I was on a train with one of my friends and my girlfriend. I’m the first Gaijin Boyfriend she’s ever had, so for her dating me has been a real experience to say the least. It’s exposed her to a side of Japan she just never knew. …And doesn’t particularly like. The poor girl though, she’s tried so hard to stay optimistic about even the stupidest of things.
So anyway, me, her, and my friend were on a train coming home from Kyoto. My friend took the opportunity to point out the Gaijin Perimeter to her. I was sitting on a bench with my girlfriend to my left, but no one had sat down in the empty space to my right. My friend was on the bench opposite us – there was someone sitting to his right (they had been sitting there when he sat down) but no one had sit down in the empty space to his left.
Him: You see, this is what we call the “Gaijin Perimeter”. Notice how nobody is sitting next to me or your boyfriend.
Her: Yeah, but…it’s not a bad thing! Maybe they’re just tired and want to stand?
Him: Okay, think about it for a second. When have you ever seen a Japanese person not fight, almost to the death even, over an empty seat on the train?
Her: (Looks at me)
Me: Well, he’s got a point.
Her: (To my friend and me) I’m so, so sorry.
Us: We’re used to it by now.
Anyway, someone eventually does sit in the empty seat next to my friend, a young girl.
Her: Hey! See! Someone sat there!
Me: Yeah, but she also looks like she’s in fear of her mortal life. Her ass is barely touching the seat.
Him: Right. Cause I’m such a Big, Scary Gaijin (he’s a skinny white dude)
Her: She does look awfully uncomfortable…(to her) Hey! He’s not scary! He’s nice!
Him: That’s only going to make them look at us more.
Incidentally, no one did ever sit in the empty seat next to me.
As I said before, it’s a good experience. You learn a lot about yourself, Japan, and your own country (just by being away from it and seeing how others perceive it – not just Japanese, but all the people from different countries I’ve met while here). I’m definitely glad I came. Whether you want to come or not is up to you, but don’t let a few possible fingers up the ass deter you. Lighten up, and see the humor in it. And now that you know, you can do as I did, climbing Mt. Fuji and fine-tuning my Kancho Sense™ to a precise science. And then maybe you too can make a website about kids trying to grab your dick.
Gaijin Smash Original Content
I got sick the night of December 30th. I shouldn’t even have to tell you, this is an awful time to get sick. It pretty much ensures that come New Years, the only horn you’re going to be blowing is your own. So yes, I welcomed 2007 hacking up sexy bits of phlegm and fondly remembering back when my nose was more than just a facial decoration.
Getting sick in Japan is usually a bad deal. In America, we can buy wonderful meds over the counter which are as about as potent as Wilt Chamberlain in his prime. Our cold/flu viruses don’t stand a chance. Unfortunately in Japan, over the counter meds pack all the punch of an asthmatic girl scout. You pretty much have to go to the doctor in order to get medicine that will actually do something, and even then it’s medicine made for Japanese people so the cold/flu ends up lingering around longer than it ever should.
Given all my other stellar experiences with Japanese doctors, suffice it to say I didn’t want to go. However, my girlfriend insisted, and with my birthday only two weeks after New Years, I didn’t want to chance the sniffles raining down on my birthday paraade. I bit the bullet and went to the hospital. …Which was actually OK this time around. I got a nice doctor who spoke English – he’d done a fellowship in Maryland or something, and prescribed me medicine. Great.
The problem came when I went back for my checkup. Thanks to the meds, I was feeling better, but still had a nasty cough, and was feeling far more tired than usual. Unfortunately, the nice, English speaking doctor I’d seen the first time wasn’t there. Instead, I got some crusty old dude. I have to stress here that this conversation really actually took place. I mean, I know I say that a lot, but this feels like one of those conversations I’d make up to emphasize a point, except it’s not fiction, it actually did happen.
Doc: So, how are you feeling?
Me: Better, but I still have a terrible cough and am experiencing fatigue.
Doc: I see. Hmm. *checks my file…then pulls out a calculator to do some math* I see you’re a little overweight.
Me: *annoyed* I could probably stand to lose a few kilos, sure, but anyway, about the coughing and fatigue…
Doc: This isn’t good. Have you tried dieting?
