Friday, March 28, 2003

Greetings from J-List March 28, 2003

Hello again from all your friends in Japan!

I've lived in Japan for twelve years now, and I've had some really fun times. Japan is famous for having vending machines selling just about anything you can think of, from fresh eggs to rice to underwear, and there are more vending machines here per capita than any other country -- one for every 23 people. Beer vending machines that sell beer and other alcoholic drinks until 10 pm are quite common, too, and I've made use of these from time to time in the past. Back in my days as a single gaijin, you could probably find me hanging out with friends in front of the Sapporo Black Label vending machine near Maebashi Station, enjoying a cold one and having conversations with whoever walked by on their way to the station. It was a Good Time in an almost Hemmingway-esque sort of way. Now that I live in a liquor store (the first floor of our house is a liquor store, which my wife's parents run), I'm afraid I don't get out to the old vending machine much.

America may lead the world in military technology, but Japan clearly has an advantage when it comes to vacuum cleaners. Since Japanese houses are smaller than those in the U.S., the vacuum cleaners are much smaller, too, which makes them easier for Japanese to use. Since consumers are buying up "minus ion" (negative ion) products these days, most vacuums advertise this as a feature -- improve your well-being just by vacuuming your floor. Other vacuums have somehow managed to eliminate the exhaust that comes out of the back of the unit altogether, don't ask me how. Cordless vacuums are popular with young housewives who want to clean the entire house without worrying about where the plug is. But our favorite feature are bagless vacuum cleaners that put all the dirt from your floor into a plastic cup that you can easily empty. It gives us a good feeling to see all the dirt that we're removing from our house when we clean. We like this kind of vacuum cleaner so much we brought one to my mother for Christmas last year.

A joke that's currently making the rounds among elementary school kids in Japan: if Doraemon and Barutan-seijin (Alien Baltan, the crab-like alien from the 1960's Ultraman TV series) were to fight, which one would win? Doraemon, of course, because his hands are balled up into fists (e.g. rock) but Alien Balta's hands look like scissors, thus Doraemon would win every game of Rock, Paper, Scissors they played.

Most gaijin who are interested in Japan come to love the kanji character set, the way it blends complexity and beauty to communicate meaning. For fans of the aesthetic look of Chinese characters, we're starting a new service for you: you can get any message or slogan written on a traditional Japanese "shikishi" writing board, penned by our own Daisuke, who holds a 2-dan level in Japanese calligraphy, the equivalent to a Black Belt.

We've updated the descriptions and added new pictures of the Canon Wordtanks, to better help students of Japanese in making a buying decision. We'd missed a few of the features, like the display quality and cool scrolling features on the two higher-end models, but have added them for you now now. We've also done a "quick and dirty" translation of manual for the low-cost IDC-300, for people who want to take advantage of this bargain unit (which is now just $100) but need help with its operation. You can download all the Wordtank manuals in Adobe PDF format from our site, too.

For the new update, we've got some excellent products from Japan for you. They include:

  • First, in a special rare treat from Japan, Disney has released one of our favorite animated movies on DVD -- Sleeping Beauty, available now in a wonderful 2-disc release, sold only in Japan! If you've got a region free DVD player, you can enjoy this fantastic film (region 2)
  • For fans of cool Japanese toys and other rare items from Japan, see the really cool figures of the famous faces of Japan's Meiji Restoration -- talk about cool!
  • If you love Japanese idols and Race Queens, be sure and catch the lovely Cool Girls, which features many great Race Queens inside, including Taiwanese bombshell Yinling
  • Also, for fans of incredibly pretty Japanese girls, see Real Blue, a photo tribute to Asuza Yamamoto
  • We've got a great update for our snack fans, with green tea chocolate snacks, delicious limited edition March of the Koalas (the food loved by Crayon Shinchan), tasty spring Kit Kat, and banana Hi-Chew
  • Also, delicious gummi treats and collectible cards from Meiji's cute Angel Blue character line
  • Another cool item from Japan, we've got more funny erasers, this time shaped like traditional Japanese sweets
  • For fans of Sailor Moon, several cool items including a great new card series in stock, a positively fantastic cold cast anime statue of Sailor Saturn, and fresh stock of the Sailor Moon Musical 10th anniversary DVD
  • Totoro fans will flip over a cool pack of Totoro playing cards, which feature superb illustrations by Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki
  • Also, Morning Musume fans have a second chance to pick up Mo-Musu playing cards before we sell out again
  • If you're a Godzilla fan, we've got more of the cool Godzilla Movie Poster History Magnets, which feature the posters of all the Godzilla film of the past and present -- so cool!
  • We've got fresh stock of several popular DVDs, including Yuko Ogura's cute and sexy Endless Summer, and the wacky Vermilion Night, avant-garde Japanese late-night TV available to you
  • For fans of really cool traditional items from Japan, we've got some "lucky frog" phone strap/keychains in stock for you
  • If you love Japanese Hot Wheels or Speed Racer, we've restocked the cool Hot Wheels Mach 5, sold only in Japan
  • For students of Japanese (or of any other language), we've restocked the excellent vocabulary study books from Campus -- very Japanese and very cool
  • Finally see a nifty sandwich box with cup, a cute way to sweep up spills, more funny signs in Japanese, some unique bath salt for your bath, cool chopsticks from Japan, and more!!

For our adult customers, we've got many new 18+ products. They include:

  • For fans of beautiful adult video actresses from Japan, we've got the super new issues of Best Video and Video Boy, both of which are great for seeing a huge swath of top-name actresses and lots of glossy nude photos
  • For fans of amateurs, we've got a great "Peach Ass Girl" magazine in stock featuring many lovely girls inside
  • Enjoy great hardcover nude photobooks like the new offering by the incredibly sexy Natsuki Abe, and a beautiful photobook capturing the loveliness of Sally Yoshino
  • For leg fetish fans, we've got a great photobook featuring super sexy girls in colored tights, a great fetish item
  • We've got more excellent manga posted for fans of Japan's culture of erotic art -- we especially liked the erotic O-Rouge from Angel Comics for its incredibly good artwork
  • Yasu has also posted a major restocking of some great hentai manga works, including Nami SOS, Pururun Princess, and more
  • For yaoi fans, a great new "extreme yaoi" work collecting the artwork of many talented artists -- get it before it sells out
  • For fans of our hugely popular Hello Kitty vibrators (which are unfortunately out of production forever), we've got another wacky item for you -- a waterproof personal massager that you can use safely in the bath or shower
  • For our DVD collecting fans, we've got another huge selection of great works for you, starting with the new Mejiri ("Ass of Woman") series release from Alice Japan, featuring the incredibly lovely Ryoko Mitake taking on her first anal performance ever (region free)
  • From Soft on Demand, a superb Sayaka Tsutsumi Memorial featuring her best works, on the eve of her retirement from adult films (region free)
  • We love Akira Watase for her silky, sexy style, and now you can see her best works in a new Remix DVD release (region free)
  • The lovely Juri Matsuzaka is trying out her first bukkake performance ever, and she really puts her all into it for her fans (region free)
  • From Queer and U&K, another excellent lesbian offering for serious fans of this Japanese fetish (region free)
  • From Idea Pocket, another great 2-DVD release featuring 20 stars and 180 minutes of great works from some of the most beautiful gals of 90's AV, including many girls who are retired now (region 2)
  • Finally, look for great restocked DVD titles including Ran Asakawa's "Queen & Slave," Sora Aoi's "Happy Go Lucky," International Lesbian, and more!

The J-Mate site has been updated again, with new reviews of great product that you can find at J-List, including the Stairway to Heaven, Highway to Hell lesbian DVD and and I.K.U. Stop by and read interviews with real Japanese AV actresses in English. The URL is http://www.jmate.com/

Remember that J-List's famous Japanese T-shirts, with bizarre messages like "Dirty American Devil" and "I'm proud of my sexual power," are in stock and available for immediate shipping from our San Diego warehouse. All shirts are printed in the U.S. and all are full American sizes. If you're unsure what size you are, note that you can easily check the sizes of our shirts in inches or centimeters -- just look for the "Shirt size" link below each shirt. This is great for our customers outside the U.S. who may not be sure what their size is in U.S. sizes. If you buy 3 or more of these cool shirts, you get an automatic 10% off through the shopping cart, too.
--
________________________________
J-LIST http://www.jlist.com
You've got a friend in Japan at J-List.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Funny Engrish quotes from my Japanese students

My Japan Experience: Interesting Quotes from Japan

 
Hi, my name is Peter, and I've lived in Japan for many years, teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) for most of those years, although I now run J-List, a site that sells a wide variety of Japanese pop culture goods. If you're interested in Japan, please stop by!
I've had some excellent interesting students over the years, teaching some really special people. Some of them were extremely expressive, overcoming the rules of English grammer and insufficient knowledge of English vocabulary to describe really advanced ideas. On the other hand, some of the stuff they wrote made really great reading. Throughout my life as an English teacher, I had a silly habit of recording for posterity (?) everything witty my students wrote in their diaries, essays and other assignments.
So, I present the "best of Peter's students," coupled with, at no extra cost, a few "best of things Peter has heard," which I have recorded for you.
These students attended ALEX Foreign Language School, a two-year school which strove to teach students English, and make them hireable in English-related fields, including stewardess. In reality, ALEX was a "suberi-dome" ("stop the downward slide") school, designed to "catch" students who weren't smart enough to get into real universities or junior colleges. It was a nice place, though, and we had some super students. On May 31, 1999, ALEX finally went out of business due to lack of demand for an English school in Gunma, as well as lots of debt.

