Posts Tagged ‘japanese

26
Feb
10

Live from Locohama S1/E10: Payback’s a bitch!!

Sitting in the office 2 hours ago watching Mao get her ass handed to her. After she stumbled…

Kim Yuna

Me: Ugh! That wasn’t good

Sensei-gata (all teachers)- Yabaaaaai! Hidoi!!! Kawaisou!!! (Fuuuuck!)

Me: Maybe she can still get the silver or the bronze.

Yoshida sensei: …

Me: That girl Kim. She’s Korean, right?

Yoshida: …

Me: Mae no kanojo wa kankokujin deshou? (That girl that skated earlier was Korean right?)

Yoshida: Hai hai hai

Me: She was cute!

Yoshida: …

Me: Mao’s cute too…looks kind of Chinese, though.

Yoshida: …

Me: Are Koreans better skaters than Japanese?

Yoshida: Eeee?

Me: Not today…I mean obviously today they are better. I mean in general…

Yoshida: …

Me: Is Mao haafu? Half Chinese, half Japanese? She looks Chinese to me…

Yoshida:…

Me: Wakatta?

Yoshida: Wakatta wakatta…

Mao’s score appears on the screen.

Me: HEY! Mao’s in second place! That’s great! She has a good chance of being number two in the world!

Ozawa sensei gets up and turns the TV off. Time to get back to work.

Me: Damn! I wanted to see that Russian girl. She was cute, too!

Loco

15
Mar
09

White Night at a Yokohama Love Hotel pt. 1

In Japan, Valentine’s day is for the boys.  The girls buy chocolate and what not and give it to the guys. The Japanese have a separate holiday for the return of these Valentines. Its called White Day. I don’t know why it’s called White Day…I’ve heard because chocolate companies were trying to market White Chocolate…I’ve also heard something about it being associated with powdered sugar, which is also white… Anyway, on White Day the guy is expected to return the favor to the girl or girls who hit him off on Valentines. I received a bunch of chocolates from my students, but most of them were 3rd year students and they’ve finished so I don’t have much favor returning to do.

White Night is a busy date night as you might imagine, and after the Sushi, the karaoke, and the purikura,it’s time to head to…yep, you guessed it: The Love Hotel!

Love Hotels are yet another thing on a long list of things I just Love about Japan. I mean, sure, doing it in the comfort of your own home has its moments, but…I don’t know about y’all, but my home in Japan ain’t got nothing on the Love Hotels.

Compared to Shibuya and Shinjuku, Yokohama doesn’t have much of a selection of Love Hotels, and some them are pretty dodgy. But there are a few good ones. I’d go cimg0371as far as to recommend Hotel Vigado and Hotel Riviera. They are both pretty good and reasonably priced on the weekdays. You can get a short stay (3 hours) for about  3500 yen ($35) or a little more than double that and stay all night.

On White Night it can get pretty busy (and pretty expensive).  Outside of the Love Hotels, like at Motels in the States, there are signs that inform you whether rooms are available or not…They’ll say OPEN or FULL or they might have it kanji. However, if cimg03681you know a little something about how these places work then you might be able to ignore the light.

Hotel Vigado’s FULL light was on…I ignored it.

If you’re going to spend the night you can’t check in until 11pm…unless you pay an extra charge. So if you plan to stay, and you anticipate a big crowd like on a major let’s go play at Love Hotel night like White Night, then arrive a little early. When I arrived the FULL light was still lit (see right) but that’s because couples who did not plan to spend the night were getting their 3 hours of fun in before last train. Somewhere between 11pm and 12 midnight they’ll come out and the FULL lamp will turn to OPEN.

