Death & Destruction of Japanese Domiciles

With an aging society (as discussed earlier), you would expects there to be a huge surge in available home to purchase. But you would be terribly wrong. In fact, because of a variety of cultural-economic issues, purchasing a used home is anathema to the Japanese way of life. This saddens me because every day I […]

Geriatric Japan

Everyone knows Japan has a demographic problem. It’s society is aging rapidly, and this is constantly referenced in economic projections for the coming decades. But what does that mean on the ground, away from the statistics? I’m no spring chicken. I’m approaching forty at the time of this post. But on my daily commute and […]

Japan’s English Problem

It’s the elephant in the room. Observers of Japan will complain about the school system, the testing, the monolithic nature of it all. Sometimes they talk about the textbooks. All of these are valid issues, and all hinder students’ ability to learn the language well. My favorite is when they scapegoat the ALT (Assistant Language […]

Ode to the Salaryman

Recently I received some correspondence asking for my insights into Japanese culture, in particular the concept of “salaryman” (サラリーマン). Although my response may seem harsh, possibly exaggerated, the grain of truth runs deep. I’ve had to slightly edit my original response, but much of it remains intact. I may have been in a slightly jaded […]

Japanese School Lunch

The one and only thing Japan does well in regards to their school system is school lunch (給食, kyushoku). Each day, for a very reduced fee, elementary and most junior high schools, provide a highly balance Japanese style lunch. Each calorie and nutrient is carefully considered. Sugar and processed foods are kept to a minimum. […]

The Robotic “Ohayou!” Bell

I often joke about how the Japanese people are basically automatons, who mindlessly shuffle through their days, responding to stimuli much like one of Pavlov’s dogs, predictably and without spontaneity. Well, this actually isn’t a joke in most circumstances. Each morning I arrive at my desk around 7:45. I do this primarily so the vice […]

5 Reasons I Don’t Say Hello

I don’t respond to Japanese children (or adults) who say “hello” to me on the street. My reasons are varied: #1 By responding, you are reinforcing the widely held view that all foreigners of Western distinction speak English decently. Japanese children need to become more aware that this is not the case. #2 I don’t […]

Trump Cards

One of the most annoying aspects of the Trump presidency, beside having that asshole as the talking head for my birth nation, is the fact that in Japan playing cards (A234…JQK) are called Trump (トランプ). So, even though political discourse never makes it way into my lessons, I do occationally use playing cards as a […]

“I apologize for my father’s death”

Here in good old Nippon, where much of the burden of caring for the elderly is placed on sons and daughters, the realities of such dynamics are clearly evident in the workplace. And even though it is seen as an honorable thing to care for one’s family, missing a day of work can easily wipe […]

Halloween is for Children

No other Western holiday, transferred to the shores of Asia, annoys me more than Halloween. Here in Japan, though your occasional kindergarten might hold Halloween events, the holiday seems to be reserved for 20 something Japanese pseudo-eccentrics and patisseries looking to make a buck. There are Halloween themed nomikais (drinking parties), and Halloween hook ups […]