 
When I first visited in America, I was surprised the wife of America. Everything in America interested me. For example, wide road, houses, beautiful ocean, American people, etc. In Oregon, we could see the beautiful nature. The first day in Oregon we had lunch at the University of Oregon. Lunch was good. But something was strange. The something is sushi. In Japan, there are vegetables and tuna in sushi. But this sushi had avacado and tofu inside. But American foods is good and things is very cheap.
Ayako
 
I'm good at speaking Engish compared to when I was in high school. If I study English hard, I can learn more. So I'll study hard this year. I think ALEX is different from another school. But some students are absent from school and late for school. ALEX students have to take responsibility for their own actions.
Ayako
 
American people don't care about things. For example, they drive broken car. My host family ride a car which has no side mirror. I surprised. Why they don't fix it?
Yuko
 
American people eat sweet food, especially ice cream. They eat dinner, and they are full, but after that they eat ice cream with chocolate too. I can't believe their appetite and their big stomachs.
Yuko
 
Blessed with an abundance of water and greenery, "Maebashi, the city certainly due to the blessings of our tradition of water, greenery and poerty" has given birth and sustinance to a graphical conditions. As a nuclear city in the North Kanto Region, the goal of the 290,000 citizens of Maebashi to rediscover their own city as a "Comprehensive plan for economics and culture for Gunma prefecture." This development is Charm and Activity.
official city pamphlet
 
Before I entered this school, I talked English with my friend. But we didn't speak well. After I entered ALEX, I met Peter. I thought from now on I'll use English. I'm glad to meet to everybody. I think the bad point is myself. I should speak more.
Chiho
 
My first impression of America was very vast country. I went to America last year. And, I went famous places. For example, Los Angeles and Oregon and San Francisco, Disneyland, Universal Studio, etc. July 4th is the day when Americans gives independance, and I went to Oregon College. Oregon was my favorite'
Kazunori
 
When I was a child, I was very fat. I was said "debu*" every day.
Shizue
* "fatso" in Japanese
 
I used to have great respect for women until I came to Japan.
Irish friend Declan
 
When two people agree to an international marriage, they should live in wife's country. This way all will be more easy.
Misako
 
If I could go back in time, I would go to America in 1945 and stop the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Many people died and suffered from the A-bomb disease. It was both countries' faults, but Americans shouldn't hurt ordinary people.
Yuko
 
"Men are like chocolates, you just bite them, suck out the cream filling, and then throw them away. The world sees me as a love goddess, but I've never been in love."
the real message printed on the T-shirt of a student of mine, Kazumi Saito
 
America's road is wide, and fares of taxi, bus, airplane etc. are cheap. But America is dangerous. Because U.S. popularize weapons and drugs. But I don't go dangerous place, like slums. I can almost avoid from danger.
Noriko
 
Hell, if it wasn't for the chicks, I would have left Japan years ago, and you can quote me.
friend Chris
 
I like Edward's [Edward Scizorhands] character (his cute behavior). He is very poor. Because his hands are scissors, he injure his dear person. He is a kind person. I wish he gave human hands.
Keiko
 
Interracial marriages are good for all countries. If we mix various faces, it's good, because racial discrimination will be gone. And war may be gone. Tradition of the country is important. But peace is more important.
Sayuri
 
When I went to America I was surprised at there because there is very broad and I surprised by cost. It's very cheap. But steak isn't good taste, and most of sweet food is too sweet. I went to Los Angeles. I'm afraid of there somewhat. I like America.
Keiko
 
When I arrived at San Francisco airport, I surprised there are many Americans around here. I thought American people had a large mind, warm heart and were very kind. But American was fatter than Japanese.
Mieko-chan
 
One day I saw many people around my house. Under the pale moon, we started fighting. Then suddenly, God came, I said "What the fack?" and he said to us, "Hi guys, stop fighting!" We said "FUCK YOU." All of us were killed in a moment.
Koji's story
 
The best moment in my life? When I was a high school student, I was happy. I joined brassband club and was staff (manager) in soft tennis club. There was my boyfriend in soft club. My parents and I hated each other at that time, but I had a very good time. I didn't regret. I want to go back to that time.
Mieko
 
Am I happy with my life? I think I am happy. I can eat a lot of foods every day. Of course I'm satisfied with everything. I want to have much more money, parents who are younger now, much better boyfriend, etc. But it's my selfishness in the end. People who have no dissatisfaction isn't exist.
Megumi
 
I entered ALEX last Spring. At first, I couldn't say my thoughts or things. But now I am used to class. I started speaking English in class more than more. One of the good memories was going to America. Now one year has passed since I came to ALEX. I will do my best in next year.
Mika
 
Sometimes the only thing between you and the abyss is the goodwill of your friends.
friend Max (not Japanese)
 
American porn has bad background music, Japanese porn dosen't. I think we could tell a lot about the difference between the two cultures if we could figure out what that means.
friend Max (again)
 
Not many people go to Antarctica yet because it is under penguin rule.
Hannah
 
"Anyone who plays AD&D and has not read their Tolkien (but has the gall to be full of praise for the DRAGONLANCE novels) should be hung from their toes and fed Ex-Lax."

--from PARACHUTE LIMIT #3, a "zine" some friends and I wrote some years ago called Parachute Limit, before there was such thing as an Internet for us to get attention from.

You can't remember sex. You can remember the fact of it, and recall the setting, and even the details, but the sex of the sex cannot be remembered, the substantive truth of it, it is by nature self-erasing, you can remember its anatomy and be left with a judgment as to the degree of your liking of it, but whatever it is as a splurge of being, there is no memory of it in the brain, only the deduction that it happened and that time passed, leaving you with a silhouette that you want to fill in again.

E. L. Doctorow (b. 1931), U.S. novelist (not Japanese either)
 
I enjoy my life. I have family and many friends, kimono, my own car, and Run. Run is a dog. My grandparents give me many moneys with I had my twenty birthday. I went America for three weeks. I was very enjoyed.
Tomomi
 
 
In SAFEWAY, many kinds of corn flakes about one hundred have overpowered me. I felt a difference of the staple foods. Then Terry (host family's woman) had a Coke of L size. I was really astounded by tremendous size.
Yuko
 
I think Roman Holiday is a sad movie a little, but it is pure and a nice love story, especially I like last scene that reporter and Princess exchange a firm handshake (just the moment!). I think they are poor at that scene but at the same time, they looks positive. I think her smile is really beautiful. Maybe they will not meet again but I think they didn't regret. Because this movie is simple and positive and pure, I like this.
Keiko
 
I can't speak English well, so I will have some problems. The best way to live in the U.S. easily, I think get married to rich handsome American. Then I can have enough money, big house and learn English. I will be life in the U.S. easily.
Sanae
 
I want to got to New York and see the Vampire State Building.
Sanae again
 
I think stereotypical American is tall and has blonde hair, carved face. They lose their temper easily. Americans who live for a long time are bald, and their stomachs stick out.
Kaori
 
I can't stand it when someone smorks in my face.
Yumiko
 
I think the best part of the U.S.A. is, they have a high regard for individuality. So American children can display their personality. Japanese teachers always want children to be the same. But America is more free. They don't have school uniforms and strict, strange rules.
Tomoko
 
When I was in high school, my favorite subject was English because my English teacher was a young, beautiful, tasty hot woman, that's why.
Tomo
 
I think Americans, especially politicians, think that Japanese are yellow rich monkeys and not kind people. Country is rich but people are not rich. I don't want them to think that. I think Japan is hated by other country.
Sanae
 
I think the greatest Japanese who ever lived was Ultraman. When I was a child, I watched him every day. He was a hero to me. Whenever there was a dinosaur, Ultraman killed him for the world.
Koji
 
What was good about this year? I had funny friend, I had selfish friend, I had nice friend, etc. So I had really good time for a year. Especially when I went to America, I had happy memories.
Keiko
 
Women don't have the ability on average. If someone say to woman, "bring the desk," women can't bring it. But in family, women have to be more aggressive. Because weak mother will spoil children.
Yoshinori
 
Men think women are weak, but I think sometimes men are weak. This has nothing to do with woman and man. We should live to be happy, and live to not regret. I think it's ideal if women are weak and men are aggressive.
Mieko
 

So you want to teach English in Japan?

