Quick, name one Japanese movie….That’s not animated in any way, shape or form. And The Last Samurai doesn’t count. I bet quite a few of you had to pause and think about that, huh. Japan isn’t exactly known for its cinematic prowess. Out of the few films Japan does produce, some may leave you wondering how exactly you got to a climax of a woman crying and masturbating in the rain, while others will simply destroy your faith in everything you ever believed in.
However, I’m sure that quite a few of you thought of Battle Royale as the answer to my opening query. Battle Royale is the charming and heartwarming story of a group of high school kids who are taken to a small island and ordered to kill each other down to the last man. They are equipped with collars around their necks which will explode if they try to disobey, or will be used to kill everyone should a winner not be declared. This movie has somewhat of a large cult following, and will often make “Top 10 Favorite Movie” lists on messageboards across the internet. I actually did not see this movie until after I came to Japan, and after watching it…I honestly just don’t understand what the big deal is. A bunch of high school kids killing each other. Whoopee?
Perhaps part of my problem was that I found it a bit unrealistic. Within the film, many students, of course, are apprehensive about the whole battle to the death thing, but quite a few get into it and within hours have become professional serial killers. I mean, I didn’t particularly like high school myself, but I can’t possibly imagine picking up a gun/sword/mace/Britney Spears CD and happily mowing my classmates down.
Well, I found the film unrealistic until I came to this school, that is.
…Was there already a “Random Select II”? I’m too lazy to check. If there was, then just consider this “Random Select Reloaded” or “Random Select Continues” or “Random Select 2.5 Vista,” whatever the cool numbering convention is these days.
I mentioned a while back in an editorial the Japanese basketball player who had a brief stint in the NBA. He got his own commercial in Japan, for a sports drink. He gets checked hard into the scoring table, takes a big swig of the drink, powers up, and then gets the ball, and with a gleam in his eye…passes to his superior black teammate for an alley-oop. At the time, I thought that was fucked up–it’s your own sports commercial, and the best you can do is give it to the black man? Shafted.
Well, the guy’s got a new commercial. I wondered if, this time, he would get to actually do something. Well, after getting constantly blocked out, he takes a big swig of the sports drink….and then blows by two defenders to dribble down-count. And that’s it. No incredible 3-point shot, not even an alley-oop to the big black man this time. He just…dribbles down court. This is the saddest fucking thing, ever. It’s your own sports commercial, and the best you can do is do something that every other basketball player can do. Had this been an American commercial, the player probably would have dunked all over some poor defender. And then slept with the defending player’s wife on the way down from the rim or something.
Here you go Japanese kiddies, drink this! It’ll let you compete with the rest of the world, because as you are, you are made of nothing but fail….Yep, that sounds about right.
I was coming back from a class with Ms. Grinch when suddenly our path was obstructed. By what, you ask? A 19th century feudal army, having traveled back through time? A large oxen? Jenny McCarthy’s disembodied fake tits? No, something far more absurd. At least twenty Japanese boys, laying on the floor, all of them spooning one another. Some of them, I guess unable to find a spooning partner, were just kicking back on top of the whole pile.
Ms. Grinch turns to me. “Well. This is quite gay, isn’t it?”
FUCKIN’A, I’M GLAD *SOMEONE* FINALLY SAID IT!
Many of us Gaijin Teachers are initially surprised by how…touchy-feely Japanese boys are with one another. Granted, I am American, so I may not have the best perspective on the matter. In America, any male-to-male contact that is not in the context of fighting, a high-five/ass slap during a sports game, or a drunken “I love you man!” NO HOMO HUG, is gay. So I dunno, maybe it’s the American background coming into play here, but I’m just not used to seeing boys sit on each others’ laps, hold hands, grab each others’ penises, and especially, over twenty of them spooning in the middle of Brokeback Hallway.
…And I’m from San Francisco!
Yet, we Gaijin Teachers seem to be the only ones weirded out by it. Other Japanese teachers will just be like, “Oh, boys…” and never think about it again. So I felt justified to finally have ONE Japanese teacher finally acknowledge how frickin’ weird this is, even if it was Ms. Grinch.
Ms. Grinch brings her concerns to the boys.
Ms. G: Well. This is rather gay of you.
Boy 1: What? What’s gay?
Ms. G: All of you sitting here like this.
Boy 2: This isn’t gay!
Boy 3: We’re just relaxing between classes.
Boy 1: We all get along really well.
Boy 4: Why do you want to destroy such beautiful friendships.
Ms. G: …Whatever. Gay. At least get out of the way.
Boy 1: We don’t wanna move.
Boy 2: Yeah, it’s nice here.
Boy 3: You just wish you could be lying in a hallway full of boys, don’t you?