So, what do you do? You cop a squat in the ultra clean, ultra gaudy lobby, done up like a Las Vegas hotel or something, and you wait in special waiting areas where couples sit and try not to die of shame. In one sitting area the chairs actually face the wall so that couples can wait in relative anonymity. front11

The cashier’s window is on the right…she can see you but not well- for your privacy. The three tables and six chairs in the back is one waiting area. Looks glitzy doesn’t it? Very Sparkly. (-;

machi1This is another waiting area. These three alcoves contained couples waiting patiently for other couples to vacate the rooms and the cleaning staff to go in and do their best to remove all the remnants the departing couples leave behind. We do not want to think about the job of these clean up people. Whatever they’re paid it’s not enough.  However, they usually do a pretty good job but I probably wouldn’t want to go through the place with one of those gadgets they had in Ocean’s 13. I might never go to any hotel ever again, let alone a Love Hotel. (-;

paneThe usual process is to enter the Love Hotel, go to wall full of glass panels that looks like something from “Jeopardy” and select a room. There are various levels with various amenities and sizes, and of course various prices. I tried to get a close up photo of the panel but because it’s glass and lit up it’s very difficult to shoot… and besides nothing makes Japanese  patrons waiting in the very conspicuous position of everyone knowing you are there to fuck  more comfortable than a foreigner with a camera, right? So, out of courtesy, I only shot this one very quickly. Gomen ne.

cimg0372What you  can see are two prices for room number 608. One price is for a short 3 hour stay, and the other price is for overnight, as I mentioned before, about twice the 3 hour rate. The prices are lower during the week…If the panel is lit that means the room is available.  There’s also a picture of the room and a brief description of its amenities. Can you see the bed in my reflection? Maybe not.

Once you’ve paid the cashier, you pop in elevator and up you go! The elevators are very nice and the hallways are all marble and glass and lights as well with lots of plants and flowers. It’s not luxurious but you get the feeling that they spared no expense which is a good feeling for a place you’re about to sleep in (at some point) to have…deshou?cimg0373

Want to see what inside the room looks like? I bet you do…

To be continued (-;

10
Mar
09

Anti-Acts of Retaliation #1: Cock-Blocking Chikan

I could feel the awkward pressure against me, his subtle insistence that I move when moving was unnecessary;  ample space awaited him in the other direction I discerned with a glance. If this were NY I would’ve thought he was a pickpocket or nutcase…but this is Yokohama, and the mere fact that he was touching me voluntarily was a red flag in and of itself. What’s he up to?

At the next station the doors slid open and more people filed in. I am accustomed to being surrounded by what my boy EZ calls the “Gaijin Perimeter” (a perimeter Japanese tend to place around foreigners, regardless of crowding, in their effort not to come into contact with them) whenever I ride the trains. Sometimes this perimeter is huge, sometimes it’s pretty tight. The size varies from day to day but it’s always there, and I’ve learned that anyone who dares to enter my perimeter usually has an agenda. This guy did. Once the perimeter is breached, I’ve learned, then others will follow suit, as if the initial breacher had informed them using some secret Japanese masonic-like code, “come on in…the water’s warm!”

And, that’s how it went this morning. People filed in, glimpsed me, in all my conspicuousness, hesitated (or froze causing a logjam) then, noticing the breacher’s rather close proximity to me, decided I must be ok and bounded for any available space. To my left was a High School girl, traditional uniform, skirt hiked up rather high but no higher than can commonly be seen on any given day during any season. She favored one of the kids who had graduated from my Junior High School a couple of years ago, Kanako. Kanako had been a trouble maker but after a few bumps in the road we had gotten along very well. When she graduated she’d told me she will never forget me.  This girl kind of favored Kanako but it definitely wasn’t her. This girl was ferociously writing a text to someone, her thumb a tiny blur. The space to my right, previously vacant, was now filled by an office lady, one of the Women in Black, the uniform for freshmen office workers here. My rear was occupied by the breacher. As the passengers boarded, I could feel a stronger pressure upon me. A couple of boarders wanted to get by the breacher to the vacant space on his left, but his hand was holding onto the strap over my shoulder with a grip that would impress an undertaker. So, they had to squeeze around him.