Okay, here we go with

Peter's Generic Information
on Teaching in Japan

Wherein the author give some slightly cynical
information for would-be ESL teachers in Japan

version 2.85
Updated Aug 2004

What's that? Out of college, but can't get a job? In a rut, and looking for a change? Wife just left you, and your life is in a shambles? Want to watch anime every day on TV for free? Well, my friend, why don't you come sell your native language in Japan?

Yes, you, too, can join the thousands of people who come to Japan to teach English as a Second Language (known to us teacher-types as "ESL"). All you (really) need is to speak English natively, have a University degree, and the earnest desire to do right by your Japanese hosts for the time you here.

Before starting J-List, I taught at various schools here in Japan, and I have found a great deal of fulfillment with my former career. I have met young, energetic Japanese with a real desire to learn about my home country of America, who remind me a lot of how I feel about Japan. I would recommend a short stint teaching in Japan (or in Asia in general) to anyone -- if they understand what they are getting themselves into and prepare themselves beforehand.

On the other hand, the golden age of ESL teaching is past. To paraphrase Princess Leia slightly, if money is all that you love, try for Saudi Arabia instead. Japan's birth rate is among the lowest in the industrialized world; there is actually a "famine" of students for schools that is only going to get worse; coupled with Japanese not spending money as they did in the age of the bubble economy and the increase in foreigners wanting to work over here, and you've got a formula for a competitive job market. The salaries are lower and the good jobs are harder to get than they have ever been. Since the first version of this document was put out on the Internet back in 1995, the economy has really taken a tumbling, and everything is more competitive than it was. Remember, too, that "taught English for three years in Japan" on your resume carries about as much weight in the eyes of a potential (non-teaching-related) employer as house-sitting. If you still want to try, I will tell you what I know.

The Jobs

The first group would have to be the eikaiwa [English conversation] chains: Geos, Aeon [pronounced Eon, trust me], Nova, and ECC. These schools recruit in North America frequently and will take anyone with a college degree who seems like they won't freak out at the first sign of toilets with no seat or squid on pizza. (You think I'm kidding about the squid, don't you?)

In the past, I've stated that I didn't like these English conversation school chains for various reasons, including, but not limited to, a) the lack of professional awareness of one's self as an educator, b) the lack of vacation time, and a potential high number of "on" hours (teaching up to seven hours of your workday, with only an hour for preparation), and c) overall, I think the chance that you'll have a bad "Japan Experience" is higher than at some other types of teaching jobs. Over time, I've come to reconsider some of my bad feelings about the schools. Sure, they are commodity operations, and if you work at one of them the manager of your school will do his best to fill your hours with productive (for him) teaching hours, and by and large, these schools do have a high teacher turnover rate. But still, the fact remains that Eikaiwa chain teaching jobs might be the only job available to you if you have no training, experience or connections; and working for a year at one of the chain schools is potentially a good way to get some experience while you learn about Japan. Expect to make around 260,000 yen per month, a little more in Tokyo; extras, such as airfare, apartment "key money" and a "completion of contract bonus" are occasionally available, too.

If you scratched your head at my yen quote above and said, "Hey, put that in dollars, man," I have to ask what you do know about Japan, and why you think you belong here in the first place. If you're going to have a problem with using kilometers and kilograms and expect everything to be easy for you, you might be better off staying home.

Ahem. Sorry, got carried away there.

A second choice are one of the many private English schools, or juku [cram] schools which also have eikaiwa as part of their teaching programs. I tend to recommend these types of schools because, based on my own experience, you will have a more personal experience with a group of people who (hopefully) treat English education as something that's important for Japan's future, and not just a financial thing. Salary should be comparable to the chain schools. There are good and bad eikaiwa schools out there, and some people who run such schools have no business taking a foreigners Japan Experience into their own hands. They either have a zillion misconceptions about foreigners, think they're spoiled pampered whiners (warning: they usually are), and generally don't have the patience to deal the problems you'll face. Be sure and check the Internet for resources -- I recommend Ohayo Sensei and this page for starters, but keep in mind that I stopped teaching in 1996 so I'm not up to speed on what' sout there.

A third choice, and a good one for many, is the JET [Japan English Teachers] program, which has been called an engine for income redistribution from Japan to the U.S., to make up for everything Japan did during the 80s (the guy who said that is even more cynical than me). There are two jobs in the JET program: AETs (Assistant English Teachers), who teach at either junior high or high schools (sometimes several different schools, a different one each day); and CIRs, Coordinators for International Relations, who act as a bridge of communication between the AETs and perform other valuable functions in Japanese city- and prefecture-level governments.

JET jobs pay the highest of the "sit around and jack off" English teaching jobs: 300,000 yen a month, usually with some kind of bonus at the end, and sometimes decent (5-weeks in summer, paid) vacation. I say sometimes because each JET school is different -- you can end up with a "Japanese and Americans should be treated the same, so you get no special treatment from me" hard ass who'll enforce your contract religiously, or maybe not. The maximum you can ride on the JET train is three years. If you think this the job for you, bear in mind you will likely be reading out of a textbook for forty-five bored thirteen-year-olds who don't give a damn about you for 15-20 hours a week and being bored the other 20 (or, like me, roaming the Internet off-line, if you have a Powerbook). Personally, I think you can find more stimulating ways to spend time in Japan.

CIRs, who aren't teachers but program facilitators, must have a minimum of two years of Japanese study, preferably three. CIRs get 20 days off per year, plus holidays. You work in a Japanese-style office, wear a tie, speak Japanese all day and will perform valuable services for people. You avoid the "taught English" label at the top of your resume, and will be somewhat respected for your position by others -- you are, after all, an important bridge between your local city government and the foreign community. Needless to say, this is the job you should consider if you have a deeper interest in Japan and its language. It's more work with the same pay as AETs, but you will thrive in a massively interesting and challenging job, using Japanese and making your face wider (er, it's a Japanese expression that means that a lot of people will know your name). I had the honor of being a CIR for five months after the girl who had been here before me bugged out and left early, and it was a very interesting, enjoyable time for me.

Unless you happen to be over the recently-revised age limit of 40 (it used to be 30 back when I was teaching), JET is a good way to come here. The only people I would recommend against applying for it are persons especially interested in studying Japanese. There is a tendency for JET gaijins to make friends in their own groups, to feed negative feelings about Japan to each other, and to create a mini-society where they try to keep Japanese influence out as much as possible. Makes me want to slap them silly.

It has occurred to me that I haven't covered part-time teaching possibilities as well as I could have. For many people, part-time teaching is a great way to pick up extra income and have a variety of teaching experiences. Plusses are that you can potentially make more money than a full time job; minuses include the lack of any kind of visa sponsorship, and the potential for burn-out, as you have to teach more and more to make ends meet. You can find teaching jobs for 2500-4000 an hour, occasionally more.

The last two categories of teaching jobs-company and university/junior college jobs-are the ones I personally know the least about. If working thirty hours a week teaching English to engineers at Subaru or Daihatsu sounds appealing for you, give it a whirl: you'll probably learn a lot about auto chaises and aluminum alloys, but some of those guys are cool. University/Junior College jobs are the hands-down best you can hope for, but the requirements for these jobs are so stringent, and the competition so tough, as to be out of the scope of this article. I will state, however, that Japan is currently engaged in a dangerous game when it comes to universities. Despite the fact that the population of students is declining every year, more and more universities are being built, to the tune of 20 or so a year. This means that there might be opportunity for qualified foreigners wanting to work at universities in the short term; however there is likely to be a big academic crash on the horizon for Japan.

How to get the jobs

The hands-down best way to get a job in Japan is to know someone who can shoukai (introduce) you into a position. This is called kone (pronounced koh-NE, there is no silent 'e' in Japanese), or connections, and this is the way to find employment here. I got my first job by taking over a college friend's job when he was leaving Japan (to get away from his marriage-minded Japanese girlfriend). Ways you can hop on the kone train include coming to Japan to do homestay or having Japanese students come to your house, asking college professors for help, or finding out where your hometown's sister city is in Japan. My hometown of San Diego is sister cities with Yokohama, and there are many educational and work-exchange programs available between the two. (On three separate occasions, I've run into people I studied Japanese with at SDSU in Yokohama, which is a pretty major coincidence, if you consider the population of the city, and the fact that I don't live near there at all.)

Find a good library that stocks The Japan Times, and read through the Monday editions. They are just bursting with jobs, organized neatly into categories for "women only" and "men or women" and with age limits posted clearly, where applicable [flash! as of April 1999, you're not allowed to do this anymore...maybe they read this article...]. Know that any given ad posted in the Japan Times can get one hundred or so responses, and some of those are by PhDs and other massively overqualified (or at least overeducated) people. Some people can break themselves trying to get jobs this way, but it an option available to you.