Ms. Grinch gives me one of those “Oy vey” looks, and says, “I guess we have no choice but to step over them.” Almost merrily, she says “Over the Gay!” as she takes a mighty step over the boy pile. I too had to step over the boys, minus any flowery words regarding it. As we were heading back to the teachers room, Ms. Grinch turns to me again. “I’m sorry about that, Japanese boys can be quite…peculiar.”
…Sister, you don’t know the half of it.
Between classes one day, I went to go to the bathroom….That’s a perfectly normal thing, right?
I can’t speak for all schools across Japan, but for the five schools so far I’ve worked in, the faculty have their own separate bathrooms, which are not too far from the teachers’ room. I figure separate teacher and student bathrooms are a given though. I don’t think the teachers would ever want to share a bathroom with the students. Aside from any awkward issues that may arise, students tend to use the bathroom as some sort of haven to try and do the things/have the conversations they can’t normally have in the hallways. I’m sure students don’t want to share with the teachers either. Hell, *I* don’t want to share with the other teachers. But this is primarily because, at this school, there seems to be a male teacher who comes in every morning and makes it his first order of business to drop the fattest, most foul shit there ever was. Talk about dropping bombs on someone. I’m coming in after an hour long train ride and a 20 minute bus ride too, so I usually have to take a racehorse piss by the time I get to school. So then I’ve gotta hold my breath and try to power-piss it out before my lungs collapse, and I’m forced to take a deep breath of Japan’s gaseous counterattack for Hiroshima.
…Ahem. Anyway, I was going to the male teachers’ bathroom one day between classes, and as I got there, there was a ninensei girl loitering around near the door. She looks up and me and greets me, then simply asks, “Poo?” Now, out of all the things she could have said here–“Good Afternoon,” “Hey whazzup my Homie-G!” or even “Froinlaven!” I just wasn’t expecting “poo,” so my brain doesn’t process it. “What?” I ask her. “Poo? Poo?” She repeats several times, but I’m still lost. To illustrate her point, finally she takes a squatting stance, scrunches up her face, and makes a strained “HUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGHHH!” sound. And that’s when it hit me: this girl was trying to ask me if I was going to take a shit.
And again, what kind of Spruce Goose monster shits do Japanese people take to ever assume that kind of stance/make that noise? With all the fish and rice they eat, I’d assume it’d just come sliding out like a lean 10 year-old at a waterpark, but no, apparently they’ve got some beached whales stuck in the plumbing.
Anyway, call me a prude if you like, but I don’t particularly like discussing my bathroom habits, especially to a 14 year-old girl. I told her, “I’m gonna go No. 3” as I went into the bathroom, leaving her with a puzzled face. Unfortunately, as Japanese people are somewhat gullible, I may have just sparked a new rumor. “Americans can do a No. 3 when they go to the bathroom!” Soon to follow will be the expose TV show, in which Japanese celebrities try to get to the bottom (no pun intended) of what the infamous No. 3 could be. A chunky piss? A watery shit? The best of both worlds? Or something completely different? Tune in tonight at nine, following another episode of “Japanese celebrities eat something, then describe how delicious it is!” You can’t miss it.
Only later, did I come to ponder why this girl had been standing outside of the men’s faculty bathroom. I mean, the bathrooms are nowhere near the classrooms, so she had to have actively come here. And if you’re going to loiter around somewhere, why in front of a bathroom? I could only assume that perhaps she was jockeying for some extra credit. If, perhaps, her male history teacher happened to walk by, instead of asking him about “poo,” she might ask, “You know…I’m getting a C in history now…gonna take a piss? Anything I can help with?” But given how much scat there is in Japanese porn, No. 2 probably would have been possible as well. Knowing this girl, she probably would have been down for a hot fresh No. 3 too.
There is one English teacher I’ve nicknamed that I failed to mention before. She gets her own editorial.
I call her Ms. Grinch. It’s difficult to tell her age, because she’s wearing enough layers of makeup to effectively shield her from shotgun shells to the face. I wonder if she’s actually ever taken off makeup in her life–like the rings on a tree trunk, perhaps we can determine her age by counting the layers of foundation. I am going to guess no younger than 50. For a 50 year-old, she’s in pretty good shape, but she dresses like a trendy 20-something. Mercifully, nothing revealing, but still, with jeans and shirts perhaps tighter than they should be. I’ve said before that I have no problem with Mrs. Robinsons, but I’m afraid I do have to draw the line at Estelle Getty.
In planning our first classes together, she wanted my self-introduction to include a quiz about San Francisco. As such, she asked me about what SF was most famous for. Jokingly, I suggested Gay Pride, thinking way, way back to the young student who answered that question with “Gay Bridge.” Ms. Grinch’s face lights up (I suppose–under all that makeup who knows what’s going on…)–“Oh, Gay Pride!” she says. “Oh, so there are a lot of gay people in San Francisco then!” I said there were, but that I was really only joking, and if we wanted to talk about the history of San Francisco, surely we could cover anything ranging from the gold rush and the Golden Gate Bridge, to Alcatraz, how Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage survived Alcatraz, or hell, even Rice-A-Roni. “No no, I want to talk about the gays!” Ms. Grinch insists, and that is how it was decided that, during my first classes with very impressionable Japanese 15 year-olds, I would give a talk about Gay Pride.
