it. I did some research and Amazon is weird about downloading it. I use a non-kindle e-reader so I try and buy ebooks from other services where I can when I can.

        But don’t worry about it! I’m sure I can figure out a way to get it to work if I really want to.

        1. Yeah, Amazon, like Apple, really wants to keep you in its ecosystem. Buy their reader, download their format from their website, use their credit card, store everything on their cloud servers. I hate the exclusivity of it. I just wish they weren’t so damn good at what they do.

  5. This is awesome news!! Is there a way to buy the book directly from you without enriching Amazon in the process? Keep up the great work Seeroi-san

    1. I wish. Amazon’s just way too efficient. I know another guy here in Japan who tried that, and he had thousands of books stacked up around his apartment. I mean, theoretically that would enable cost-savings, but the amount of work to manage the storage and shipping hardly seems worth the effort. Suddenly you’ve gone from being a writer to a store room clerk.

  6. Great news! I can’t wait for a physical copy so I got the Kindle edition from Amazon UK. Will read it today.

    (When I searched for ”ken seeroi” on Amazon UK I was asked ”did you mean ken steroid?” An old nickname from your UK days, maybe? Anyway, I got two seach results: your book and something else. Only bought the book, though. No, really.)

  7. Seeroi San, congratulations. You had taught me that persistent bear fruit. Lol. Now let me read your stuff over at Kindle.

  8. Just bought it on Amazon jp! (yes, I tricked amazon and my kindle is in Italy but believes to be in Japan 😀 )

    1. Kindle’s weird like that, right? Like you can buy things in one region, but not another. I look forward to a world where these artificial barriers don’t exist. Thanks for buying the book, seriously.

      1. When does your book of comments come out? That’s half the fun! Just joking. Congrats. And congrats on staying in Japan. I moved back to the US this April and I wouldn’t mind hopping back on a plane right now if Japan would only let me back in!

        1. A few days into the editing/re-writing process, I began to view the lack of comments as a legitimate concern. I’m immensely glad I didn’t do the book first without any feedback from readers. Everyone’s comments here have helped to shape my thinking, and provided tremendous encouragement.

          1. Just downloaded the book to my Kindle. Really enjoying it. A bit of overlap with the blog but not much and well worth a purchase even if someone’s followed the blog.

            I’m back in the U.S. now after a couple of decades in Japan. It’s nice to be able to read about new experiences in Japan as I’d become a bit jaded at the end there.

            I’ll try to get some friends to download it as well. Good job on the book!

            1. Wow, I’m really glad you’re enjoying it. Just me personally, but reading it in book format felt a lot different from reading it online. Something about having all the stories one after the other made it a different experience.

              I appreciate the props. Don’t forget to drop a review on Amazon.

  9. 14,44€ on Amazon.de (that’s germoney for you)

    “Usually ready for shipping within 6 days”

    Amazon, what the fuck?

    I guess i’ll grab the Kindle Copy..
    considering i can’t even curl with the physical copy increasing my biceps muscle diameter efficiently.

    Anyways, what i am really curious about and want to know the answer from the lord of empty beer bottles himself, did you choose to create a 2nd follow up book to generate more money?

    If yes, that move just shows what a sophisticated genius you are behind that “drunk foreigner in japan” role you love to play!

    Greetings from the land of Mercedes Taxis!

    1. Ah, good question. So, first I just planned to put everything into one volume. But it was so massive that Word was crashing, and plus I thought it’d be a bit over the top to publish an encyclopedia as my first work.

      After that I was like, Okay Seeroi, just edit out the weaker pieces and publish a “best of” volume. That’s the genius move. So I spent a few days trying to play Caesar with the thumbs up, thumbs down thing to determine who lives and dies, but that sucked, because most pieces had weak parts, but also some redeeming portions.

      So finally, I was like, Two volumes, brilliant. (As opposed to just thinking that from the start like an actual smart person.) It seems like the best of all worlds—deliver the book much sooner, charge less, maybe eventually generate more cash, and the length is more appropriate. So that’s how that went down—randomly, in typical Seeroi fashion.