The red flag became a fire alarm. With not only the option of moving but the insistence that he do so coming from his fellow nihonjin, he wanted to stay close to me?! What the hell?! I turned around for the first time to glance at this guy.  In sync with the turn of my head, he upturned his face and took a closer look at the train’s ventilation system. It fascinated him. He’d never noticed before how intricate yet practical its design is…at least his expression said as much. He was your typical salaryman, dark suit, striped tie, a little shabbily groomed but decent enough, 50-ish. He had a briefcase in his right hand and nothing in the left. Could he be a pickpocket? I couldn’t even imagine that if he were he would mark me as a target. Though my wallet is a little overstuffed and swells my back pocket, it’s mostly because of the 15 or 20 point cards I keep in there: Yodobashi camera, Bic Camera, Sakura ya, Yoshinoya, Jonathans, Gusto, Starbucks, Mister Donuts, KFC, my favorite massage parlor in Yokohama (no happy ending but really cute skilled girls), an oxygen cafe in Minato Mirai (with flavored air), etc, etc… never know when you gonna need a point card.

I turned and faced forward as the train pulled away from the station. I could feel his breath on my neck. It’s a very unusual feeling here, for me, to be breathed on. It smelled like this morning’s Nattoo, Miso and rice and fish…and I counted my blessings that I’m spared this torture most mornings (thank god for xenophobia…)

The girl beside me suddenly almost dropped her cellphone. She caught it, glanced at me kind of coyly, brushed the hair out of her eyes, and went back to thumbing her message. Which reminded me I need to send a text to my student to confirm our lesson that night. Suddenly the girl beside me jerked, almost indiscernibly, like she’d been pricked with a needle she’d been expecting, and sort of half glanced behind her, like if she were checking the shoulder of her blue jacket for lint.

Suddenly it all fell into place. His position behind me, slightly to my left, and his  resistance against being moved from the position he’d coveted. I knew what the perimeter breacher was up to.  At least I thought I did.

At the next station, a good number of people got off.  Some from my left headed by me for the door to my right. I watched peripherally the breacher make way for them, actually exiting the car and standing on the platform. After the last departing passenger had exited, he let a few new comers board before him. Without him there within my perimeter attesting to my civility, the first few people of the new swarm hesitated then fled to available spaces as far from the perimeter as possible. Once he boarded and headed back to his position behind / beside me, attesting to the safety of the area within the perimeter, the swarm behind him closed in. Again he grabbed the strap over my shoulder and let the swarm push its way by him, like a man holding onto a tree branch just before the cascading 100 foot drop of a water fall.

That was enough confirmation for me. He was chikan…definitely.

The high school girl was still thumbing away apparently oblivious to the efforts  this guy was making. I had actually been pushed closer to her so that now, involuntarily, I was up against her too a bit. My left hand, which held my briefcase, was against her thigh. Once the train started moving again, I tried  to switch my briefcase to my other hand so as not to be mistaken for the one enjoying this ride, but it was tightly wedged against her…as was his.  Judging from his height and hers, his hand had to be wedged in the crack of her ass. And with the shortness of her skirt he was probably wedged under it. How convenient for him.

I glanced down but all I could see was her navy blue skirt…then, when the train shifted a little I caught a glimpse of her white lacy underwear and a yellow hand on or in them. I couldn’t tell which it was so quick. So, I had to decide how much I wanted to be a good Samaritan (it has become an issue since I’ve been living here treated in a manner that makes me actually pause and question whether I should get involved or mind my business)

Suddenly the train jolted and I thought to use this opportunity to switch my briefcase to my other hand…but before I could another idea just popped into my head. Pretending to be thrown off balance I thrust my briefcase between the guy and the school girl, knocking his hand away from its position.  Then I  grabbed the strap above the school girl and held on as tightly as he had. I could feel his effort to get me to shift back to my previous position so that he could do the same and resume, but I held fast. A few moments later the train jolted again and I felt a strong, sharp, determined elbow against my ribcage telling me, “move motherfucker, this is my catch of the day!”  There was nothing passive about this guy.

