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Happy 2012!

January 6, 2012 71 comments

Happy 2012 everyone!

… What’s this? An update? Holy crap, maybe 2012 really is going to be the end of the world and this is the first sign! I dunno, maybe?

Where have I been? Somewhere in between trying to figure out how to be a father, a stretch of being super-busy at work, and just trying to keep my sanity afloat (wasn’t always successful!). Plus for awhile, I really didn’t have anything interesting to write about. I just can’t be the guy who does the “hey, look at this weird aspect of Japan, isn’t it quirky!” guy anymore. I don’t even notice most of it anymore.

Well then, what am I going to write about? That is an excellent question. I don’t have a concrete answer. What I do know is that I miss writing so I’m going to try to do it more. Whatever tickles my fancy that I want to write about. That was kind of how I started off in the first place. So topics may vary wildly.

That’s all I really wanted to say for the moment, so here’s a picture of my daughter. She’s a year and two months old now. Go read some of the original posts in the archives, then think about how that guy now has a little toddler running around. Almost frightening, isn’t it?

image

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Categories: Gaijin Chronicles

Still Got It

March 12, 2011 114 comments

First things first – I’m okay, family is okay, mostly everyone I know is fine.

(In case you don’t watch the news, or are reading this post in the archives, I’m referring to the 8.8 magnitude earthquake that struck off the northern coast of Japan yesterday afternoon.)

Kansai is quite far from the earthquake epicenter, so for us the quake wasn’t nearly as bad. I work on the 16th floor of a building in Osaka, so whatever was felt on the ground was probably magnified quite a bit by the time it got to us – there was some swaying and rolling that got stronger and persisted for 2-3 minutes (which in earthquake time, is freakin’ forever…), but nothing fell over or anything like that.

The interesting thing about Kyoto/Osaka is that unless a natural disaster strikes us specifically (such as the Hanshin Earthquake), we’re usually fine. The biggest example is the typhoons – during typhoon season a few will usually hit Japan. The initial reports will have a typhoon pretty much bowl through all of Japan. However, at some point it will either just veer away from Kansai, or hop/skip/jump over us. Leaving us with a bit or rain and wind while other areas get slammed. For some, this is a point of contention, as if the tsunami’s actually did hit, we would get days off work and school.

So my wife is sitting here watching news coverage, and on one station I see entire rows of houses swept away in the tsunami. On another, raging fires. On another, towns buried in mud and deluge. So, I understand why people are worried. Watching this makes me worried too. But as I look outside my window, it’s life as usual. Nothing is destroyed, on fire, or being swept away. The old folks are playing cricket on the school grounds. Kids are tossing a ball back and forth in the street. Just the right amount of cars are on the road for the time of day. The trains are all running on schedule. Tomorrow, I’m going to go out and film some stuff for a TV show. Everything is business as usual here. It’s a bit surreal to know that a few hundred kilometers up, it’s a much different story. But I guess that’s just part of life. My thoughts and prayers go out to any and everyone affected by the earthquake. Meanwhile, I’m relieved that I and my family are safe and unaffected.

***

Yesterday the quake hit as most of us were toiling away at work. I felt the shaking, looked at the guy next to me, and he instantly voiced what I was thinking – “Isn’t this an earthquake?” The floor rolled around quite a bit, especially unnerving since we’re on the 16th floor. Not that I’m usually afraid of heights, but when the ground underneath you isn’t exactly terra firma, being 16 floors up doesn’t really help matters much.

After the swaying and rolling stopped, people gathered around one of the TV’s to watch the news. An announcement came over the com system – there was just an earthquake (you think?), but the building is fine, please go back to work. Most people continued to watch the TV coverage of what had just happened. The foreigners on our floor – some mid-west and east coast Americans, as well as Europeans were visibly shaken by the whole experience. As an Earthquake Veteran, I went back to work. I was in both the Loma Prieta quake in 1989 and the 1994 Northridge earthquake. I actually mostly slept through the Northridge one. I remember mom waking me up and telling me we were in an earthquake. I asked her how strong…she estimated 6 or 7. I remember saying “wake me if we hit 8″ and trying to go back to sleep. …You have to understand that I’m not really a morning person.

Anyway, around 4PM or so I was kind of hungry, so I went down to the nearby 7-11 to grab a snack. As I entered there was a kid, a young boy maybe around 3 or 4 years old, playing in the aisles. He took a quick look at me, and then immediately ran back to his mother, crying while saying “scary, scary!” Unfortunately for me, this is by no means a rare occurance, so I’m actually used to it. I tried to smile and look as non-threatening as possible, but the poor kid was terrified out of his wits until his mother carried him out of the store and apparently to his safety. While paying for my goods, I had to take a moment and process what had just happened – the kid had just experienced, albeit mildly, one of the largest recorded earthquakes in human history. And yet somehow, I was the scariest thing that had happened to him all day. So either – on his priority scale, large black man outranks the Earth itself rolling around under his feet, or he was too young to comprehend the idea of an earthquake but could still process big black man = OMG he’s going to eat me!

I’m not even mad or angry at the situation (I wish the mother had taken a moment to explain that there’s no reason to be scared of a person simply because they’re different, but meh whatever), I just had to take a moment and find the humor in it. Nice to know that some things haven’t changed at least.

Categories: Gaijin Chronicles

Sleepless in Osaka

January 25, 2011 110 comments

Being a new father has taught me a lot about myself, and the world. And most importantly, babies. Most of us already know that babies are new, precious, fragile lifeforms. They have to be clothed and fed and bathed and all that. They also taste delicious with a nice guacamole-based salsa.

But perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned about babies is that they’re fundamentally stupid.

Okay, maybe that’s not the best way to put it. Forgive me for my sins. But it’s true! Why did I come to this staggering conclusion? I’d say more than why, the when is more important. The other day, around 3AM, as I’m trying to put my daughter to sleep.

Usually, putting baby to bed is not my job. I have to catch the train at 7AM to go to work Mon through Fri, so I get the free pass. And if she cries during the night, I have no idea. I’ve always been a heavy sleeper. I slept through the ’94 LA earthquake. I’ve slept through dorm fire alarms. If you’ve ever lived in the dorms, you know that these are loud enough to wake up dinosaurs. If the zombie apocalypse happened overnight, I’m pretty sure I would sleep through it. Even if I had an army of zombies gently chewing on my legs.