For JET jobs, call your nearest Japanese Consulate or Embassy. The application period is from October to December, so plan ahead. See the Internet. Remember to search Google and read lots of information -- if you join a mailing list, be polite and lurk for a while before blurting out all your questions.

The last way to get a job is to just come here. Americans and Canadians automatically get a three-month tourist visa, so you can use that time to look for work. (Canadians and Australians/New Zealanders have one other option open to them, called Working Holiday. Look into it.) You'll have to leave the country again to get your working visa, but it's a great excuse to do some shopping in Korea and have some good Kimcheege.

A word about courtesy

I recently had a bad experience with the wife of a foreigner I knew, let's call her Valerie. She came to Japan with her husband, and asked me for advice on contracts in Japan. Now, in Japan, a contract is not viewed with the same strictness as it is in the U.S. In other words, even if you have a one-year contract with a company, you can still quit, and they can still fire you -- it's just the way it works here. I told her this, and unfortunately she took it a little too seriously. She signed one contract, then, finding a better job, told the first school she was not going to work there -- and incredibly, she told them that the reason was "because she'd gotten a better offer." (This caused myself and other "lifer" foreigners to groan, and mutter "fucking gaijin"). She then had to other contract-related problems with two other schools in close succession, quitting both jobs soon after starting them. She's now in Tokyo. Throughout all this, she was not wrong at all (to hear her tell it), and in fact, she was the victim of this thing or that which she didn't like about the schools (when you live in Japan long enough, you see that North Americans are somewhat quick to assume the role of victims -- this phenomenon is called higaisha mousou in Japanese, in case you want to know). Clearly, however, there were problems with her approach to and attitude about working in Japan.

Now, what this person did wrong was not breaking a contract, per se. What she did was cause meiwaku (inconvenience) to the Japanese people who put their trust in her, and this was very bad. She thought only of herself, and what she could "get" out of Japan, not what she could do for the schools or students she would be working with. One of the schools had even let their other teacher go to hire her, and was really put out. The view of all foreigners was hurt by this person, and we all felt embarrassed.

So my point is this: if there's a "golden rule" to living in Japan, it is that you should not inconvenience other people -- don't cause meiwaku. If you think that this idea makes sense to you, then please continue with your plans to live in Japan. If you have some kind of "Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, therefore I'm owed a good job by them" kind of attitude, please don't bother. Really.

On Higher Education

I get a lot of feedback from this page from people who want to work in Japan but haven't graduated from a four year university. The short answer is that in order to even get a working visa for Japan, you need to have graduated from a university. There are exceptions -- if you're married to a Japanese, you automatically get a marriage spousal visa, for example. However, I advise anyone who is serious about coming to Japan but who hasn't been to college to think long on hard about completing your education before you do anything. When I look back at my life, virtually everything good that I've been able to achieve was a direct result of having spent four very interesting years at SDSU. If you're a young person wondering how you can come to Japan some day, by all means plan on going to a challenging and interesting 4-year university first -- the rest will come to you easily then.

Last Advice

To work here for a year or two just to "soak up the country," a BA and some luck will get you by; but for anyone thinking seriously about ESL education as a longer-term thing, I recommend that you prepare yourself. To be competitive for the better teaching jobs, a Masters' in TESL (teaching ESL) is recommended; at the very least, take a year to get a "theory and practice of teaching ESL" certificate (which includes practice teaching) like I did, or a minor in linguistics, which I also did. It will definitely give you an edge, and getting that one job pays for the extra effort to get the certificate.

Be careful: I don't recommend anyone go get a Masters' in TESL unless you are serious about the field. Overqualification is a big problem in this line of work, and getting too qualified can hurt you more than it helps, amazing as it may seem. I have met PhD's who made less than me (I have a BA), and had a harder time finding jobs because of their advanced degree.

If you're serious about coming here, there are a zillion things you have to know ahead of time, such as key money (you have to pay up to six times your rent up front when you move in, unless your school will cover it for you), phone line ($600 to put in a phone line, but you can sell your 'bond' later for most of your money back), working visa stuff, and so on, and to be honest, I don't have time to tell everyone everything. See what books and/or online information sources are available to you, or ask people who are teaching now for help.

Japan is an easy place to live in that you will be safe, you will find friendly people, and you will probably be able to find work if you stick with it and have a good attitude and try to make yourself teacher-worthy, but there are some bad things, too. Many foreigners can't hack being in a strange environment, and leave after a year, especially women, who have to put up with more crap than some of us men (a friend of mine left after being groped in a train). If you have no experience living overseas, take special care when making plans to come here -- you will be in for many subtle shocks, such as beer vending machines, old men urinating out of doors, pillows with hard plastic things in them, Japanese stores closing in the middle of the week seemingly just to make you mad, and cynical 'lifer' gaijin like me who have little patience for teaching you how to hold chopsticks and explaining what 'daijobu' means, since you're going to be out of here in a year anyway.

That's my generic teaching info. Hope you can put it to good use.

Kimagure Orange Road novel translations


In addition to doing many useless things with my life, I have translated the first two Kimagure Orange Road novels. This is a great show that has turned out to be quite a cult with American otaku-zoku. You can find the first novel here and the second translation here.
Update! Last I checked, there was a third novel. Unfortunately it won't be translated by me, but if anyone else translate it send me the link and I'll post it here.
Update! There's an Italian translation based on my translation. See the link here.

Update! There's a French translation, posted here! Thanks to the translators!
Update! There's a Spanish translation of my English translations of the above. Check out the link here.
Update! There's a Chinese translation of the first KOR novel. Check out the link here.
Update! There's a French translation of the first KOR novel that's being posted to this site. Watch for more parts of the translation as they're done by the translator.
Update! There's a translation of the third KOR novel, right here. That's excellent, way to go Chris!





My Otaku Reconsideration

My Otaku Reconsideration

Portrait of an Otaky #1187

by Peter R. Payne


Note: the following is an article I wrote way back in 1994 for an anime magazine. I consider it quite out of date, but I submit it for your review anyway. Feedback is always welcome.

Italian pop writer and musician Frankie Bit defines the otaku as, "...the avant-garde exploring the digital world dominated by new technologies, communicating to excess...[We] grew up with television and electronic media, and now use them as [our] natural habitat where every desire can be gratified."

In Japanese, otaku, which is a polite word for "you" or "your family," now refers to a social class of obsessive, self-absorbed youths and would-be youths who fixate on pop culture icons and live for whatever rush they (we) get from that fixation. Idols, animation, comics (*manga*), adult video actresses: there is no limit to what can be otakified.

The movement came into its own in 1989 when Tsutomu Miyazaki was arrested for a killing spree in which four young girls lost their lives over an eleven-month period. He was considered an otaku due to the large collection of softcore Japanese animation films that were found in his apartment (over six thousand videos), and the label was stuck forever. (Amends Bit, "...but he was not a real Otaku because he spent too much time outside his house.")

There are a few core genres of otakus (also called *otaku-zoku* "the otaku race" or simply *the otaky*). The comics & animation category includes everyone from the kid who still collects Dragonball comics religiously even though he turned thirty last August to the spokesmen for all otakus everywhere, the Japanese otaku/TV idol Taku Hachiro. Monster movie otakus can name the directors of all 22 Godzilla films and are honorary members of the U.N. Anti-Godzilla Force. People who never gave up on Star Wars even during the dark years of the late Eighties are the SF otakus. Military otakus are out there, but you can't see them -- they're watching you right now with night-vision goggles. Then there are adult video otakus. I'll bet the names Ai Iijima and Yuki Hitomi mean little to you, but there's a secret fraternity of people reading this whose eyes just wavered with recognition.

These are not the only otaku types in Japan. There are Disneyland otakus, UFO catcher otakus (you know, those games where you grab the stuffed animal -- I've been in Japan too long to know what they're called in real English), ski otakus, ski-gear otakus who don't ski but who love to put the best ski equipment on their 4x4, and so on. I'm sure you get the idea.

I am a cross-over otaku, a common-enough breed in these confused times. I am into animation, manga, and various idols. I translated a 200+ page Orange Road novel into English because, well, no one else was going to do it. I am an avid Macintosh user, but a computer and an Internet connection among my ilk are like a mask and snorkel to scuba enthusiasts -- they're just the tools that make it all possible, and don't really count.

I awoke as an otaku at the end of high school, one day realizing that everything that I had ever done in my life -- watching Speed Racer and Star Blazers, etc. -- all had to do with Japan. Four years of college later, I came to Japan to make my name as a teacher of English as a foreign language.