The train was pulling into the station at that point so I relinquished my grip on the strap.  As it slowed, sharply (must have been a trainee driving the train) the elbow that was against my ribs thrusts into me…purposely, I suspect, but it could arguably have been an accident. It hurt. Hurt like it had been done by someone familiar with how to disable people with a blow. I turned around to face him but, suddenly, he realized he hadn’t finished studying the ventilation system yet. Perhaps he was some sort of engineer. I took a strap again, urgently, like I’d lost my balance again, only this time it was a strap on the other side of him, and in doing so I just missed elbowing him in the back of the head by inches. He’d ducked when I reached across him. Fuck!

The doors opened and I watched him get off. I turned to check the school girl, but she had queued to get off the train through another door. By the time I got to the platform the chikan was nowhere in sight.

Since this occurrence some time back this has happened a ridiculous  number of times.  I used to think anybody who touched me on the train was either crazy, or in an unavoidable predicament where they had to-either they were pushed by the passengers behind them or their simply was no place else to go, or maybe they were reading a manga or sending a text or something-not paying attention to where they were going and found themselves within my perimeter, or they had something more important on their minds…something that overcame the gaijin-fear instinct that seems to guide everyone else’s movements when in my vicinity.

But, I learned that day that i was wrong. in some cases, maybe once or twice a week, it’s to get close to some woman. And if I’m in the vicinity I cock block them…

sometimes…

Loco lite (-:

(Taste great, less filling)

06
Mar
09

Lighten up, Loco

I’ve been doing some thinking…a lot of thinking, actually. For the most part I’ve focused my blog on Japanese people, culture, customs and idiosyncrasies, and the highs and lows of living among them, as well as the effect of xenophobia on the soul. What I have ignored to a large degree is the issue of other people living here who also have a significant effect on ones experience here: other foreigners.

I’ve touched on it several times. I’ve discussed why avoiding gaijin is in your best interest but in that post I focused primarily on the haters. The hex that Japan tends to put people under has long since worn off of these folks (assuming they had been enchanted in the first place) and they have become like dope fiends after the dope is all gone, only once it’s gone- this spell- it’s gone. And there’s no methadone to replace it with. Most turn angry. Angry and bitter! Angry at the people still under the spell (high) or in the process of being spellbound, angry at the people they hold responsible for putting the spell on them (the Japanese mostly), and angry at themselves for being weak enough to be taken in by what amounts to an obvious delusion. Some were that way already and just reverted to form.

Yep, I said it before and I’ll say it again: Avoid them!

But there are other types of foreigners here, and sometimes they’re just as relentless as the haters.  I won’t try to categorize them because in the end I’ll just look like a fool because no one fits nicely into any category, not even Japanese people. So, for the purpose of this entry, I will focus primarily on why they have given me pause- these others.

Yes, just like on that island on “Lost” we have us some “Others” here, too.

“Lighten up, Loco!” says one of these others. “We’re all in this together.”

“Stop behaving like a petulant child,” says another other. “That’s  so old hat.”

You are the problem!” says yet another other. “Japanese fear of you is warranted. You’re creepy!”

Some of the comments were in response to entries like those under “acts of retaliation” or any entry in which I express any negative thoughts about Japan or Japanese people, or, god forbid, retaliate in anyway. The responses seem to be designed to make me feel ashamed of myself, like somehow I should know better (I guess due to my 5 year tenure here or the aptitude or potential for good thoughts and deeds I’ve demonstrated in other posts I’ve written, or because I come from another planet where tolerance for impertinence and irreverence and inhumane treatment is a virtue), chastising me for behaving and responding as I do to Japanese disrespectful behavior. Some of them are just hate-filled because, well, let’s face it, some people are just fucking hateful.

