Gaijin Smash

Summertime

Posted in Blog by gaijinsmashnet on August 23, 2005

Drums please! *drum beat* Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww yeah!
Think back if you will to your school days. Which, for some of you youngsters, you’re still in. It’s that last day before summer vacation. Your very last class. The teachers words melt into nothing as you stare at the clock. Just fifteen more minutes! The kid in front of you farts and blames it on you. Ordinarily, you would extract revenge, but not today! Today is special! Ten more minutes! You and your buddies exhange looks. No one’s said a word but you’ve all just arranged where and when you are going to meet later today. Five more minutes! The girl besides you hands you a note – “Wanna make out in the bathrooms afterschool?” Fuck you trick, ask me later….IT’S SUMMERTIME! You leave school for a whole 2 months!
“No more homework, no more books, no more teachers dirty looks” – I believe that’s how it went. Everyday is nothing but sleeping in late, meeting your friends by the pool, or the beach, or by Cletus’s front porch to do some good whittlin’, whatever floats your boat. Sure, there’s summer homework or whatever nonsense, but *everybody* knows you’re going to blow it off until the absolute last week/day/hour/pay the honor students to do it before summer vacation ends. Now is your time. Now is…summertime. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? The way summer should be, right?
Nuh-uh sucker, not in Japan. Why do those loafish activities when you can continue to work!


The kids actually do get a break from classes. But they still come to school everyday (Saturdays too…sometimes Sundays as well) for their sports clubs. It’s hotter than slow-roasted Death, especially in Kyoto, and there the kids are, out in the sun, laboring away in their baseball/track and field/soccer/tennis/whatever club. …And Japanese people wonder why they have smaller bodies, YOU ARE KFC-HONEY ROASTING YOURSELVES.
As a result, all of my kids develop these wonderful tans that make me completely forget who they are.
Student: Hey! Hey teacher! Hey, it’s me!
Me: ….OH MY GOD DARKNESS IS SPREADING!
Student: ….Teacher?
Me: ……….Oh. Oh! It’s you, Tanaka-san. Heh, didn’t recognize you for a second there.
(Cultural note – when some of the girls get older, they’ll walk around under umbrellas to actually prevent themselves from getting a tan. Cause in Japan, White is Right.)
And while the kids are out there sweating and getting cooked in the Colonel’s special seven sauces, the teachers are right along besides them. Well, in the air-conditioned teachers room, but they’re out there in spirit damnit. Not even the teachers get a break during the summer. Before classes let out, I actually decided to pay attention to the daily morning meeting for once. The principal stood up and said something to the effect of “Now, summer vacation is coming up. Of course, you are all entitled to your paid vacation time, and you’re more than welcome to take it. But, the kids will be coming here everyday for their sports clubs, and I think they might be happy to come to school and see your smiling face. …Of course, it’s not *mandatory* to come to school, as I said, please, if you want to take your paid vacation, please do so. But I do think the students would be happy to see all your smiling faces over the summer.”
Run this through the Japanese Indirectness Translator…
“Come to work. Everyday. The kids will suffer, we will suffer, we will all suffer together splendidly. If you are not suffering, you are not Japanese.”
Of course it’s not all bleak. I sometimes see kids coming and going to various fun events, so they do get somewhat of a break. I even caught two of my students from the Ghetto School on a date at a fireworks show. …….And I soooooooooooooooooooooo wanted to ruin their date too, sweet sweet revenge for all the embarrassing girlfriend/sex questions they hit me with on a daily basis. “Hey Mr….Ms…..OH MY GOD ARE YOU ON A DATE? HAVE YOU KISSED YET? WHEN’S THE WEDDING? I’M COMING, RIGHT?!” But again I decided to play Mr. Nice Teacher and not ruin their shit. Night-time fireworks on a hot summer night, sounds almost magical doesn’t it? Last thing they needed was their big black English teacher jumping in the middle of that.
But I did make sure to snap a picture of them holding hands with my camera phone. Blackmail material – you can never have too much! *thumbs up*
As an assistant English teacher, having no classes or sports club responsibilites, my job shifts to the Board of Education, where I spend seven hours gazing lifelessly into a computer screen, and having the 34,947th conversation (since morning) about how hot it is with the office lady who sits next to me (then in the winter, Japanese people will constantly talk about how cold it is. The Circle of Life). Oh yeah, they also ask me every 5.2 seconds if I’m going back to America this summer. Nope. Japan’s hot, isn’t it? Yep. Unfortunately, there are no news crews around to ask us if it’s hot. ……..Yet.
Conversation isn’t just limited to “it’s hot”, no no. Interesting point about Az # 43 – I’m allergic to fish. Deathly allergic. I eat it, and my throat swells up, I can’t breathe, and I die allergic. Just the smell of fresh fish is enough to send my skin crawling allergic.
…Boy, did I come to the right country, huh? Two years later, I’m mildly surprised I’m still alive.
Anyway, the fish allergy is something the Japanese have the hardest time comprehending, because you know, all humans eat fish (I actually was hit with this at one point). The BOE Division Chief in particular couldn’t quite wrap his mind around the concept.
Chief: You’re allergic to fish? All fish?
Me: Yep. If I eat fish, I die. I kind of don’t want to die, so…
Chief: Salmon?
Me: Yep.
Chief: Trout?
Me: Yep.
Chief: Carp?
Me: Yep.
Chief: Octopus?
Me: Yep.
Chief: Eel?
Me: Wouldn’t eat that even if it didn’ t kill me, but yep.
Chief: Shrimp?
Me: Well, no…
Chief: A-ha!
Me: But I hate shrimp.
Chief: …..Oh. ….Crab?
This conversation takes place once every two weeks.
Every now and then, he’ll just randomly throw a sea-faring animal at me, maybe he’s trying to catch me off-guard or something. My general rule of eating is if it doesn’t walk on land or fly in the air, I’m not putting it in my mouth. He, much like many other Japanese people, just can’t comprehend this. “Fish is delicious!” they say. Well, good for you. Hey, me not eating fish is good for *you*! More for you. And it means more steak for me too. Hey, everybody’s a winner.
When it’s not about the fish allergy, then it’s random assorted questions about America. Which usually have to do with the weather. But occasionally they cover other things too. Which is kind of cool, but really show just how sheltered/isolated Japan is. Like when the office lady next to me was talking about the various different fireworks festivals that were happening in Japan. She turned to me, and asked, “Oh, does America have fireworks too?”
…………..OF COURSE WE HAVE FIREWORKS TOO! WE HAVE *LOTS* OF THINGS! WE’RE NOT GILLIGAN’S ISLAND!
And y’know what? Dare I say it, our fireworks are actually *better*. We’re America. We’re very good at blowing shit up, as many other countries can attest to.