But this particular day was a Friday, so I couldn’t use the work excuse to retreat to bed early. Also, I was trying to be more helpful in a vain attempt to get laid more and end the dry spell be a good husband and father. I noticed my wife 3/4ths asleep as she tried to rock the baby to sleep. “Here, I’ll take over” I valiantly offer, and my wife hands me the football, says thanks, and passes out in bed. Like, I think she fell asleep during the half-second she was in the air before she hit the sheets. So, I was going to be on my own here. But really, how hard could it be right?

Heh. That’s all the parents with experience who are reading this, laughing at me now. You have no idea, amateur.

She already looked sleepy. She was yawning and her eyes were half-closed. My wife had suggested to rock her to sleep, but I was feeling tired so I decided to sit down. Apparently, this was completely unacceptable, as baby opened her eyes and stared at me for 4 seconds before starting to cry. …What? Daddy is not allowed to sit down? Okay, sure. Stand and rock. Let’s roll, baby. My wife brings up my history of ballroom dancing – surely that would be a good way to put baby to sleep right? So I do a mini-waltz in the confined space of our apartment, and sure enough baby gets sleepy again. She actually goes to sleep! Nice! Now just put her down and enjoy a nice relaxing evening with my wife…

Oh, but wait! Just kinda glossed over that “put her down” part there didn’t I? You see, babies sleep fairly lightly. You know how, in the Princess and the Pea, the princess can’t get a good night of sleep because there’s a pea stuffed under like 10 mattresses or something like that? If the princess had been a baby, I’m convinced she would have felt the pea on the other side of the continent. Or maybe just a particularly biting solar wind that just happened to pass through our galaxy. Or hey, maybe God sneezed. Either way, baby’s waking up.

So I try to put her in her crib. But because my hands aren’t made of feathers, and I’m not resting her on a bed made of Scarlett Johansson’s soft fluffy tits, she wakes up. Her eyes open slowly as she looks around, and while she can’t talk yet the facial expressions are easy enough to understand. “Hold on, what’s this…is this…is this the crib? No! No motherfucker, no! Oh, if you thought I could cry before…wait’ll you get a load of me now!”

Basically, baby is crying because she is sleepy. She was asleep, but because she woke up due to a random shift in the Earth’s gravitational pull, she is now crying herself awake. Brilliant. Once a parent fails the put-down stage, he has to go all the way back to “coerce baby to sleep” stage. Like getting to the final castle in World 8, dying, and then having Bowser drop you off right back at World 1-1. This is why I call babies stupid – sleeping is the most basic of human functions, right? We sleep even when we don’t want to! And babies can’t even get that right!

It definitely gives me an appreciation for just how dependent babies are on adults for their everyday needs. It’s amazing that these small, helpless little creatures eventually grow up to become fully-functioning human beings. …For the most part.

After two more passes at trying to get baby to sleep in the bed, my wife takes pity on me (she was able to sleep for 2 hours while I struggled with the Baby Sleep final level), puts her to sleep and manages to get her in the crib as well. I think she did this within 30 minutes, but by this point it was 3:30AM and neither of us knew our own names at this point.

All I know is, if I ever get assigned to sleep duty again, I’m gonna turn on Japanese TV and sit baby in front of the tube. If that doesn’t put her to sleep then I don’t know what will.

Categories: Gaijin Chronicles

Miraculous Surprise

November 25, 2010 94 comments

So, I’m a daddy now.

There are a myriad of things running through my head, so much so that I don’t even know where to begin sorting them out. All I can really say is – thank you GOD I was born male.

At some point in our lives, we men will get into an argument over which is worse – childbirth, or getting kicked in the nuts. Women will try to emphasize the point of pushing a watermelon-sized object through one’s nostril. We men will attempt to counter with “Yeah, but getting kicked in the nuts really fucking hurts.” And indeed, it really does hurt. But you know – having been there for the whole process, I can only say this – childbirth wins. Not even close. Guys, its like having your nuts hooked up to a perpetual kicking machine for 24 hours. And THEN pushing a tangerine out of your urethra. So ladies, while we may not see eye to eye on a number of issues, you have my eternal respect for being able to endure that.

Despite warnings that I should steer clear of the actual process, or avoid inciting the wrath of my wife (who, in this highly agitated state, would have the strength of Jack Bauer fusion-danced with Chuck Norris, having gone Super Saiya-jin while activating their Devil Trigger), I stayed with her the whole time. Instead of chewing my head off, she was happy to have me there for support, and thanked me several times for being by her side. And yes, when the baby came out, there was a wonderful gush of purple goo and yellow fluid and orange marshmellows and all that jazz, but I didn’t care – the alien-like mass that had been kicking my wife’s stomach for the past few months was now an actual human being, and there I was to witness her emerging out into the world. I wouldn’t have missed it.

My wife though, had a wonderfully priceless reaction upon seeing her for the first time. “I hear her voice, it’s so cute…oh, there she is! She’s beautiful! She’s looking this way, oh such cute eyes! She’s so adorable! There you are, I finally met you. …Hey, she’s not that black.” Yes, as you all may be able to tell from the picture I posted earlier, she was born fairly pale. Fun fact: many black babies are actually not born that dark. Our color fills in later. So, my wife was probably expecting this wonderful little latte bundle, only to be surprised by a vanilla cream frappucino. My wife learned something new that day.

I also learned something new too. If, despite several attempts the baby still hasn’t come out yet, in order to help in the process a nurse may get on top of the pregnant woman and start pumping her like an inflatable tire. I’ve seen a lot of crazy things since coming here, but I don’t know if any of them compare to a little old Japanese nurse getting on top of my pregnant wife and pumping her harder than I ever have. I’m not even exaggerating, it wasn’t a small little push, she was getting her weight behind it and pushing down HARD. I wondered if the baby wasn’t going to just rocket out like that.

Something else I learned – babies make awesome faces. Or maybe its just mine? Yes, babies are very cute and adorable. But they also make really funny faces sometimes.

DO NOT WANT

Like, whoa...

...What?

It occurs to me that this might make me one of those fathers whose primary goal in life is to embarrass their children. So, to restore balance to the force, here’s a normal picture.

