Two Japanese Life Skills You Must Master

If you want to be a success in Japan, there are only two things you really need to nail.  The unfortunate small problem is, they’re opposites.  But perhaps a colorful story will help to illustrate.

So I was in a “standing bar” a couple of weeks ago, which is like a normal bar, or really a restaurant because they serve food too, only without any seats.  It’s just about the worst invention the Japanese ever came up with.  Like, who wants to have drinks and food standing up?  Would it kill you to put in some barstools?  But anyway, so I’m standing there having a conversation with this rather attractive Japanese lady and I order some fish in a can on toast.   And things are going pretty well between us, you know, until suddenly her husband shows up.  So that was a little disappointing.  But whatever, he turned out to be a really nice guy and bought me a beer and I Continue reading “Two Japanese Life Skills You Must Master”

Working for an Eikaiwa – What’s not to Like?

The Land of the Rising Sun isn’t for everyone.   But like Sirens to a sailor, Japan exerts a pull on the naive to the point that any job, no matter how miserable, seems tolerable in exchange for a brief encounter.  I was among that number.

Now, you can’t put the words “Japan, “miserable,” and “job” into one sentence without mentioning “eikaiwa,” in the next.  Try it—it’s physically impossible.  Jobs at Eikaiwa (English conversation schools) are plentiful, due to the ample supply of Japanese folks willing to pay to learn English.  And, perhaps fortunately for you, the teaching qualifications are close to nonexistent.  Continue reading “Working for an Eikaiwa – What’s not to Like?”

The Great Japanese Name Switcheroo

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”

One Really Long Year in Japan

Fellow citizens, our long national nightmare is finally over. Let us now embark upon that shining road to recovery. Of course, by “national” I mean Japan, and “long nightmare” as in my teaching English here while everyone else listens to my grumbling about it. In retrospect, I guess I should have read my one-year school contract more carefully. I assumed “one agrees to be poked by devils while drowning in a pool of anguish” was just boilerplate contractual stuff. Who knew they meant it literally? Continue reading “One Really Long Year in Japan”

After the Last Train, it’s Ramen, Amen

So somehow it came to pass that I found myself in Ikebukuro at 3:30 a.m., drinking malt liquor, eating kimchee and a really fabulous grilled mackerel, helping this random izakaya owner translate his signs into English.  If you go into a bar there and see a “Customers must pay when they order” sign, then yeah, that was me.

Though I’m happy to finally be teaching in Japan, I’m certain that hummingbirds on crack lead more relaxing lives.  Continue reading “After the Last Train, it’s Ramen, Amen”