Since it's black history month, I thought I'd post a surprisingly clean bit I've been doing on racism in Japan. Enjoy!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39AyJ0WKsc4
Always Ready to Help You With Your Life and Relationships Because She Never Has One Dear Gaijin Girl, My American Husband and I have been married for three years and have two children. My husband still expects me to have sex with him. Is this normal? Sincerely Stumped, Mizuho
Dear Mizuho, I completely understand how you feel. Actually, no, that’s a lie. I cannot understand why you’d want to turn down a reliable and ready source of the coitus unless it’s your husband is really bad at sex or you don’t know how to enjoy it. In the West, sex is always considered a dish on the marital menu that may or may not be ordered every day but is never completely removed from the bill of fare unless the restaurant burns down. (Even then, I’m sure some people would roast marshmallows over the still burning flames of the building hoping against hope that their charred bits of sugar fluff will taste like sex or at least, a hand job.) As I told the Japanese wife of a Welsh neighbor, “If you want to have a long and happy marriage, learn how to like sex because your husband is going to want to have sex with you until you die and probably after.” (The Welsh husband smiled, nodded and drooled in agreement.) There are many resources you can go to to learn more about how to enjoy sex but I recommend staying away from Japanese porn or anything else that suggests woman are not voluntary participants in the act or involve girls so young they technically haven’t been born yet. Contrary to popular belief, your sexual prowess does not peak at twelve years-old and a satisfying sexual encounter does not have to include tears. If your husband is just plain bad at sex, I have nothing but sympathy for you. Men are very sensitive about their penises. It’s very hard to talk to them directly about how they use it. Japanese people often assume that Americans are super direct about everything, we’re not. The Russians are. You could probably tell a Russian man he was bad in bed and he wouldn’t get upset or take it personally. He’d just wonder why you expected anything positive out of life in the first place. For women, sex is 90% mental and 10% discovery. (You want to put what WHERE?!) I think your safest bet is to practice getting your head in the right space for sexy time. Try to practice fantasizing about things that will really get your juices flowing. Picture him paying all bills on time, for once. (That’s in my spank bank but you might want to aim for something a little more realistic and attainable.) This will take time to figure out and that’s ok. You’re married, you’ve got nothing but time. I suggest trying sex with a side of intimacy. It’s an item on the menu more exotic in Japan than whale, plus you won’t have to worry about Sea Shepherd documenting and live streaming your sexual exploration for the world to see. Good Luck, Gaijin Girl
Dear Gaijin Girl, Even though I divorced my American husband last year and we haven’t lived together for three years, he still calls and wants to visit. What should I do? Sincerely Stunned, Kimiko
Dear Kimiko, I understand your frustration, I really do but you need to LET THE MAN SEE HIS CHILDREN. You’re ex-husband is not calling to talk to you. He does not want to visit you. He is calling to talk to his children, let him talk to them, let him see his children. Let your children have a father. I am assuming that your ex-husband is not abusive. If he were, you wouldn’t be writing me, you’d be calling the police getting a restraining order which they pass out like candy. Since you’re not, I am going to assume your ex-husband is not dangerous. He’s just an idiot for not doing research before making a deposit in your marital sperm bank. He didn’t know that as a foreign man (or any man) in Japan, once divorced, has zero rights and is expected to sever all ties with his children once and for all. He didn’t know that some mothers, in an effort to make themselves more marketable on the 2nd marriage scene, have their parents adopt their children and raise their grandchildren as their mother’s siblings. It worked for Jack Nicholson and Eric Clapton, but who really wants their child to grow up to be an actor or musician? Your ex-husband has no idea that the millions of yen he is spending in legal fees to fight for the right to merely see his kids will be wasted until the judge pulls him aside and says,”Why are you wasting your time with this? You should be enjoying your time in Japan. I hear Disneyland is very nice.”(That conversation actually happened.) The bottom line is, if you want to continue to cut your children’s father out of the picture, the deck is stacked in your favor but is that what’s best for the children or you? Most likely, no. Your kids need a father and you need help raising your children. Is it uncomfortable? Sure, sometimes. Does it involve confrontation? Absolutely. Is it better for your children? Without a doubt. It’s crucial for your child’s development that they maintain healthy relationships with both parents regardless of your marital status. International marriages are hard. Both sides bring to the table latent and often contrary cultural expectations of what the marriage should be that don’t manifest themselves until after the mortgage papers are signed and the babies are born. Remember, in the beginning of your relationship with your ex, when not sharing a native language was a good thing? You didn’t fight or bicker, not because you didn’t want to but because neither of you had the vocabulary to do so in the other’s language so you let it go and had sex instead. That’s a great way to make dozens of babies but it’s a horrible communication foundation to have with your life partner. It might seem impossible to believe, but you might even develop a better relationship with your ex-husband as a fellow parent and caretaker if you let him. It's not going to happen right away, of course. It’s important to remember that your ex-husband is not the Devil, he’s just an asshole and he’s an asshole that deserves a shot at being a loving and supportive parent. Sincerely, Gaijin Girl