  10. Edit: Im 90% through the physics book (1500 pages strong) – if you remember.

    it did good for my physique too as i never found a suitable spot in this house to study, so i kept carrying it to new places in order to find peace

    1. There you go. Now get another of those books, leave the house, and just walk around town with one in each hand. You’ll be looking like Arnold in no time.

  11. Ignore Hitchens witticism…’Everyone has a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay‘. Well done, look forward to having a read and most important – good luck with sales!

    1. Thanks for that quote, and the good wishes. You know, I think there’s something to what Hitchens said. Not that one shouldn’t write a book, but perhaps just wait until you can do it as well as possible. I wrote my first pieces in college, published a few, but they really weren’t very good. And now, well, actually they’re not any better, but at least I know I’m not likely to improve from here on out, so it might as well be now.

  12. Any plans to release it on say Google play books?
    Kindles don’t play nice in my part of the world, and Amazon says that the kindle version is not currently available for purchase.

    1. Wow, that sucks. Right now, I’m still trying to manage the whole Amazon process. I might release it through other distributors at a later stage. I’m assuming you also can’t get a paper version where you’re at?

      1. The cost of shipping via Amazon makes it prohibitive.

        Besides I’m out of bookshelf space and have gone digital for all my reading in the past few years.

          1. I’d love to, but in my earlier post I lamentEd the inability to purchase the Kindle version in my part of the world. Hence the query about Google Play Bookstore.

            Anyway hopefully this will be sorted out in the future! All the best.

  13. Hi Ken, congratulations! I’ll definitely give this book to anyone with a sense of humor.

    Just a question: is there any way to avoid Amazon? I don’t like techno feudalism. If not, I’ll just have to pinch my nose and click some buttons.

    Hope it sells extremely well!

    1. Yeah, I feel that. Amazon has simply been the path of least resistance. It’s also a question of putting effort into setting up alternate distribution channels versus trying to deliver a second volume. I’m not entirely happy with everything, but I’m trying to ensure the best result for the maximum number of folks.

  14. May the celebrations begin! It will really be a strain to wait before I can get the book. By the way: How about a book-signing tour? That is: I plan to travel to Japan in early November. Any chance of getting an autograph by the now famous author on *the* authoritative anthology on all matters Japanese?

    1. I’d love to do a book-signing tour, but I have a feeling it’d turn out to be you, me, and a bartender. By the way, where are you planning to be in Japan?

      1. First things first: The book arrived, and I did write my five-star review on it. Well done, even without pictures. Let me know if you’d like to get an English translation.

        The plan is to arrive in Tokyo around 20 October and leave via Osaka on 4 November. It’s only a plan: The flight got cancelled – which I only found out when I tried to reserve a seat. So much for service. Hopefully I can still get some other flight.

        1. I hope you can. It’s such a weird time to travel. I just took a domestic flight yesterday in Japan, and it was packed. So much for social distancing.

          Thanks for writing a review. I truly appreciate that. Yeah, I wondered how the book would be without pictures, but it feels pretty okay.

          1. yes, I hope to hear of the airline soon. The law says that the’d have to come up with a solution within 7 days. The newspapers say that airlines ignore any passenger rights willfully. But that can be changed.

            By the way here’s a translation of my review (originally in German). Hope you like it:

            Do you like “Japan”? Do you like kimonos, samurai, lacquerware, matcha, old temples, shrines, high-tech, reliable service, security, exoticism?

            Ken Seeroi loves Japan – the country, not the advertising message. For years he has been reporting, in his blog, on his experiences in this country. He writes entertainingly, seriously, adeptly. Above all he writes honestly. He writes about that Japan which only reveals itself to the one who brushes aside the veil of exotic transfiguration and allows every fantasy image of this country to vanish upon collision with reality. He observes and experiences Japan away from the ryokans and world heritage sites. Instead, he lets his readers participate in everyday struggles and more or less loving surprises. The book is written in English, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the title.

            About the book as an object:

            The book contains a good 200 pages of text, along with a short glossary of useful or absurd Japanese vocabulary. Unlike the blog, the book does not contain any photos. This is probably due to the manufacturing process: The book appears as print-on-demand, apparently printed by an Amazon subsidiary in Leipzig, and is of neat workmanship.

