When Asami wiped out on her bike outside Ueno station, she lay on the sidewalk with a broken wrist “and everybody just stepped around me. Not one person tried to help.”
She recounted this accident as we sat out at Starbucks, between sips of a Frappuccino with her left hand, the right being bound in a light blue cast.
“Japanese people are terrible,” she concluded.
“Maybe they’re just shy,” I suggested. Folks here love that excuse for avoiding anything difficult or unpleasant.
And yet, I knew what she meant. Japanese people are terrible. Some of the rudest bastards you’ll ever meet. Except for the nice ones, of course, Asami included. At least part of the time.
Continue reading “Real Japan: Why Everything You’ve Heard is Wrong”
“OK, you got me, why do they make things so difficult?” —St Germain
As a not-so-casual observer of Japanese girls, something I’ve always wondered was: Why are they so sad? They weave through crowds staring dejectedly at their platform shoes, or scrunch over their phones on the train, trying desperately to tune out the world. So I consulted Seina, since she’s got an answer for everything.
“Why,” I asked, “are Japanese girls so sad? That’s something I’ve always wondered.”
“Because they’re not happy,” Seina replied. I don’t know why I’m consistently surprised by the obvious.
“Well, why aren’t they happy?” I pressed.
“Probably they don’t want to be.”
“Who doesn’t want to be happy?”
“People who are sad.”
I could find no flaw in that geometry. You gotta appreciate a perfect circle.
Continue reading “Japanese Values”
I’d like to say Japan makes complete sense. I’ve lived here a long time, and come to understand most of the mysteries of Japan. Like, I get why we don’t have screen doors and a stereo is a crime against humanity. Or why we have to sit on the floor, slurp our noodles, avoid talking on the bus, and why the prettier a woman is, the more pissed-off she looks. That’s all reasonable. But then I’d like to say a lot of things, like Japan’s so efficient that the whole country doesn’t run on stacks of paper, unbridled nepotism, and rubber stamps. Sorry, just came from the real estate office. How is it renting a freaking room involves over forty pages of forms and someone who appears Japanese? Explain that, Japan.
Anyway, where was I? Oh, right. So, not much in Japan is really remarkable any more. That’s known as being jaded. Still, no amount of jadedness seems to solve the mysteries of Japan, such as:
Continue reading “The Top 10 Mysteries of Japan”
It rained last week. And as I walked into the lobby of my Japanese office building, there was my coworker in front of me, the strawberry-blonde gal who speaks pretty good Japanese. And perhaps because she’d mostly mastered the language, it was surprising to note she’d failed to successfully navigate the entire minefield of Japanese customs: she hadn’t wrapped up her umbrella. You know that little strap you wind around to hold the umbrella closed? Yeah, she hadn’t done that. This is the Japanese equivalent of not zipping up your fly.
Continue reading “What I’ve Learned About Japanese Customs”
After Japan’s lukewarm reception to my halfhearted proposal of becoming a Japanese citizen, I decided to re-think the whole strange project. Would citizenship even change anything? Certainly not as much as a quick trip to Korea for plastic surgery and coming back looking like a Japanese 18 year-old. Would it help to invest another ten years improving my already awesome Japanese? Or should I just scotch the whole thing and hang out with topless ladies on the beach in Polynesia like Paul Gauguin? Wow, so many good options.