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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.)


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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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The Needling Issue Doesn’t Have To Be

, , , , | Healthy | January 16, 2018

Due to a chronic condition, I needed to have a series of blood tests done, some of which required larger gauge needles than normal. I headed to the hospital closest to my apartment in Tokyo, waited to see the specialist, and got my notes to take to the blood draw lab reception.

The intake nurses were a bit flustered to be treating me, but my Japanese was good enough that I got through the first steps just fine. Then, I headed into the blood test room and the nurse there started telling me that the tests would hurt, the needles are pretty big, etc., and that in Japan, they don’t use skin-numbing cream. I assured her that I’d be fine, but she didn’t believe me and stomped out of the room to find a nurse that spoke English, despite the fact that we had been conversing in Japanese just fine.

I took off my cardigan, and my heavily-tattooed arms were now visible, right when the nurse came back, dragging a young doctor behind her. He looked at me and said to the nurse, “I think she’s okay with needles,” then burst out laughing as the nurse just gawked at me. Turns out I was the first foreign patient she’d ever taken blood from and she was terrified I’d flip out or faint because of the needles.


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Shogun The Way To Go Home, Part 2

, , , , | Right | January 29, 2013

(I grew up in Japan and am bilingual, even though I am Australian by birth. I am showing some Australian friends around Tokyo.)

American Customer: *to the station attendant, in English* “Hey, I need to get to Akihabara station. How do I do that?”

Station Attendant: *in Japanese* “Sorry, I do not speak English. Could you point it out?”

(As the station attendant speaks, he has a big map of the subway system and his gestures make it VERY obvious what he wants the customer to do.)

American Customer: *in English* “Are you deaf?! I need to get to Akihabara station!”

Station Attendant: *in Japanese, while gesturing at the map emphatically* “I don’t know English, sorry. Please point where you are going.”

American Customer: *in English* “Stupid Asians. Just tell me how to get there!”

(I intervene at this point as I feel sorry for the poor station worker.)

Me: *in Japanese* “He wants to get to Akihabara station. I know the way; I’ll explain it to him.”

(I explain, in English, how to get to the station, and tell him that the station attendant was trying but he doesn’t speak English.)

American Customer: *to me, in English* “These stupid [slurs] should learn English. Why couldn’t he tell me that?”

Me: “When Asians visit your country, you expect them to speak English, right? So it’s only fair when you come here you try to use their language. Plus, he was trying to help you, if you had just pointed it out on the map.”

American Customer: “Everyone should know English!”

(He storms off without apologizing or thanking me or the station worker.)

Station Attendant: *to me, in Japanese* “Thank you so much for helping. I didn’t know what to do.”

Me: “Don’t worry about it. He was just being rude. I feel like I should be apologizing for his behaviour on behalf of all foreigners.”

Station Attendant: “Oh, don’t worry, we get much worse. Then there are people like you who help convince me you’re not all bad. Thanks again!”


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Shogun The Way To Go Home

, , , , | Right | June 22, 2010

(I work at the local train station. Having spent half my life living in Los Angeles, and the other living in Tokyo, I speak both English and Japanese. The other station masters tend to bring tourists to me, since their English isn’t as good as mine. A tourist approaches me and speaks loudly, slowly, and with very large hand gestures.)

Tourist: “I’m trying to get to [Station]! Can you help me?”

Me: “Yes, ma’am. I actually grew up in Los Angeles, so I can speak English.”

Tourist: *still speaking in the same way* “No, I’m not from Los Angeles! I’m trying to get to [Station]!”

Me: “No, ma’am, I just meant that I spent a lot of time in Los Angeles.”

Tourist: “No! Not Los Angeles! [Station]!”

(The woman’s husband, hearing his wife shouting, joins us.)

Tourist’s Husband: *to his wife* “What’s going on?”

Tourist: “This dumb guy keeps asking if we’re from Los Angeles!”

Tourist’s Husband: “Why would he think that?”

Tourist: “I don’t know!”

Tourist’s Husband: *to me, speaking clearly, but not extremely slowly* “We’re trying to get to [Station].”

(I provide directions to the station.)

Tourist’s Husband: “You speak English very well!”

Me: “Thank you, sir. As I tried to explain to your wife, I grew up in Los Angeles, so I speak English.”

Tourist’s Husband: *sighs* “I’m sorry you had to put up with her. Thanks for the directions.”

(As they are walking away, I hear the woman proudly tell her husband, “I told you those Japanese lessons we took would pay off!”)


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