Gaijin Smash

I See Dead People

Posted in Blog by gaijinsmashnet on January 21, 2006

I finished a sannensei class with Ms. Forehead in the Ghetto School. Most of the kids filed out pretty quickly, as we stayed behind to collect our things. One girl lingered on however. I remember her well from back when she was an ichinensei – she has very few friends, or none at all, is pretty quiet and keeps to herself most of the time. During class, when she thinks we’re not looking, instead of taking notes she scribbles drawings of anime characters (which she is actually quite skilled at). After all the students were long gone, she walked straight over to one of the walls and squatted down in front of it. This, by itself, wasn’t too weird. A little off, sure, but this girl had never quite been all together there to begin with. But there wasn’t anything to be concerned about … yet.
“What’s he saying today?” Ms. Forehead calls over to her casually. The girl raises a hand to silence her.
Um … what?
The girl remained her in squat position directly in front of the wall for a few moments before standing up. Ms. Forehead repeats her question – “What’d he say today?” “I dunno” the girl says. “He was mumbling, so I couldn’t really tell.” There was nobody there.
After the girl left, I asked somewhat nervously what that was all about. Ms. Forehead took a moment to think about how to phrase her answer, then said, “Ah, that girl, well, maybe she can see…” Here, Ms. Forehead took one of her trademark pauses to think of what she wanted to say next in English. As usual, my mind filled in the blank space for her but this time I actually verbalized my inner monologue. “Dead people?” I said, doing a mild riff on The Sixth Sense. Ms. Forehead snaps her fingers, her eyes go wide, and she excitedly exclaims “Yes, dead people!”
Ho shit?

Ms. Forehead continues. “Maybe she can see ghosts, or phantoms, something like that. She always talks to this little boy. But only she can see or hear him.” She leans in closer to me, as if this is some big secret. “But, there are no little boys that age in this school. So, we don’t know where he comes from. She’s been doing this, talking to the boy, since way back when.” Come to think of it, I can remember having seen her squat down every now and then over the past 2 and a half years, but it never was anything as pronounced as walking straight to a wall and squatting down in front of it, so I didn’t think anything of it. You mean, all that time, she’s been having conversations with dead people?
My immediate reaction was “why aren’t they helping this girl?” But of course, this is Japan, so a fifteen-year-old girl who, at best, entertains imaginary people and, at worst, sees dead people, is just “Oh, she’s a bit strange, isn’t she? It’s cute!” Where the hell is Bruce Willis when you really need him?! Stop pumping Eneos gas and get over here and help little Ms. Haley Joel Osment!
And yes, that is her new nickname now.
Special education classes do exist. I have 4 special education students in two of the schools (two in each). The funny thing is, except for one girl, I honestly don’t know why the other three are in special education classes. For the two kids at the Ghetto School, the one girl is, to me at least, smarter than some of the kids going through the regular classes. The boy is a bit weird, sure, but c’mon, kids are weird sometimes.
Okay, well, he’s a little more than just weird. He went through a particular period. I went to special education class with a female English teacher who is a bit older. The boy came bounding up to me – “Hey, ask me what my favorite type of video game is!” Ok sure, what’s your favorite type of video game? He goes behind the English teacher, and makes a motion as if he were strangling her by wire. He does this with a huge smile plastered across his face. “Oh!” the English teacher says laughing, “now he likes the very violent video game … maybe like murder.” The boy continues to fake strangle her. The teacher thinks absolutely nothing of this.
(10 years later) “He was always such a well behaved and quiet boy, we never imagined he’d strangle a young woman to death … much less do it 17 times in succession.
In Japan, you can’t really ask what is wrong with a student, nor can they just tell you. This boy had been attending the regular classes, so I was surprised to find him in the special class that day. I asked the strangulation teacher about it in a very roundabout and general way. “Oh, well, you see, he’s half Korean.” It turns out she was just going to dodge my question by explaining his personal history, but it’s still weird to have your “What ails this student?” question answered with “Well, he’s half Korean.”
Another time, I went to one of the regular classes with Ms. Forehead. The boy jumped up and wasted no time in making strangulation gestures behind her. Ms. Forehead laughs this off just as the other teacher did. I personally would be a bit bothered if one of my students was happily imitating killing me behind me, but I guess in Japan this is no big whoop.
Mom: Welcome home! How was work today?
Ms. Forehead: Well, Ms. Haley Joel talked to three new ghosts today, and Jakku Za Riipaa imitated killing me four times. All in all, a slow day.
Welcome to the Ghetto School. We produce more jiggers, clairvoyants, and would-be serial killers than any other junior high school in Kyoto Prefecture. Why am I not getting hazard pay again?