Always Ready to Help You With Your Life and Relationships Because She Never Has One Dear Gaijin Girl, My American husband complains about the taste of Japanese food and wants me to cook more American food for him. What should I do? Sincerely Surprised, Naoko
Dear Naoko, First of all, if you want him to stop complaining about the taste of your food, you need to STOP POISONING HIM. I feel for you, I really do. When you first met and married that poor liberal arts major with a slightly unhealthy interest in anime, you had no idea how limited his career options would be in your homeland or just how unambitious he was to climb any ladder unless it involved a Mario brother. He’s never going to make enough money for you to be able to stay home with the kids and after you’re done having kids he’s still going to want to have sex with you. I know, it’s a hassle and a massive disappointment after you’re projected all your luxurious hopes and Hollywood fueled dreams onto this poor illiterate dope that can’t even sign a mobile phone contract without your help. You thought your husband would forever resemble Leonard DeCaprio in Titanic, you got a dead ringer for Leonardo DeCaprio in J. Edgar. It is a massive letdown. I will give you that, but it’s not an excuse to consistently poison him so that he’ll die ten years before you do. Among many reasons, it’s just not nice or necessary. If you really want to kill him, just let him eat all the American food he wants, it’ll probably do him in faster and it will be a lot less work on your part. All you have to do is heat the food in a plastic container. (Bonus cancer points!) It’ll probably be less nutritious than the poison you are lacing his food with now. So really, letting him eat American food is a win-win situation for your marriage. I would, however, stay away from Twinkies. He might eat too many and kill you. (Don’t worry, Twinkies are near impossible to get in Japan but peanut butter chocolate is available through Seiyu department stores. Binge eating peanut butter chocolate doesn’t trigger homicidal fits of rage but provides a fertile ground for depression or a degree of self loathing that may weaken the immune system and destroy his self-respect, if you’re lucky.) Of course, you could just talk to him and tell him that you’re unhappy, but we both know that’s never going to happen because that would require intimacy and a profound level of trust. So yeah, I’d start with peanut butter cups and chicken fried steak. Bon Appétit, Gaijin Girl
I’ve just finished reading an article about one of Japan’s latest food scandals. Yesterday, a Japanese woman said she found “dental material” in her hamburger bought at McDonald’s in Hokkaido this past September. She also said she initially thought the crunchiness was due to sand or stones in her burger. http://www.japantoday.com/category/business/view/woman-finds-dental-material-in-mcdonalds-japan-burger
There are so many things I already love about this woman. For starters, when she encountered a crunchiness not associated with hamburger, she thought it was sand and kept chewing long enough for her to reassessed her tastebud results and then decide that her burger might be filled with stones, resulting in her chewing some more. Tenacity is a precious personality trait that I think should be recognized and valued for all its jolie laide glory here.
On top of that, we are just hearing of it now when the culinary experience happened all the way back in September. I am going to guess that it’s taken her three months to come to terms with getting over the embarrassment of admitting to “eating sand or stones” and being ok with it. (Not that I can fault her. I recently ate a soap laced stew that I knew tasted wrong in every way but was too hungry to care. I think we’ve all been there. No? Nevermind, I’m fine now, thanks for asking.)
McDonald’s did not confirm if the “dental material” in fact was inside the hamburger but insisted that no employees had any teeth problems at the time. The above mentioned woman also denied having any dental problems. Well, now we know somebody’s lying. Everybody has problems with their teeth most of the time if not all the time. We know we are supposed to go to the dentist every six months but go every 6 years instead because going to the dentist is expensive and just plain sucks. Dentists don’t even like being dentists. They have a higher suicide rate than in any other profession. My point is, nobody goes to the dentist and McDonald’s doesn’t know if any of their employees had dental problems unless they sent them all to the dentist immediately which they wouldn’t because that’s expensive and sensible. They’d rather hire another lawyer. http://www.businessinsider.com/jobs-commit-suicide-2010-10?op=1
McDonalds has had quite the year when it comes to food scandals. A human tooth was found in a french fry. A strip of vinyl was found in a chicken nugget. A kid cut his mouth on a piece of plastic found in a chocolate sundae. Takehiko Aoki, senior vice president at McD’s Japan announced at a press conference that their new goal was to “make such cases zero”. That’s a great New Year’s resolution. It’s a clear, measurable and attainable goal that I’ve managed to maintain without even trying.