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30 Responses

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  1. Michael Powell said, on October 25, 2006 at 12:43 pm

    “And y’know what? Dare I say it, our fireworks are actually *better*. We’re America. We’re very good at blowing shit up, as many other countries can attest to.”
    Shit, Japan ought to know that by now.

  2. Fatal Error said, on October 25, 2006 at 1:42 pm

    Damn straight we know how to blow things up! Great as always AZ. If only we could figure out how to blow up Oprah…

  3. Meg said, on October 25, 2006 at 2:11 pm

    xD When my foreign exchange sister came back to America with me this last summer I think we exploded the poor girl’s mind. Lazing around all day, going to concerts, and other random caffiene-induced manias…. I’ll never forget our last conversation before she went home, in which she told me she wants to come to America because, “Japanese boys are kimoi.” >_> Eh heh heh.

  4. death-by-spoon said, on October 25, 2006 at 4:34 pm

    I gotta say, I absolutley love this entry. It has some of my favorite quotes of yours;
    “OH MY GOD DARKNESS IS SPREADING!”
    “Come to work. Everyday. The kids will suffer, we will suffer, we will all suffer together splendidly. If you are not suffering, you are not Japanese.”
    “Blackmail material – you can never have too much! *thumbs up*”
    and of course, the fish dialog.
    (All that’s missing is Noisy Fucker and “You will never be cool on a scooter!”)
    Keep going with the great work, hurry up and post all of the entries too! I hope you get a book deal one day; I will be buying it and wish to get an autograph XD

  5. Lishia said, on October 25, 2006 at 5:13 pm

    Your hilarious articles helped brighten up my sick-as-a-dog day. Thank you so much!
    “Me: ….OH MY GOD DARKNESS IS SPREADING!”
    Yeah, I nearly fell off my chair on that one. Keep them coming!

  6. Ania said, on October 25, 2006 at 5:15 pm

    Exactly. Our fireworks blow everyone else’s out of the water. We’re just that great.

  7. zen said, on October 25, 2006 at 5:25 pm

    Your blog is great. You have a gift for a way of word painting. I’m glad the kancho threat has passed.
    I hope you are keeping these stories for a book!
    I am blocked at work from comments as this is listed as a tastless site LOL.
    today I have my laptop and am wireless… so maybe
    gambatte!