            To the book’s content:

            Ken Seeroi deals with unusual everyday occurrences as a teacher of English. He carefully and sensitively observes how the people around him interact with him and their peers. His experiences (or at least his reports about them) seem strange or bizarre. But what happens if you are arrested in Japan? And why does it happen? What kind of poem does he find on a traditional squat toilet? What does cough syrup have to do with AIDS? What seven questions are asked to each foreigner, and in what order? What is the most gangster-like Japanese curse?

            Read this book and you will discover Japan. Perhaps you will even love Japan, in the same enlightened way that Ken Seeroi does.

  15. If I buy your book, can I steal the line “Turns out editing’s an actual job, and not just somebody getting paid to add and remove commas” and use it on my resume?

    jk, already bought it. Looking forward to reading it and commencing nagging you to produce another volume.

    1. You can use freely use that line, as long as you agree to edit my next book.

      Thanks for buying this one, seriously.

  16. Fuck, purchase made like instantly!
    Secondly, congratulation!! You are certainly one of my top ten all-time favorite writer!!!
    Wish I could have your signature on the real book instead of this kindle thing. XD

    1. Gimme a marker and I’ll gladly sign your Kindle. And thanks for the high praise. I only hope to live up to it one day.

    1. That is exactly my standard of success. I’ll be happy if I can just recoup all the Asahi and Calbee’s chip expenses it took to write it. Thanks for the good wishes.

  17. I wanted to leave a comment on Amazon right away, but then thought it might look not believable because of the shipping time to Germany- so I will wait, read it with joy, and then post my first ever comment on Amazon.

  18. Ken,
    Finally. And congratulations. I just ordered my copy (no Kindle for this librarian). Even though I’ve read the columns over the year, I look forward to rereading the edited version and finding the 3 new essays.

    I’ve been going through cancer treatment. Based on your previous writings, I’m sure cancer won’t seen that bad after reading your book. Er, perhaps I should word that better.

    Vin

    1. Hi Vin,

      “I’m sure cancer won’t seen that bad after reading your book.” Can I use that on the cover? Critics say this book is a treat, compared to cancer.

      But in all seriousness, that’s really heavy. I sincerely hope you get the best medical attention available. Sending you all good wishes for a speedy recovery.

      1. Ken. Feel free to quote away. When you put out volume 2, I’ll have a similar quote involving hemorrhoids.

        Thanks for the wishes. The treatments have been effective.

  19. Hello Ken,

    I think I first came across your blog years ago, maybe it was 2014 or something like that, but I not going to fact check, but I remember saying then that you should write a book a generic fanboying comment, which you responded to by a generic casual comment.

    Anyways, excuse my blabbering, but I am quite happy about this and I will be getting the book for sure! And I wish you the best of luck moving on forward.

    1. Honestly, I always appreciated the “you should write a book” comments, especially from longtime readers such as yourself. At the same time, a book was always an “I’ll get to it one of these days” kind of project.

      And then I don’t know what happened—one day a few things just came together simultaneously, and I started on it in earnest. (It didn’t hurt that I had 10+ years of material to draw upon.) Frankly, I’m still a little surprised that I was able to get it done. The credit goes entirely to people like you. I couldn’t have done it without you.

  20. Hey Ken.
    Nice work.
    Just tried to buy the hard copy and your friends at Amazon say I can’t have it?
    What do you know about shipping to Australia? You got a box of them in your 1dk? I’ll paypal you?
    Maybe send a copy to Miho’s mother,she can read it to me over the phone.
    Cheers Craig

    1. Ugh. The lack of physical shipping to Australia is a major pain in the Amazon. Let me see what I can do about it.

  21. Is Amazon the only storefront you’ll be using?

    I’m perfectly fine with that but before I buy there and convert the kindle format to one better suited to my ereader, I thought I might as well ask.

      1. Thanks for asking. Yes, I’m going to work through Amazon for the time being, just for the sake of simplicity. I really wish I had more time to devote to all-things-book, but for now, I’m devoting what time I have.