Aoki also said, “I am confident that my family can eat McDonald's products. "I will eat McNuggets." "I will feed McNuggets to my children. I have no doubts." Well, that’s one way of saying he doesn't particularly like his family, especially his children.
Since being born blue a month early, head to head, with my identical twin in photo finish fashion (Nobody knows which one of us was born first. I think it was me because she was dead at the time.) I've spent more time than my fair share in a hospital. Over the past ten years, I've had four knee surgeries in Tokyo. Several years ago, I snapped my ACL ligament doing a jump kick in karate class. (I know, I'm a jackass.) The doctor at the time wouldn't fix it because, in the doctor's words, "You're not an athlete. You're a woman." As a result, I've needed patch up surgeries over the years. This year, I've finally got the ACL repaired. Here's one thing I've learned over the years.
In Japanese hospitals, pain is considered a relatively good thing. When my kneecap broke in three places and my leg started to spasm, causing me to internally stab my thigh over and over, I screamed for morphine. The doctors and nurses laughed. " You're not getting morphine! You don't have brain cancer." I was encouraged by the ER nurse to look around and see all the other patients correctly suffering in silence as they waited to be treated. I look up and sure enough, there in front of me was a salary man with a samurai sword through his head waiting patiently as he pretended to be asleep, or maybe he was dead. I don't know. All I know is that the only other people screaming were two, what looked like 7 year-old boys with broken fingers. The three of us locked eyes and began screaming in unison, creating a Bermuda Triangle of Pain. By that, I mean everyone around us pretended we didn't exist. A few minutes later, the doctor agreed to give me a "mild morphine". However, they only had suppositories. Yep, that's right, the home of the space-age toilet doesn't have chewables. The nurse said,"We will have to remove your clothing." "I can't move!" "What do you want us to do?" "Cut them off and stick the morphine up me!" "But they are nice clothes!" "They are from Uniqlo. Cut them OFF!" Had I been in America, the nurse would have been cutting through my clothes with massive shears as I was wheeled into the ER saying something along the lines of, " Oh, I'm sorry, did you want to wear your wedding dress again?"
Perhaps the best example of just how comfortable Japan is with pain is the fact that friends smuggled drugs into the hospital for me. Yup, I routinely got gifted chocolate, Starbucks and a bottle of valium. I soon became a model patient:)
Dear Gaijin Girl, My American boyfriend talks during sex, is this normal? Sincerely Startled, Makiko
Dear Makiko, Yes, verbal communication before, during and after sex is common in the West though it is optional in Japan. You haven't elaborated on what he was saying so I will give you some guidelines as to what is acceptable for him to say on the futon floor and what's grounds to run screaming in the direction of your local koban. Acceptable things for him to say: "Oh Makiko!" "Your so hot!" "I just love your little (body part)" "I can't wait to put my throbbing (body part) in your little (body part) Note: His sentences might be peppered with other auto racing verbs, as well as, rude words in the four letter range, often starting with ‘f’ and ending in ‘ing’ . Unacceptable things for him to say: "Pull my Finger" "Oh Keiko! (or another woman/man/anime character’s name)" "I just want to cut/slice/dice you into pieces. (-ing forms of these or similar cooking verbs are also not ok.)" It is very possible that your boyfriend will want you to talk to him during sex. Things to say: "Your (body part) is so Big! " "Oh yeah!" "Don't stop!" Things best left unsaid during sex even if you really want to say them: “Would you like rice or bread in your bento tomorrow?” “You good?” “Wake me when you’re done. There’s a drama I want to watch on in 15 minutes.” “Your nose is so big!” “Dad? Is that you?” “(Ping) Ooh! A text!” “I have an English question. Do I say, ‘A boyfriend was bigger.’ or ‘All my boyfriends were bigger?’”