22 Responses

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  1. xRealNinjuzx said, on December 18, 2006 at 12:47 am

    You should hand your clairvoyant a telephone and tell her someone wants to talk to her, and see if she starts having a conversation with herself.

  2. Jody said, on December 18, 2006 at 1:59 am

    Haha Jakku Za Riipaa. Priceless. But disturbing.

  3. FlameAdder said, on December 18, 2006 at 2:12 am

    Kid kinda reminds me of me. Except here in North America, we did’t get away with that kind of stuff, as you can attest to.

  4. James said, on December 18, 2006 at 2:24 am

    I’d say about 3 or 4 of the kids in the special ed class at my school are capable of the same level of thought as the “normal” students, but they were just put in the special class because they were too quiet and anti-social to get along in the regular classes. I heard a 3rd year kid got down-graded today, so come January I’ll be able to teach another “tard.”
    Can’t say I’ve had a kid who talks to dead people, but one time an elementary school girl told me about a witch she met in a park once…

  5. Anonymous said, on December 18, 2006 at 3:41 am

    After all Japan is a Ghostly island
    as Hearn, Lafcadio put it.

  6. Anonymous said, on December 18, 2006 at 3:41 am

    After all Japan is a Ghostly island
    as Hearn, Lafcadio put it.

  7. Rich said, on December 18, 2006 at 4:53 am

    Another nice entry. Jakku Za Riipaa <- new best nickname.

  8. lubyloo said, on December 18, 2006 at 7:05 am

    here’s hoping that the imitation killing is just a phase… well, actually, let’s hope that the IMITATION killing continues.
    & i’m actually interested to find out of the boy ever talks back to ms haley joel osment – please keep us updated.

  9. Kikimaru said, on December 18, 2006 at 7:32 am

    You’re in Japan, buddy — you’re not working hard enough for your hazard pay! :p

  10. Gabe said, on December 18, 2006 at 3:44 pm

    WHy do you not get hazard pay?
    “Everyone suffers togeather.”
    So suffer Az, just like everyone else. And dont forget to take your butt medicine and lose some weight because you are not anorexic enough!

  11. Matt Metford said, on December 18, 2006 at 5:24 pm

    Now that’s fucked up right there.

  12. Mr. Bomberman said, on December 18, 2006 at 8:01 pm

    “I asked the strangulation teacher about it in a very roundabout and general way. “Oh, well, you see, he’s half Korean.”
    Yo, that’s fucked up.

  13. Jimmy Jack said, on December 19, 2006 at 9:46 am

    How can the Japanese hate Korea so much when Japan’s own beginning was as a colony of Korea? Fucking illogical!

  14. Mellie said, on December 20, 2006 at 10:11 pm

    OH MY GOSH. Man, you can get away with fake strangling your teacher in Japan?! Poor teachers. Man, you should get Hazard pay.

