I have spoken out on the evil that is Japanese TV quite often, but I realize I’ve never really gone in depth about it. Please allow me to do so now.
If I had my way, I would never watch it. My TV would only be used for video games, movies, and…um…entertainment of the adult persuasion. Unfortunately, my wife loves Japanese TV, a habit I have yet to break her of. Since she gets home before I do, the TV is already on and spewing its crap before I can even object. I have a subscription to cable TV which includes international versions of American channels, and I’ve even tried to steer her in the direction of music, but she always comes back to the boob tube. Sigh.
I feel that I should clarify exactly why Japanese TV sucks. I’m sure many of you are thinking “but, American TV sucks too!” And yes, there are a lot of horrible American TV shows that make you question your faith in justice in the universe. But I feel that for all the crap, there are gems that shine brightly enough to more than make up for it.
In Japan, its all crap.
If you all thought “uiiiiiish!” Daigo* was bad, let me introduce you to – IKKO.
*I was pleasantly surprised to see most of you think of the Street Fighter player Daigo first and foremost. I was also happy to see that entering in “Daigo” in YouTube returned more results of him than the Japanese rocker Daigo. Maybe the world isn’t as hopeless as I feared…
In the words of Austin Powers, that’s a man, baby!
I guess you would call IKKO the RuPaul of Japan. S/he rose to fame for being beautiful (????) and an expert on fashion and makeup. So many young Japanese girls follow IKKO’s advice on how to do their makeup and look beautiful. …Just think about that for a moment, let it roll around in your heads – Japanese girls turning to a cross-dresser dude on how to look pretty. …Yup.
So IKKO will point out some beauty or health care product that s/he uses, and Japanese girls will FLOCK to go and buy it. Gotta love the group mentality, huh? I remember thinking, after seeing s/he endorse some beauty product on TV once, “I wish IKKO would endorse negro penis or something, have Japanese girls flocking to me in the hundreds of thousands.”
And y’know…you really must be careful about what you wish for.
The building where I work isn’t a dedicated office building. Its got convention halls and a shopping center and stores and restaurants and all that stuff. So on Saturdays, it can get pretty lively with people coming here for events or just to shop or whatever.
One particular Saturday*, I went downstairs to grab lunch when, without even really giving it a second thought, I walked right past a 30-year old woman dressed up as Yuna from Final Fantasy X. It literally took a while to register, like at first I just walked by her and thought “Oh, that’s Yuna” and didn’t pay it any mind. Only a few steps later did I have to stop and think, “Hey, waitaminute. Why is a 30-year old woman dressed up like a video game character here in the middle of this shopping/convention/whatever the hell this is complex?” The fact that I was originally unphased by this worries me greatly. Have I become desensitized? Oh God…
*Yes, I do work some Saturdays. Sucks, but it can’t be helped I guess. I am becoming Japanese.
As I progressed further, I found that Yuna wasn’t the only one. I’d walked straight into a cosplay convention. Or, more accurately, the convention itself would be held downstairs, but the cosplayers were out and about, putting the finishing touches on their costumes, enjoying the nice weather, or posing for numerous pictures.
Japan has gone to the pigs.
There’s an outbreak of swine flu here in the Kansai region, specifically Osaka and Kobe. I know, I’m supposed to call it H1N1 or whatever, but that name sucks. Swine flu it is! What, are we expected to be politically correct to pigs now? Fuck that nonsense.
Anyway, pig AIDS. Some school kids have gotten it and have been passing it around like Mariah Carey at a rapper’s convention, so now everyone here has gone bat-shit insane over fears of getting the pig AIDS and dying. I’m not really surprised that its spread so quickly in the schools, I think I mentioned way back when that schools are little incubation houses for whatever Virus of the Moment is popular. If you work in a school and some sort of cold or flu breaks, you might as well pencil in your sick days in your calendar.
So I got dragged to a fashion show.
You may be thinking, for someone who hates shopping such as myself, a fashion show must be like walking straight into the lowermost depths of hell itself. And you would be absolutely right. It was like everything I hate about shopping, gathered into one place, super-sized, and then extra-concentrated for good measure. Being forced to watch Japanese TV for a week while Kathy Bates takes a sledgehammer to my feet would have been a far more enjoyable experience. Even if Ms. Bates were naked.
So then, why would I go to a fashion show? I’m married, and sometimes that means doing things you just don’t want to do. …A lot of the time, actually.
