Going to a Japanese Dentist

 

I’m probably the only person in the world who enjoys going to the dentist. But you know, between running for trains, dashing to the bathroom between English lessons, and constantly being pressured to sing Bowie at karaoke, it’s the only time I can get any rest. Hey, Japan’s an extraordinarily busy place, especially if you do an extraordinary rendition of “Starman.”

I’ve been to the dentist in Japan a total of three times. The first was just to see Thirty-four, who’s this dental assistant in Ueno. She has amazingly nice teeth, which is what attracted me to her. We originally met in a really loud wine bar, and I entered her number into my phone, along with her age, as a note. Then the next morning when I woke up with a massive red-wine hangover, it seemed I’d forgotten to enter her name, so I just called her Thirty-four from then on. Continue reading “Going to a Japanese Dentist”

Why Japanese People Lie

A reader named Furansujin recently described his stay with a Japanese host family:

“They showed complete hysteria when I told them I loved curry or could eat takoyaki . . . the only reason i can think of for so many grins, laughs, and exclamations is acting. Like people were overly polite because they felt they needed to be.

“We also tried calligraphy. Everyone was doing a terrible job, me especially. But someway somehow our Japanese teachers inspected our work saying “Joozu, Joozu”—-you’re good at this. But they would also talk with each other in Kansai dialect. One of our students had a good understanding of it and told us that in fact they were saying that we sucked badly. So much for politeness.”

You know, they say you shouldn’t generalize. So I won’t. But if I was going to generalize, Continue reading “Why Japanese People Lie”

Crime in Japan

You never know what the day will bring—that’s the exciting thing about waking up. So this morning, just as I was heading out for a fresh can of coffee at the corner 7-Eleven, I noticed somebody’d pasted a scary Japanese note to the windshield of my car.

“Contract parking place!!” it said in large, crimson kanji, written with what appeared to be a stubbly red crayon. “Never park here!!” Heh, and they say Japanese people are subtle. Sure they are, until you do something wrong. Anyway, I had to admit I felt a bit of pride in that I could read the terrible note, and also that I finally owned a car in Japan. Yet all things considered, somehow I felt bad. Emotions sure are confusing. I really wished it was night, so I could buy beer, which solves that problem. Continue reading “Crime in Japan”

One Japanese Book You Must Read

You should think twice about taking any advice Ken Seeroi’s got to give. I mean, we’re talking a guy who ditched a sensible life in a first-world country for a freezing, tiny apartment, sleeping on the floor, and eating rice with sticks. So, really? Well, it’s not so bad once I move the shochu boxes and cockroaches out of the way. Just trying to put things into perspective, you know.

How to Take a Bath in Japan

There’s a lot of information on how to do things “right” in Japan. How to take off your shoes, bow, give small gifts, blow your nose, take a bath. It’s like a country that comes with its own instruction manual. Continue reading “One Japanese Book You Must Read”

One Thing You Must Never do in Japan

Fruit flies.  I woke up on my futon and all I could see were fruit flies, which for some reason, eh, didn’t seem all that unusual.  Probably because when you live in Japan, strange stuff just happens.  I don’t know why.  Like the other day I rolled over to find my futon soaked with sweat and my apartment about 140 degrees, despite having cranked on the A/C the night before.  Hey, is it my fault that “heater” and “air conditioner” share the same kanji?  That’s more of a product-safety issue for the thermostat manufacturer, I think.  Continue reading “One Thing You Must Never do in Japan”