Some of them seem to be pushing towards enrollment in the Kneel and Suck it like a Good Gaijin and Stop your Miserable Complaining Already College of New Hat Thinking.  Their school motto is: Japanese, regardless of their behavior, are not the problem at all! You, and pissing moaning malcontents like you, are the Problem. My retaliating and, in some cases, my very presence here is the problem and if  it weren’t for gaijin like me, gaijin like them would be 10 times better off…so I should join their ranks or, better yet, go home.

The other option is the Whisper Words of Wisdom, let the Japanese be University. Their school motto, which has a similar goal but slightly different tone as the other, is: Passive Aggression and Patient Positivity Produces Incremental Improvements…they maintain that by accepting life as it comes, and loving Japan as it is regardless is the only way…and if you don’t agree you should go back to your den of multiculturalism, or whatever rock you slithered out from under, and leave Japan to us significantly wiser folk who’ve managed to survive here for decades, without going Loco- thank you very much…

I ain’t mad at either of them, really. They both make good, if not, great points, and I value their feedback. I’m serious, I really do. And if you read my responses (and I do try to respond to everyone…I rarely censor unless it’s just noise or nonsense or blatant lies I’ll have no part  in distributing) you know that I take my time and try to be as thoughtful and thorough as I feel the comment is due.

But, sometimes…

There are foreigners here (no names…you know who you are) whose comments have lead me to believe that they think of Japan and Japanese as a country, people and culture to be protected, the way parents protect children…like they’re some kind of child race, or mentally challenged people. The benefit of the doubt is extended a little further for them due to their lack of exposure to the outside world (whatever the fuck that means in this day and age). Their inexperience with dealing with westerners entitles them to commit all kinds of indiscretions and transgressions…all excusable under the umbrella of inherent ignorance. An umbrella hoisted and held by some of the foreigners here.

And, if they feel that way, then what does that make me? That parent who spanks or slaps his children in the supermarket? The guy who walks through the streets with his mentally challenged daughter on a leash? The Special Ed teacher who kicks his students in the gut when they get out of hand? Yep…that’s the tone of some of the responses. I should be ashamed of myself. I’m almost criminal.

If my child acts out in the supermarket…you know what? I might pop him upside the head. My moms sure as hell did… And I learned.  I won’t spoil my children and I won’t spoil the Japanese, either, by pretending their ignorance is ok because they live on a tiny island cut off from the rest of the world by the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan….because it simply isn’t true. Not anymore. They need to stop trying to convince me that that is a valid excuse for treating me like a creature devoid of feelings.

And the foreigners here who echo that malarkey, who buy that baka banashi (drivel) need to cut that shit out, too.

Trust me…I understand…I live here, too. I know how you feel.  Day after day after day, you hear the same shit and pretty soon they wear you down, and you give in to the preponderance of ignorance around you. It’s overwhelming. You start to say shit like ‘They are a homogeneous people’ and ‘they are  unaccustomed to foreigners’ and blah blah blah fucking blah  and you really start to believe that these are valid excuses for dehumanizing foreigners… simply because 10000 Japanese have told you so.

On my blog I try to illustrate to the best of my ability what it is like for (and in no particular order): 1) a black man in Japan 2) A New Yorker in japan 3) A foreigner in japan.

I think the experience of being a foreigner in Japan is shared by every foreigner here, to some extent. I think being a black foreigner has a significant impact on that experience causing it to be much more, well, let’s just say it’s a different type of intensity than the experience of some other racial designations. And, I think being from New York, that multicultural den of dens, an environment almost antithetical to the one I currently live in, is also significant.  These factors are at the heart of most of my entries.

But, not at the heart of the responses.

Firstly, I need to point out some things that may or may not be obvious. If they are please forgive me.