I arrived in October of 1992, just in time to see the leaves turn red throughout the country. That's one thing I hadn't been expecting to see before I came here: a country full of nature, full of great big trees, that explode with color in Spring and Fall. Other things I didn't expect to see were old men, urininating freely outdoors, beer vending machines, or, well, *all that nudity*.

I live in Gunma prefecture, right smack in the center of the main Japanese island of Honshu. Gunma's population hit the two million mark in 1994 -- so Coca Cola printed "Congratulations Two Million Gunma" on all cans sold in the prefecture. It's famous for strong wind in the winter, strong women all the time, and a jelly-like boiled potato substance called *konnyaku* that is famous for gaijin not being able to eat it.

While I am an otaku, I am different from a lot of otakus in that I pursued my reverence for the country to the point of studying Japanese for eight years, and actually coming the country to live. Since one of the characteristics of otakus is that we consider ourselves one of the few "true" otakus remaining, I am in a position to look down the noses of other, lesser, otakus as being mere Japanophiles. This is what I base my sense of self-worth on.

I think I was pre-determined to be what I am. My grandmother had an extreme personality: she was a civil rights otaku before anyone else. My sister inherited my grandmother's extremeness of personality in the form of religion. Practical one that I am, I got an obsession with Japan.

I know many other otakus in Japan, both gaijin and Japanese. "Leon" got interested in Japan like me, over the course of several years, without actually realizing it until he got to college and studied some Japanese. He came to Japan in 1992 as an English teacher, but managed to climb out of the black pit of teaching English conversation and land a job translating and doing some technical writing with a company in Harajuku, Tokyo. His favorite thing in the world is the world of Japanese adult video idols -- he has a huge collection -- and he has never forgiven me for meeting Yuki Hitomi (the idol who wears the apron and nothing else on channel 12's late-night sex show "Gilgamesh Night") at a CD ROM exposition without him.

"Hiroshi" was a student of mine. We found out one day that we had similar interests a few days after Sailor Moon "R" (the second series) ended. He mentioned his favorite TV show had aired its last episode, I knew what he was talking about, and we were instant brothers. Hiroshi's main otaku "thang" was games for Nintendo's Super Famicom, but he has recently upgraded to a Sony Playstation, which allows him to enjoy newest Mobile Suit Gundam fighting simulator. Lucky geek.

Finally, there is "Mark," who was converted by watching subtitled Japanese cartoons the rest of us never got a chance to see living in Hawaii. He got a chance to live his dream in Japan, translating anime for a major company involved in bringing anime to the masses in the U.S. He uses the income from this to feed the runaway fire that is his Japan fetish, buying laser disc boxed sets of such old series as *Giant Robo*, *Science Ninja Team Gatchaman* and *Lupin III* as he continues his search for the perfect collection.

This is what we are -- a subset of Generation X, the Otaku. Not really a "nineties" thing, but this is when we chose to let our presence be known. Not really a Japan-only thing, but we naturally turn to Japan as the mother-protector of what we are. Not dangerous, except in the most unthinkably extreme cases. Not losers -- just not afraid to glorify the mundane and accept the positive images that are fed to us so willingly by society. We are the masters of our universes, we otaku, and more in touch with our inner selves than most people you can name. If we're anti-social, it's your own fault for pulling all that crap on us back in high school.

You've Been in Japan Too Long When... (page 4 of 4)

