Fuck the po-leese

Never had the pleasure of having anything more consequential than my umbrella stolen in Japan — until last week.
It was then that my bicycle was stolen.
Naturally, I thought of reporting this to the police, but then remembered something about my nearest koban: they are a bunch of assholes. Yes, assholes.
I’ve been stopped twice by them for doing nothing more than riding my (now swiped) bicycle. Once, obviously followed until a pair of them finally mustered up the courage to ask me for my documentation. Angered, at being accosted for what appeared to me to be no other reason than because of my appearance, I gave them an earful. Big time yelling/shaming ensued. In hindsight it probably would have been more effective to be rational and explain why I was angry, I know. I let the anger get the best of me.
Anyhow, this is why I now cannot go to the police box to report my stolen bike.
That sting? It’s pride fucking with me.

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On the wagon: 禁酒中

Yeah, it’s true that I wrote drinking was a way of life in Japan. And that I didn’t drink anymore than your average dude (or chick). I still think this is true.

But a bender on April 1 and the ensuing fight with my significant other after barely making it home without being hauled off by the cops had me making a promise to both her and myself.

That was a promise not to drink. It wasn’t really an open-ended promise, either. No more drinking. Full stop.

And so, here I am, around 100 days later, still on the wagon.

Going out with friends has been kind of rough, but nowhere near impossible. I usually am able to get by with the non-alcohol stuff, which has actually grown on me. But as we venture deeper into the scorching heat of a setsuden summer, I’m finding myself more and more tempted to have a beer with the boys.

Beer gardens beckon me. Yakatabune lights seem to spell my name in neon. And ice-cold tall boys pull my attention from the ocha in conbini freezers.

This is gonna be tough. I doubt I’ll make it through without having something.

I wish I could figure out a way to find balance.

暑い日は冷たいビールに限る

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節電伝説: Making the best out of the summer of “setsuden”

The summer of “setsuden” is probably something we will remember forever.

While it’s just kicking off, it has all the markings of an unforgettable culmination of factors conspiring

to make for a miserably uncomfortable season.

But there’s another side to that coin. This summer also has the potential to help us grow.

While we will be forced to grin and bear it through stringent humidity and insufferable cunts complaining about how “atsui” it is, I expect we will also learn a thing or two about sacrifice and conservation.

Yeah, it might not be much, to turn the air conditioner off and open the window, but let’s hope that this movement, if you will, doesn’t end with just that. Rather, let’s make sure this isn’t a temporary inconvenience, but instead the first step in a journey toward defining what we truly need and what we can dowithout.

A setsuden poster I quite like

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Who was that masked man? マスク対策

Were this America, I’d be getting stares, what with this ridiculous-looking mask I’m wearing.

But, alas, this is Japan — I get them regardless.

So here I am, rocking the hay fever mask in all it’s suffocating glory. Can I take this thing off?

There. That’s better.

At the slightest portent of the onset of Spring, millions of Japanese can be seen sporting their masks: the last line of defense between itchy eyes, runny noses and unstoppable barrages of sneezes.

I, personally, rarely wear them, despite the regular insistence of my significant other that I do so. But when I do give in, the things actually seem to work. Not only this, but on those lingering cold March days, they provide another benefit — warming my face during bike rides and my brisk walk from station to office.

What’s more, the masks also provide a measure of anonymity. As a gaijin, my presence is always, at best, watched with curiosity. Wearing a cold mask, I feel as if I’m incognito. No need to suffer the stares and stress that comes with them that have already cut my life short by months, perhaps years.

For me, the mask provides psychological cover on the mean streets of Tokyo. And it may very well help with the hay fever.

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Train, train 走って行け、train, train, どこまでも

Some people hate trains, especially foreigners living here who aren’t used to such public methods of transportation.
I’m not one of them.

Despite having to deal with a daily one-hour commute, I like the freedom a train offers; you’re free to read, watching movies, write a blog. It’s nice.

But I have a special place in my heart for the king if trains, the Shinkansen. Bullet trains are just so conducive to whatever mood you are in. If I’m sleepy, it’s usually only a matter of seconds before I’m out like a light. If I’m in the mood for conversation, the long trips allow for some philosophizing — of which I’ve done plenty of.

One of these days, I’d like to grab my closest buddies, buy a case of beer, hop on the Shinkansen to Aomori and get completely shit-faced playing cards and telling dirty jokes. That, my friends, is why I like trains.

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Drunk on (in) Japan: 飲兵衛の物語

The sauce has given me plenty of trouble in this country — and probably more than my fair share.
I definitely drink more in japan than I did back home. In fact, I’m fairly certain that I drank more in my first two years living here than I did in my entire college career.
You could label me a lush, but you’d be mistaken. I drink no more than anyone else of similar means.
I often blame the country, despite my firm beliefs in free will. But the environment here certainly is conducive to drinking like a fish, that’s undeniable.
It makes it hard to stay on the wagon once you manage to get on board. This time, I lasted just 17 days.

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通勤時間 The commute

I’m writing this with my thumbs.
On a train.
Next to pushy woman trying to edge her way into my territory.
If she crosses the border, I may be forced to retaliate.

This is my life, every morning of it: the dreaded commute to work. Thankfully, I live near a train stop that is far enough from Tokyo that I can easily get a seat. But that doesn’t always mean the trek to the city is an easy one.

No, my commute is a strategic assault on the train line and it’s passengers. I often joke with my significant other to show “no mercy” on the express. I’m only half-kidding.

Today’s trip isn’t bad at all. With a 9:30 departure, most salarymen are already plugging away at work. One less demographic to worry about. But this hour still leaves one cunning foe in the mix: ye olde (old?) obasan.

On the surface she may appear slow and weak. But don’t be fooled — this is one tough broad. These women, often time housewives who have spent years creating supremely organized households, are the grizzled gladiators of the train system. They know all the tricks, all the short cuts, and more importantly, they aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.

Beware.

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