While the above has happened to me a number of times in New York, it is a regular occurrence in Japan, both men and women, on streets, in shops, elevators, trains, anywhere and everywhere, at least 9 or 10 times a day, without fail. In fact, if it doesn’t happen I’m shocked and I wonder if nihonjin are sleeping on the job. But, I’ve de-sensitized myself as much as one can to such behavior. If you’ve never experienced it then you have no idea the rage that shoots through you, to be insulted and humiliated in that way… like adrenalin on adrenalin. Nor would you know the effort required to suppress it, to keep yourself from taking the offender by the neck and squeezing until they are quite dead…(mild exaggeration) The fact that I don’t is a testament to my good will towards man, even Japanese, and that highly coveted benefit of the doubt that I’m so often accused of not extending to Japanese people though i receive it rarely from them. It is a reward in itself, like surviving water boarding without giving up the location of your family and friends that your torturers wanted so desperately to retrieve so that they could go and kill them all.

But, make  no mistake about it, it is still an ordeal. Every friggin time!

I know some of you are (still) saying / thinking: get over it! or Focus on the good things. Or why don’t you just ignore them? They’re just ignorant. They don’t mean anything by it. Why don’t you just go back home if it’s so bad? Well, what would you tell that guy in the video? Why don’t you stop riding elevators with white people? Why don’t you move to another city where that kind of thing doesn’t go on? Where would that be? Where is this place where I can live without dealing with this?

No, like that pseudo-PSA, and like Richard Pryor, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle and many others, I tend to deal with serious issues utilizing humor. Moreover, as I’ve mentioned in previous post, I’ve decided to draw the proverbial line in the sand, right here in Asia.

However, not to disregard my readers who appreciate my giving them a prospective of Japan that isn’t devoid of the darker side of life here, I’ve decided to lighten up a little.  Yes, I hate winter, and maybe that’s as much a part of the reason I’ve been feeling really blue and especially sensitive lately as the atrocious behavior of the natives here, and in the spirit of the rapidly approaching spring and the Cherry blossoms that accompany it, I will endeavor to write lighter and brighter entries and keep my venom to a minimum.

…but I’ll never kneel and suck it (-:

Loco

06
Mar
09

The Homogeneous versus The Homo Sapiens: Conversation 3/5/09

Student: I read your blog about the empty seat on the train. Is it fiction? I can’t believe it.

Me: Can’t believe what?

Student: Is it true?

Me: Well…I guess it does sound incredible. I’ve gotten used to it, though.

Student: You seem tired.

Me: Some days are rougher than others

Student: I really can’t believe it! I’m so sorry…

Me: No, no, don’t be sorry. It’s, uh…well, that’s just the way it is.

Student: I think it’s probably because of the media.

Me: Is it? I don’t watch the news here.

Student: The news always says black people are criminals.

Me: Yeah, I’ve heard about that.

Student: Especially soldiers. Like those soldiers in Okinawa, always doing crime.

Me: Always? What kind of crimes?

Student: Raping girls.

Me: There are a lot of rapes in Okinawa?

Student: Not a lot of rapes. But a lot of news though.

Me: That’s why Japanese people in Yokohama are afraid of me, you think?

Student: Probably. Japanese people believe the news.

Me: Do Japanese men think I’m going to rape them, too?

Student: (LOL) I don’t know…that’s funny.

Me: I guess so…Are Chikan (subway perverts) discussed on the news?

Student: Yes. Many stories about Chikan.

Me: 100% of them are Japanese men.  Why aren’t women afraid of  Japanese men?

Student: Ee! I don’t know. Never thought about that. Maybe they are.

Me: But they sit next to them and stand next to them…

Student: Yeah, well…

Me: And the media shows good images of black people too, don’t they? Sometimes?

Student: Good images?

Me: Yeah, you know, like…I don’t know, Barack Obama, Stevie Wonder, Oprah Winfrey, what’s that Enka singing guy’s name Jello or something? People like that?

Student: Yes. Je-ro…He’s very popular. Stevie Wonder too…and of course Barack Obama…

Me: Then Japanese actually choose to trust the negative images over the positive ones?

Student: Well, I don’t know…seems so.

Me: Yeah, well, anyway, media in America isn’t so great, either.

