Archive for the ‘Living in Japan’ Category
Unfortunately, unlike going to the Japanese doctor, or being arrested by the Japanese police, there’s no apparent redeeming quality to visiting the Immigration Bureau. It’s crowded, you have to line up for hours, and unlike the rest of Japan which is full of nice, clean Japanese people, it’s packed full of foreigners. Eeewww.
My Employer, My Sponsor, My Friend
Exactly a year ago, in May, I went through the same process. And the moment I got the visa renewal paperwork from my supervisor, I noticed something concerning.
“I’m looking at this ‘Period of Work’ field,” I said gently. My supervisor is a Japanese woman, so I try to be a little more charming, by using my bedroom voice. Read the rest of this entry »
And then somehow I ended up in Fukuoka for Golden Week, eating at this yatai along the river. It all had something to do with a Japanese girl and way too much sake, as I recall. I mean, assuming I could recall, which actually I can’t. But anyway, Golden Week is a great holiday time in Japan, since everyone has Friday and Monday off from work, and those two days magically add up to being called “a week.” That’s some Japanese math for you. Anyway, it was golden.
Unfortunately, there’s no English word for yatai, probably because no Westerner ever dreamed of serving steaming bowls of ramen noodles or chicken skewers from half a shack cobbled together out of old doors and tattered plastic sheets. But Fukuoka’s got a string of these little rickety stalls on the banks of its black river, lit up at night with bare lightbulbs and red paper lanterns, full of wobbly customers sitting on folding chairs drinking beer and sake. And since the night was lovely and warm, I picked a yatai with a friendly orange sign, where folks were being welcomed with small plates of edamame and fish eggs mixed with chopped green onions. So hospitable, the Japanese. Read the rest of this entry »
If you’re planning to visit Japan, there’s definitely some stuff you should and should not bring. And moving to Japan? Whoa, then you really need to consider what to stuff into your gym bag. But not to worry! As always, Ken Seeroi is here for you, doing all that pesky thinking business so you can kick back with a margarita and relax. Here’s all you really need to know.
First, carefully select your all of your best clothes and neatly pack them into two suitcases. Then put the suitcases in the trunk of your car and drive to the nearest forest. You’ll also need a can of gasoline. I guess I forgot to mention that. Then once you get there, you’re going to want to send your clothes to Fashion Heaven in a massive conflagration because no one in Japan wears stuff like that. This goes double if you’re a guy. Japanese people place an insane amount of importance on personal appearance, and what’s popular overseas is usually not popular here. So if you want to look good in Japan, buy clothes in Japan. Unless you’ve got some crazy size, like you’re super fat or much over six feet tall, in which case, okay, you shouldn’t have burned your clothes. Sorry about that. Read the rest of this entry »
Sakura season isn’t just great. It’s better than great, whatever that is, since everyone’s waited like six months for Japan to get warm again, and then once it does, Boom! it’s Hanami Party Explosion. I guess I should say that hanami is a Japanese word that translates to “Sitting under blossoming trees on giant blue plastic sheets and drinking ridiculous amounts of sake while eating boxes of rice with little weiners shaped like octopuses.” But maybe “hanami” sounds better, and anyway it’s shorter.
Japanese April Fool’s Joke
On a related note, have you noticed that everything in Japan starts on April first, like a giant April Fool’s joke the nation plays on its citizens? Schools start, companies welcome their new employees, and contracts are renewed. I finally figured out why. Read the rest of this entry »
Ah, springtime in Japan; there’s nothing like it. The world is once again alive with color as the ume trees bring forth their red blossoms, sakura bloom with pink, and half the nation is covered in a delicate, yellow smog from China. It is, as the Japanese say, a breathtaking sight. And God, nothing makes a man feel more alive than a city full of women in miniskirts, high boots, and white surgical masks.
Yellow Sand from China
I’m not sure what’s happening to the earth, but I’m pretty sure it’s not good. Between the desertification of Mongolia and the smogification of Beijing, carried on the winds, Japan is turning yellow. Not like it needs any help in that department. Every surface is blanketed in smog and dust: cars, park benches, children. As a result, the everyone’s either sneezing, coughing, or wearing surgical masks, and usually all three.