...when you think it might be a groovy idea to get one of those multicolored dragon tattoos on your back right after you get your panchu paamu.
...when you go into a coffee shop and head right for the Golgo 13 manga.
...when you've realized the cosmic fact that, no matter where you go in the world, you can find Golga 13 mangas in a 7-11.
...you are doing your thing at a urinal and are not in the least disturbed by the two old ladies who are cleaning up and chatting within aiming distance.
...you are embarrassed to death because the phone number on your name card has changed.
...you believe that Japanese atrocities in WWII are approximately equivalent to American atrocities in Vietnam.
...you feel constrained to comment regularly on how good beer tastes after a hot bath as if you'd just discovered it.
...when you know there aren't nine prefectures in Kyushu.
...you are embarrassed because you don't have the NHK sticker on your door and the neighbors do.
...you draw an X (shime-kiri) on the envelope flap after sealing it.
...you return from a hiking trip with brand-new, unscratched, unsoiled, top-of-the-line hiking gear.
...you think "for beautiful human life" is a nice advertising slogan.
...you are jealous of your friend because the camera strap that came with his new Minolta camera says "With you for the best scenes of your life" and yours doesn't.(Another true one)
...you are disgusted by the thought of someone eating miso soup with a spoon.
...you find a telephone booth that is not plastered with stickers of sexy young ladies and find something is missing.
...you've passed through all the Three Stages of Eye Aversion when meeting other foreigners.
...while eating dried, shredded ika (squid) with your beer, you say things like, "if my friends at home could only see me now."
...you know instinctively that Matsuda Seiko comes before Matsutoya Yumi in a karaoke book.
...you yearn to have a remote control in the bathroom to control the washlet, boudieoux, butt-dryer, etc.
...you are not surprised when, in an old home in rural Japan, you use the bathroom, only to find a giant color poster of James Dean staring at you in the hallway
...you think James Dean is one of the most important actors of the 20th century.
...when you can sing the Japanese versions of Uchusenkan Yamato (Star Blazers) and/or Mach Go Go Go (Speed Racer) and have done so on top of Mt. Fuji (I did it!).
...when you have sung the theme song to Uchisenkan Yamato atop Mount Fuji, a bottle of "Regain" in hand and are proud of this fact, and have a picture of it on your homepage (true story).
...when you hear words like "crunky generation" "mooney man" "Bongo Friendy" "charmy green" and "mapple" and do not get the heebie-jeebies.
...when you get tired of taking pictures of men doing tasshon (stand-'n-pee) outdoors.
...when you see signs saying "please do not tasshon here" or "beware of chikan" and don't think call your mom to tell her.
...if you have, at any time, been engrossed in an "easy reader" novel or other work intended for ESL learners (Love Story, 1500 word level, I couldn't put it down).
...if you're thinking that you can use this document as a discussion topic to kill an hour of your English class.
...if you can sing along with the "Ishimaru Denki," "Satoh Musen," or "Bunmeido Castella" commercial songs in Japanese.
...when you have an ATM card in your wallet called Happy Time Card Dick.
...when you think powdered coffee creamer is "milk."
...when you think that JET is Japan's Peace Corps.
...when you abbreviate White Day as "H.D." (for 'Howaito') on your palm as a reminder to buy some chocolate for your girlfriend. (I actually did this!)
...when you can't remember whose picture is on all the money and coins from your native country.
...when a truck backs up playing the Parade of Lights theme from Disnelyand and this seems cute to you.
...when your hair turns white upon hearing of a gaijin friend who slept in his tokonoma because he thought that was what it was for.
...when you've learned to write you fours so that they don't look like 9s to the Japanese.
...if you think that people from America can't pick up things on the floor with their feet but Japanese can.
...if you never turn your headlights on during the day because Japanese people never do it.
...if you can write the kanji for eikyou right now, while reading this.
...when "short-timer" gaijin say to you, "So, you gonna stay here forever or what?" and you get annoyed.
...if, when the store you made a special trip to is closed that day, you calmly turn around and go home, perhaps making a note of the store's teikyubi in your mind.
...a foreigner who just got here asks "is it legal to have beer on the train?" and you laugh out loud.
...when that same foreigner who has just arrived as a "theory about Japan" (such as "everything is about death here") and you listen with mock interest, making mental notes to add to your "you've been in Japan too long page when" page later
...when that same foreigner says something like, "After I learn Japanese..." and you smile privately to yourself.
...if, right now, you're not sure what year it is in seireki.
...if you say things like "almost students are late to school."
...if you have great difficulty using a romanized Japanese-to-English dictionary because you are thinking in a-ka-sa-ta-na order instead of alphabetical order (the truth can hurt).
...if you don't wonder that all Japanese believe their ancestors were samurai.
...when you are uncomfortable using the word "bathroom" for "toilet" since they're really totally different.
...when you know what it is to wake up in the morning and find a chopstick wrapper with a girl's phone number on it.
...you come down on Americans for saying "Americans" when they *really* mean people from the U.S.......while all Japanese around you refer to people from the U.S.--and not Canada, Mexico or anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere--as "Amerika-jin."
...if you think there is nothing strange about watching the Superbowl half-time sports news and having the newscaster tell you the outcome of the game, before they've broadcast the second half.
...it is mendokusai for you to differentiate between count and non-count nouns in English.
...when you have learned to substitute 'tissue' for the word 'Kleenex' because you know that everyone will understand you better.
...when you know what an 'American dog' is.
...when you put on your jacket and slippers, go down to the Daily Store and pick up a package of Perky Bit (it's frozen chicken nuggets).
...when the Å` character means "from" to you (as in, 2:00 Å` 3:00).
...when you've noticed a marked tendency to say 'this one' instead of 'this' when using the word as a noun.
...if you've read Jeff's book about Seiko (I couldn't put it down!).
...if your weight, shoe size, and height in the English measuring system (if you're American) have ceased to be relevant for you.
...if you have mastered the art of starting your car without getting in it yet.
...if you think there that blue and light blue are totally unrelated colors.
...if, while home for Christmas, you go up to a clerk in Mervyn's and ask them where the toilet is, causing them to look at you strange (apparently I should have said 'restroom' or something).
...if you have mastered that squeezing a lemon slice with the chopsticks thing so that you don't get lemon juice on your fingers.
...if you have problems differentiating between "ancestor" and "decendent"...
...when you pronounce the 'e' in 'aloe'...
...when you complain about your "permer."
...if you think a pine tree is found in tropical locales.
...if you absolutely do not posess the ability to refer to the Nation of George Washington by any other name than "the States."
...when you tell someone your TEL.
...when you are capable of uttering a sentence like, "What do you like, shampoo?" (instead of "What shampoo do you like?"), just because there are no other native speakers around you.
...if you love Coffee Jelly like nothing else.
...when you read a book about the 100 Most Influential Men in History and wonder why they left out Emperor Meiji and Clark-hakase.
...when you are at home with Melon Bread.
...when you "send" someone to the station (or "send" a person standing right next to you a gift).
...if you have adjusted to Japanese automatic doors, which are oh-so-subtly different from the ones back home.
...when candy is always hard and "muscat" is your favorite flavor of canned crushed ice.
...when you "put in" gasoline into your card (instead of "buy").
...when you visit your home and when trying to enter your bedroom, you first try to slide the door open, then pull, then just before you yell from frustration, you realize you gotta push.
...when you find it normal to eat curry wrapped in a donut flavored piece of bread.
..when in your home country, you take all your bills to the local 7-11.
...when you watch a rented video, you no longer notice the Japanese subtitles.
...when you read the subtitles to make sure they're right. If they're not, you have a fit and claim how much better of a job you could've done.
...when riding a woman's shopping bike has no effect on your male ego.
...when you finally accept the fact that OIOI is "marui" and not "oi! oi!"
...when you like and sometimes crave "umeboshi taberetto".
...when you can count singing the "ni no shi no ro no ya no to" song
....you don't bat an eye when you pay a $1 for and then gulp down a can of "Pocari Sweat"!
...you can remember when the "meter drop" on a taxi was 110 Yen.
...you initiate the applause when a drunk finishes his song on the last train home!
...you get into the elevator and immediately push the "close door" button.
...you get into the elevator and intentionally stand in front of the control panel so no one can push the "close door" button.
...at a Japanese restaurant in the States you call out to the waitress "Summasen!"
...you get disgusted when a "foreigner" tosses his business card on the table to you.
...someone asks you your blood type (nani gata) and you answer "Gata Gata".
...you are ignored at a government office because everyone is afraid of having to try to deal with you in English. So, you catch someone's eye and INSTANTLY give a quick head nod knowing they will "knee jerk" nod back and having recognized your presence must ask you what you need.
...you are asked what kind of gasoline you want and you reply "Hai Auk". (All true)
...you miss seeing Taiho and Kirinji during the Sumo matches.
... you find an old foreign exchange receipt that shows you got 360 yen for your $1.
...you remember the fight from Osaka to Yonago used new YS11's.
...you long for the days when a bowl of curry rice was 150 yen at the Kobe Curry House.
.. you remember reading the Kansai Action newspaper published by Isokawa san.
...you find the souvenirs you bought at Osaka Expo 70.
...the youngest son of your host family that you used to carry on your shoulders to the sento, gives you his work phone number.
...you fire up the 512K Mac that your friend bought for you at the Tachikawa PX.
...you eagerly wake up at 5:00 in the morning to go fishing at the neighborhood pier knowing that your chances of catching anything over 3 inches is between slim and none.
...you look at pictures of your Honda Z.
...you have lost the subtle difference between the phrases "I'll be waiting in the car" and "I am waiting in the car."
. ..while back in the U.S., you go to a Japanese restaurant and feel very ill when observing other non-Japanese patrons sticking their chopsticks point first into the center of their filled rice bowls (only done with rice for a deceased individual in Japan).
...you automatically fashion a chopstick holder out of the waribashi wrapper by tying a simple knot with it.
...you know how to make a 1 yen coin float in a cup of water (float a piece of tissue on the surface, carefully place coin on tissue, gently knock tissue under the surface without touching the coin, carefuly remove tissue).
...you return to the states and find it odd that there is no speaker blaring music for you when the pedestrian crossing signal is 'walk.'
...you return to the states and discover, much to your annoyance, that you simply can't function without a car in most major cities.
...you discover most of your caucasian friends simply cannot sit "Japanese" style on the floor (seiza) and wonder why you are not in pain when you do.
...you actually look forward to the bip bip beeep tone that most TV stations broadcast every hour on the hour right before a show starts.
...seeing big time U.S. celebritities hawking products on TV is not unusual to you.
...when you practice "safety driving."
...when you pronounce words like "mix" as having three syllibles.
...when you go to a gasoline stand to use their telephone box.
...when, on a cloudy day you open up your umbrella because everyone else has, even though you have not felt a drop of rain.
...when you go into a used bookstore called "YAMANEKO" and think to yourself, hey, that's a character from the famous Miyazawa Kenji novel "The Restaurant of Many Orders."
...you think that Musashimaru's Yokozuna dohyo-iri needs work
...when you start overestimating the amount of time you've been in Japan, because that raises your "status" among other gaijin.
...when you "drink" pills.
...you buy a juicy Australian steak and pour shoyu all over it.
...you remember when schoolgirls had white skin and black hair, not black skin and white hair.
...you think that highly culturally specific, ethnocentric behavior is "common sense", but you need written instructions on how to use a sit-down toilet.
...you start to believe that "foreigner" is an adequate physical description, nationality or ethnotype.
... you walk into Sam Goody/Musicland and wonder where the Oricon Top 30 list is.
... while searching for the Oricon Chart you think they have too much western music and not enough "local" stuff. when you walk up to someone working at Sam Goody/Musicland and ask them where their JPOP section is and they give you a weird look (happened to me)
... when you get frustrated at your 'baka gaijin' friends constantly asking you "How do you say ________ in japanese?" while visiting.
... When you can't type Rome without typing Roma (which is correct, I know, but not English).
... If, at any time, you've allowed people back home believe you were a foreigner to mask something you did wrong (like going into a restaurant in California and asking for a 'non-smoking' table).
...you see a trip to your local karaoke booth place as a 'complete night
out' (dinner, drinks, entertainment).
... You happily sit at your desk at work 'dry brushing' for 10 minutes after
lunch before actually applying toothpaste and going to a sink.
... You are not surprised/irritated when a trip to the nearest ATM followed
by a visit to a convenience store is a more effective way to buy tickets for
something than using an online agency.
... You instinctively know the opening hours of all ATMs in your area.
... You instinctively know to take out enough cash on a Friday to last the
weekend, because of those tricky weekend ATM opening hours.
... You carry more cash in your wallet than you could write a cheque (or
check) for back home.
... When you get back to the states and wave down a taxi and stand in front of the rear door waiting for it to open. When it doesn't and the taxi driver curses you and drives off, you get upset.
... When you go into a restaurant and the notation at the bottom of the menu that says, "all meals served with choice of fries or cole slaw" make NO sense to you and you have to read it 3 or 4 times before you have to ask your friend what it means. (happened to me).
... When you're in a taxi and tell the driver where you wanna go and he doesn't repeat it back to you, you get annoyed and ask him if he heard you with anger in your voice.
... When you're back in your home country and you actually CRAVE Japanese food to the point of getting an upset stomach.
... When your home is a big city in the states and you're actually afraid to go outside while you're home... in your own neighborhood. (I was petrified for a good month; I'm from NYC)
... When you over hear a conversation in Japanese and listen intently snickering knowing that they don't expect you to understand what they're saying.

Got any more? Please email them to me at peter2003@jlist.com. Thanks!