  22. Just bought it. I can’t promise I will read it anytime soon, but I’m moderately sure that there were quite a few of your blog entries “lost” in the great Firefox Crash of I don’t recall the year. Who would have thought that there’s a sensible limit to the amount of tabs you should have open in your browser? I’ve learned my lesson and now spread them over multiple browsers, so I don’t really notice when one of them goes missing.
    Once read, there will be a (most certainly) favourable review. Might even happen this year if the situation continues.

    1. Thanks so much, Silvia. Yes, perhaps the last advantage of paper over electronics is that it’s less likely to crash. At least now I feel like, once the great solar flare happens and everything digital is wiped back to the stone age, at least there will remain a paper memento of my time on earth. I really gotta work on publishing this in granite.

  23. Congrats on the book! I’ve followed the blog for a few years now. I’m happy you were finally able to get your book written. My review is up on Amazon!

    1. There’s no “i” in “team,” but plenty of “eroi” in “Seeroi.” Now there’s a joke not many people are likely to get. Had not heard that, thanks.

      1. We will never forget you ’til the day we die
        Ken Seeroi-iii

        Well done, I’ve just been off to Amazon to fund your beer reserves.

  24. YES. Proud of you man. Will buy it when I get paid at the end of the week. Been looking forward to this for a long time. I talk about you and your exploits to every girl I date, so perhaps there’s a group of small, sad, cute American girls that have started to follow your work as well.

    1. If so, then I’ve achieved my life goal.

      Thanks much for the props. I could never have done it without the backing from people like you.

  25. Man, what a disappointment! I was like “yeah, finally, let’s buy it right away!” and Amazon says: “we aint ship this item to your address”. Like what is wrong with Prague man? Srsly?! We aint no Soviet-shithole man, we are OECD, top 10 safest countries worldwide, just like Japan… but Jeff bloody Bezos goes cross-arms and says “maybe not”? They say there is a problem if the item is over 70 pounds or if it is overly bulky… why did not you write a standard book for F*** sake?

    Right, do I have to wait for the winter season (if there is any, this year) to have it shipped to Kutchan-cho (hope they let me come there again, damn the Chinese flu…)? I want my book and I want it now! And no I aint have no Kindle; hate that shit.

    Could you please use all your might and tell them to send me your book? Well I guess you can’t, so I will wait. Guess the 6 seasons in Japan should have thought me to be more patient and wait. しょうがない

    1. We generally use my mother in law for ordering things at Amazon Japan when they won’t ship to Europe.
      I wonder if there is a small company out there offering “in lieu” orders for people not being able to buy from Amazon at some particular location. (That should be legal in my understanding.)

      1. I don’t think that would violate any rules, but the costs would be prohibitive.

        That would entail buying copies retail, paying shipping in Japan, then paying shipping again to wherever, plus the time involved in doing what Amazon should really be doing anyway.

        First it was writing, then publishing, and now shipping. This book stuff sure is complicated. My apologies to readers worldwide who are having trouble getting their hands on a copy.

      1. Somebody up there obviously just does not like the Czech Republic. We had one book like this here before https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codex_Gigas but the Swedes stole it. Now I want to bring here another 70 lb + replacement and they say no… sad face. Let’s see if we can have it shipped to my in-laws to Switzerland. I will keep you updated (guess this is what you are waiting for 😀 )

        1. Freaking unbelievable what we have to go through just to get a book shipped around the world.

          By the way, that Wikipedia entry was interesting. Damn Swedes. Here’s the variant I want for my book: “The length, size, and detail of Strange Nights, and Some Days Too are of such extraordinary magnitude that legend surrounds its origin, specifically the story that it was written by Ken Seeroi in one night with help from the devil himself.”

          Now that would be cool.

  26. Insta-buy! Glad I was able to buy a physical copy on Amazon Italy, wasn’t expecting that.

    Good luck Ken, and thanks for all the laughs 🙂

    1. Thanks much! I’m glad you were able to get a copy. I had no idea that getting it to different nations would be such a struggle. It’s a weird world we live in.

