At first, you might think the Japanese place great importance on addressing others properly. After all, it’s a nation where even elephants get called Zou-san. That’s Mr. Elephant to you.
The reality is that this naming convention works flawlessly until someone who looks “foreign” enters the scene, at which point thousands of years of custom go straight out the window. Continue reading “The Great Japanese Name Switcheroo”
When the Tohoku earthquake happened, I was sitting at my tiny Japanese desk, in the middle of a giant Japanese office, in the middle of Tokyo, just hating life. I was working elbow to elbow with about a hundred people, facing a row of unsmiling coworkers across from me, crouched in front of my pc, without speaking from morning until night. The most exciting part of the day was lunchtime, when we’d all take out our bento boxes and eat lunch together without talking. I couldn’t imagine it could get any worse. Continue reading “The Great Tohoku Earthquake”
When I finally looked in the mirror after a month of eikaiwa teaching, my first thought was—who the hell’s that? My signature dark and flowing locks, which had once glowed with the radiance of a dozen hair-care products, had gone white almost overnight. While it’s true that I might have had one or two gray hairs before, my class load was clearly making me look like Keith Richards before my time. Continue reading “Growing Old in Japan”