Not that I have anything against Gay Pride–I am from San Francisco after all–but I don’t really want to talk about Gay Pride when I’m, y’know, not gay. I’m sure most homosexuals out there wouldn’t exactly leap at the chance to talk about the wonders of being straight. We can’t ask Kate Moss to give a talk about being dangerously obese, can we? Or, how about asking women to be thrilled to talk about how great it is to have a penis.*
*Although, ladies, you have NO idea what you’re missing. Cause it’s fuckin’ awesome.
Ms. Grinch asks me to outline my potential Gay Pride talk with her. I try to think of the most straightforward explanation I can think of. I say that, perhaps in America, on the coasts people are more open and accepting of alternative lifestyles, but in the middle of America (red states!) people aren’t quite as accepting. Ms. Grinch nods along as if I’m revealing some long-hidden truth to her. “The middle of America…oh, so you mean, like Arizona?”
…So, Arizona is considered the Midwest now? Who knew? You hear that all you Arizonians out there? You guys are the Midwest now. Time to start hating gays and worshiping football, if you haven’t already. I also expect a fine herd of cattle and the dogged cowboys to properly wrangle them. I don’t wanna hear any “desert wasteland” excuses outta you either.
I can’t really blame her for this too much though, it’s not like Americans are any better…
Mom: Hey, I heard on the news that there was an earthquake in Hokkaido…are you okay?
Me: Yeah Mom, Kyoto doesn’t really feel earthquakes that happen over 600 miles away…
Can it get worse? Oh boy yes it can.
Grandma: Boy, are you eating right? I heard that food’s real scarce thanks to that Kim Jong Il character…
Me: …That’s not even the right country!
Going into a sannensei class one day, a girl sitting near the front caught my attention. Before, if I were to say that, it was probably because she was openly fondling herself during class, attempting to flash me her panties, or she was only a few minutes away from handing out numbers and letting the guys line up to fuck her right there on top of the desks.* But not this time. This particular girl happened to catch my attention…because she was wearing pants.
*Amazingly enough, these are NOT hypothetical situations.
For most of you, you’re probably thinking, “she was wearing pants…and?” Me though, I have clearly been in Japan for far too long, because this actually bothered me a bit. “It’s a girl…but she’s wearing pants. This female, who should be wearing a skirt, is instead wearing pants. She is not a boy, she clearly has no penis (at least that I am aware of), yet she is wearing pants, which is wrong. What’s going on here?”
As you probably know, most if not all junior high schools and high schools in Japan utilize school uniforms. There are a few different variations–the Navy uniform/sailor suit type, the polo shirt/blazer type, and even the potato sack moo-cow type. But one unchanging, unmoving constant is that boys wear pants, and girls wear skirts. Girls may wear shorts or pants as a part of their PE uniform, but if we’re talking about the regular uniform, it’s a skirt. This does not change.
New schools. New students. New teachers. New nicknames. You know it had to happen.
Mr. English – An older male English teacher, he gets this nickname because, the moment he found out I could speak Japanese, he breathed the HUGEST sigh of relief. “Thank GOD you can speak Japanese!” he says. “I absolutely hate English.”
THEN WHY THE FUCK DID YOU NOT ONLY LEARN ENGLISH, BUT BECOME AN ENGLISH TEACHER AS WELL?!
Sure enough, his classes are pretty much 99% Japanese, with him only speaking English when is absolutely, positively, unavoidably necessary.
And we wonder why Japanese people can’t speak English.
The Jolly Green Giant – This female English teacher is really tall for a Japanese woman. She’s only a few inches shorter than me. She also has this lumbering, oompa-loompa way of walking, and her hair is in some kind of permanent Diana Ross Frizz mode, so she gets to be the Jolly Green Giant.
How does this make her a Jolly Green Giant, you ask? I dunno. Probably goes back to my childhood. I once had a nightmare about the JGG. In all his giant muscular green glory, he picked me up, with his rotting, peeling green hands, and after a failed attempt to squish me like a tiny little bug between his fingers, he then tried to drown me in a can of creamed corn. I haven’t trusted the fucker ever since. I know, one day, he’s gonna get me. He’s just biding his time, smiling at kids in his artichoke toga, waiting for the day until he can drown us all in his rich, creamy corn juices. I’m warning you.