  27. What about the inconsistent support over the years, heh. Congrats man, and going to try to figure out how to trick my Kindle to think I’m in Japan…if only someone wrote an article about that earlier or something…;p

    1. I think the key point is that, if your Kindle’s registered in Japan, you need to buy the book from Amazon Japan. But if it’s registered in, say, the U.S., you should buy it from Amazon U.S. As long as you can keep straight where you are (not always easy for me), then everything’s golden.

  28. Bang on man! It is always a pleasure reading your stories. A book of yours is definitely a must to have. I’ll have to find you on my next trip to Japan and have my copy signed (or poured with shoku)

  29. I am pretty sure I bought a copy.
    I followed the link and hit add to cart.
    A couple of times.
    Maybe I accidentally bought 3.
    If so will give to my friends.

  30. Paperback copy ordered!

    I’ll probably have a read through it myself even though I’ve read all the original blog posts here (I know… only “a good bit” is the same as the posts). I intend to pass it on to my brother, who loaned me a copy of “Angry White Pyjamas.” I haven’t actually haven’t finished that yet. Still, in a certain sense, my circle of life will be complete. Hopefully we’ll both enjoy reading it.

    1. Fantastic. I hope you enjoy it. Reading the stories online, I typically only read one at a time. But in the book, I find myself going from one to the next—there was a continuity I never felt in the blog posts. And the lack of a comments section alone changes things. It’s good because you can focus on the stories, instead of getting caught up in commenting and responding, but also bad because that interaction was part of the fun. So the whole experience just feels completely different. It’s weird.

  31. I done bought a physical copy. I’m guessing you can tell where I am (at least which country) by the first sentence.

    I’m looking forward to reading it!

  32. I bought and enjoyed your ebook. The WordStar reference was interesting. I wonder how many of your readers have heard of it? Pretty funny.

    Constructive criticism: When you left for Japan it was still common to talk about gays as you do in the book. I did. Many people did. That era is over for the east and west coasts of the US, particularly in the tech and business sectors. Having worked with gay people, I’m sorry I ever used the term pejoratively. Also, BTW, you use the term to describe “effeminate”. That’s often the case and often the opposite.

    I’m sure your gay readers would wonder about why you’re using language that’s been dropped for about 20 years for good reason.

    Of course the reason it appears in your book, you weren’t in the US then. Anyhow, I enjoyed the book and recommend it. And maybe you should think about revising it sometime. It will much more likely stand the test of time if you do.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. It’s important and I take it seriously. I’m always concerned with how my words are perceived.

      Certainly, I’ve never meant to use “gay” in any pejorative sense, now or in the past. My thinking is that I use various people and groups as foils, and hope people can take a joke. I’ve taken the piss out of Japanese, Americans, Chinese, Australians, women, men, white people, black people, old people, kids, and mostly myself. If I leave out gay folks, isn’t that kind of, well, discriminatory?

      I’d be interested to hear what others have to say on the subject.

  33. Any chance of an audiobook? Would finance you for it 😛
    I literally can’t read books very easily, some form of ADHD.

    But I’d love to hear it. If you want to read it yourself I can sponsor your professional recording equipment.

    1. I would seriously love to, but straight up, I’ve got to prioritize a few other things first. Let me try to finish the launch of the paper book—I’ve still got a couple more months of work to do on that. Thanks for the suggestion, though. I’ll append it to Santa’s list.

    1. Help a brotha out. I took a look at 164, but didn’t see it. Apparently, I’m blind to my own mistakes. What word/words were wrong?

  34. Been enjoying your stories for years. I’m not the online-commenting type but I wanted you to know that I ordered up a copy of the book right away. Eventually I was going to re-read your stuff here on the website, but having refreshed versions gathered in a book is even better!

    Thanks for so many laughs over the years. A silly yet sincere review has been added to Amazon Canada.

    1. Funny you should say that, because one of my concerns is that my spoken English has really deteriorated. I doubt if I speak an hour a week in English, outside of the classroom, and when I do it’s usually slowly with clearly enunciated syllables. I really need a native English speaker to read the damn book.