Aw, just look at that little Beyonce. Az’s Get Rich Quick Scheme #23 is coming along very nicely, if I do say so myself.

…I kid, of course. Little Anna can be whatever she wants to be. A doctor, a lawyer, an astronaut, daddy supports her. And if she decides to become a singer/actress/model, daddy will support her at 35% of her income. …Just saying.

Categories: Gaijin Chronicles

Hello, World!

October 27, 2010 216 comments

Introducing Anna Linda.

Born at 4:46 PM and weighing in at 3776 grams, she’s a very healthy baby girl. Both Mommy and Daddy are exhausted but recuperating.

It’s…surreal. 7 years ago, I came to this country to teach junior high school Japanese kids how to speak English. 7 years later, I’m going to be teaching my own half-Japanese kid…well…life. If you’d told me boarding the plane to Japan 7 years ago about today, I probably would have called you crazy. And yet, here we are.

It’s been a hectic couple of days and I’m still trying to let the dust settle. I’ll write more when I’m working on more sleep and am in front of a computer again…whenever that is (still don’t have one at home!). Stay tuned.

And good night, Anna.

Categories: Gaijin Chronicles

Girl Who Cried Wolf

October 21, 2010 42 comments

So my wife calls me a lot. My cell phone history displays an average of about 3-4 times a day. Ordinarily I wouldn’t mind too much, but she has this habit of calling me at times when I’m not really in a position to be having a regular conversation on the phone. For example…say…at 2:15 PM on a Tuesday.

*phone rings*
Me: Hello?
Her: Hi.
Me: Um, hi. What’s up?
Her: Oh, nothing much. How about you?
Me: Um…working. It being Tuesday afternoon and all.
Her: Right, yeah. What are you doing at work?
Me: Um…work. Did you have a point to this conversation?
Her: No, just wanted to talk.
Me: Okay, hanging up now.
Her: …Why?
Me: Remember that whole work thing we just discussed?

Unfortunately my wife is a woman of extremes. So if I tell her not to call me at work, she never calls…ever. And then I feel all sad and neglected. Yes, I know this is all very counter-productive. These are the things that happen when a guy gets married. So my solution is to let her call, and when I can answer, I will. When I can’t, I won’t. She knows this system and is also okay with it. For the most part, it works pretty well.

However, the monkey wrench here is that my wife is now 9 months pregnant. The phone call I ignore may very well be the phone call alerting me that a baby is emerging out of her. Maybe one day in the future, we’ll have cell phones where you can actually preface your call with a title or something. Imagine how convenient that would be! If you got a call from your shift manager on your day off with the title “Work Related”, you could always just throw the phone in the lake you are hanging out at and then claim it fell out of your pocket when you tried to answer it. I could also utilize this system to distinguish between “Just want to say hi” and “Giving birth to child.” Unfortunately, we don’t yet have this feature, so I had to change up our calling system. It was a simple change – if baby is coming out of you, call. If not, don’t. I felt this was a straightforward yet effective approach to the situation.

Now let’s jump back to last Friday. It’s lunch, and per our Friday ritual, some co-workers and I headed out for some Indian curry. While my wife’s anticipated due date is still two weeks away, the baby is quite big (doctor’s response to wife: well, looking at your husband I suppose that’s to be expected) so labor could happen pretty much at any moment. Just as we settle into a table and put in our orders, my phone begins ringing. It’s my wife. I suppose lunch could be considered “not working”, but it also happens to be the time when I like to use my mouth for eating food and not talking. At any rate, our system is in place and I don’t feel like I can risk not answering.

Me: Hello?
Her: Hi. So…
Me: Your water broke?
Her: …No. So I went downtown, and I want to buy this bunny rabbit stuffed animal for our baby, and I found a really cute one! But I’m not sure whether I should get the 20cm or the 30cm one. Smaller is better for babies, but the bigger one will last longer into her childhood…
Me:

I remind my wife of our new system (don’t call me unless babby is forming), inform her that I’m on the verge of eating, and recommend the smaller 20cm rabbit. A few minutes later, I get email – a picture to help in my stuffed rabbit deliberations.

Eventually our food comes, and as I am enjoying my Indian cuisine, the phone rings again. Literally, I have a mouth full of tandoori chicken and I feel the phone call ring vibrating in my pocket. Well, the last call was trivial…but I did remind her of our system, and by now she should realize I’d be right in the middle of lunch. Besides, do I really want to tell my daughter a few years later that I wasn’t at her birth because Mommy asked me about stuffed bunny rabbits and I was eating Indian chicken? No, that’s the kind of conversation she’d re-tell to Johnny, right before he laid her out a nice line of coke and threw her a rolled-up $1 bill, before lying to her about going out with the guys while he really goes out to hustle on the corner of 3rd and Vine. How did this happen to you, sweet little girl? Because Daddy didn’t care enough about me to help choose my bunny rabbit, and he missed my birth. …I’d better answer.

Me: Hello?
Her: …I also found a nice black bunny, and now I don’t know which one to buy.
Me:

Between chewing, I tell her to get the black one. You first-year psych students may want to analyse why I choose the black rabbit over the white one, and what that says about black men who live outside of their home country…but the simple answer is that black is the easiest to say with a mouthful of chicken. …That answer also sounds wonderfully racially loaded, but that’s just how it was. You try saying “white” with a mouthful of Indian chicken and see how well it comes out.

Again, a few moments later she sends me a picture of the rabbit in question.

We finish eating and are on our way out of the restaurant. Yet again, my phone rings. What now, a turquoise 40cm rabbit? I move to ignore, but having finished eating I don’t have a real reason not to answer it…and the image of my daughter doing coke lines flashes through my head. All right, better answer it.

Me: Hello?
Her: …I bought the 30cm white rabbit. Just thought you would like to know.
Me:

…Do I really need to post the image again?

I do find it interesting that of all the rabbits she proposed, the one she bought was the one I never actually recommended. Which confirms my suspicion that when women ask men a shopping question, they either don’t care what you have to say because ultimately they’re going to do what they want, or they are making a concerted effort to do the exact opposite of what the guy suggests. But hey, at least my daughter has a cute, white, 30cm bunny rabbit to play with?

But I think I need to have another talk with my wife on our new phone call system. Something tells me that she doesn’t quite get the concept.

Categories: Gaijin Chronicles

Message From A Father To His Unborn Daughter

September 29, 2010 94 comments

Hey. It’s me. Daddy.

You probably don’t know me that well yet. But I’m the voice you hear every now and then that’s not your Mommy’s, and sometimes you probably feel my hands as I search for your head, arm, leg, or whatever body part you happen to be kicking Mommy with. Once you are born, you’ll see me a lot more often.

And in less than a month, you’ll be out here, in the real world. And it’ll be my responsibility to take care of you, make sure you are always safe and sound, and guide you on the path to becoming a strong, good woman. …I don’t know if I’m allowed to say this, but right now, I’m absolutely terrified. I’m your Daddy, but in many ways I still feel like a child myself. I haven’t always made the right decisions…went west when I should have gone east, didn’t act when I shouldn’t, acted when I should have just observed…its a fairly long list. If you ever let me ramble on about my various adventures, you’re probably well aware of many of my mistakes. You also have probably noticed that I made a lot of big leaps in my life. I moved away from the warmth and security of my parents home to go tackle this thing called college. And I left behind friends, family, and everything I knew to go to a land where I barely understood the language and school children wanted to poke me where the sun doesn’t shine. I agreed to share my life with a person from that strange land who doesn’t speak my native language. All of these things came with their own set of anxiety and fears, but let me tell you, what I feel now as you get ready to join us out here eclipses all of that.

I’m scared…but don’t worry sweetie, Daddy will always be here.

When you learn to ride a bicycle for the first time, I’ll be there to pick you up and bandage up your scrapes. When you get the lead in the school play, I’ll be in the front row taking video and embarrassing you by making stupid faces. When you get your heart broken by your first real crush, I’ll be there with a box of Kleenex and a bucket of ice cream. When you graduate from high school and beyond, I’ll be bragging about my smart baby girl to anyone in the stands who hasn’t run away from me yet. When you get your first job, I’ll help you open up your bank account. And when you do find the guy you decide to share your life with and start up a new family, I’ll be there to hand you off to him with my blessings.

Like I said, I haven’t always made the best choices, I haven’t always been right in the end. But I promise to grow up alongside you.

Right now you are still a moving mass inside your Mommy’s stomach. But I know that you are the future. And I want you to have a good one. I want you to be strong, able to take care of yourself when the time comes to strike out on your own. I want you to feel like you can do anything, achieve anything, so long as you want it and work hard for it. I never want you to feel that because you are a woman, there will be things you can’t accomplish. Don’t sit around and wait for life to come to you – go out and grab it.

I want you to be whoever you want to be. Don’t let anyone tell you to behave or think in a certain way. If you want to play with action figures and video games, Daddy will save you a seat next to him and show you how to throw hadoukens, and how to make Optimus Prime transform into a truck so he can run over his enemies. …Of course, if you want to play with dolls and dress up, that’s fine too. I may not understand it as well, but I promise to attend all your tea parties.

I’m not ready to be a father yet. I don’t know if anyone is ever truly “ready”. So I ask you now, forgive my mistakes. Understand that my fear is born from not wanting to fail you. But know that I’m here, and I will always be here, no matter what happens. So sit tight, continue to enjoy your time with Mommy, and when you are ready, I’ll see you out here.

Categories: Gaijin Chronicles

Plight of the Grass-Eater

August 31, 2010 120 comments

Japan is currently in the middle of a crisis. No, not the over-powered yen. No, not the fact that Japan’s prized centenarians all seem to be “missing”. And no, Godzilla isn’t trying to turn Tokyo Tower into a giant toothpick. The current crisis now is the sudden rise of spineless, weak, wishy-washy guys. Grass-eaters.

In Japan, men are often classified as “niku-shoku” or “sou-shoku”. Translated, this means Meat-Eaters and Grass-Eaters, and translated even further, it means Alpha Males and Nice Guys. Now, despite what you might think, Japan used to be a country of Alpha Males. Men handled their shit, and if you didn’t like the jib of his vibe, then you could taste the cool steel of his trusty katana. Just look at this guy –

Japanese Bad-Ass

Bold, rugged, wild. He’s got that semi-crazy look in his eyes that lets you know he’d fucking chop off your leg if you looked at him the wrong way. He’ll slice down an army of samurai chumps with his left hand, and with his right hand make sweet, sweet love to 3 young virgins. He’s a Meat-Eater. This is what the Japanese guy used to be. But then, somewhere along the way, in a very short span of time, something went horribly, horribly wrong.

The wild, unshaven, mildly psychotic look gave way to hair spray, light makeup, and ambiguous clothing decisions. If you look at him the wrong way, he’ll whip out his trusty cell phone to text to his female friends about how uncomfortable some random stranger on the street made him feel. He’s got his men’s fashion magazine in his left hand, and a Starbucks espresso in his right. These days, I go into the men’s bathroom to see Japanese guys spend maybe one minute pissing, then five minutes fixing/adjusting their hair. They come out to find their girlfriends waiting for them. Just think about that for a minute there. A guy and girl go into their respective bathrooms at the same time…and the girl finishes first. This violates almost every law of the universe I know. And yet its happening here in Japan!

Being a Grass-Eater isn’t limited to just fashion of course. The typical Grass-Eater is not at all aggressive. While he’s good to have around for fashion tips and talking about love, he tends to lack the aggressive tendencies that women look for in men. In my last article, I told women to go out and get guys that they are interested in. This doesn’t mean that guys can sit back, grab a brewski, and enjoy having the pussy come to them for a change. No, I would expect men to continue approaching women. In my ideal world, both men and women approach each other, thereby doubling our general chances of finding and going on dates. Also, in my ideal world, women aren’t allowed to wear clothes after 5PM and any and all problems in the world would be settled with an honest game of Street Fighter. But that’s a story for another time.

While the passive-aggressive approach of the Grass-Eater is something not at all unique to Japan, what Japan has done with amazing and frightening skill is take it to extremes. Case Study 1: Japanese guys like young girls. I’m sure I’ve written about this before so I won’t go into great detail about it, but I imagine the appeal is in the girl being inexperienced and somewhat susceptible. Even if you are passive by nature, if your target is completely docile then you can be a hunter. Even cute bunny rabbits can hunt dead worms.

What’s particularly disturbing however is Case Study 2: Throw up our hands in utter defeat. Most Grass-Eaters eventually have a meltdown of some kind when it comes to the opposite sex. Ironically, this meltdown leads to them becoming Alpha Males. Some Grass-Eaters remain Grass-Eaters, and sort of resign themselves to a sad and lonely fate – which ultimately gets broken up when he and his circle of friends gets older, and the older woman who used to just be a friend comes to appreciate his Grass-Eater qualities. Or, she’s desperate, whichever works best. But extreme Japanese Grass-Eaters have not only just given up on the game, they’ve flat-off walked off the field. Lately, dating sim games have been gaining popularity here in Japan. Usually made for a portable system (PSP or Nintendo DS), they feature a gallery of animated cutey women that the player will befriend and eventually date. Women will ask questions with multiple choice answers, and if the player answers wrong he can always reset and choose over.

It’d be one thing if they only played these games recreationally, but some of them get really serious about it. Some even go as far as to celebrate the animated girl’s birthday…complete with cake, presents and everything.

…It’s a freakin animated character.

It gets worse. While I can’t remember the link where I saw it, for the same game there was a tour where a bunch of guys went on a “romantic retreat” weekend with their virtual girlfriends. The tourists were booked into single rooms with single beds. One guy interviewed showed how he allowed his virtual girlfriend to sleep on the bed (by lovingly placing his iPhone on the pillow), while he himself respectfully slept on the floor. “It’s not that kind of relationship” he explains. Now, let’s think about this for a moment. A true Alpha Male, in a single hotel room with a single bed, would probably make his female companion sleep on the couch, or offer to share the bed and find a way to make a move for sex. A strong yet courteous male may offer up the bed to the woman as a show of good faith, but would gladly share it if given the opportunity. A Grass-Eater, of course, gives up the bed with no hesitation – but it’s a special kind of Grass-Eater who offers up his bed and willingly sleeps on the floor – for a woman who doesn’t even exist. We have to invent a whole new category for this, because even bottom-tier Grass-Eaters would at least try to stick their dick in the iPhone or something.

And it would be easy to write this off as the weirdo section of the population and leave it at that. But the staggering truth is that games like Love Plus+ sold A LOT. And if it isn’t innocent blushing high school girls, then its some other passive animated woman, from Hatsune Miku to Rei Ayanami. Or loli-powered (non)animated women, like the girls super-group AKB48. Grass-Eating men are enough of a phenomenon for women to complain about it on TV talk shows and in real life conversations.

So how did this happen anyway? How did Japanese guys go from katana-wielding, “I’ll cut you down in the blink of an eye” hardasses, to guys who sleep on the floor as to not disrespect their polygonal girlfriends? I’m going to hold Japanese women responsible for this one. …Now, I know I seem to hold women accountable for a lot of the problems of the world. But women are the cause of most of the problems of the world, so I think that’s fair.

I don’t know when exactly, but at some point in time, Japanese women’s tastes started to swing towards the sissy. Maybe it started back in 2002, with Bae Yong Joon in Winter Sonata. Its a kind, sensitive man, who isn’t afraid to cry and show his feelings, and probably isn’t going to win any bar fights. And he’s pretty. Women went nuts over him – while “Yon-sama” is primarily popular with the older crowd, boy-groups like Arashi are racking up scores of female fans in their teens and twenties.

So what am I getting at? Men who just hit puberty are very impressionable. We undergo a fascinating transformation – we go from thinking girls are icky, to having an uncontrollable urge to stick our manhood into at least one of their holes. Unfortunately, there’s no type of instruction manual for that, so we have to learn by example. When a guy in the developmental stages sees girls his age swooning over the Yon-sama and Arashi type, this sets a precedent within his brain – this is what girls like, and if you want to be what girls like, you have to be like this. It may not even be an active choice, but something that just fires subconsciously in his brain. So the seed has been planted. Granted, Japanese guys have taken this sissy seed and watered and nurtured it into a massive pussy forest, but that’s just the special Japanese skill of taking everything to hardcore extremes.

But placing the blame does us no good now. Japanese girls are facing a critical lack of strong-willed, assertive guys, and we need to start thinking of ways to help them. Japanese men need a Nice Guy Revolution. And while I’d love to spearhead that campaign for them, I’m busy with work and life, and there’s also the tiny problem that I don’t really give a fuck (Grass-Eater Japanese guys helps to raise the stock of a Meat-Eater American guy such as myself, but I’m married anyway so I have no reason to care. So I don’t). I am willing to offer suggestions for getting on that Meat-Eater track though. We’ll have to save those for another day. And just hope that in the interim, Japanese guys don’t find a way to divorce their virtual girlfriends and be legally required to fork over half of everything they own in the preceding. You may scoff at the idea, but if there is a way to do it Japanese guys will find a way. The state of emergency is worse than you imagine.

Categories: Gaijin Chronicles

No Sex in The City

July 13, 2010 118 comments

Given some of the responses to a particular part of the last article I wrote, I felt compelled to write this one.  It feels kind of familiar, but I searched the archive and didn’t find it, so I think I haven’t written it before.  If I have…oh well.

Anyway, girls – yes, you too can have sex in Japan.

That sounds like a statement I shouldn’t even have to make.  Like it should just be so blatantly obvious, that actually verbalizing it could be considered an insult.  Kind of like walking up to a person and saying “So, you live on planet Earth, right?” or even walking up to Eddie Murphy and saying “Hey, so…you’re a black guy, right?”  But the fact that I even have to write about this just goes to show you how special Japan is.

First, I guess a general overview.  It should be common knowledge that women can get laid almost anytime they want.  I know that here, some of the female members of the audience are shaking their heads and saying out loud “that’s not true!”  If you happen to be a female who isn’t getting laid as much as you like, just know that its not because you can’t, but simply because of a lack of effort.

Yes ladies, you can get laid anytime you want.  Go to a bar or a club, or any sort of social setting like that.  Or hell, just go to Starbucks or a Barnes and Noble by yourself and loiter around for a bit.  If that method is unappealing to you, simply turn to one of your numerous male friends (I know you have them) and say “I need to have sex, could you help me out?”  Most of them will say yes.*  Even if that doesn’t work for you, the internet has given us a radical new option.  Just make a profile on any one of the adult-themed sites, and you will have hundreds of emails from guys offering it up.  You will have guys willing to drive in from out of state for the specific reason of boning you.  So really, all you need to do is let it be known that you want to have sex in the general presence of guys, and you will have men lining up to answer the call of booty.

*Here, I can hear some of the guys in the audience piping up “No, I wouldn’t hit any of my female friends!  It’d be too weird…”  To you, I say – stop lying.  That, or congratulations on getting enough sex in your life to the point where you can be fairly choosy about it.  If our female friends turned to us and said “I just want a night of sex – I promise it won’t get weird” and we actually believed that, most of us would take them up on that.  …That being said, there are a few female friends who I wouldn’t have sex with, but mostly because through all the sex talks we had, I know it wouldn’t be any good even if I did.  And ladies, if you turn to your male friends and ask “is this true?”, just know that he is probably not going to admit it, because if he did he knows you’re going to be looking at him with that “is he undressing me with his eyes right now?” look on your face, and he probably doesn’t get to hear about your sex life anymore.

For the most part, women don’t even have to make any effort.  Just go outside regularly, and you will have guys hitting on you at some point in time.  I know women who have made it their life’s creed to never ever ever approach a guy – this is the man’s job, and if he can’t do that then she isn’t interested.  So in these cases, its not even that the woman has no choices – she simply doesn’t like what’s available to her.  And here as well, I know there are going to be women who will say “I go outside and hit on guys all the time and get nowhere!  Guys have deemed me unattractive” – I will say that I can sympathize, because I’ve been turned down solely on looks before, it sucks.  I know your pain.  However, at the same time, go look up BBW porn, or any sort random fetish porn.  Realize that not only did these women get laid, but the guy doing it allowed himself to be caught on camera, and the fact that this is even a video means that there are guys out there who are going to jack off to this.  Almost every day in Japan I see couples where the girl is way below average but the guy is decent looking.  Ladies, unless you are actually the monster from Aliens, there is a guy out there somewhere willing to pork you.  And I would bet money that there are guys out there willing to pork the Aliens monster too.  You are not looking hard enough.

So hopefully, I have established that women, despite what they may say, can get laid anytime they want.  Again, this feels like saying “Hey everyone, the sky is blue!”, but sometimes a little review is nice.  Not all, but most women in America at least are accustomed to letting guys come to them.  So when they say they can’t get laid, its just a matter of not liking the selection.

And then we have Japan, which kind of turns the system on its head.

Foreign women don’t get approached so much in Japan.  Japanese guys don’t do it – they get scared and convince themselves of failure before they even start.  Other foreign guys don’t do it – a fair portion of the foreign male population has Japanese blinders on, and wouldn’t approach a Gaijin girl, even if she were, say, Jessica Alba, because she’s “not quite as attractive” as your average Japanese girl.  Yes, Yellow Fever is a frightening thing.  Then you have other foreign guys, who would be receptive to dating a fellow Gaijin, but we usually never get the chance because the J-girls have taken the initiative.

J-Girl:  Um, hello Mr. Gaijin.
Gaijin Guy:  Hello!  How are you?
J-Girl:  Fine, thank you.  And you?  Er…I was wondering if you could teach me English sometime.
Gaijin Guy:  Well, I don’t know, that is MORE English teaching on top of the English teaching I already get paid for…
J-Girl:  Well, perhaps we could just talk English while having dinner together.
Gaijin Guy:  That sounds a little bit more appealing.
J-Girl:  And I would also like to experience sex with a foreigner.
Gaijin Guy:  …Aaaaaaaand now we’re talking!

Literally not an exaggeration.

So while this goes on, Gaijin girls stick by their old system of…not doing anything.  And while this worked back home, here in Japan, it does not.  I knew foreign women here who were hornier than Hugh Hefner in his prime, who complained about never getting any YET never did anything about it!

Gaijin Girl:  Man, I’m so horny!  Why can’t I get laid here?
Me:  Well, what have you done to solve the problem?
Gaijin Girl:  I’ve been going to bars every weekend.
Me:  And?
Gaijin Girl:  I get dressed up real nice, put on the going-out makeup and everything.
Me:  And?
Gaijin Girl:  Nothing happens!  Nobody comes to talk to me!
Me:  Right.  And what happened when you tried to go talk to guys?
Gaijin Girl:  Oh no, I couldn’t do that.
Me:  But, can you really say that you tried to get laid if you just went out… and did nothing?
Gaijin Girl:  Back home when I went out guys would hit on me all the time.  But it doesn’t happen in Japan.  And now I don’t know what to do.
Me:  *facepalm*

The women who had these conversations with me, for the most part if they had just asked me I would have been willing to help out, but they never did.  Instead they just complained to me, a healthy and able-bodied male, about not getting laid, while I daydreamed about the things guys usually daydream about – sex, beer, drinking beer while having sex, nice cars, having sex in a nice car while driving somewhere where there is good beer, and Rice Krispie treats.

Even when I was still single, there were a few foreign women who caught my eye…but usually they got beat to the punch by a J-girl.

Gaijin Girl:  Hey Az!
Me:  Hey!  How’s it going?
Gaijin Girl:  Ah, not bad.  Just hanging out this weekend.
Me:  Yeah, me too.  If you are free, we should hang out sometime.
Gaijin Girl:  Yeah, that would be fun.  Well, let me know when.
Me:  Okay, will do!
Gaijin Girl:  *leaves*
Me:  She seems nice.  And she’s pretty hot.  I wonder how things will work out between us…
Random J-Girl:  Hello, large black man?  I would like to invite you on a date, which is really just killing time until we can go to a Love Hotel.  I wanna be struck by some chocolate thunder.  Are you free this weekend?
Me:  I…um…well…yes?

So yeah, the “do nothing” approach doesn’t work so well here.

If the Gaijin girl is willing to be more proactive – actively approach guys, talk to them, get their attention, then she can do well here.  Girls who do this get boyfriends and even get laid.  I’ve seen girls in bars pick out a guy, and within 10 minutes make it clear that she wanted to have sex with him.  And you know what she did that night?  It wasn’t crocheting, that’s for sure.  Although this is purely my personal observation, it seems as though American girls are the ones who have the most problems with this.  Non-Americans have no problems pulling guys, but the American ones are the ones who sit back and wonder why nothing happens when they do nothing.

So the message is clear: do something.  Be more proactive.  Go out and hit on guys.  Be downright aggressive.  And if that doesn’t sound appealing to you – what happens if I get rejected? – it’s embarrasing – too shy to do that – what will my friends think? – all I can really say to you is – Welcome to our world, ladies.  We men have had to do this ever since our hormones kicked in.  I have no sympathy for you.

Now, if you are looking for something more – a romance or real relationship, that’s harder.  It’s hard for guys as well, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.  But even for that, you still gotta be aggressive, and take the guy, Japanese, foreign or otherwise, away from the J-girls.

I didn’t write this to berate foreign girls.  On the contrary, I’m rooting for you.  I want to help you get laid (sounds kinda creepy doesn’t it…).  After all, if you are having more sex, then guys are having more sex – everyone is having more sex, and that’s a good thing, right?  Everybody is all satisfied and happy and Lucky Charms rainbows and shit.

Except for me.  I’m not having sex – pregnant wife.  But I want to help everyone else get laid, so I can live vicariously through you.  I want everyone in Japan to be properly knocking boots. Just think of me as the Santa Claus of sex.  In Japan.  Japanese sex Santa Claus.

…Yep, I think I have been here a wee bit too long.

Categories: Gaijin Chronicles

Summer Sucks

July 6, 2010 87 comments

I fucking hate summer in Japan.

Winter is, by far, the best season here.  By a landslide.  And yet, this is another thing that the Japanese just don’t understand about me (the fish allergy being #1 – “how can you not like fish?  It’s so delicious?  What?  Allergy?  You will die?  …Blasphemy!  Fish is made of nothing but rainbows and happiness.”).  Why do you like winter?  It’s so cold!  And…it’s so cold!  Did you forget about how cold it is?

Yes, winter is cold.  Suck it up, you panzies.  And its funny that I would say this, me being from California and all.  Because when it comes to weather, Californians are absolute 100% pussies.  We get all chilly and reach for our jackets when the weather drops to 70; meanwhile on the East Coast, people go outside wearing shorts and shit at -5, and laugh at those silly hippies.  “Look at those guys, wearing coats in 70 degree weather and with their Terminator governor and shit.”  The tradeoff is that while Californians are pussies when it comes to the weather, should the Earth start moving beneath us, we don’t really care unless the Richter scale reaches at least 7.

Anyway, back to summer.  Summer in Japan sucks for a multitude of reasons.  …What are those reasons?  I’m glad you asked!  Sit down and grab a Snickers because…well…y’know.

1.  It’s hotter and muggier than a sweaty dog’s fur.

The heat itself isn’t really a problem.  Japan actually doesn’t even get that hot.  But maybe I have no perspective on this – I lived in the SoCal desert for a few years.  Do you know what they call that region – Death Valley.  Yeah, Death Valley.  115 degree days were nothing.

Despite this, Japan is worse because the humidity level is at like 2000%.  You sweat simply because you exist.  I think, overall, you would end up drier if you just jumped directly into a swimming pool, as compared to walking around outside in Japan for 5 mintues.  While Death Valley was hot, it was dry hot, so it was much more bearable.  Given the choice, I would gladly spend a summer in Death Valley over Japan.

…Y’hear that Japan?  Your country in the summer is even worse than Death.

The humidity also means that, even when the sun goes down, the heat and mugginess stick around.  And that shit is just not fair.

Perhaps this would be bearable if I were a single guy, and could run my air conditioner 24/7.  And when I was a single guy, I did run my AC 24/7.  That’s not even a joke, I just never turned it off.  Why would I?  Even when I wasn’t home, if I turned it off then, when I did come home I’d have to put up with my room feeling like Sticky Maple Syrup Death for however long it took for the AC to fix the problem.  Funk that.  Instant gratification – the second I crossed my doorway, I was greeted by a cool and dry temperature, and that shit was wonderful.

All of that goes flying out of the window however should the single guy start dating.  Because Japanese women have some sort of mind-blowing allergy to air-conditioning.  “It’s cold!” she burrs as she goes to crank down the AC to 28 (82 in F).  Yes it’s cold, and that’s the point!  Eat more meat, get more body fat, and maybe you will learn to appreciate it!  God forbid you marry one, cause she won’t let you run it during the night, and you wake up at 4AM all hot and sweaty, and unfortunately not in the good way.

This is one area in which I sort of envy my female ex-patriot counterparts.  While they may complain about being perpetually single here in Japan, the trade-off is that at least they get to run the shit out of their air-conditioners.  Have an apartment as nice and frosty as the conditions between their legs.*

*Girls, don’t take too much offense to that…but if you ARE an expat female in Japan and you complain about having no sex life, yet you make no attempt to actually change this, despite the fact that unless you look like the bastard love child of Whoopi Goldberg and Danny DeVito you can pretty much go up to almost any guy and say “let’s have sex” and he will probably say yes….well, just know that I have no sympathy for you.  None.

2.  Japan’s “hidden” 5th season – biblical plague umbrellas.

Despite spring and summer supposedly being the best seasons of the year, rainy season happens to fall right between them.  And while it doesn’t rain everyday, it rains just enough to make you think that God hates this country and wants to drown it under a saucy river of steamy sky water.

Now, the rain itself isn’t that bad.  I actually like rain.  Yes, I like winter, and I like rain.  I’m special like that.  What bothers me most about this season is the umbrellas.  Maybe my memory isn’t that good, but as I recall, back in America the umbrellas only came out for substantial rain.  It had to be enough so that you would be actually wet, and continue to be wet unless you changed clothes.  Not for drizzling, or for the stuff that would get you moderately moist, but you’d be dry after 5 minutes indoors.

But Japan doesn’t play by these rules.  Even the slightest inkling of rain will produce umbrellas.  Even just the essence of rain is enough.  Never mind that they are only outside for maybe 5 minutes in between the train station and work/home.  No no, don’t want to melt in the nasty acid rain, gotta pop out that umbrella.    Why do I care?  Remember that Japanese people move in some sort of magical self-contained bubble, completely impervious to the outside world around them.  Now factor in that umbrellas only serve to make their radius wider, and given the height difference, most Japanese people hold them at about my eye-level.  …Yeah.