The Importance of Daily Routine
So I came home yesterday wearing my white mask carrying a plastic bag full of malt liquor and tempura shrimp. You know, Ken Seeroi is a great believer in keeping a daily routine to maximize personal effectiveness. Read the rest of this entry »
So last Wednesday I taught at this Japanese middle school. And as I was riding home on my midget little scooter, I caught a glimpse of a Japanese motorcycle cop off to my left. I was cresting a small hill, and he was just kind of sitting there when I cruised past. I thought for a moment: Is this cause for concern? and then concluded, No, Ken Seeroi, you are a most excellent driver.
Sure, everyone says that, but I really am. I know this based upon the large number of cars, trucks, and bikes I’ve demolished. Well, maybe “demolished” is a bit strong. Let’s just say “crashed,” or “rendered unusable.” That sounds a bit better. But I mean, let’s say you’re going into battle—who’re you gonna want beside you in the trenches?—a pie-faced file clerk who’s driven a desk the whole war, or some William Dafoe-looking dude who’s all scarred and gnarly from scores of battles? That’s the guy you’d want to ride with, right? Yet somehow when I explain this to women I meet in bars, they never get it. It’s just simple logic, really. Anyway, I’m a good driver, is my point. Read the rest of this entry »
So I was laying on the floor last night, actually trying to study Japanese, which is increasingly rare, since eating sashimi and drinking shochu with Japanese geezers at the local bar has replaced more formal study as of late. But, seeing as it’s the new year and all, I thought I’d get off to a healthy start by cooking up an enormous cauldron of vegetable soup and doing something other than boozing. Yes, this is the year Ken Seeroi finally gets his life together in Japan. Plus it was raining, and anyway I blew all my yen drinking the night before.
Now, perhaps you’re the kind of person who hears a lot of explosions, but I’m not. Like maybe a car crash or a big earthquake once in a while, but that’s about it. So when this enormous, earth-shattering ka-boom shook the building, I thought, well, that’s a bit odd. I’m calm like that. And then the fire alarm went off and I smelled smoke. I opened my window. It was still raining cats and dogs. The smoke smell got worse.
Wow, is it 2013 already? When did that happen? I’m still getting prepared for the world to end on New Year’s 2000 by backing up all my WordStar docs onto 5-1/4″ floppies and stockpiling canned yakitori. You know, I kind of have this thing about time in Japan, where it always seems to pass faster than in the real world. Like already it’s been a rough start to the new year, since I showed up at work thinking it was Tuesday, when actually it was Monday. It doesn’t help that Japanese days all have screwy names. Moon day, Fire day, Water day—jeez, how’s a brother supposed to keep all that straight? I blame Google Calendar.
Japanese New Year
So I went to Hokkaido for New Year’s again, and spent it with this friend of mine and her mom, real homey style, doing customary things like eating the giant box of osechi mystery foods and falling asleep on the floor. Actually, the falling asleep part is more my custom than a Japanese one, but after all that food and a couple big glasses of sake, hey, is it my fault I missed the countdown at midnight? Apparently, it is. Anyway, there are only two places in Japan that are warm in the winter—Okinawa and Hokkaido. Read the rest of this entry »
Well, I mean “arrested” is a pretty vague term, don’t you think? I think so. You know, like if you’re stopped for, let’s just say, stealing a bicycle, that’s not really arrested. That’s more like “detained.” Anyway, that’s my story. So maybe I was simply detained. Okay, let’s just agree there are some gray areas.
And my Sunday started so well, too. As always, I was at Starbucks. My days are bookends of mornings in Starbucks and evenings in boozy izakaya. Read the rest of this entry »
Now going back in time, funny story, I started using chopsticks when I was just a kid. I don’t know why. It’s not like my parents are secret ninjas or something. I guess I just like challenges, or maybe I’m retarded or whatever, but anyway I started using them at a super young age.
My recollection is mostly that I couldn’t pick up a darn thing and my hand hurt like crazy. But—and you know this is so me—once I made up my mind, I wasn’t going to quit. Kind of like how I decided I would never speak English once I moved to Japan. And that’s worked out just . . . uh, what’s the opposite of “great”? Well, whatever, that’s another story. Anyway, pretty soon I was this kid who was eating Cheerios with chopsticks, and Shake ‘n Bake chicken, and meatloaf. (Culinarily speaking, I had the whitest upbringing ever.) Read the rest of this entry »