Prev Page | Next page

You've Been in Japan Too Long When... (page 3 of 4)

...you keep looking for new copies of Gegege-no-kitaro and Hi-no-tori manga at the local bookstore.
...you have copies of nengajo post cards from a Showa date.
...you claim a seat at a Wendy's by putting your bag on it, fully expecting it to still be there when you return with your burger.
...when you start saving up for a Japanese burial plot.
...you get excited by words like: "health," "soap," "fashion," "image," and "pink."
...you are willing to travel enormous distances just to take a bath.
...you mistake ownership of equipment for possession of skill when discussing your hobbies.
...you expect the elevator girl to announce every floor for you, even if you are alone with her.
...you stop saying "doitashimasite" when the vending machine thanks you.
...you keep interrupting a perfectly good English conversation with regular exclamations of eh, un, ah, heeey, and oh yeah (aizuchi).
...somebody crashes into you and you apologize, insisting that the accident was your fault.
...you watch Rex three times but don't bother to see Jurassic Park.
...you think you know the meaning of "internationalization."
...when you read "lets fit together" at your local sports club and don't immediately think of sex.
...when paying $2000 in gift money to the landlord of your new apartment doesn't make you really angry!
...the English rendition of any Japanese company president's corporate welcome makes perfect sense to you.
...you consider it acceptable to watch a classical concert on NHK BS in mono while the baseball is broadcast in stereo.
...you remember when Kin-san and Gin-san celebrated their 50th birthday.
...you go home for a holiday and ask your dad which rubbish bin to use for burnables.
...you see Japanese people on the street who remind you of people back home.
...you expect to have the plot of a detective story explained to you both before and after the showing on TV.
...you feel perfectly normal stepping out of a bank with $50,000 in cash in a cute paper bag in one hand, and a box of soap in the other.
...you think menchi-katsu, kim-chee, and coffee sounds like a good breakfast.
...you're at an American restaurant and wonder why there's no bottle of Tabasco on the table.
...you begin to spell last names in CAPITAL LETTERS.
...you vaguely think about visiting New Orleans to get a glimpse of "the real America."
...it does not strike you as strange that an attractive, fashionable and career-minded young woman who went to high school in the United States, graduated from Harvard and studied at Oxford has never, at least as far as the Imperial Household Agency can tell, had a boyfriend.
...you are back home and expect chocolates on Valentine's day.
...you have mastered the art of run-walking to create that important busy image.
...you are surprised the urinal does *not* flush automatically when you walk away from it.
...it does not annoy you when a map is oriented in a direction other than north.
...you understand why a young girl, newly employed at a trust association, would comply without complaint to her boss's order to go and get her picture taken for listing in a girlie column in a local newspaper.
...you are not surprised when, after the young girl gets murdered in connection with this, the bank says it cannot take any responsibility because she was acting on her own initiative in what was a personal, non-work-related matter.
...it is worthy of comment when a little English passage on a T-shirt or cereal box is not all that bad.
...you think nothing about a residential building covered from top bottom in white bathroom tiles.
...you're considering buying an ashtray for your bicycle.
...you think that, in a crowd of Japanese, the presence of another foreigner breaks the wa, although for some reason your presence doesn't.
...you start saying things like: "Yes, I can't do this."
...you face driving winds and wade through knee-deep water to get to work.
...you go to a public beach and leave all your litter behind in the sand, for the benefit of tomorrow's visitors.
...when you beat the "obatarian" to the last seat, and actually think you won a victory.
...you simultaneously listen to All Things Considered, watch the NHK local news and read your e-mail messages on the Internet.
...when on a visit some home, you say something like "Wow, a dollar buys so much!" and are surprised to find everyone looking at you funny.
...you stun yourself with the reverberation you put into the "r" of the Bakayarrrrrroh! you let rip at the chimpira who'd just triggered his automatic umbrella too close to your face.
...if the words CM, OB/OG, TPO, and OL all make perfect sense to you.
...when get into the habit of mentioning to people that they're gained weight when starting conversations.
...when you try to get a girl to "teach" you her phone number.
...if you think you're actually worth the salary you earn.
...when the neighbor asks to borrow some nori and you have it in at least 3 varieties.
...you think Budweiser is a famous international beer brand.
...when the footprints on the toilet seat are your own.
...when you pull up to a stop light at a completely level intersection, but engage the hand brake anyway.
...a job arrives at your door on Saturday evening, to be done by Monday, and you don't blink.
...you think there is something vaguely sinister about open spaces, healthy trees and grass.
...you believe that Tokyo has four seasons, even though it rarely snows.
...you hear a new item still referring to the gate crusher incident as an 'accident' and don't blink an eye.
...you are convinced there are no illiterates in Japan.
...you don't hesitate to serve Calpis water to foreign visitors.
...when your daughter goes to swim school twice a week for over a year and she has not been taught to swim and you understand and do not question it and think that run-on sentences with no subjects like this are normal.
...if you remember having to request an international phone line.
...when, on a trip home, you say out loud exactly what you think 'cause that's what people do here.
...when you visit Tokyo and make a bee-line for Kinokunia and the Virgin mega store.
...you read the store name "WARE HOUSE" as "WA-RE [our] house," instead of "warehouse."
...you think those clear plastic umbrellas keep you dry.
...when you have no problem with a pencil case that proclaims "the Earth is not only for a human."
...when you use the word "sharp-pen" and can't remember the English name [it was 'mechanical pencil' last time I checked].
...when you begin all sentences with: "ano-ne"
...you plug your waapro into a consento and consider a pipe cut and don't understand why your friends say you speak funny.
...you hate Dave Specter because he speaks better Japanese than you.
...somebody asks directions, you don't have the slightest idea where they're talking about, but you give them directions anyway.
...you have an irresistible urge to state the obvious.
...you can't have your picture taken without your fingers forming the peace sign.
...when you have a heated discussion with four other people, and you all have the same opinion, but you take turns actively stating that opinion again and again, getting more and more excited in the process.
...you have a favorite "sha-bo" that you like to write with (this means a combination "sharp-pen" (mechanical pencil) and ball-point pen).
...(for males) slightly embarrassed by something when in company, you reach behind and put the flat of your hand behind your head, give a little smile, a sharp intake of breath, and start, but do not finish, a small bow.
...after your shower, you catch yourself pulling on your shorts with the towel still wrapped around your waist.
...when you ask your wife if the rice cooker has been set for breakfast
...your yukata sleeve snags on the keyboard when changing disks.
...when, back home, invited to a diner party, you try, *discretely* to take off your shoes
...when back home, in a public place such as a restaurant or a coffee shop, you are really disturbed by the sound of the conversations in your native language.
...when you believe that buildings are made by incubating the site in blue plastic sheeting for nine months.
...after breaking your wari-bashi apart, you clash the two together to get any splinters off.
...when you rush home from work to catch the last few minutes of sumo.
...you first let yourself in and then (from the inside) knock on the door and shout "hello".
...you walk through your neighborhood, and a house that was there yesterday is gone without a trace, and you don't blink.
...you think the refined way to eat spaghetti is without a spoon.
...if you remember when the foreigner you saw most often on TV was Roy James.
...if you know who Roy James was.
...if you remember that Roy James was Japanese of Turkish ethnic origin.
...when you begin to think the holiday that falls on December 25 is spelled, "X'mas".
...when you hear Christmas songs in February and don't have a "Japan attack."
...when you always say 'Christmas song' instead of 'Christmas carol.'
...when the Christmas music in the stores does not make you feel at all sentimental like it used to.
...you've discovered that the real meaning of fatherhood is never being able to take a bath by yourself.
...you don't even do a double-take at seeing, next to a display of whistling kettles at Seiyu, a device for testing the whistle of a kettle before buying it.
...water and sewage lines are to be laid under the same road, and you fully expect the road to be opened, closed, bitumened, and then opened, closed and bitumend again within one month.
...when reading a novel where the main character finds himself in Tokyo, you think to yourself "Cool! Tokyo!"
...if you've written "XYZ" on the message chalkboard in Shinjuku station that appears in City Hunter (Hi, Adam).
...if your only desire is to go for a long drive with Paul Harvey or Rush Limbah on FEN.
...when you mentally convert your dollar assets into yen to figure out your personal wealth.
...if you can remember when Kirin was advertised as coming from the sparkling waters of Mt Fuji.
...you think people abroad would snap up a book with "too long in Japan" quips.
...you have learned the art of riding a bicycle while holding an umbrella over your head.
...when you spend 200,000 yen for two nights and three days sight-seeing in Kobe (travelling from Yokohama, two adults and one child who still travels and lodges free) and don't get angry.
...when you use phrases like "abundant nature" in letters.
...when you buy a ski rack for your car, but you don't own any skis.
...and a true story: When you are visiting relatives in the States (and when you think of it as "visiting" and not "going home") and the phone beside the bed rings early one morning and, in a daze, you pick it up and mumble "moshi moshi." And then when the person on the other end says something in English about "is this the right number?" to half-knock you out of your daze and you mumble "hello hello."
...you are turned away from a club because you are not Japanese, and you are not offended.
...you think it 10 visits to the dentist to fix a tooth is reasonable.
...when NHK warnings about landslides, heavy rains, lightning or fog make you feel reassured that someone is benevolently watching over you.
...you decide to take a foreign visitor to see an old temple, a kabuki play and Ginza.
...when the first accessory you buy for your motorcycle is a flip-up license plate holder.
...when the next thing you buy for your r is a clock.
...when a "bike" is never a bicycle, always a motorcycle.
...you think "white" is the color for cars; except for Ferraris, in which case it is "red."
 

