Posts Tagged ‘Japan’
My New Year’s resolution was to exercise more, but it’s just not working out like that. All I could see was sawdust and screws when I opened my eyes this morning. It was like 4 a.m. Man, I gotta quit getting up so early. But for some strange reason the room wasn’t dark. So while I was trying to figure out who turned on the sun, I rolled over and there’s my PC, upside-down on the pillow next to me. And then I realized I’m still fully dressed in a suit and tie, minus one sock. Well, at least I don’t have to worry about putting on clothes all over again. So much trouble, really, getting dressed.
So I got up and it turns out my table had demolished itself in the middle of the night. Like one of the legs was snapped off and it had dumped everything onto my futon, along with screws and wood chips. Fortunately it’s a Japanese table, so it’s only about two inches tall. Like I don’t even really know why I have the thing—I could just draw a rectangle on the floor and it would be exactly as useful. And about then I figured out it was 4 p.m., not a.m., and I thought Man, I really gotta get me some breakfast, since I gotta be back at work in a couple of hours. So I put on my sock and went to 7-11. Read the rest of this entry »
I used to think there were three possible answers to any question: yes, no, and whatever’s not covered by yes and no. Like, when the waitress asks, Do you want another beer? That’s a yes. Isn’t it about time you thought about going home? That would be a No, not until I get that beer I’m waiting for. And, Would you at least please stop bothering the other customers? That would would be a Well, if that’s how you feel about it, then I’m leaving. Just as soon as I get that one more beer.
It’s interview season in Japan. The weather is getting warmer, the ume buds are starting to appear, and maybe you could even see a bird. Yeah, like maybe in a zoo. But anyway, about this time every year I pick my two-sizes-too-small Japanese suit up from the floor of my closet, polish the front of my shoes, and head out with my resume.
My Japanese Interview
I went to this interview last week. It’s for a job teaching English, so for some reason unbeknownst to anyone, the entire interview was in Japanese. Read the rest of this entry »
Everyone knows Japanese people aren’t exactly Masters of the Universe when it comes to speaking English, despite receiving six years of English education. Six years? Are you kidding? You could build yourself a Great Pyramid in less time. I’m pretty sure. Just chop up some limestone and stack it up. Probably take you a couple of years at best.
But okay, there are clearly some good reasons why Japanese folks can’t speak English. And if you study Japanese, you also need to avoid the same traps.
Ask any foreign English teacher, and they’ll tell you, “The grammar-translation method doesn’t work.” Sure, but people also say that we swallow spiders in our sleep and the Apollo moon landings were merely elaborate hoaxes. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m the most popular guy in town. And given that about a million people live in my town, that’s quite a distinction, seriously. So recently I bought a jump rope. Look, it’s not easy keeping in shape in Japan. Like I’d just gotten home last Thursday night when I got a call from this old guy that I teach English to. He’s about seventy years old and some president of a company or something. Actually, I don’t even know his name. I just call him President-san. Anyway, I pick up the phone and he says, “Can you sing The Beatles?” And I’m like, “Who is this?” Read the rest of this entry »
So I was in a “standing bar” a couple of weeks ago, which is like a normal bar, or really a restaurant because they serve food too, only without any seats. It’s just about the worst invention the Japanese ever came up with. Like, who wants to have drinks and food standing up? Would it kill you to put in some barstools? But anyway, so I’m standing there having a conversation with this rather attractive Japanese lady and I order some fish in a can on toast. And things are going pretty well between us, you know, until suddenly her husband shows up. So that was a little disappointing. But whatever, he turned out to be a really nice guy and bought me a beer and I Read the rest of this entry »
What could be more typically Japanese than bowing? Every other book about Japan has something to say on the subject, so it must be important, right? Certainly a lot of foreigners come to Japan and start bowing like crazy, so maybe they all read the same book.
It’s common knowledge, if not entirely correct, that bowing is a sign of respect, gratitude, or apology in Japanese society. And there’s no shortage of information on how to do it properly, how deeply one should bow, or what to do with your hands. There’s just one missing piece . . .
So I was in a bar last week. Big surprise, I know. And by the end of the night, as always, I’d made friends with about fifty salarymen. What can I say? I’m like sugar to them. Then, as I’d had a rather plentiful number of cocktails and
The Land of the Rising Sun isn’t for everyone. But like Sirens to a sailor, Japan exerts a pull on the naive to the point that any job, no matter how miserable, seems tolerable in exchange for a brief encounter. I was among that number.
Now, you can’t put the words “Japan, “miserable,” and “job” into one sentence without mentioning “eikaiwa,” in the next. Try it–it’s physically impossible. Jobs at Eikaiwa (English conversation schools) are plentiful, due to the ample supply of Japanese folks willing to pay to learn English. And, perhaps fortunately for you, the teaching qualifications are close to nonexistent. If you speak English and have a college degree, Congratulations, you’re qualified. A number of eikaiwa schools will even arrange for an apartment and help you sort out official hassles like a visa, health insurance, bank account, and taxes. Plus, the salary is reasonably good. Yo, what’s not to like?
To understand why working for an eikaiwa will be your personal Hell on earth, let’s begin by looking at a typical job ad: