Home > I Am a Japanese School Teacher > Japanese People Say the Darndest Things

Japanese People Say the Darndest Things

Randomness from all across the board.

I was talking with one of my English teachers (the one with the big-headed boyfriend) and somehow we got on the topic of American sayings. She asked me to teach her some, so I started with, “Don’t beat around the bush.” I thought this would be appropriate, living in the Capital of Indirectness and all.

As I was explaining the meaning, she pointed to the “bush” at the end of the sentence and said, “Oh… is this Prime Minister Bush?”

He’s a Prime Minister now?! What’s been going on in America since I’ve been gone? And why are we beating around him?


One day in a ninensei class at the Ghetto School, a boy called me over to ask a question. When I got there, he said what I heard to be “Shit in the pool?” I was disgusted, and told him to never, ever do that! Turns out though, I just heard him wrong.

Quick Japanese Lesson: The student said “Poo tte unko?” He was asking me if “poo” meant “shit.” I however heard “Pool de unko,” which means “shit in the pool.” See how the little differences can throw a whole sentence completely out of whack? Ah, I love languages.

The student realized that I’d heard him wrong, and tried to demonstrate that he was saying “poo.” This involved him clinching his fists near his face and making a “Hunnngh!” noise while he scrunched his face up. Kid, I don’t know what kind of shits you’re taking, but that can’t be healthy. The whole gesture was pretty hilarious, and it succeeded in cracking me up, as well as the girl sitting next to him. For the rest of the class, she pestered him to, “Do it again! Do it again!” but he held strong and didn’t make anymore Powerbomb Shit gestures.

As I left the class however, I passed that girl in the hallway. She bent her knees into a weightlifter’s stance, raised her clinched fists high up in the air, and gave me a hearty “Poo! Hunngh!” as I walked by.

I think I liked it better when they just screamed “Breasts!” at me.


I was at the gym with a female Japanese friend. We were watching the news on TV when suddenly she turned to me and asked, “So, you’re American, right? How many guns do you have?”

Notice the word usage here. Not “if” I have guns, no! “How many” guns do I have. Because surely, as a red-blooded American, I own guns. Yee-haw, when I’m not drinkin’ my root beer and eating myself damn to death, I sure love me to shoot some stuff! *thumbs up*

Clearly, I needed to set her straight. I pointed my first finger at her in the classic, “Now let me tell you something…” pose, but before words could escape my mouth, she innocently said, “Oh, only one gun?”

Somewhere in the world, I imagine Charlton Heston is quite pleased with himself.


I used to talk quite a bit with the nurse at one of my schools. We came from the same direction, so we’d meet up at the bus station and go in to school together. I always talked to her in Japanese. One day I had to legitimately go see her (I messed up my hands trying to hit home runs for the baseball club) and she responded to me in English! We had a nice conversation from there.

She was recently transferred to a different school, but it’s the elementary school next to my Jr. High, so we still ride the bus together. One morning at the bus stop, I asked how she was, and she told me, “Not so good. My feelings are kind of hurt.” I asked what was wrong, and she took a minute to try to figure out how to properly describe what’d happened. After thinking on it, she said, “Yesterday, a doctor came to the school to give examinations to all the kids and teachers. When the doctor gave me my exam, he said I was too fat!”

Yes, Japanese people are harsh when it comes to weight. And the doctors here suck, I told you! This isn’t the first time I’d heard something like this though. When I first came, there was a girl at the Ghetto School who had a broken foot. Now I won’t lie, she’s kind of big- not fat, chubby, or even chunky. She just has a bigger body, that’s all. And she’s still a lot smaller than many schoolkids her age back in the States. At that time I didn’t have the Japanese vocabulary to ask her how she’d broken her foot, so I asked the vice principal who used to be an English teacher. His answer was, “Oh, she was hiking up a mountain with her family when she stepped down wrong, and broke the bone in her foot. I guess her body is too big for her foot to properly support it.” This was my very first week to work in a Japanese school, and I was floored to hear such a thing, from the Vice Principal no less.

I was kind of amused to hear that this had happened to my nurse friend. She’s not even fat! Granted, she’s not the anorexic stick that many Japanese women are, but hey, that’s a good thing. She has tits and ass! She has a womanly figure! And nice, big red lips that could probably suck the skin off an apple. Maybe this is the brotha in my blood finally emerging, but she’s got some meat on her bones, and compared to the Olive Oyl’s walking around on a daily basis, it’s a damn good thing.

If you couldn’t tell by now, I’d definitely hit it. I’d hit that shit like a McDonalds double cheeseburger.


In my town, we have an organization of townsfolk who are “internationally minded.” They meet every now and then to try to promote global and cultural awareness. One of my English teachers, who just recently retired, decided that with his newfound free time that he was going to invest himself more into this organization, and asked if I would help out. I really liked working with him a lot, so I promised I would go to the events and lend a hand.

One such event was a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, which was actually conducted in English! It was very interesting and culturally enriching, but not too exciting produced in text so I’ll move along.

Afterwards, my retired English teacher (who is very much like the friendly old grandfather next door) gave a basic lesson to those in attendance, which included a group of high school girls whom I happened to be sitting next to. In part of the lesson, the teacher held up flash cards with English words on them, and everyone else tried to guess what it meant in Japanese. Safe enough, right? Well, the teacher held up a flashcard that read “cockroach.” He was greeted by vacant stares. So he decided to help them out, give them a hint or two. Previously, we’d done “firefly,” and one of the high school girls was able to figure out what it meant by separating “fire” and “fly” and guessing. Some of you may already see where this is headed.

So he said, “Ah, sometimes it works to break the word down into smaller clues.” He folded the flash card in half, “Az, what is ‘cock’?”

I can honestly say I’d hoped to go my whole life without a grandfather-like figure asking me, “What is cock?” Nope, I can scratch that off the list now.

This completely floored me, and I couldn’t just explain why to them. It certainly didn’t help that I was sitting next to high school girls, who didn’t understand what was so funny, and really wanted to continue the lesson. “What’s wrong? What’s so funny? And… what is cock?”

At least I wasn’t sitting next to the old ladies.


In a ninensei class at the Ghetto School, a boy called me over to ask how many girlfriends I had. I smiled and told him none. He didn’t quite believe me though.

Him: Yeah you do.
Me: No I don’t.
Him: Yeah you do.

This exchange goes on for another few lines.

Him: I saw you with a girl at the train station last week.
Me: What, her? Oh, that’s just a friend.
Him: Oh, but I saw you with a different girl at the convenience store last month!

Boy, this kid sure does get around town

Me: Oh, she was just a friend too.
Him: You really have a lot of female friends, huh?
Me: I guess I do. My blessing, my curse.
Him: What’s the matter? Not good enough at sex?
Me: WHAT THE FU– Shut up kid!

For the record, I am “good enough at sex.” Let’s just clear the air of that right now. Also for the record, this is the same boy who asked the Americanized teacher if she was a virgin. I tried to just walk away at this point, but he wasn’t quite finished.

Him: Oh, but what about the real girlfriend? The one you had pictures of! I know I saw you with her last December.
Me: Sigh. Yes. She was here last December. But we broke up in January.
Him: Oh really? Oh yeah, that’s right! She cheated on you with like three or four different guys and left you for some other American guy, right?

How the hell did he know that? I know I didn’t tell him. I turned to look at my teacher, who knows the whole story, but conveniently she was in another part of the classroom helping some girls with their assignment.

Me: Enough already, do your assignment.

Here, I tried to change the subject and get him back on track. I didn’t actually expect this to work, but I still felt obligated to try.

Unfortunately, from behind him, another boy corrected him. “No, the last guy wasn’t American, he was from some other country.” How the hell did he know that? I really gotta have a talk with this teacher.

Him: Oh yeah, that’s right! He was from somewhere else. Where was it, Singapore?
Me: No, it wasn’t Singapore, but would you-
Him: Malaysia?
Me: No, but-
Him: Indonesia?

The boy continued to name random countries up until the end of class. It was starting to sound like Yakko’s “Countries of the World” song from Animaniacs, except a whole lot less fun. For me at least.

Incidentally, the correct answer would have been England.

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