Me: *more annoyed* I eat balanced meals and go to the gym 3-4 times a week. Anyway, so my cold/flu…
Doc: *looking at my chest x-ray* …Your heart is too big. Obviously, it’s having to work extra hard to support all your extra weight.
Me: *extremely annoyed* You know, I didn’t have any problems with exhaustion until after I caught this virus…
Doc: At this rate, your life is in danger. The sooner you diet, the longer you may be able to live.
Me: *annoyed to the point where if I were to speak, mothers in the neighborhood would have to cover their children’s ears*
Incidentally, my “fatal obesity” is really just a beer-gut. Which isn’t even that big anymore. But, obviously, these few extra kilos are singlehandedly responsible for the virus I caught, any bones I’ve broken in the past and may break in the future, and the fatal heart attack I’ll suffer at the tender age of 30. I’m sure that, as we speak, Japanese scientists are trying to find a way to link my love handles to global warming, the extinction of the Bali Tiger, and Kim Jong-il’s rise to power.
I told you I’m never telling. Don’t even bother asking.
Not really. EVERYONE here deals with Kancho. And almost everyone gets felt up at some point (except for me, ha! Go go Gadget Dick Dodging!). But that’s not to say if you become a teacher in Japan you’ll have a little girl screaming “Breasts!” at you too. Some of my friends wonder if their students are actually really alive, they’re so quiet. It just varies.
And some of my friends tell me stories that shock even me. It all just depends I guess.
This is actually a bit of a problem now for Japan. Jr. high schools just don’t have discipline options. It works on the honor system – the students go to class and don’t cause problems because it’s in their best interest. But, if a student isn’t planning to go to high school, or just doesn’t care, they can act up and there’s little we can do about it. It actually frustrates a lot of the teachers I’ve talked to.
Technically, I teach in the “country”, where kids may not come from good families and may not be motivated to do well in school. Also, I’ve heard that the entrance exams for high school aren’t that hard, and students can still pass them despite not studying that hard. Some of my sannensei from the ghetto school last year, they were terrible students and I sort of figured they weren’t going to high school. Yet, I occasionally see them around, they did go to high school, and many of them work part-time jobs. I think it was them realizing they could goof around and get away with it. They are, after all, kids.
The difficult ninensei boys, I don’t think they want to do anything. Sometimes we catch them smoking (they’re 14 years old) and hanging out with the wrong crowd. The “wrong crowd” graduated from the ghetto school a few years ago, and went on to do nothing except ride their scooters around town and make excessive amounts of noise. It’s sad, they think they’re so cool, ON THEIR SCOOTERS. You will never be cool, ON A SCOOTER. And then they wave at me and try to get my approval. I just smile and say “Wow, your life depresses me”, and they don’t know what I said cause they never paid attention in English class.
While Jr. high schools have this problem, high schools *I think* have more discipline options, but I have never gone to one and don’t know that many high school teachers so I can’t really say. While city kids may be more well-behaved, I do believe this is a problem all over Japan. I went to a conference in Kobe, and one of the seminars was about “Jr High Classroom Management”. It more or less degenerated into people complaining about their problem students and how they can’t do anything about it. It’s an interesting dilemma.
And for the record, the worst students I have are at the ghetto school. The other two schools have no problems. At one, there are some boys and girls who can be over-talkative at times, but they’ll behave when need be. At the other, the worst student is Mousey, and all he really does is complain all the time.
You bad man! A culture where sexuality and the human body aren’t things of shame and you’re trying to teach it to them!
Well, Japan’s perverted. Yeah, people can take baths together and not freak out over it (I’ve had to learn that skill while I was here). But this is also a country where they had to institute “Women’s Only” train cars because the groping problem was getting out of hand. Where high school girls can sell their unwashed panties for quite a bit of money. Where the men have an unhealthy preference for younger girls. Where camera phones have to make a very loud, very audible, non-mutable sound when a picture is taken, because the first models didn’t do that and voyeur snapshots exploded all over the place. And one of my school nurses told me last week she gets quite a few students coming to her with sex problems. And these kids are in the 12-15 age range.
You can make of that what you will.