  35. Ken,
    In my opinion you still have all of the language skills in English that you had before.
    It’s more like being unfrozen cryogenically.
    It’s still there.
    The only one who knows is you.
    And those on this channel kinda living vicariously through the blog.

    1. Thanks, I feel like my writing is still okay. I mean, as much as it ever was. But speaking—yeah, I dunno. The other day I read a passage aloud to a lady friend, and it just didn’t have that “bounce.” Japanese (which is what I speak most of the time) is such a flat language; it lacks the rising and falling intonation that’s typical of English. I feel like Japanese has really dampened my English. Sometimes when I speak English, it feels like I’m pretending to be a native speaker.

      But to your point, I reckon I could emerge from the cryogenisis. I just need some practice. Probably just need to enroll in an English conversation course.

  36. Today the book arrived and I am half way through it. Spontaneous first impression: I love it. The texts I knew from here read differently reading them in book form, and I love reading them here.
    Suddenly sometimes your style made me think of The hitchhikers guide to the galaxy.
    And I love Douglas Adams ´ style to bits:-). I think he is a language genius and very smart.
    I really, really do love that your text about your very brief fight with a yakuza is followed directly by the startling trip to America.

    To me, it makes both texts more poignant. And the yakuza text is more horrifying and real in the book, to me.

    Will be reading on now.

    Thank you so much!

  37. Hi Ken,

    First off I’d just like to say that I love your writing. I’ve been following your blog for the last few years but haven’t commented until now. I’d also like to congratulate you on your new book. That is fabulous!

    If I may ask a question… In the description to your book you describe how you left your career in the States to pursue your dream of living in Japan. “That,” you say, “was a terrible idea and you shouldn’t do it.” Basically, my question is: how serious are you about this bit of advice?

    I’ve spent the last few years studying Japanese on and off. I’ve made it through Genki and Heisig’s RTK. I’ve studied thousands of Anki flash cards. I’ve taken evening classes at my local university and I attended a language school in Japan for three weeks. (Not surprisingly, I’m still not very good at Japanese.) All this work has been inspired by my dream of one day moving to Japan and attending a language school for two years. After that I don’t have a clear plan, just a thought of how cool it would be to build a modest but beautiful life in Kyoto, or someplace lovely like that. At 32 I’m old enough to have a healthy dose of skepticism regarding dreams – not cynicism, just skepticism – so I know there would be hardship and disappointments along the way. But obviously the hope would be that in spite of those hardships and disappointments I’d look back on my decision to move to Japan and be satisfied with it.

    Which brings me to my question (posed as a hypothetical) for you, sir… let’s say you were you to be transported back in time to 12 years ago, to before you left your former career in the States. You do retain all of the self knowledge that you’ve gleaned over the course of your time in Japan but you do not retain your knowledge of the Japanese language. Would you pack your two suitcases, grab your phrase book, and head straight back to Japan? Or, would you do differently because you realize that immigrating to Japan truly is a “terrible idea”?

    I think I speak for everyone here when I say that personally I am grateful that you made the decision to go to Japan and to write about it. Also, whatever it is that you choose to do next, I’m rooting for you!

    Cody

    1. Thanks, Cody. Heavy question.

      Moving to Japan really isn’t a very good idea. But most of the things I do aren’t, so there’s that.

      One piece of advice a well-traveled friend gave me was to see other Asian countries. I’ve said it before, even to myself, but Why Japan? You’d be smart to check out Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Cambodia, Korea, Indonesia, Finland… I’ve only done a few of those places, but it’s still sage advice. If you have the wherewithal, you’d be smart to spend a few weeks in each place before settling on any one.

      There’s also a couple other things you might want to consider.

      The first is your personality. Moving to Japan doesn’t fix anything. If you’re not satisfied where you’re at, maybe you’re just not a satisfied kinda person. And you won’t be satisfied in Japan either. That’s been my experience anyway. Whatever personality flaws you have, they’ll become manifest in Japan. Too passive, too controlling, overly shy, overly social, cynical, trusting, whatever…you’re going to be seven years old again, having to rebuild your personality from scratch in a different language and culture. Not saying that’s a bad thing, but it’s tough having to grow up all over again.

