No this post is neither about illiteracy nor my own inability to read Japanese. It is also not a confession of my own illiteracy or an accusation that students in Japan cannot read English. Yomenai directly translated does mean ‘(I) can’t read,” but I am referring to “reading the air” not written words. Kuuki Yomenai (KY) is a phenomenon in Japanese culture that refers to ignorance of social norms and cues. Continue reading →
Is it just me, or do foreigners (gaijin) in Japan have some serious identity issues? I recently saw a picture on the Japan Today news site of a karaoke establishment that posted a sign saying “Karaoke is Japanese culture. Welcome foreigner.” This resulted in several comments about how racist and xenophobic Japan is. I find it ironic that an effort at attracting and welcoming foreigners is taken as a racial slur. How can a welcome sign be an indicator for xenophobia? Continue reading →
I am sure that like me you have been walking down the street minding your own business, when suddenly you see a super-hot girl walk by. It’s hard not to stare, but seeing as you are not a creeper and your mother taught you better, you look away and keep on walking. But then out of the corner of your eye, you see the scrawniest, palest little Poindexter you have ever encountered. You do a double take as he gives her a quick peck on the cheek and then proceeds to take her hand and walk away shooting you the smuggest little sneer you ever did see.
That’s right that girl you just got done thinking was way out of your league, is with that guy… Continue reading →
In high school I always wanted to get away. Not that I wasn’t happy at home, I just wanted to see what the world had to offer. I really didn’t care where I just wanted to get out there. I ended up in Hawaii after much prodding from my mom to decide on a university to attend. Frustrated, seeking any criteria to narrow it down, she poked and prodded until finally I said I wanted to go somewhere warm. Exasperated she exclaimed well “why don’t you go to Hawaii or something?” I don’t think she thought I would take this suggestion seriously, but I most certainly did. Getting on the plane I knew I was leaving home behind, but I never imagined that it would be permanent. Continue reading →
Change is not always bad. An odd thing to learn from Japan. This is a country where time honed tradition and history always seem to trump innovation and modernization. You can drink tea, eat ramen and watch sumo, and get the exact same experience as you would have a hundred years ago. Japan’s reputation is as a country with a long memory and a short tolerance for change. Continue reading →
Public transit in Asia in general has been quite unreasonably exciting for me. I really appreciate the ease and comfort that the intricate system of trains and buses offered both in Korea and Japan.
One thing that I have realized, however, is that I have, or perhaps had, a very low tolerance for breaches in personal space. Growing up in suburbia, there aren’t a lot of personal space restrictions, and the US isn’t exactly the most densely populated country. Here in Asia however, I have found myself uncomfortably squished, packed and crowded into planes, trains, automobiles and a variety of other means of transportation. Continue reading →
No, senpai is not a great ninja art or a badass attack akin to the Hadouken or Kamehameha. Senpai is a title given to a senior member of an organization or social order. Its most common use is in school among students of different grades, however it extends into the workplace and life as a whole in Japan. Continue reading →