Is Speaking English in Japan Unavoidable?

A reader named mintyroll recently commented:

The “Japanese People Don’t Want you to Speak Japanese” part is one of those minor things I’ve always been afraid of whenever I think of how my first trip to Japan will be . . . Consequently, it’s made me want to reach at least fluent level of Japanese before I ever make the trip.

So mintyroll—-is that a Spanish name?—-well, I can’t say what Your Japan will be like, but I can tell you about My Japan. And maybe we can extrapolate a bit.

Life in Japan as a Foreigner

Take yesterday, for example. It was a hot, gray day, and I finished work early then hustled to the station. Running up the stairs, I found myself surrounded by school kids, who immediately began yelling, “Hello! Hello!” in English. That warms my heart. Or maybe it’s just the humidity, I never can tell. Continue reading “Is Speaking English in Japan Unavoidable?”

Homeless in Japan not Big Fans of America

Last Friday, I decided to celebrate the lovely fall weather by drinking a refreshing beer in my neighborhood park and working on my tan.  I’ve discovered this really beats the hell out of sitting in a smoky izakaya wishing the proprietor’d had the foresight to provide some outdoor seating or at least install a teeny tiny window.  Why the Japanese have such an aversion to open-air dining, I’ve never been able to figure out.  So full of mysteries, the Far East. Continue reading “Homeless in Japan not Big Fans of America”

Japan’s Runaway Turtles

So I’m heading to work early one morning when I happen to glance down and see this little Japanese turtle right in the middle of the road, totally random.  I mean, okay, I couldn’t really tell if he was a Japanese turtle or a gaijin turtle, but anyway he had the shell and the stubby reptile legs and all, so I felt pretty good about the turtle part.  And he was escaping from this neighborhood reservoir, full of green water and surrounded by tall chain link fence.  How a turtle got over a seven foot-high chain link fence, I’ll never know, but apparently he was some kind of Rambo super turtle or something.  You never can tell in this country.  Continue reading “Japan’s Runaway Turtles”

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”