      The second is what you lose. Contact with friends and family. Money like mad. Possessions. Social standing. People will talk down to you and treat you like the second-class citizen you are. Ability to do even the most basic of tasks, such as read a magazine or order a pizza. Ability to express yourself to your boss, girlfriend, station attendant, anybody. The (non-monetary) cost of living in Japan is really tremendous. It’s not a free trip.

      And if you finally overcome all the obstacles—apartment, furniture, job, cell phone, car, visa, driver’s license, insurance, credit card, significant other, learn the language, and see Japan for what it really is—then what? When you finally “arrive,” then you’re just going to scotch it all and go back from wherever you came? That’s not much of a plan either. Says the guy with no plan.

      Finally, I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t address your language school idea. I had the same grand scheme when I moved here, and have attended a couple of schools while working. But recently I joined another class and couldn’t stand it. Basically, language school is just hanging out with foreigners, and a teacher or two who plays to them. You get to put on yukata and make sushi and go out to eat okonomiyaki as a big group. Wooow, so Japan. But it’s all tourist stuff. It’s almost the opposite of “real” Japan, whatever that is. For me, taking private lessons would be a lot better, just to avoid all the wide-eyed foreigners.

      So would I do it all again? Yeah, I don’t know. If I were smart, I’d come for a year, then go somewhere else. But I’ve never been particularly bright or prudent, so yeah, maybe.

      1. That sounds exactly right to me. Boy, I’m a lucky guy and growing up for me wasn’t too bad but even so… yeah, I’m not looking to do that again. Besides, I think I’m still a few years away from really having grown up completely here in my own country.

        Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful response. You’re a generous spirit and I salute you. I just ordered a copy of your book and sent a small gratuity your way. Please keep up the good work!

        Cody

        1. Man Cody, thank you so much for your kind donation.

          Just to add a bit to what I said…

          I really do enjoy living in Japan. It’s a good place. But if you’re moving from a modern, well-developed nation, such as the U.S., then you’re going to have to confront a lot of pros and cons. Which is to say that there are plenty of not-great things about the U.S., but also some really good things. Like backyard barbecues, running and biking trails, open debates, craft breweries, and forgiveness. You might miss some of that.

          When considering Japan, it’s easy to spot the good things. Buying a beer and bento at the station before hopping a train to Kyoto. Can’t do that in the U.S. Clean streets, less graffiti, generally quiet people. Those are great. But can you list the negatives? If I asked anyone to describe the “cons” of the U.S., they could rattle off a fearsome list lickety-split. But can you do it for Japan?

          And what I’m getting at here is that both countries have so many good and bad points that, at the end of the day, honestly, it’s about a wash. If you’re living in some yurt in Mongolia, then leaving your herd of ponies and paddling your dugout canoe to Japan might be a great step up. But coming from, for example, the U.S., it’s more of a horizontal move. And given the great costs of uprooting one’s entire life, I’d advise caution. Come for a year. That’s a fair amount of time and then you can go back with blissful memories like that hot girl or guy you dated in college. In your mind, they’re still twenty. You may not want to see them at fifty.

          Here’s my final word of caution and then I promise I’ll let it go—what catches a lot of guys out (and yeah, it’s usually guys) is getting into a relationship. I mean, that’s only natural, right? You hook up with somebody. But I see a lot of dudes move here, party like it’s 2019, and then in an instant they’re Joe Dad, supporting a wife, kids, and in-laws on an English teacher’s salary. Not saying that’s a bad thing, but make sure you understand the terms and conditions before inking in the contract of your life.

          1. Seeing a lot less open debate and forgiveness out here on the Best Coast….but very good points, also something I realized when I thought about how there aren’t that many recent first generation immigrants from Japan to the US as compared to other Asian countries. If you’re moving from certain places like the Philippines, yeah it’s a step up in many ways in regards to quality of life. If you’re moving from Japan…you might be trading sideways or down…

  38. Once again I am late to the party! Well, I am very happy to find out that you took all the numerous advice and time to write a book! I Just bought the E-version of it for my Kindle PaperWhite although it is also nice to have a paperback version too! I love reading other people’s observations of their personal life in Japan and your writing is particularly witty to boot. Could I and will I continue reading your blog of course! But, I also enjoy reading offline.

