August 5, 2005

The unique challenges of being a tall, blonde foreigner in Japan

Life's not all roses here in Nippon. I've made a list of some of the challenges you will face should you come here.

1. Really confusing train schedules. Click here to see what I mean. You are allowed to scream.

2. Every five minutes I am offered alcohol, coffee, or ocha (green tea). When I have to politely refuse, they look really sad.

3. Everyone speaks some weird dialect of English over here that sounds like another language or something. Oh wait, it is. Seriously, cogitating the "tte" form of a verb in polite-distal past-tense depending on what gerund precedes it is surprisingly fun*, but very hard to do.

*: Fun in the sense that it's like solving a puzzle on a decoder ring; but every phrase turns out to be, "you are bad at Japanese, please drink more Ovaltine."

4. Not getting invited to parties if you don't drink. But I finally did go to a party with the PTA when the junior high went camping. After the kids were all in bed, the teachers and some parents got together. I didn't drink, but I did enjoy stuffing myself on their food. We're talking all kinds of foods, like Tara-town's Japan-famous crab, and a googolplex of seafoods and meats. The Men turn into 13 year olds when they drink, and brag about how well endowed they are and how they'd like to grab the women on the other side of the room. Tré entertaining.

5. Not knowing if the kids are trying to get you to say something compromising. "Do you like so-and-so?" What, exactly, do you mean by like, kid? Cause I'm pretty sure you just used one of the Japanese words for love...

6.Hitting your head on doors when you walk into a room because you are too tall. Dang, I do this a lot.

7. Using squatting-style toilets. Ew. I had to do this today (at city hall of all places), I don't know if I'm too tall or what, but this was not easy, and I looked like I was breakdancing or dodging bullets in the matrix, or something. And after watching that movie linked right there, I now realize I was facing the wrong direction Must not touch the ground! I felt better when I got out and all the people from the office gathered around the stall clapping and saying, "Oh, you poop so good, Crayton-san!"*

*:People who have been in Japan will get that joke. But no, that did not really happen ;P

8: Being asked the same questions over and over again. "Where are you from? Do you have a girlfriend? Why not? Why aren't you drinking the tea?" And if drunk: "which of those women* do you want to have?"

*:said well within earshot of the women in question

9: Enduring heat and humidity. I'm from cold, dry Wyoming. I'm not used to rivulets of sweat suddenly soaking me. And my neither-regions itch all the time... is that natural, or did I pick up crabs from a squat-style toilet?!

10:Not having some of the foods you like. Took me forever to find marinara sauce at the grocery store, and it turns out it's in a pouch instead of a jar. BTW, snoopy is on everything here. If you go to the 7-11 (yes, they have one of those in my rural town), you will see snoopy on all the food products.

11: Being too attractive... yeah, that counts as a challenge. I intimidate the girls a little bit, and have to listen to them whisper about me, but they rarely approach me unless they are shoving their friend at me for an introduction.
Except for the junior high girls, who insisted I cook with them when I went camping. Then they insisted on serving me. Then they insisted on doing my dishes... etc.

12: Bugs. Japanese houses don't have many ways to keep out bugs. Or insulation, or proper kitchens... I could go on.

In conclusion these are really minor inconveniences. As the McDonald's commercial here says, "I'mu roving it!" [sic]
Now, more pictures! I forgot to take my camera when I went camping with the Junior High, which is a shame cause there were so many cool things going on. Next time...

Tetris is not just a game over here; it's a way of life.

Look at that view. Click to enlarge and breathe it in. I'm dang lucky to be here.

One of the signs it's summer is hanabi, or fireworks. The ones shown here are from the festival we just had. People were dancing, and I had Yakitori... ah, good times.

Another sign it's summer is all the Cicadas. This one has lived out it's one-week life. Every time I get annoyed by the sound, I try to remember this haiku:

Shizukesa ya The tranquility
Iwa ni shimiiru Permeating the rocks
Semi no koe Voices of cicadas

Fire works


Japan is such an open-minded country that apparently you can choose a drink as your life partner.

It appears Abe has succumbed to blog depression or something, so I moved her to the dearly departed list. But I added Steph to the land of the living.