Gaijin Smash Original Content
I think I mentioned in the Bathing Gaijin editorial, I’m no longer all hung up about being naked in public. It really only took me almost dying a horrible, miserable death to cure me of my modesty. Considering how expensive good counseling is these days, I think I got a bargain.
In September of my second year in Japan, the Kyoto JET’s organized a trip to climb up Mt. Fuji.
Now, I’m not much of an outdoors man. I’ve only been camping once in my life, and pretty much the entire time I regretted not bringing my Gameboy along (camping trips IS why the Gameboy was invented, wasn’t it?). But as I had a lot on my mind at the time, I figured scaling a mountain would be a good way to take my mind off things, and get to know my fellow Kyoto JET’s a little better.
It was a wonderful idea, and as many wonderful ideas are prone to have one fatal flaw, this one was no exception. September is typhoon season in Japan.
As we got on the bus to head to Fuji, it was already overcast and starting to drizzle. The trip organizer was wondering if the bad weather extended all the way up to Fuji, so I checked the weather service using my cell phone – the forecast was a 70% chance of rain. “So that means there’s a good chance it’ll rain, huh?” She asks me.
Allow me to explain a little something about the Japanese weather service. “30% chance of rain” usually means that we’re going to get absolutely shit on. Like, grab the really big umbrella, or else you’re going to look and feel like a Frosted Flake you’ve let sit in the milk for more than 10 minutes. A 70% chance of rain?! Phone ahead to Ariel and Sebastian, because we were going to be their guests under the fucking sea.
You’re not the first person to suggest this.
I’m not about to go to my job, in a school, wearing athletic sports gear. Nor would it compel me to actually stand there and let them grab/poke all they want. I’d still be trying to get out of the way, and a cup would only dull my senses
I know of Naruto, and I know of the scene you’re alluding to. However, it was Naruto that got the idea from the nation’s elementary school kids, not the other way around. Kancho’s been around way before that anime.
Gaijin Smash Original Content
Did you know I share a birthday with Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes? Granted, he’s got a few hundred years on me, but I still think that’s pretty cool. Partly because like Mr. Rooney, I also have a penchant for finding the silly and absurd in today’s news stories.
I try to keep up with what’s happening back home by reading news online. A lot of it shows me that things haven’t changed much – murders, robberies, people still getting sued over the silliest of matters. Occasionally, I come across something that blows my mind – like Fried Coca Cola. Holy Quadruple Bypass Batman, who the hell thought up Fried Coke? And why would any sane human being want to ingest it? I think I just lost five years off my life by even thinking about the idea of deep-frying Coca Cola.
Of course, news in Japan can be interesting too. When it’s not about how hot it is (or in the winter, how cold) or what people are eating for lunch. And no, I’m not talking about Wai Wai news either. Y’see, Wai Wai is a part of the Mainichi News’s English Website. Because Mainichi is a respectable Japanese newspaper, people tend to take stories that come from Wai Wai news seriously. I remember there was a big fuss over the story about Japanese moms giving their own sons blowjobs to help motivate them in school (how would this motivate a young boy to do anything other than gouge his own eyes out and go live in a cave?). What most people don’t realize though is that Wai Wai is simply an English translation of stories that run in Japanese tabloids (which are usually geared towards men). So these stories have all the credibility of the National Enquirer.
If you can get past Wai Wai, there are plenty of valid news stories on the Mainichi website. If you read enough though, you’ll start to think that Wai Wai is the sane part of the site. I took the liberty of saving a few of my favorite articles that have appeared on the Mainichi News website lately.* Here’s one…
Gaijin Smash Original Content
Because of the large response to the bullying editorial, I decided to write a follow-up to address some of the common questions. I really should have made the original article longer, but what can I say? I’m a lazy bastard.
The teachers really just stand there and do nothing? How horrible!
Well, yes, it is a bad situation, but don’t persecute the teachers just yet.
I used to wonder why the teachers didn’t do more in the way of discipline. In my first year, I noticed in one class, there was a boy who’d constantly just sing. The teacher never addressed it, and it always left me thinking, “why? Why doesn’t she tell him to just shut up? That’s pretty disruptive.”
I think in the very first editorial, way back when, I mentioned two rules/aspects of the Japanese school system that makes things very difficult in the way of discipline.
1. Students have the right to an education. Which means we can’t send a disruptive student out to the hallway, to the principals office, or even home, because this would be violating their rights.
2. All students will pass through the grades and graduate, regardless of their actual academic performance.
What that boils down to is, we can’t do anything. We can’t send the bad students away, and there’s nothing to threaten them with. We can’t give them more homework, because they already aren’t doing the regular work. You can’t say “you’ve been bad, so clean up the school/erase all the blackboards on the second floor/carry these buckets of water” or whatever, because they’ll just say “no” and there’s really no way to force them to do it.
