From a student’s homework: My son practice the kendo, that is traditional Japanese sport using a wood sord [sic]. He always come home after practice with crying because he was bitten by his teacher for learning the Japanese samurai’s spirit. “For,” is a tricky beast, with about as many grammatical uses as an octopus has […]
It’s rare for Japanese people to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger but, for some of the older generation, foreigners are outside of Japanese society and therefore not subject to its limits. They also haven’t figured out yet that foreigners are just like any one else who travels to a foreign country; be […]
“The Karate Kid” helped make it cool in America to use the Japanese honorific “san,” but Mr. Miyagi was only telling part of the story. The Japanese will often use honorifics at the end of someone’s name to designate their relation to themselves; “san” is just one such term. “San” is used for someone you […]
I’ve got hay fever or cedar fever or rice husk fever, or whatever kind of allergies people in Japan get in the fall, so I’m sneezing often and powerfully. The Friday five year-olds laugh uncontrollably every time I let loose a storm of sneezes, and sassy Miho with the dimpled smirk and side pony is, […]
It must be done: the once-a-year Well Woman check up. My doctor – advertised as English-speaking – happens to have a sign in both Japanese and English in the ante room behind a heavy curtain. Automatically, my eyes went to the English first: Take off your shorts and assume the position. “Gulp” is right.
You start to recognize people, and it’s not just because their faces are so relatively similar to yours that they seem oddly familiar. The foreigner community is thriving but small enough that the same handfuls of big-nosed, English-speaking people turn up at your bars and restaurants. Japanese cultural events are also a foreigner trap; of […]
To mime crying, the Japanese flatten their hands horizontally and raise them to just below their eyes, fingertips pointed towards their nose, as though to catch falling tears. It’s partner manipulation at its stylized best.
My father was born in Antigua, Guatemala, and grew up in the country’s capital. He and his friends made balls by wrapping pantyhose around a wadded-up newspaper core and played futbol for hours in their courtyards. They watched the garbage man collect the city’s refuse in a mule-drawn cart. They swiped candies from the corner […]