Student: (looking perplexed) Also, we are homo…homo…

Me: Homogeneous

Student: Right! That’s right! Japan is a homogeneous country.

Me: Yep. Japan is homogeneous. I have a question? If we are all homo sapiens, what difference does homogeneous make?

Student: Homo sapien?

Me: Modern day human beings

Student: Oh.

Me: UnlessJapanese think that human beings are like dogs, with different breeds…like Japanese are Chihuahuas and blacks are pit bulls and whites are poodles, that kind of thing… or maybe they don’t consider other people human beings…onlly Japanese are human.

Student: Ee! Everybody is human, of course.

Me: Do you mean just biologically, or mentally, emotionally, and spiritually as well?

Student:  All the same.

Me: Then Homogeneous means nothing. We all eat, drink, breathe, fart, rape, steal, kill, lie, cheat…We all, or at least most people love their children, want a good life, work hard and…well, you know what I mean…

Student: Yes.

Me: If I treated you like a leper would it bother you?

Student: Leper?

Me: Hmmm….like a diseased person. Someone to be avoided at all cost.

Student: It would bother me…

Me: So it’s safe to assume that if we are both human then it will bother me, too.

Student: Uhh…yes?

Me: So, if Japanese know that what they are doing will bother me they either aren’t aware of what they’re doing, trying to be offensive, or don’t give a damn how I feel. That’s my conclusion. And if they aren’t aware they need to be made aware. And if they’re trying to be offensive then…I really don’t know what to say to that. And if they don’t care about my feelings at all then,well….

Student: I understand. I can imagine how it must feel.

Me: Sorry, I don’t like to say such things but that’s what was on my mind.

Student: I think most of Japanese don’t know what they do.

Me: Really?

Student: I don’t know. I think so. We are…We’re not…

Me:…used to foreigners?

Student: Yes, that’s right.

Me:  Ok

Student: So…well…

Me: Are you used to foreigners?

Students: A little.

Me: Would you sit next to a foreigner on the train?

Student: Of course.

Me: So if you can do it, then it can be done.

Student: Yes, but most people are not like me…

Me: This is true. You are rare in Japan. You work for a foreign company and use English everyday…

Student: Sou desu ne

Me: Ok…well, syouganai ne. (nothing can be done about it) Let’s start the lesson.

Loco

17
Feb
09

Conversation 2/17/09

At a Ramen Restaurant…

Student: This is a famous ramen restaurant…

Me : Oh really! You know I walk by here every day and never noticed it.

Student: It’s owned by a North Korean!

Me: A Korean? A North Korean? You mean South…

Student: I mean North. North Korea.

Me: Wow! Did he Defect?

Student: Defect? Nani sore?

(Student whips out a handy electronic dictionary)

Student: Oh! No, he was born here.

Me: He was born where? Here, here? In Yokohama?

Student: I don’t know. He was born in Japan.

Me: Then…isn’t he Japanese?

Student: No.

Me: Has he ever been to North Korea?

Student: I don’t know

Me: Can he even speak Korean?

Student: I don’t know.

Me: Ok…this is delicious by the way. Thanks for showing me this spot.

Student scratches head and smiles.

Student: Everybody knows he’s North Korean.

Me: Ok…I’m sure he is. Only, in America, if you’re born there then you’re American.

Student: This is not America.

Me: That’s for sure…American Ramen can’t touch this!

Loco

07
Feb
09

One other thing I just LOVE about Japan: Speaking Nihongo part 2

…So, with Nanpa eliminated as a motivating force for study I moved  on to the motivation that has given me the lowest level of gratification. Nevertheless, the hope of doing it effectively someday still springs eternal: Retaliation!

In English, I have a whole arsenal of expletives at my disposal for use in those situations where I need to let some jerk know verbally that they’ve trespassed upon my good nature and crossed some line I’ve drawn that represents the boundary of what is acceptable and what isn’t. It happens from time to time here, to put it mildly. I mean, I’ve moved the line here several times to compensate for Japanese ignorance, but some transgressions I feel are, or should be, universal and thus unforgivable regardless of cultural differences. Like if a parent grabs their child and pulls them away from me shrieking “Abunai” (dangerous). Or if some asshole in an effort to push me without actually coming in contact with me uses his briefcase as a buffer, etc, etc, etc.