Keep a pencil and a pad of paper nearby so that If he says something that makes you uncomfortable you can write it down. It’s important to remember that when someone from a different culture says or does something that seems offensive, you have to give it a day and consult with people more knowledgeable than yourself before deciding that they are an asshole that deserves to be dumped. If you are really worried, I strongly suggest that you record what he says with an iPhone App or similar. Call his mother, playback what he says and see if she thinks his language is appropriate. I’m sure she’ll have a detailed answer either way, particularly if she is racist. The important thing to remember is that there are plenty of fish in this manmade reservoir of Tokyo and if you really want to be happy, dump your boyfriend and buy a cat. Sincerely, Gaijin Girl
Being a Westerner in Tokyo has it's perks. One of my elusive favorites is spotting famous people from back home. Stars look so cool, calm and "king of the world" until they arrive in the Land of the Rising Sun. Once they come through customs where they've been shown a picture hard core porn and heroin needles and asked, "Did you bring this with you?" A look of, " What the fuck is going on!?!" sets in on their faces and doesn't go away until they are back sleeping in their own beds in the old country. My first hour in Japan, I saw Sting. Rather, I would have, had I not been in the toilet. All of the other exchange students saw him walk through the gate. ( Apparently, he owns a house in Japan somewhere.) One of the students yelled, " Hey Sting! You're great!" Sting looked at him, decided the student wasn't dangerous, smiled, waved, and disappeared into the crowd. ( Yeah, it's possible for white people to do that here.)
One of my friends stood behind Ray Charles in immigration for a minute until an officer recognized him and called him by name as they opened up a new line for him.
Another friend saw Aerosmith spill out of a McDonald's one morning in Kabukicho, Tokyo's pink district.
I will forever have warm feeling for Downtown's legendary Matsumoto Hitoshi for telling Janet Jackson she never " wanted to talk about anything interesting on his show. Will you please talk about the nipple slip!? You know that's all we want to talk about!" and how well the interpreter managed to ask her something about the weather instead.
I will never forget how a reporter asked the then Governor of California Shwa-chan, who was on a tour to promote California produce to " take off his shirt and flex his muscles for us." (He would not.)
My biggest celeb sighting was a few summers ago at Shibuya crossing. The busiest crossing in the world with over a million people using it a day. shibuya crossing The area is full of 25 year-old girls in micro-mini skirts year-round. Not a single one of them has cellulite, not even a hint of a dimple. I know that because when, in the corner of my eye, I saw cellulite in motion that didn't belong to me, it stopped me. I had to get a better look at this otherwise skinny person in a hot pants. That's when I realized I was looking at Tayor Swift then with a string of flowers in her hair and her entourage flanking her. At the time, she wasn't that famous in Japan but the poor bodyguard treated every single passerby in the crossing like a potential threat. He really need not have worried about them. He should have been walking behind her.
I travel alone a lot. It's not that I don't like traveling with other people, I do. I just hate worrying about whether or not other people are having a good time doing things I like to do. People may assume it's Japanese culture rubbing off on me but I think I've always been this way. In my experience, there are two types of traveling people: people who care too much about whether everyone is having a good time or not, and people who are determined to have a shit time no matter what. My first year in university, I went on a two-week road trip with two Japanese exchange students from Kansas City to San Francisco and then up to Vancouver. Three days into the trip everyone hated each other. The trip wasn't cut short because we all made a commitment to doing this trip and somehow believed the trip was so bad it could only get better. How wrong we were.
In hindsight, it probably wasn't a good idea to go on a road trip with people I didn't really know all that well; but, one could argue that you don't really know anyone until you've been on a road trip with them. In the end, one exchange student and I decided we hated the driver more than we hated each other and took the greyhound bus from Seattle back to Kansas. It was a three-day, shower-less funk fest of a bus ride, but it was paradise compared to sharing a car with that prick.
It turned out that the driver had invited me because, as an American, I could be his personal tour guide of the great American west. He was very upset when I couldn't fill him in on the details of exactly where John Wayne took a dump in Utah. When the other exchange student ( who was invited on the trip by me and could rightfully hate me) landed in the hospital due to all the stress this vacation was causing, the driver chewed him out for being weak.
Since then, I've pretty much travelled alone. I meet up with friends when I travel; but, I always plan plenty of, " in case this all goes to shit" escape routes, so that, by the end of the trip, I still have friends. That said, it's not easy traveling alone as a woman. I meet foreign men, like I did tonight, that believe all American women act the way women in American porn act.
A man from Pakistan followed me to the train platform when I returned his " Hello" at the ticket machine. ( I was on my way home from church and was feeling happy and carefree, sue me) At the platform, I realized that when I returned his, " Hello", what he heard was, " Hey there big boy, why don't you come back to my place?" I then went on and on about my wonderfully big, strong, imaginary boyfriend...a Navy Seal. The Pakistani man promptly shook my hand, wished me a happy life and took off.