Prev Page | Next page

You've Been in Japan Too Long When... (page 2 of 4)

You've been in Japan Too Long when... (page 2 of 4)

...a new Gaijin moves to your neighborhood and you know immediately you will get his mail for a while.
...you think the meaning of a red traffic light is: "Hurry up! Ten cars now in quick succession, and then we'll think about slowing down."
...when you get on a train with a number of gaijin on it and you feel uneasy because the harmony is broken.
...you ask fellow foreigners the all-important question "How long have you been here?" in order to be able to properly categorize them.
...when looking out the window of your office, you think "Wow, so many trees!" Instead of "Wow, so much concrete!"
...when you find yourself thinking "great, it's almost time for Paul Harvey, have to turn on the radio."
...when you sing FEN's "Here's what's happening around the Kanto plain" song aloud in your car while air-drumming.
...you think NHK is "the Japanese BBC."
...you think curry rice is food.
...the Yakult lady knows you by name.
...you think it is quite OK to play volleyball with 12 people per team.
...when in the middle of nowhere, totally surrounded by rice fields and abundant nature, you aren't surprised to find a drink vending machine with no visible means of a power supply...
...and when you think nothing of it when that lonely vending machine says 'thank you' after you buy a coke.
...you stand before a sign on a bridge and ponder the possible meanings of "Bridge Freezes Before Road."
...it takes fifteen seconds of deep thought to recall the first name of the President of the United States.
...you have a favorite bush to pee behind.
...a non-Japanese sits down next to you on the train and you get up and move. You're not prejudiced, but who knows what they might do?
...you are outwardly appalled to see someone pour miso shiru over rice, but do it in private yourself (neko meshi).
....you only have 73 transparent, plastic umbrellas in your entrance because you have donated 27 to the JR and various taxi companies in the past few months.
...you have over 100 small, transparent plastic umbrellas in your entrance even *after* donating 27 of them to taxis and JR recently.
...you realize it's perfectly reasonable for the Post Office to designate you as the local redistribution agent for all letters addressed in
yokomoji.
...when you absolutely do not possess the ability to mispronounce Japanese words "like a non-Japanese would."
...when you pay over 6000 yen for a lipstick and realize a few days later how much you really spent. (Or 7000 yen for a Captain Santa T-shirt. -Pete)
...when your arguing with someone about the color of the traffic light being blue or green...and you think it's blue.
...you are proud of yourself for beating the system by buying a case of Labbatt's Blue for 160 yen a can.
...you think rice imports should be prohibited, because Japanese consumers would never buy imported rice.
...when you think one kind of rice tastes better than another kind.
...you get a "Nihongo ga joozu" and feel really insulted.
...you see a road with two lanes going in the same direction and assume the one on the left is meant for parking.
...when you think Japan actually has only four seasons
...when you pull out your ruler to underline words.
...when getting ready for a trip you automatically calculate for omiyage and you leave just the right amount of space in your suitcase for them.
...you manage "yankii-zuwari" without anything propping up your heels.
...not only do you overcome your childhood training and spit out the mikan membranes, but you discover the knack of peeling the mikan so that the peel forms a neat receptacle for you to spit the membranes into.
...when having gaijin around you is a source of stress.
...you watch the grocer's with interest to see when the price of mikans will break.
...on a cold autumn night, the only thing you want for dinner is nabe and nihonshu.
...you return the bow from the cash machine.
...you can't find the "open" and "close" buttons in the elevator because they're in English.
...when you think children should have to walk around in the freezing cold with only short sleeves and shorts up to their butt (to make them strong!).
...when you think that coffee goes perfectly well with squid pizza.
...you can do arithmetic using
man, oku, cho and kei.
...you sympathize with your Japanese student because her daughter is
baka because she wears spring tops with winter skirts and you both sit down to try and see what can be done about this wild child.
...you count things with
chuu chuu tako kai na.
...you cound things using the
ni no shi no ro no ya no to song.
...you can't read your kids the Three Little Pigs without giggling when you get the part about "Not by the hair of chinny chin chin."
...you bow to other drivers who give you the right of way.
...you fully understand the concept of "cute culture."
...you look forward to the porno reviews at midnight on Fuji TV.
...when you believe that the perfect side dish to eat with a juicy, deep-fried pork chop is a pile of raw, tasteless, shredded cabbage.
... it doesn't surprise you that a case of beer has the same per unit price as a single can.
... you think cod roe spaghetti with chilled red wine is a typical Italian dish.
..."natsukashii" comes out of your mouth instead of "what you're saying makes me so nostalgic that I must look like one of those wide-eyed manga characters with a tear rolling out of my eye."
...you start to recognize BGM as a meaningful genre of music.
...walking into a crowded bar full of non-Japanese makes you nervous, because they "look dangerous." (This was passed on to me second-hand, I'm not that far gone, yet.)
...you buy a Christmas cake on Christmas Eve.
...you walk to the local seven eleven in your wife's shoes.
...you run for the Yamanote line pushing people left and right, jump on the train holding the doors open to let your bag follow you on. Because you know there will not be another one for at least a minute.
...you no longer pay any attention to what anyone does when you sit down beside them on a train.
...when you accompany your "no" by the famous waving hand-in-front-of-nose.
...when you're impressed with a girl with a 94 cm bust (Hosokawa Fumie).
...when you write or phone home and say things like "In Japan we..."
...you find yourself apologizing at least three times per conversation.
...when you let your car idle for half an hour while you go shopping.
...you find your self asking all your foreign acquaintances what their blood types are.
...you find yourself practicing golf swings with your umbrella on the train platform.
...you take practice golf swings on the train platform *without* an umbrella in your hand.
...you buy an individually wrapped potato in the supermarket.
...you think that "Lets SPORTS yOUNG gAY CluB" is a perfectly normal T shirt logo for a middle aged lady.
...you have to pause and translate your phone number into English before telling it to someone.
...you have a friend who lives in an apartment building called CREME SODA.
...small skinny hairless men turn you on (for ladies).
...you order a "bottle of draft" in a pub.
...you are speaking in English but all references to money are in Japanese.
...you pull up at a gas station and wait for a bunch of Norman Rockwell type attendants to jump out and clean your windshield.
...when you say that one of your hobbies is "doraibu."
...you think no car is complete without a tissue box on the rear shelf and a feather duster in the trunk.
...you ask a gaijin colleague who wears short sleeves in October, "Aren't you cold?"
...lunch is yesterday's leftovers out of a Hello Kitty bento box.
...when you draw a sharp distinction between "English" and "English conversation."
...you use the "slasher hand" and continuous bowing to make your way through a crowd.
...all of your December Sundays are reserved for Bonenkai hangover recovery.
...back home, you are disappointed when Dominoes doesn't have corn pizza, and the driver is disappointed when you forget the tip.
...you glance at the clock and accurately predict the next line of dialog in the TV dorama.
...you feel an irresistible urge to point your windshield wipers outwards when you park your car in a ski resort.
...you go to a coffee shop in your home country and order "American coffee."
...you put eleven 10 yen coins in the vending machine before you notice it's sold out.
...you see some real cleavage and think WOW!
...you buy tickets to a Tigers' game and spend time practicing the cheers.
...you forget about July 4th, but get all worked up over Tanabata.
...it takes you three attempts to fill in a check correctly (happened to me last night).
...you have to think about it to remember what a 'check' is.
...when you develop the fine sense of Japanese manners that prevents you from facing traffic when you take a leak outside (sorry ladies!).
...you start shunning foreigners you meet far away from your metropolitan abode in Tokyo (they're probably not worth talking too, you know).
...you remember when shouchu was not a chic drink drunk by high school girls, but rather one drunk under the railroad tracks by construction workers who never take off their haramaki.
...you remember when the average Japanese person under about 30 did not have a telephone.
...you remember when telephones were almost always placed near the front door and next to them was placed a little box or jar to receive 10 yen coins from people who stopped by to 'borrow' your phone.
...you remember when public telephones had just been put out on the street that could be used for out-of-city calls as well as inside the city, and had a sign on them to indicate this new high-tech function.
...you remember non-wanman buses in the Tokyo area. Buses still have signs (at least someplaces) which say wanman (one man) to tell people that there is no ticket-taking person. Buses in days of yore used to have such people, making the bus, I guess, a two-paason bus, but nobody ever referred to them as two-paason or two-man.
...you remember almost no bars who could think fast enough to refuse a Caucasian client. Nobody expected them. But then nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition either. (No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!)
...you remember with great fondness what it sounded like to hear hundreds of geta hitting the pavement when the light changed to green for the pedestrians waiting to cross at the Sukiyabashi intersection in front of Asahi Shinbun headquarters.

Prev Page | Next page