The Japanese version of profanity is often formed  by simply dropping the politeness, using the informal version of words, and maybe dragging out some of the tones and rolling the “R”s a bit. “Baka yarou” means stupid or fool. “Baaaka Yarrrrrou!” means something akin to “You stupid motherfucker!” “Urusai” means “Noisy.” Uruse!” means “Shut the fuck up!” That “ai” to “e” transition to strengthen the potency of words is used a lot. “Yabai” which means something like dangerous or inconvenient or damnbecomes “yabe” which can either mean great or super cool or seriously fucked updepending on the situation! “Osanaide kudasai!” means “please don’t push me.” “Osu na!” means “Push me again motherfucker and I’m liable to break my foot off in your ass!”

There are a shitload of bad words, of course. But, I’ve found they are not nearly as effective as the dropping of politeness! If you use the bad words, the assumption on the part of the listener is that you are a stupid foreigner, incapable of managing the subtleness of the Japanese language and only capable of being as rude as you were back home. But, if you show the listener that you are well aware of polite and formal Japanese as well as colloquial and informal ways of speaking, that you understand that the formality or informality of your words is the key to truly making insults that will linger, then you can cuss effectively here.

Even something as simple as the way you say “you” can be more potent than saying fuck. “Anata” is the formal way of saying you. More commonly the person’s actual name is used. which westerners will probably find extremely weird and it took me quite a while to start doing. “Ohashi san wa genki desuka?” “Genki desu, okage sama de.” “Is Ms. Ohashi feeling Well ?” Yes, I am, thanks to you and the powers that be!” But, if you substitute “Omae” which also means you, usually reserved for friends, then it’s a spat in the face to a stranger, totally disrespectful. Yep, profanity can be just that simple in japan. The downside is if you are unaware of such things, and most foreigners are, then there’s a potential of your being profane every time you open your mouth and Japanese are being tolerant because of your ignorance. Like Eddie Murphy said about foreigners in America, that only learn how to curse:

But, like I said, this is the least gratifying. I rarely use it. I don’t even cuss people out in NY that often unless they’re friends or family.

But, the ultimate motivation and feeling of gratification comes from using Japanese to accomplish everyday task I had no dream of accomplishing a year or so ago. From giving directions to a taxi driver, to ordering a pizza on the phone,  to joining a health club, to conversing with my co-workers about something other than the weather: The hits just keep coming and they’re music to my ears! For all you uni-lingual people out there…bilingualism is a friggin’ high that keeps on keeping on (so far anyway) I remember when i was a kid and most of my friends were bi-lingual. I was so friggin’ envious of them. Mostly Spanish, but there was also French and Jamaican Patois, and that Trini language, and other kinds of unintelligible broken Englishes. I even envied them.

Now, I’m practically one of them. (-:

Loco




Copyright © 2010 Loco in Yokohama / All Rights Reserved

Please know that this blog is my original writing and may not be reproduced in any way without the expressed written permission of the author (that's me!) Thanks!

Words I love…

Everybody is a star
I can feel it when you shine on me
I love you for who you are
Not the one you feel you need to be
Ever catch a falling star
Ain't no stopping 'til it's in the ground
Everybody is a star
One big circle going round and round

Words by: Sly Stone

You're at LOCO IN YOKOHAMA! Are you signed up? If not, better hurry! Subscribe now while supplies last (-: enter your email here!

Join 1 other follower

Blog Stats

  • 251,341 are wondering when Loco will finish this book!

Join Loco’s Network here!

Stumble Upon

Gaijin Beat

Feedjit

Tweetin’

August 2017
M T W T F S S
« Mar    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

Top Clicks

  • None