  8. Anthony said, on October 25, 2006 at 5:52 pm

    Naw the best quote has to be this “Hey Mr….Ms…..OH MY GOD ARE YOU ON A DATE? HAVE YOU KISSED YET? WHEN’S THE WEDDING? I’M COMING, RIGHT?!”
    I gotta try that on someone

  9. Brad said, on October 25, 2006 at 6:31 pm

    I have to believe that somewhere in Japan, there are a couple natives who are allergic to fish. Evolution’s crafty, but it does blink every so often.

  10. Rikki said, on October 25, 2006 at 7:06 pm

    You should tell them you’re a vegan. No meat, no dairy, nothing processed. I wonder how bad they’d flip their shit.

  11. Oz said, on October 25, 2006 at 7:40 pm

    Dude, maybe it’s because I’m from Detroit, but I was in the BFE that is WAKAYAMA and the fireworks were better than anything I’d ever seen.

  12. Jeffrey Friedl said, on October 25, 2006 at 9:56 pm

    Check out the Obon fireworks in Matsushima (just south of Sendai). I’ve seen many amazing fireworks shows across America, but the Matsushima one was an order of magnitude better than anything I ever saw in America. After 45 minutes and the finale, I was writing in my diary how friggin’ spectacular it was and they started up again — they’d just been getting warmed up. It went on for 45 more minutes of non-stop “finale”.

  13. Disappointed said, on October 25, 2006 at 9:57 pm

    Great post – if it was summer. It’s autumn. You’ve continued to show a lack of regard for your original readers by reposting past material without stating the fact, and are showing a similar lack of regard for new readers by trying to pass your old writing off as brand new.
    At least say you’re recycling old stuff somewhere up front on your page, not by responding to people who point it out in the comments section. That would be the honest thing to do. New readers are naturally presuming that they’re reading new writing, and are commenting on it as such.
    By doing so, you would also cancel the negative feedback you’ve received regarding this. I can’t understand why you haven’t done so already.
    I understand that you think this is somehow going to lead to a book deal, but your writing talent is currently outshone by your lack of respect and consideration for your readership. It’s unbecoming of a professional writer, or someone who aspires to be one such as yourself.
    (Az’s Note – I can’t post original dates because this system is automated. If I did, it would move all the way to the back of the archive and not be seen. When the post goes to the archive, I can change the date there, which is what I am doing now.
    Please try to understand how and why something works before criticizing it.)

  14. Disappointed said, on October 26, 2006 at 1:38 am

    I didn’t say anything about posting the original dates. What I said was:
    “At least say you’re recycling old stuff somewhere up front on your page, not by responding to people who point it out in the comments section.”
    I’m talking about putting a message somewhere prominent on your site, such as the introductory blurb on the top page. One sentence explaining that you’re posting a mix of (mostly) old and new material would at least acknowledge your original readership and enlighten newcomers.
    As for not being able to post the original dates because the system is automated, why can’t you just add a few words saying “this was originally posted on [date] at Outpost Nine” to the body of your reposts? Unless you have no editorial access to your posts, which seems unlikely, saying you have no way of posting original dates seems rather disingenous.
    If in fact you are for some reason unable to make any changes or additions to your reposts, I apologize for not “understanding how and why” your site works.
    I think you have a great thing going with your “I am a Japanese schoolteacher” writing, but on the other hand you show a disappointing lack of consideration for your audience. This is your site of course, and you can do what you want with it. But if you don’t care about the opinions of people who visit and enjoy(ed) it, then why bother?

  15. Jeff said, on October 26, 2006 at 2:30 am

    ( To the above )
    Shhh. Go make Az a sandwich.

  16. Azrael said, on October 26, 2006 at 2:42 am

    I will admit, I put the date thing at the bottom of my “to do” list because I just don’t understand it. Isn’t it just a bunch of numbers? How does it affect what’s contained in the actual writing?
    It took me a little while before I became more familiar with this system and figured out that I could go and backdate stuff without messing things up. I suppose I could have added a “Originally Posted on…” note. But like I said, this is an automated system, and that would involve me going into every editorial and manually adding that in. …Which would be very tedious and I don’t really have the time for that.
    I dislike the opinion that I don’t care about the opinions of fans. I stayed on OP9, ad-free, for a long time because of the fans. I knew this move wasn’t going to go over well but I felt it was something I needed to do, and hoped the fans would understand (the response was less than stellar). I could very well sit back and enjoy my vacation while the archives are being reposted (and I certainly could use the time), but I’m trying to provide the new Thursday content for the old fans.
    I’d also hope that people would understand that I have a life outside of this, which can become tumultuous at times, which means that if I have to sacrifice something somewhere for the sake of friends, family, work, etc, time for this is probably going to be it. I try my best, but in the end I’m still human.