Maybe if it was just during rainy days, the umbrella hyper barrage would be tolerable.  But you should know by now that that’s not the case, now is it?  Japanese women also pop them out on sunny days.  Y’know, don’t want to get skin cancer and all.  No, wait, that reason would actually make sense, if this were Australia.  (Regardless of the status of the ozone layer over this country, I think the dense levels of smog alone will stop UV rays, and anything short of Galactus coming to eat the planet.  Even then, Galactus has a lot of smog to get through before he reaches Japan…)  No no, they just don’t want to ruin their beautiful white porcelain skin with an ugly dark tan.  As a member of a race who is permanently suntanned, I will refain from commenting too deeply on this.  I will only say this – sunburn – how does that work out for you guys?  Bwa ha ha ha ha!

Ahem.  I digress.  So the umbrellas come out on rainy days, sunny days…and overcast days!  Yes, overcast days!  I shit you not, it will be a cloudy day and there will still be women carrying umbrellas.  As a preemptive strike against either outcome?  What the hell I don’t even

So rainy season ends, and maybe one or two months later, we transistion nicely into…typhoon season!  Sweet!  And if you just thought “Well, surely Japanese people don’t carry umbrellas out in the typhoon!”, obviously you don’t live here.  My favorite part of typhoon season is watching the news, and them showing the one person crossing the bridge with the umbrella that’s getting thrashed by the raw natural elements.  This isn’t a recycled shot, they shoot this shot every year and show it I guess to shock and awe us over the power of the typhoon.  And while I guess I should be worried about the mini hurricane, I’m always rooting for the typhoons to mangle as many umbrellas as possible.

3.  Festivals suck ass.

So with the weather being so good (ha!), summer is prime festival season here in Japan.  And that’s a good thing, right?  An important part of Japanese culture?  A fun event the whole family can enjoy?  Wrong!

Festivals consist of little booths, where you can buy stuff like yakitori, yakisoba, takoyaki, whatever.  Nevermind that you can buy these things almost anywhere at anytime, and here at the festival they are especially overpriced.  Then they will have some summer-specific stuff like shaved ice, and maybe some games like the goldfish scooper thing.

And that’s about it.  No, really.

They may have one of those shrine things, that either people will carry around on their shoulders, or will be situated in the middle of the street.  But really, that’s about the extent of it.  Of course, there are like eleventy billion people there.  So you fight against hordes upon hordes of people to see a hand-held shrine and go buy some overpriced bar foods.  While I can understand the novelty of it at first, I’ve been here for 7 years and it has become beyond repetitive.  I would imagine that even the Penis Festival would get old at some point*.

*The funny thing about the Penis Festival, to me at least, is the hundreds of guys there with cameras to take pictures of girls eating penis-shaped candy and riding giant wooden phalluses (…Is Japan the only country where this sentence is even possible?  I think so!).  What exactly are you going to do with that picture?  Show it to friends?  “And this is a picture of some girl I don’t know riding atop a 5-foot wooden penis.”  It just seems weird to me to grab your camera and head out to some country bumpkin town so you can take pictures of girls you don’t even know playing around with glorified dildoes in a non-sexual manner.  I mean, wouldn’t downloading porn be a whole lot easier/faster/more satisfying?  I mean…shit.

Summer is also prime time for fireworks festivals.  Admittedly, the Japanese do put on a pretty good fireworks show.  However, to get to said show, again you have to fight against a crowd that rivals the population of Bangladesh, kill two salarymen and an obasan to get a spot to sit on the ground, and then considering that everyone goes home at exactly the same time, take 2 hours just to get to the train station, and then watch as the trains move so slowly, it would be faster to just ride piggyback on an elementary schooler to go home.  Can’t I just buy a Fireworks of the World Blu-Ray or something and eliminate the unneeded stress?

4.  Show me the skin….oh, wait.

In most other countries, for us guys, summer means girls in tank tops and oh so short shorts.  We may be hot and sweating, but hey, at least the scenery is nice.  I suppose maybe the same is true for women?  Hot guys shirtless and sweaty and shit?  I don’t know, I won’t pretend to know how the female mind works.  My impression of it is that its a direct opposite of the male mind.  So if we men like seeing beautiful women scantily clothed, I imagine the female turn on being a guy in an apron offering to cook dinner, clean the house, and then sit down and have a talk about his feelings for the next three hours.  That, or vampires who sparkle in the sunlight.  It’s that kind of shit that makes the female mind so baffling.

Anyway, summer and skin.  This is yet another area where Japan fails.  Forget about tank tops, because Japanese women don’t show cleavage.  Most of them don’t even have it, but the few that do don’t show it.  In fact, its just the opposite – they’re so paranoid over getting tanned that they wear more layers of clothing than they do in the winter.  Go figure that one out.

The shorts are the same story.  They wear short skirts all year round, so summer isn’t anything special.  Actually, I think the skirts get shorter in the winter.  I have nothing other than my hunches to lay stake to this claim; but other guys I’ve talked to feel the same way.  I would love to present some hard data as evidence, but I don’t think most women will allow me to go around measuring their skirt length.  Maybe if I could find a way to involve giant wooden phalluses in the process?

If you are a guy and you want to see some summer skin, pretty much the beach is your last refuge.  It’s actually a pretty damn good last refuge though.  Hundreds upon hundreds of bikini-clad beach babes…yeah…

I’m sorry, I went away for a minute there.  I’m back now.

Either way, I’m married, and all that eye candy is off-limits to me now anyway.  For me, its kind of like overload.  Imagine you’re on a diet – you might see a picture of a delicious cheesecake in a magazine or on TV or something, and you think “Mmm that’d be nice” but its not too bad.  But then some friends take you to the Cheesecake Factory and they all order huge portions of cheesecake and they look like they’re having orgasms while eating it simply from the delicious taste of it, and you have to stick to your diet and not eat one single bite.  At all.  Or your wife will divorce you and you lose half of everything you own.  That is why I don’t want to go to the beach anymore.

That paragraph probably only made sense if you are a married man.

Anyway.  In conclusion.  Between the horrible heat, shitty weather overall, overcrowded festivals and lack of any real redeeming qualities, summer is officially the worst season in Japan.  Despite that, nearly every Japanese person will say “summer” if you ask them what their favorite season is.   The reasoning?  “At least its not cold.”  And I thought Californians were bad when it came to weather.

***

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Categories: Gaijin Chronicles
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