I wonder why the thought of a gaijin being approachable like everyone else is so… foreign. Maybe it’s because they assume I don’t speak Japanese. Maybe it’s because they assume that I’m just a passing tourist. Maybe they don’t want foreign customers. I think it’s a bit of all of the above.
by Shayne BowdenRead More
Like most countries, Japan is filled to bursting point with brands, but here their reign is enforced with a unique and often unsettling vigor. They scream at us from billboards, interrupt the TV programs they sponsor, and fill vending machines with more varieties (I use the word lightly) of coffee than even the most exhausted salaryman could want or need.
by Jesse KirkwoodRead More
Japanese buses are mobile libraries. Of course, there aren’t any shelves of books. But they are ridiculously quiet. Everyone either speaks in hushed tones or not at all. And you dare not breathe too loudly lest you disturb the peace and quiet. (That is unless you are on a bus filled with school children…but that is entirely another matter!) Don’t jangle your keys. Don’t shuffle about. Most importantly, do not use your cell phone; not even for texting, according to some old ladies. I was “strongly urged” by an older lady that my cell phone needed to be completely off, and, indeed, she was obliged to turn it off for me. Yes. The hallowed space that is a Nishitetsu bus will not be desecrated by your noise and or text messages!
by Dena-Kae Ferguson, Jamaica, TeacherRead More
Since I moved to Kurume last August, my family back in Scotland have suffered many a Skype complaint about my 30-year-old aircon unit and the grim limitations of my bank card. They no longer see Japan as one big Tokyo, buzzing with cyber progress; in fact, my Dad has compared my life in Japan to Britain in the late 1970s, when unemployment led to widespread cutbacks and frugality. In terms of technology and office practice, the Japan of the 1970s too is probably pretty similar to Japan today. But why is this such a surprise for a newcomer? Why the contrast between the image of Japan and the reality of my frustrated phone calls back home?
by Hannah AuldRead More
age 65 of the Sunshine English Textbook for second-year, public JHS Students paraphrases one Ms. Severn Cullis-Suzuki, known better, perhaps as “The Girl Who Silenced the World for 5 Minutes.” How did she earn such an eminent moniker? She dared to browbeat every adult on Earth for six minutes, and forty seconds! Google her. Have a listen. I dare, YOU!
by Matt Simpson, USA, Nice Guy/TeacherRead More
People come to Japan for lots of reasons. Japanophiles, weeaboos, Pokemon trainers, gastronomists who love eating raw foods with minimalist preparation, English Lit majors who’ve realized how truly worthless their degree is… of all of them I’ve still not met a fellow foreigner who came to Japan because they wanted to interact with the local international community.
by Matt SchuelleinRead More
I am going to write some words I never thought I’d write: Of all the places I’ve ever left, Fukuoka is by far the most recent. After 16 years in Fukuoka, 19 in Japan, and 20 in Asia, I decided to call it quits and move back to what some might call my home country. I certainly wasn’t the first to gaijin to leave and I know I won’t be the last, but after a certain number of years here one becomes known as a “lifer”. I crossed that barrier long ago, yet I left anyway. Many were shocked I decided to leave – including myself.
by P. Sean BrambleRead More
How often have you seen it happen? The boss blurts out something completely wrong, and the employees smile and offer no objection. Perhaps you yourself, as a foreign guest, have been “the boss” in this situation. I certainly have! What you’ve witnessed is Japan’s vertical social structure, where there is no point and indeed no acceptable means to object to your superior.
By Avery MorrowRead More
It has been 18 months since the horrific live broadcast of the Fukushima Daichii Nuclear Power Plant reactors explosion wreaked fear and dread throughout Japan. Visions of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island came into my mind, and the minds of the many friends and relatives who called and told me to get out of Japan.
by Chris FlynnRead More
When I think about it, it’s a little bit strange to consider myself a gaikokujin in a country that makes up fifty percent of who I am. I’ve been using chopsticks and eating natto since I was a kid. My mother was already drilling me on my hiragana and katakana by the time I could pick up a pencil, and, embarrassing as it is, I even had a Matsumoto Jun uchiwa pinned up on my wall when I was fourteen. But I’ve got a horrendously difficult name to pronounce for the poor folks here, and I’ve inherited a larger portion of my father’s Caucasian characteristics than my mother’s Japanese looks. So I have had to become used to the occasional, “Wow, you can use chopsticks!” that inevitably deems it necessary for me to narrate a long-winded description of my family history.
by Rachel CantrellRead More