Some of you may be thinking “C’mon, it couldn’t have been that bad? A venue with dozens of hot models and you couldn’t get at least a little enjoyment out of that?” My brother-in-law asked me the same thing. I’ll tell you what I told him – yeah, there are hot models there. So what? Its not like any of them are going to jump off the stage and say “Oh Az, I can’t control myself in your incredibly sexy presence…I need you to take me backstage and ravage me right now!” And even in the extremely unlikely event that that actually happened, I was going with my wife, so there’d be nothing I could do about it anyway. If I want to ogle hot women, I may as well just stay at home and surf some internet porn, which would be far more productive.
The bro-in-law was a bit surprised by my answer. “So you’re telling me,” he continues, “if Ebi-chan was there, and she took off her bra and threw it at you and you caught it, you wouldn’t be excited about that?” Why would I be? My wife has a million bras laying around at home. What am I going to do with Ebi-chan’s bra? Its probably only an A-cup anyway. He was surprised at this answer as well, saying, “Well, if I was there I’d be excited.” I then offered my ticket to him, which he quickly refused. Hypocrite! Charlatan!
Since the picture posts seem to be fairly popular, I decided to do another one. I guess to say thank you to all those who have been following me up until now – here’s some eye candy.
Broom Closet / 2
These are pictures of my very first apartment in Japan. As you can see, it wasn’t very big at all. In picture one, directly opposite from the “kitchen” is the unit bath – a room maybe the size of your broom closet with not only a toilet and sink, but the bathtub as well. With the proximity to the “kitchen”, I could theoretically take a shower and fry up some eggs at the same time if I so desired. The door leads outside. The second pic shows a better view of the…erm…room. There’s a veranda outside the window where the washing machine was. And that’s about it. What you see is what you get.
Also note that some of the stuff pictured isn’t actually mine – my predecessor, when it came time to go home, pretty much just said OK, got up, and left. Literally. No packing, no cleaning, just stood up, walked out the door, and he didn’t live there anymore. As I understand it, he really only used the place to sleep, and even then spent half the time sleeping elsewhere.
I knew that Japan specialized in tiny living spaces, but I wasn’t quite prepared for this. Aside from the small size, there were a lot of other factors that just made it a very undesireable apartment. I ended up changing my living arrangements about halfway though my first year – not a very common thing for JET’s to do.
The teacher’s room at the School of Peace. It was on the second floor, and you’ll notice the big windows at the back, so in the summer it’d get pretty hot – I’d go outside and walk around the grounds because it was actually cooler than inside the room! You may also notice the air conditioner at the top left of the picture, and think “Well, that’s a wonderful invention! Why didn’t they use it?” I thought this to myself many times, but I think this may have been the fault of one of my English teachers, Mrs. S (who, I think, you can see sitting at her desk by the windows…). One day, she left the school to go attend some conference, and one of the other teachers, as he watched her car pull out of the parking lot, turned to everyone and said, “Well, she’s gone. Air conditioning?” Every teacher gave their agreement, so the curtains were drawn and the AC cranked up. For once, the teacher’s room was a suitable environment for human life.
If the other teachers were suffering for the sake of Mrs. S, its kind of scary to think about the dominion she had over the entire faculty. This is why I keep telling you – in the grand tier list of unstoppable forces we should fear, old Japanese women are broken. I just wish the US government would heed my warnings, because unlike Independance Day, there’ll be no crazy Randy Quaid to fly his jet fighter straight into a pachinko parlor to bring the horrible Obasan Reign to an end – we’ll just be fucked, and I’ll be the crazy guy who sits on his porch (what’s left of it) rattling off “I told you all! But you didn’t listen!”
As promised, its time for me to post up some more pictures. I reached 25% of my goal, so I’ll put up 30% or so of the pictures I was planning to post. But these are some of my favorite pictures though, so quality over quantity.
Usually, these posts have pictures of something zany, wacky, or just flat-out weird. And while pictures are good for illustrating the things that we’re lost for words to describe, I also like pictures because of the moment in time that they capture. Memories may get clouded and fade over time, but a picture lasts for as long as you have it.
So this picture post will just be some random snapshots from my first 3 years here. Nothing featuring sea algae with boners or dogs pointing their anuses at the camera, just scenes from my everyday life. If you are looking for the zaniness, now would be a good time to stop reading. Or, at least skip to the very end or something.