  15. Bazer said, on December 22, 2006 at 3:14 am

    Disturbingly, this is quite similar to my 14 year old little brother’s behavior sometimes, but’ he’s been diagnosed with something, and is on medication, which helps.. um, normalize his behavior.
    He seems to do the imitation killing mainly for attention. But occasionally he will swear to me he can execute fictional martial arts manurers that he saw in naruto. I dismissed it as relatively normal middle-schooler behavior, perhaps augmented by the psychological.. er, abnormality, but recently he developed a fixation with Role playing games. Eventualy i caved to his requests for my to DM a tabletop RPG with him, but all he did was kill people. I know that this is a major portion of many RPGs, but he would meet an NPC and say “I kill him. ” Shopkeeper tries to sell him a sword “I kill the shopkeeper and take the sword. ” Killing was his answer to everything. The RPG turned into his way of playing out his apparent fantasy of killing everyone. I discontinued his adventures, but i’m still a little worried about it. Of coarse, when he threatens classmates at school, or imitates kakashi’s “thousand years of pain manuvore, the teachers don’t put up with that. He gets taken care of with either disciplinary action, or a long discussion about appropriate, socially acceptable behavior. I do remember a time i had similar ‘quirks’ when i was his age, but i was home-schooled, and was defiantly never diagnosed with a psychological disorder. And i don’t recall and death-threats. Mostly I was anti-social because i was overly sensitive, and often misinterpreted roughhousing as genuine aggression.
    Anyhow, I don’t know how my brother’s gong to work out, but i just want to reassure you that jakku za riipaa is not a unique case. Wow this is a long comment.

  16. MrBlackCat said, on December 29, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    Perhaps in her view “Well, he’s half Korean.” explains it all. Those strange people from that other place.
    Perhaps it approximates the situation when someone from the one part of the USA goes to another part and does something stupid. Oftentimes “Well, he’s from the south.” or “Well, he’s from Alabama.” is all the explaination people need. As if stupid behavior is expected of people from other regions.

  17. me said, on February 7, 2007 at 11:13 am

    You obviously say that without knowing the history of hate and war between the two nations. “Well, you see he IS HALF KOREAN” is not specifying a location like a different state, she said it was because the kid was half different race (blood) in this case is Korean, which the Japanese think of as degenerates.

  18. E-Ping said, on February 25, 2007 at 7:19 am

    Is he Zainichi or just kid of a international marriage? And how is his Japanese skill? From the text he doesn’t appear too foreign.
    I’m a bit concerned because recently here in Taiwan, we have a similar situation where more and more kids are born with foreign mother, mostly South East Asian. Of course, we want them to assimilate to our culture, and the mother may have difficulties educating them (usually the fathers have lower social standards, so things get complicated), but the mothers and the kids shouldn’t be isolated and discriminated against.
    The clairvoyant story is: “WOW”.

  19. Jeff said, on March 16, 2007 at 2:26 am

    The girl’s response that “He was just mumbling” and that it’s been going on for more then a year really worries me on two counts.
    First this puts up all the red flags of Asperger’s syndrome and/or schizophrenia. Most people faking it will produce clear messages. However reports of mumbling or incoherent voices are huge flags. I would wonder how frequently she experiences these things. An EEG scan would traditionally be recommended to see if she has the tell tale brain patters associated with these.
    Even if she is afflicted there is still the genuine chance that she is a medium and that there are lingering spirits, impressions, or what have you sticking about the school. It would be an interesting test to have the place purified (I suppose introducing the scent of the Japanese yew tree would be traditional) and see if she still experiences the disturbance.
    Either or both of these things could be done to possibly make class a little easier for her.

  20. hanon said, on July 13, 2007 at 1:54 am

    and you didnt ask boy what game of mister 47 (hitman) he was playing or had he found some other series of cunning puzzle, timing and creative aproaches finding games disguised into violent games…. 😛

  21. Anonymous said, on December 18, 2007 at 12:47 am

    Er, Mr. Bomberman, what the heck? There have been people, and a civilization, in Japan for thousands of years. Korea had nothing to do with it. They did get Buddhism from Korea, and some other aspects of their culture, but saying that Japan was the result of a Korean colony is just flat out wrong.

  22. Garion said, on August 26, 2008 at 8:55 am

    The game’s Hitman, of course :))

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