Guys, sometimes as a foreigner it can be weird to live here. There’s a lot to get used to, and sometimes it’s just a little too much for my brain to handle.
On bad days, the things I see lead to me grumpily rage-writing about [for example] how frustrated I am that Japan seems to lack any sort of socially agreed upon rules for pedestrians when they’re pedestrian-ing around on the sidewalks. [and later deleting because that’s no fun to read as a blog post]
The point of THIS post is how on the good days, fellow foreigner friends are vital in instances of Japan being… well, Japan being Japan.
- When I see a three year old wearing a bright pink shirt that says “PERFECT B*TCH” while running around the playground (and you know it’s not that the parents are cheeky and got her the shirt as a joke, as much as they maybe just don’t understand the strength of the lingo).
- When I read that the zoo’s most famous resident is currently a gorilla who has increased the number of lady visitors to the zoo because they find him so handsome that they’ve nicknamed him “Hot Guy.”
- When I learn that there are places in Japan where there are as many as 1 mascot per 6000 people… and they’re so beloved that when the government cracked down on the extra taxpayer expense of mascots, prefectures decided to mash them into one transformer-looking monstrosity instead of simply getting rid of the lesser-known mascots.
- …Or even when the guy next to me on the train at 1:30 in the afternoon on a random Monday is drinking a beer and watching a porn with no volume on his ancient, pixelated flip phone screen.
(or how about this gameshow, where contestants must figure out which items in the room are real, and which are made of chocolate... using only their mouths.)
If you’ve grown up living in Japan, these are the sorts of things that are not notable, as they are just normal occurrences (please note, I am not saying that Japanese people would be cool with a creeper watching nudie flix on the train, but it’s common enough that they’re not likely to do anything about it either). So a foreigner being worked up about things falls largely on deaf ears. For me, that has a great side effect of making me feel like I’m insane to have taken such note of things that Japanese people normalize.
Thus, there are times when I am intensely thankful for friends I can turn to and say “Dudes. Japan. What?” And they respond with “I know, that’s a bit weird, right?”
All of those above examples are real life. And each of my foreign friends have similarly weird-to-us examples. The creeper on the train with the flip-phone porno? That happened on my way to class just this week. And it lead to me and KP2 coming up with a new game. It seemed like a healthier reaction than just getting upset about something I cannot change. Do you live in Japan? Do you want to play? Here are the rules.
"Japan. What." Rules: (2-infinity players)
1. Player 1 sees something out of "their ordinary."
2. Player 1 texts all other players with their basic location and an “1 adjective + 1 noun” structure message followed by “Japan. What. Go.”
ex. “on a train.” “old man.” “Japan. What. Go.” OR “at the park.” “child’s shirt.” “Japan. What. Go.”
3. Players 2 - infinity respond to the text with guesses of what Player 1 could have seen.
4. Once all players have entered guesses, Player 1 reports the actual sighting, and becomes the judge for the round. The best guess which is deemed “more strange" than the actual sighting, is awarded a point. If a guess is somehow accurate, guesser is awarded 5 points. If the other players agree that the actual sighting is “more strange” than the guesses, Player 1 gets a point.
5. Repeat ad nauseam.
Want to play?
Start your own round in the comments!
Japanese friends, you could play this in a flipped version, FOR SURE. For example, my Japanese lesson this week included a discussion on how confusing the concept of bulk-buying at a Costco is. “How do you eat all that food?” “How many people do you have to bring along to hold everything?” “You go by YOURSELF?! HOW?!” “The cart is HOW big!? It's not a cart? It's a FLAT BED on Wheels?! That’s ridiculous!”
yes. need all of this RIGHT now.
…Yes, I agree, Japanese Teacher. Costco is insanity. But it’s also the only place around here that I can get Mac-sized dog treats. So there’s that.
today’s little language lesson.
Kosutoko wa kuruoshii desu.
Costco is insane.