Ms. Forehead 2 – It is disturbing how much this woman looks like the original Ms. Forehead. Like God decided that Japan needed more than one Ms. Forehead, and XCOPY’ied/Kage Bunshin’d her to this school. They even have similar personalities. They even have the same first name! (The kanji is different though)
I sort of wish for an XCOPY of Ms. Americanized, but then I realized that you can’t copy her. And if you did, there’d be TWO Japanese women out there who could bust out with gems like, “Man, I hate it when bitches like that are getting laid, and I’m not getting laid!” I don’t think the universe can handle that.
I took a job as an assistant English teacher for two Japanese junior high schools. …Sound familiar?
I didn’t want to, I really didn’t. Can you blame me? It’s a lot like finally getting off of Gilligan’s Island, and then offering the castaways another 3-hour tour. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a whole lot of options. My visa was going to run out soon, and I had a nice, shiny new apartment that wasn’t going to pay for itself. There was nothing else on the market, and I didn’t have the luxury of being choosy. I took the job so that I wouldn’t deported get faster than Elian Gonzales*, with the intent of jumping ship as soon as I found something better.
*Since this is Japan, I doubt I’d have to stare down the barrel of an assault rifle. Probably just a samurai sword or a cell phone being wagged in disapproval or something.
For the record, this isn’t JET. There are a number of companies within Japan who also work in sending Gaijin ALT’s to schools. Quite a few schools also avoid the middle man and just hire foreigners directly. I signed up with one of the dispatch companies. This time, they would be sending me out to two junior high schools, in a suburb outside of Osaka city. Before heading out, I got a chance to meet one of my new English teachers, a nice older Japanese man who reminded me a lot of Mr. W from Watson’s School. After telling him I’d served for three years in three schools in Kyoto Prefecture, he told me “Well, since this is Osaka, unfortunately you may find that the kids aren’t as well-behaved as they were in Kyoto.”
I had to take a few minutes to tell him all about the Ghetto School. You know, I’ve seen grown men lose faith in their professions before…just never so quickly. That had to have been some kind of record or something.
So I started living with my girlfriend.
It was a really eye-opening experience for me. Y’see, there are a lot of things that guys just assume about living with girlfriends. I think one is that we’d get free and ready access to sex, whenever we wanted it. And I learned, that’s just not the case.
For all the girls in the audience, let me explain – the male sex drive is about as random as a lucky Lotto number generator. We could be sitting all alone at home, watching Tiny Toons reruns on TV, when suddenly our sex drive comes flaring up. There’s really no rhyme or reason to it at all – and don’t think it’s because we found Babs Bunny to be a hot little piece of rabbit ass (though, in her prime, she wasn’t too bad…). If said guy lives alone, thanks to the power of the internet (which is for porn), we can take care of this situation ourselves. But, we always think, “Now, wouldn’t it be nice if I had a girlfriend right here on call? No offence Mrs. Righticia Palmer, but there’s just no substitute for the real thing.” So we imagine that if our girlfriend were just there, we could turn to her and be like,
Guy: Whoa…suddenly I’m horny.
Girl: Oh really?
Guy: Yeah. Let’s do it.
Girl: Okay, sure.
And if things were really that easy, the world would be a wonderful place, full of sunshine and flowers, where every kitchen tap poured out free Cherry Coke, and random people would just walk up to you on the street and give you money. Of course, things are never that easy. EVER. Naturally, I can’t speak for all women, but with my girlfriend at least, she seems to have three very distinct sexual stages. The first was neutral. She wasn’t particular horny, but if I did stuff – kissed here, touched there, I could jump-start the engines. The second was a stage I like to call “Siberian Tundra”. Because it really didn’t matter what I did, there was going to be no starting that fire. I’d have better luck trying to create a campfire in the middle of the Russian Wasteland, with only a book of matches, and my sweaty socks. The final stage is “Nuclear Fission”. Regarding that stage, let me share with you all a little theory that I have.
It’s the Golden Week holiday in Japan. As such, I’m going on vacation for the rest of the week. Really, that only means no entry today. I’ll be back next Tuesday with the second part of the Co-Habitation article, barring any unforeseen circumstances.
Although I say vacation, more than anything else I really need to finish work on my book proposal. *bows humbly to the angry Rudius Media Gods*
Y’know, I never expected my editorials to become as big as they have. I’m still kind of surprised by the whole thing. What really freaks me out though is that out of all the crazy stuff I’ve talked about, there’s one thing in particular that seems to have really caught on – the good ‘ol Kancho.
Now, I’ve been seeing something in emails and message boards posts, that quite honestly disturbs me a bit. The first reaction seems to be “WTF?! You mean Japanese kids actually try to stick their fingers…in your ass?! Are you joking?” Many sane people tell me “Wow, I would have knocked that kid clear into another prefecture.” But I’m also hearing some people becoming inexplicably curious about it. And not curious in a good way, either. Curious in a bad way. The same curiosity that killed the cat, that got Bluebeard’s wives killed, and is responsible for Rap/Rock fusion.