Japanese Free Time

Quite a few years ago, before I set foot in the Japans, there was a policy shift in the Japanese school system. They stopped holding Saturday classes and cut back on some coursework. It seemed a step in the right direction. It was supposed to help invigorate the youth, help them to more independently discover […]

Japanese Thanksgiving

This year, Japanese Labor Day fell on Friday the 23rd of November. This coincided nicely with American Thanksgiving (Thursday, November 22nd). So we took advantage of this synchronization by assembling our own massive meal. (Well, my expert chef wife did all the cooking.) Most of these ingredients were purchased at Costco, or found at local […]

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 […]

Presence Over Production

The Japanese workplace is a funny thing. I’ve railed for years about my utter dislike for the サラリーマン (salaryman) and Japan’s work/life imbalance. These cultural deficiencies have led to one of least productive work forces in the OECD. That’s right, the nation that averages some of the longest working hours per week, produces the least. […]

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. […]