  17. Considerably less disappointed said, on October 26, 2006 at 4:29 am

    Azrael, I really appreciate you taking the time to reply at length. Don’t want to take up any more of your time.
    Perhaps I’m taking all of this a bit too seriously, but I mean well; I’d happily make you a sandwich if given the opportunity (you too Jeff). My comments weren’t intended as a diss, but looking back at the vitriol you’ve received due to the move to this site I can understand how they may have been interpreted as such.
    I still think there are improvements you could make to this site that wouldn’t require much time and effort (e.g. pasting “New!” or “Repost” into the text), but would go a long way to clarify what you’re trying to do. Adding dates to your entries, or at least a statement pointing out that most of them are reruns, wouldn’t be pointless: at the very least, new readers are obviously commenting on things you’ve written thinking that they have just happened to you, not realizing they’re history.
    I’ll leave it at that. Good luck with your writing, and thanks for listening.

  18. Josh said, on October 26, 2006 at 9:33 am

    Yeah, the dates are really annoying me. I think you should just be honest with the timeline. It’s just sort of strange.

  19. Joe said, on October 26, 2006 at 10:56 am

    As a new reader, I don’t care about the dates. The stories are just cool.
    I can see how people who have already seen this once before would feel differently.

  20. A. said, on October 26, 2006 at 10:59 am

    “because you know, all humans eat fish”
    Including vegetarians. *twitch*
    Actually, I’ve had mostly good experiences at Japanese restaurants, but there was the one where I even asked before hand if the “veggie” dish was vegetarian, and the waitress assured me that it was.. And then it came out full of fish. Like, I couldn’t even just move it out of the way, because I would have been left starving.

  21. Marty said, on October 26, 2006 at 7:45 pm

    “Disappointed”… get over it. Az assumes we’re not all idiots. I, for instance, am a new reader, and I got the hint pretty quickly this was recycled stuff (he mentions a few times that “this was 6 months after I broke up with the ex,” etc.)

  22. Amanda said, on October 29, 2006 at 5:18 am

    My students have asked me if we have hayfever in the UK, if we have four seasons and if we have spring time. I have also many times been told about my culture by guide-book reading colleagues. Most of the information is very odd and not true but whenever I say that it isn’t right I get shouted down – “it’s in the guidebook (written by a Japanese) so it’s correct. You might have lived in the UK all your life but you just don’t know what it’s like”. Eh??

  23. Simple said, on October 30, 2006 at 2:51 am

    Gotta suck that you’re allergic to octopus. Takoyaki is fantastic. Had some yesterday… 😛

  24. Corey said, on February 19, 2007 at 3:44 am

    I get the same thing with apples, I didn’t think it was such a rarity in Canada to be allergic to apples but noooo everyones completely shocked once they find out.
    Well recently i have been noticing the timelines are a little weird, although I’m a new reader, and thankfully i read i bit of these comments so now at least everything is clear to me now. Although I am still curious how old these really are (they’re already old to me, 2 yrs ago, but now I’m even more curious as to just how old these are).

  25. nick said, on July 3, 2007 at 8:32 am

    I had a music teacher two years ago ask me if we had toothpicks in America.
    *sigh*

  26. Ceri Cat said, on September 26, 2007 at 8:16 am

    Some things haven’t changed in hundreds of years, which is a blessing in itself in some ways (sorry mate but Americanization has seriously damaged a very fascinating culture). The less marked by sun a woman’s skin is the greater her “beauty” in their eyes, I don’t really get it myself Az so I can forgive you for head scratching at the eccentricity of the culture.
    If any outsider ever truly understands Japanese society of any era, I’d have to call them a liar. They’re a complicated people.

  27. R said, on September 28, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    Why are people commenting on something so old?
    For some reason, people like to look like the well-to-do. Who don’t need to work in the field, so never get tan.

  28. Lex said, on March 12, 2008 at 6:33 pm

    Well of course fireworks are better here, we blow all kinds of shit up, cars, buildings, Japan, small children, Japan, tires, Japan, houses, Japan, and oh yeah, Japan.

  29. Anonymous said, on September 10, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    When I was teaching in Japan I had a junior high student who was allergic to fish. The lunch ladies made him special little omelettes and stuff whenever the rest of us were eating fish. He was really cheerful about the whole thing.

  30. Anonymous said, on September 10, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    When I was teaching in Japan I had a junior high student who was allergic to fish. The lunch ladies made him special little omelettes and stuff whenever the rest of us were eating fish. He was really cheerful about the whole thing.


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