Making Friends in Japan

People say Japan’s a lonely place. But people say a lot of things, including that America’s the greatest nation on earth. Well, they do have a lot of eagles, cheeseburgers, and guns, so I guess it must be true.

Anyway, recently a reader asked if it was hard to make friends in Japan, to which I’m tempted to answer “well, yes and no.” But since that’s the world’s most dickish answer, I’ll just go with “yes.” Yes, it is, for a few simple reasons.

By way of illustration, let me first tell you about my good friend, Imada-san. We’ve been naked together many times. Maybe in the West, men don’t bathe together much, but really, how can you call somebody a friend if you haven’t seen his junk? Eh, maybe it’s a cultural thing. Anyway, moving on. Continue reading “Making Friends in Japan”

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”

Taking a Japanese Name

Living in Japan long enough will make anyone mental. I’m pretty sure I can convince you of this.

But let’s back up, to when I lived in the U.S. There, I dated a Taiwanese gal named Amy. She had long black hair, an incredibly tight body, and loved karaoke. She was quite good at it too, among other things. So on random Saturdays, I’d call up my buddy Steve and his buddy Warren Benter and the four of us would drink a mess of terrible Coors Light, pile into Benter’s van and head out singing. The only thing is, Amy’s name wasn’t really Amy. It was Chiaolauhu. And Steve’s was, in actuality, Esteban. And Benter’s family name originally sounded like someone with a terrible cough. When his grandfather came through Ellis Island, he shortened it by simply removing every other letter.

So this got me thinking—-why not take a Japanese name? Continue reading “Taking a Japanese Name”

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”

New Nihonjin? App Identifies Japanese Faces

If you’re a Japanese person (that is, real Japanese, not just like some Korean guy born in Japan), then you know how frustrating it is. Every day, you’re surrounded by crowds of people, in stores, elevators, and that small ramen shack behind the station. And everywhere you go, with every person you see, you have to constantly wonder “Is that person really Japanese?” Because, let’s face it—sometimes it’s hard to tell, even for you. And you’re, you know, Japanese.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a surefire way to quickly tell whether someone was Japanese, Chinese, Korean, gaijin, or one of those “half” people? Well, now there is! Introducing… Continue reading “New Nihonjin? App Identifies Japanese Faces”