I arrived in Japan August 2003. School didn’t start until September, so that left one whole month before I “officially” became a Japanese school teacher. In that time, I worked at the Board of Education, mostly e-mailing friends about how hot Japan was. But one day, the BOE asked me to go to a Children’s Festival our city was having. After all, part of my job was public-relations and interacting with kids, so it made sense.
Unfortunately, they didn’t have any specific duties outlined for me, and as I was fresh off the plane (and even better yet, fresh off the graduation stage!) I really had no idea what to do; I spent most of my time finding isolated places to sleep off my jet lag. I did walk around from time to time, and did actually speak to some kids, such as the ones pictured here.
Just Hangin’ Out
They introduced themselves using perverted names such as “Mr. Cream”, “Mr. Condom”, and “Mr. Sex”; their English pronunciation was so bad, that I actually had no idea what they were saying, or why they were laughing so hard when I repeated their names. Only when one boy used a dirty name in Japanese did I catch on to what they were doing.
Sadly enough, these boys would go on to be the infamous bastards of the Ghetto School, going from mildly annoying in their first year, to dangerously violent by the time they graduated. The one on my immediate left I don’t believe actually finished school at all.
The boy on the far left, however, actually cleaned up his act in the third year, and became a good student. The third year was kind of a mess – a lot of previously good boys had given up on studying and joined the bad boys in not giving a fuck, but this one boy went from bad to good. I really respected him for that, and made sure to help him out whenever I could.
Well, its been awhile, but I’m going to have to dust off the “Japan’s weird, did you know that?” file. Not that the insanity ever stops, mind you, but at some point you just get accustomed to it. Like, it happens and you’re just like “eh, been there done that”. The bar is effectively raised, so it will take some awesomely jaw-dropping shit to really make you pause and go “wow…that’s fucked up”.
So I was dragged shopping somewhere again by my wife. But it was okay this time – my brother-in-law was also there, and despite being male he actually LIKES shopping. So the wife was able to get the male input of “oh, that’s cute!” or “I don’t think that suits you” that she desperately craves for* without having to torture me to do it. Given a stay of execution, I was allowed to go off and sit down wherever I should find a place to sit.
*Despite wanting to drag me along shopping and ask my opinion on stuff, when I do give an opinion she never listens to me. I think I’ve ranted about this before though.
I wandered off and eventually found a bench in what appeared to be a kids section. In front of the bench were those dispenser machines that spit out some cheap $1 toy in a bubble. At first I didn’t really pay attention to them. It was your standard fare – Gundam, something with little girls who have oversized breasts and magical powers, and I dunno, maybe something Disney.
However, I happened to be sitting right in front of a rather peculiar one. It struck me as odd at first, because the animation was so…well…simple. Just this green-pea-looking dude among all the Gundams and lolita bishoujos. It looked like something any 5-year old could draw.
But upon closer inspection, I found that this was peculiar for an entirely different reason. Haven’t figured it out yet? Well here, take a closer look.
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I teach business conversational English classes twice a week. Unlike kids or old folks, adults are usually more reserved about what they say, so I rarely hear too many zany, WTF-worthy stuff. …But they do come up with some pretty funny stuff sometimes.
One group I teach is a really fun bunch. They seem to get along well outside of work, so in some ways the English class is a chance to unwind and enjoy themselves. Which is a good thing.
For my first class with them, we did self-introductions. After the obligatory boring regular introductions, I had them pick someone – anyone at all – assume the role of that character, and introduce themselves to each other in pairs. They made some interesting character choices – at one point, “Barack Obama” met “Jack Bauer”, and we all agreed that this is a meeting that should happen in real life.
As they are making the rounds, Jack Bauer meets a girl maybe in her mid-thirties/early forties. She’s also kind small/short. For this exercise, she has assumed the identity of Pikachu. As she introduces herself, Jack Bauer is a little surprised by her choice. He steps back, takes a good look at her, and says “Oh, you are Pikachu?! But, you are not yellow. You have no tail.” He even looked at her ass as he said that.
Maybe you have to be very un-PC to appreciate this, but I just found it absolutely hilarious. A Japanese guy sizes up a Japanese woman and then says, “You are not yellow. You have no tail.”
Obviously, Jack Bauer is in the Sir Mix-a-Lot camp when it comes to women.