Adorable Level: Black Belt

, , | Hopeless | September 19, 2018

I work with Japanese toddlers, who, like toddlers the world over, say the cutest things, especially when imitating the adults in their lives.

While putting on her shoes one day, one of the three-year-old girls — who hasn’t yet started speaking English unprompted — said to me in Japanese, “I have to go home now, sensei, but it will be okay; don’t cry!” I had to smother my laughter until she had gone.

An Ugly Opinion On A Beautiful Process

, , , , | Friendly | July 24, 2018

(I moved to Japan and met the love of my life. We soon got married and settled down, and now we are trying for a baby. This story takes place in a grocery store as I’m shopping for food to make dinner. I spot a female friend of mine — also a foreigner — and her husband at the same store, and I start chatting with my friend. She gets excited about the baby and asks what gender it is, and I tell her we don’t know because we want it to be a surprise. That’s when her husband pipes up.)

Friend’s Husband: “It’s going to be a girl.”

Me: *laughs* “I hope so. But I’ll be okay if the baby’s a girl.”

Friend’s Husband: “No, it’s a girl. I can tell; girls steal your beauty.”

(At this, he looks pleased by what he says. Meanwhile, my friend looks horrified and I glare at him.)

Friend’s Husband: “What? What did I say?”

Friend: “At what point during you thinking that and then saying it did you decide it was the right thing to say?”

Friend’s Husband: “But it’s true! Just look at her!”

Me: “Yeah, carrying the next generation of your family really does a number on you.”

Friend’s Husband: “It’s not that hard being pregnant, you fat pig!”

(Everyone in the aisle turned and stared, a few glaring women included. He stomped off, red in the face, as my friend hurried and apologized to me. She later divorced him, as it turns out he was a Gaijin Hunter, just using her for arm candy and for an excuse to say some downright racist things about Americans and Europeans. Joke’s on him, though; it turns out the baby was actually BABIES. Twins! A boy and a girl.)

An Earth-Shaking Revelation

, , , , , | Learning | June 22, 2018

I work in an international preschool in Japan, teaching three-year-olds. As a combination of their age and English being their second — or third — language, their understanding of things can be rather skewed, and funny as a result.

We have an earthquake drill one day, the first one that my class has ever done. I talk about it beforehand to make sure they have a general idea of what to do. I explain earthquakes in a very basic, kid-friendly way, emphasizing the shaking and “things breaking and falling” aspect, and areas of the room to stay away from, for safety. I remind them that it is all pretend, but important to remember in case of a real earthquake in the future.

The drill begins after lunch, and we make our way outside once the alarm stops ringing. They all find it very funny to wear the safety cushions to protect their heads, but there is minimal messing around. We make sure everyone is accounted for, and head back inside. One of my kids starts pointing around and speaking Japanese in astonishment, saying, “The building didn’t fall down! Nothing is broken?” I think maybe she expected the earthquake to happen inside the school, while we were outside?

The Wild, Wild Wet

, , , , , , | Working | February 28, 2018

My dad traveled to Japan a while ago from the USA. When he was at a restaurant, he wanted to order fish.

He asked if some fish they had were wild fish or farm fish. In the US, some fish are caught in the wild, and some are from fish hatcheries where they were fed and raised for consumption.

His waitress didn’t know what my dad meant, and after a while she brought her manager.

My dad asked again whether the fish were wild-caught or farmed. The conversation went on for a few minutes.

After a while, the manager smiled and talked to the waitress in Japanese. Although my dad can’t speak Japanese, the conversation’s meaning was clear due to hand gestures.

The manager told the waitress that the stupid American was asking whether the fish were grown in dirt on farms (pretending to swing a garden rake and other farming motions), or if the fish were hunted in the wild by cowboys (as he pretended to throw a lasso)!

The waitress and manager both had a good laugh about that. My dad just ordered the fish.

The Culture Barrier Doesn’t Have To Be A Barrier

, , , , , , , | Related | January 27, 2018

As a college student, I spent a year studying abroad in Japan. I chose to live with a family, instead of in a dorm, to really immerse myself in using the language, etc.

My host family was lovely, and I found the differences between our cultures interesting, especially with food. We had traditional Japanese foods for lunch and dinner, but my host mother would often try to give me “American” foods mixed with Japanese foods for breakfast. One morning, it would be one sunny-side up egg, a salad, and a bowl of miso soup. Another day, it was yogurt, an egg, and a piece of karage (fried chicken). Another day, a bowl of rice and a couple pieces of bacon with toast. The combinations were endless! I thought it was sweet of her to want to give me foods from my home country, so I always just ate what she gave me.

My host father also had a thing about persimmons. He thought they were nature’s magic fruit, and would have one laid out for me each day when I got home from school. It didn’t matter if I was hungry or not, I had to sit with him and eat the persimmon, for my health!

We still keep in touch, and I hope to go visit them again soon! Also, I now occasionally have a small salad and an egg for breakfast.

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