    Thanks!

    1. Thanks much! I’m still working out the details of publishing and distributing this masterpiece. After that, I fully intend to publish a second one. Then eventually, a leather-bound 12 volume set.

  39. Hi Ken,
    Congratulations on the book. There’s a self-publishing website lulu.com which may be of interest. They produce physical books and electronic versions. The electronic version would be readable by anyone with a smart phone, tablet or ereader (https://www.lulu.com/create/ebooks). How it would compare to Amazon I can’t say but it may let you reach more of your readers.

    There’s a few beer tokens coming to you via Paypal as a thank you for your blog. Cheers!

    1. Thanks much for the both the contribution and knowledge, Rory. There are a lot of moving pieces to this publishing business, and I assure you I’m working on improving both the book and its distribution. Cheers for that.

  40. Congratulations on your book! Very good to have it compiled on paper! You know, I was worried if you had a complete backup of the site ( But I suspected you wrote it on Word or something and then copy-paste in to the site. ) . Malfunction and such and boom, the work of a life is gone! OK, maybe there’s a mirror of something on some obscure part of the internet.

    Also, sudden give up. I followed some other blogs that disappeared from day to night, because the author was just, f*ck off, I’m tired of all this and there was no more.

    But for some reason it’s really reassuring to have it on paper.

    Anyways, it’s here. Now the sky is the limit! A second volume, a manga , an anime, maybe even a Netlix adaptation is possible.

    1. Yeah, I’m thinking a major motion picture next. I’ll play myself and it’ll be an otherworldly production like “The Room.”

      You’re absolutely right about the site backup. Although I write everything in Word, I do a lot of editing after I upload the articles. It’s not uncommon for me to edit a post 30 times or more. To lose those edits would be a major bummer, so I try to do backups of the online stuff as often as possible. I need like a team of elves.

  41. Hi. Congratulations on your book!! It’s awesome! I’m reading it. It’s really entertaining and I’m loving it. But there is one thing that I don’t love about your book. It’s the Japanese translation of the book title. I was like 何? It’s translated word by word and it makes no sense.

    1. Thanks much, I’m really glad you’re enjoying it. The title was written by one Japanese person and checked by another. It makes as much sense as the English, which is itself unusual, so there’s that.

  42. Just finished the book – already looking forward to part 2. What percentage of your posts do you think will be covered by the two volumes?

    I reported a few minor typos via the Kindle app – hope they went somewhere useful and just didn’t disappear into the æther.

    1. Thanks much for reporting the typos—let me see if I can figure out where in the ether your comments went. I’m constantly trying to improve both the form and content of my publications, so that feedback is tremendously helpful.

      My guess is that this first volume covers about 35-40% of my content, by number of stories, not length. The second volume will probably contain fewer stories, but as the articles have gotten longer, the page count will likely be similar. So I’m guessing that volume 2 will contain about 30% of the stories, leaving the remainder to go into a 3rd volume.

      I’d really almost rather produce just one work, but it’d probably be a thousand pages long, and weight about five pounds, so that’s out. Anyway, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I’m still trying to dial in this first volume so it looks exactly right.

  43. Congratulations on your first book! Long time reader, first time posting. I just sent 3 copies to friends and family. And of course, I kept one for myself.

    1. Wow, that’s…terrifying. Suddenly it’s like, what’s that feeling? Responsibility? Oooh, something I’ve tried to avoid for so long I’m not even sure what it is anymore. At any rate, thank you so much. That really means a lot to me.

  44. Hey !! I have to say I am a long time reader of your blog (2014, or 2015). At the time your entry was posted, it was not available on Amazon.ca, then I checked back on July 1st, and I was pleased to see it was available in Canada, then proceeded to buy. So far, I’ve been reading ’til page 50 or so, and it is a pure delight to revisit your slices of life again. I’ve always been a fan of your writing style, so I knew already before buying the book that I would love it; thank you for sharing your life. Finally, I am so glad that you released a book, and congrats for that baby!

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