I wish that I didn't have to lie about such things but I just didn't have the energy to explain I'm single, not a lesbian and not in need of his sexual services. I had a feeling that if I did try to explain that, all he would hear was, " single, available, open to girl on girl action and in desperate need of your sexual services" So imaginary Navy Seal boyfriend it is...
This week, my boss unexpectedly died of medical complications. He is without a doubt, the best boss I've ever had and he is sorely missed by everyone who knew Jon, especially those who were fortunate enough to work for him. He was a master in the powers of persuasion. I will never forget his soft voice asking me, " Would you mind doing such and such, Spring?" Then, after I've agreed to the request, he'd turn to a manager and say, " Spring said she'd love to do it."
He looked out for all of us and always brought the staff American sized bags of candy we'd almost forgotten existed, such as the frosted pink and white elephant crackers and Reese's peanut butter cups as souviners from his latest weekend trip to Guam.
A fellow techie geek, he was always helpful with personal computer problems, and if he didn't know how to fix it, he'd let you know who could. When I was contemplating buying a NetBook earlier this year, he offered me his old one for ten bucks, saying, " I've got a better one now, I've just been using that old thing as a flashlight." He even recorded the Macy's parade for me , the whole thing, when I commented that I kinda missed watching it. He always approved every staff request happily, in a country where heming and hawing and a dash of guilt is often a prerequisite for any approval given by management.
I will miss sitting with him in the office chatting and joking about TV shows, the eccentric people in our lives and the random information he'd gathered living in Japan some 30 years. ( i.e. Japanese and East German dentists used the same material for fillings and crowns so if you're of a certain age and go to an older dentist in America, he'll assume you've lived in East Germany.)
My coworker worried, " Do you think he knew how much we loved him?" I think he did. When it was announced last month in the break room that he'd be transferred to another office in 2012, it was met with a barrage of "That sucks!" and other expletives I won't write here. I remember Jon smiling at that.
Jon, we miss you and will never forget you
Tokyo taxi drivers come in two distinctive types, the silent Shunsukes and the chatty Kentaros. I don't have a preference for one or the other. I just hope they don't overcharge me or try to pass off a one yen coin as a one-hundred yen coin when giving me my change. ( that's happened to me three times and I've called them on it every single time.)
One late night, coming home from a party after all the trains had stopped, I got into a chatty Kentaro taxi. He asked me the regular questions, " Where are you from?" " How long have you been in Japan?" " Why don't you go home?" He also gave me the standard compliments, " You speak Japanese very well!" and " I'll bet your parents miss you. You should go home."
Then the driver asked me if I ever went to any of the U.S. bases. I said that I had been to the bases a few times for special events but hadn't been to any in a long time. The taxi driver went on to praise the "open mind" of Americans and how wonderful it was that they brought it to Japan. " Sure. OK." I said.
He went on to describe how wonderful restaurants and clubs near the base were. " I wouldn't know." I replied. When the taxi reached my apartment, he didn't let me out. (Tokyo taxi drivers have control of the back seat doors and are supposed to open them as soon as you reach your destination, giving you the light you need to find you wallet and pay the driver.) The driver turned to me stared into my eyes and informed me he was going to go to an S&M club that weekend and waited a minute for me to invite myself. I panicked, in other words, I smiled the biggest smile I could muster and said, "YOU HAVE A GREAT TIME! I'M SURE IT WILL BE FANTASTIC! " I stayed in my frozen smile for a few seconds as the taxi driver realized I wasn't going to go with him and that not all blonde American women act the same as the ones in all the porn he's been watching. He deflated a bit, sighed and opened the door to let me out. It's not the first or the last time I've gone Pollyanna on someone's ass to get out of a jam. I just hope I don't run into anymore creepy Kensukes.
Having lived in Japan for over ten years and staying in Scotland for a month this past summer, I've realized something about myself. I hate Japanese hugs. I love Japanese people but Japanese hugs suck. Nothing makes me feel more like the carrier of a potentially pandemic disease than when a Japanese person tries to hug me without actually touching any part of my body! I can see it in their faces, the calculating of how they are going to avoid the physical contact that they themselves have initiated! And these are just the hugs from the people I've slept with!
I never got that in Scotland, in Scotland I got wonderful bear hugs that made me feel loved and accepted.
A few people did grab my ass but I didn't worry about it. We were in Scotland, the weather was shit. I just thought their hands were cold.
FYI, in any Japanese TV love story, more emphasis is put on the first hug than the first kiss. The hug can get pretty intense. Depending on the camera angle, it can look like one of the lovers is trying not to fall off a cliff or if they are going to fall, they're determined not to plummet to their death alone.
Like many things, this TV version is infinitely better than the reality.