So it’s not necessarily that the teachers don’t want to do anything. It’s just that they cant. The teacher I mentioned before, with the singing boy in her class, once spoke to me about how frustrating it is to have their hands tied. And as for Lil Pavarotti, I found out why the teacher always just ignored him – it was her way of keeping him at Level 1, so to speak. If she did say something, his response would be to sing louder, and switch to a more obnoxious song. The more she’d try to shut him up, the louder he’d get. So, ignoring it was her way of keeping him at merely annoying instead of class-breaking disruptive.
I’ve found that there are three ways to deal with Kancho. The first is to get all pissed off and offended by it. I don’t see the point – they’re just kids and to them there’s nothing wrong with it. And if I did that, it would create this whole “Oh my Gosh, we can’t play around with teacher or he might get angry” attitude which I don’t want. It’s not like this is going to cause any permanent damage or even discomfort. So I can be indifferent to it, even find the humor in it. But maybe it’s easy for me to say because I have my trusty Kancho Sense™ and I’m a pro at Dodgedick.
The second way is to respond in kind – counter-Kancho, or hit them with one of America’s specialty attacks. But I’ve found that if you do that, it basically tells the kids it’s game-on, and they’ll step up their attacks. No one wants to lose to teacher, after all.
The third way, the method I employ, is to put the fear of GOD into them. I threaten to do stuff, but don’t actually do it. That way, their imaginations will take over and make the repercussions out to be worse than they actually would be. “Hmm, I can Kancho teacher, but what if he Kancho’s me so hard that it would make Tom Cruise The Second to Last Samurai? I’d better not risk it.” Been working well for me so far.
Gaijin Smash Original Content
When I was taking Japanese classes in university 6-7 years ago or so, I remember the teachers mentioning that bullying was becoming a big problem in the schools. At the time, I still thought that Japanese schools were pristine halls of finer education, so the only “bullying” I could imagine was everyone teasing Tanaka-san for only getting a 98% on his calculus test.
After having lived in Japan and worked in the school systems for over three years, I know better.
I’ve chronicled to some extent some of the problems I’ve personally seen at the Ghetto School. But lately, this shit has gotten out of hand. Lately, a lot of junior and senior high school students (mostly junior though) have committed suicide due to bullying. In one case I was following, a 14-year old girl had been viciously bullied by her teammates in the basketball club. She committed suicide, and in her suicide note, she named the four girls who’d, literally, bullied her to death. The school’s initial response was to say “We’ll, we don’t really have any evidence that bullying goes on at our school” and conducted a general survey of the students in which they found no particular signs of bullying. However, the girl’s best friend came forward and said, “Yeah, the bullying happened, a lot”, and then the school finally recognized that the victim had been bullied, which lead to her suicide.
And that’s just one case.
A few weeks ago, actor Beat Takeshi had a show on TV about the state of education in Japan. That sucker was 6 hours long, live, no joke. I didn’t watch the whole thing (I have better things to do with my time, like knitting) But from what I did watch, a lot of it was disturbing. Even elementary school kids are involved with bullying, some even having considered suicide. They brought about 12 elementary school kids and their mothers in, and separated the kids from the mothers – some guy interviewed the kids while the mothers watched in a separate room.
Most of the kids had been bullied. Many of the kids had also done bullying to other kids. When asked why, they said that it was fun. They said, “if a kid is being bullied, then there’s probably a good reason why. Like, something’s wrong with them.” Out of the kids who had been bullied, a handful had considered suicide (these are elementary school kids, I just want to make sure you haven’t forgotten that). They thought if they did commit suicide, they’d probably get reincarnated into something happier. Like, a butterfly.
For the mothers, and the celebrity peanut gallery who was watching, this shit was absolutely shocking. For me, it’s Monday through Friday, 9AM to 5PM.
They’re not angry. All my editorials are is a written version of the tales my friends and I exchange over beers in the local bar. And if you think I’ve got it bad, I’ve heard a lot worse. For example, one of my friends, a rather busty girl, was telling us one day about an exercise in class where the students had to write a complimentary sentence about her. She came to one boy, and his “complimentary” sentence was “Your breasts are delicious.”
Now, I don’t have breasts (but I sure could use a nice pair right now), but I can’t even imagine being hit with something like that. My friend though, she’s my hero. She looked him deadpan in the face and said “But my dear, you’ve never even tasted my breasts.”
Some of my male friends, who work in high schools, have told me they’ve gotten propositioned for sex from some of the female students. I can thankfully say that’s never happened to me. At least, not from my students. But, that’s a story for another day.
I write my editorials in a light-hearted sense. I can actually see the hilarity of having to physically restrain a young Japanese boy from grabbing my dick. That’s just how it is here.
I actually have a lot of really nice, heart-warming stories, one in particular which (I’ll admit) almost made me cry on my birthday. I will write about them at some point. These particular editorials are meant as light-hearted humor, and should be taken as such.