Japanese celebrities and plastic surgery

I don’t generally find myself interested in celebrity gossip, but my wife is fascinated by it. One thing here lately that has caught my attention though is a spate of celebrities getting plastic surgery. These aren’t generally minor celebrities either. They are pretty big names, and a lot of the surgery is really blatant.

I’m not talking about breast implants or the like, I mean actually altering their faces, in some cases drastically (although almost always for the better). This has been kind of a big subject on the Japanese “blogosphere” and in the “less official” magazines and stuff. They would never out and out ask these things are Japanese TV or in any of the big time magazines though.

A few examples in the main post. Click the link below to read the rest (unless you’re already here of course), but be forewarned there are a few pictures of (somewhat) scantily clad women (no nudity though). If that offends you, don’t continue.

So here’s a few examples.

This is Yuko Ogura. She’s a cutesy/whiney type “idol”. Which is the Japanese term applied to pinup models, who almost always also end up on tv shows and branching out into singing, etc. Ogura is one of the more popular “idols” here.
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This Is Yada Akiko (Japanese fan site), another idol/big time commercial celebrity here.
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Itoh Misaki, another celebrity who appears in a ton of commercials and tv shows.
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Yonekura Ryoko, another celebrity who appears in a ton of commercials.
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Otsuka Ai, a fairly popular (and incredibly annoying, she has this horrible high pitched squealing voice, and all of her songs are insipid nonsense, seriously, go listen) singer here.
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And then the two bigger “scandals” of late.

Yumiko Shaku, a former (present?) idol, and co-host of an English study program on NHK (the Japanese equivalent of PBS essentially). She has apparently had plastic surgery in the past, and then this time her surgery was so sudden that to viewers it seemed that she appeared on an episode of the English conversation show she hosts with a different face than she had last episode.

First the old
[inspic=31,left,fullscreen,thumb][inspic=32,left,fullscreen,thumb][inspic=33,left,fullscreen,thumb][inspic=34,left,fullscreen,thumb][inspic=35,leftclear,fullscreen,thumb]

Then the new
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And last but not least, maybe the most drastic change, Oshikiri Moe (Japanese Home Page), who is a top model here. I knew of this girl from a magazine my wife reads. This girl and 2 others from this magazine have made it really big lately, and it’s hard to turn on the TV without seeing one of the three (if you happen to be interested the other two are Yamada Yu and Ebihara Yuri [Japanese homepage again]. After the other two made it big, Oshikiri all the sudden started showing up in tv commercials with a new face. She is kind of known for having done this before though. See the pictures below for the 3 stages of Oshikiri.

Old
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Mid
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And New
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One last comparison shot…
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41 Comments

  1. Posted July 27, 2006 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t realize this type of plastic surgery was so prevalent in Japan either. Is it just me, or did Yumiko Shaku look better before her surgery? In that one double picture you posted up there (after the one with her and the dog), I personally thinks she looks much better in the pic marked 2005 than she does in the one marked 2006.

  2. Posted July 27, 2006 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    They even have a TV show where they pay for normal (non-celebrity) people to have plastic surgery.

    I am not an expert on plastic surgery, but it’s pretty amazing what they can do here. One of the girls they had on the above-mentioned show changed so drastically I was positive it was a different person.

    I don’t dislike Shaku’s new look, but I have to agree in that there was nothing really wrong with her before the surgery. Apparently she is trying to look like a TV announcer named Takigawa Krystal, who you can see here…
    http://blog.e-danbe.net/images/takigawa.jpg

    It all reminds of this joke this comedian (don’t recall who it was) used to do about plastic surgery and how it would be strange to marry this beautiful, gorgeous girl, but then when you have kids, they turn out butt ugly, because it turns out the wife had tons of plastic surgery.

    Back in the states celebrities have plastic surgery, but I think they tend to be more subtle (with notable exceptions) about it. Generally they try to keep the same face no matter how old they get or what not, but with the Japanese celebrities it’s trendy to get a whole new face.

  3. Posted July 28, 2006 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Oh, thanks for posting Takigawa’s picture… now I guess Shaku’s look makes more sense to me. Still, I didn’t know how trendy it was to get a whole new face like that!!

    Love the joke about the ugly kids, by the way. I’ll have to remember that one!!

  4. Posted July 28, 2006 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, obviously it’s not all celebrities who do it, but it is getting more common, which is why I thought it was interesting.

    The Morning Musume music groups and their male equivalents Jonny’s are fairly famous for doing this and you can find tons of photos on the Web showing how their faces (especially eyes and noses) gradually change throughout the years. In those cases it seems that it’s actually something that the management companies suggest and even pay for.

  5. Brooke
    Posted October 8, 2008 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    ugh. UGH. I hate plastic surgery! My best friend here in Tokyo, a Japanese girl who was naturally cuter than most celebrities (though maybe a little plump) randomly decided she needed bigger eyes. Her eyes naturally were HUGE, so I don’t know why she wanted to pay $1,000+ on eye folds. And you know what? Her eyes were wonky for half a year, and then they kinda fixed themselves, and then they looked exactly the way they did prior to the surgery. I asked her what was the point? She said “All my friends were doing it, and I thought I would feel better about myself if I did this.” Ridiculous. She was naturally very cute, if she wanted to feel better about her looks she should have stopped eating cake and Korean BBQ every day and maybe tried jogging once in a while. Surgery didn’t do anything good for her, and I consider her natural beauty “damaged”. And wouldn’t you know, she didn’t get any more popular with boys.

    I don’t think Moe-chan is obnoxious (like Leah Dizon… ugh, I hate her), but her face looks so tight and plastic it scares me. I had NO IDEA Ohtsuka Ai had surgery done, since no guys I know really think she’s bangable anyway, but my respect for her just went way way down. Are there any naturally beautiful people in Japan? Sheesh.

  6. Posted October 8, 2008 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    I think there are plenty of naturally beautiful normal people, but celebrities I’m not so sure. Even a lot of the child groups have had plastic surgery!

    As anyone who’s been here for even a short time knows though, peer pressure and “everyone else is doing it” are a wholly different level than what most of us are used to back home, and I’ve found a lot of younger Japanese (not just Japanese really) often take the “easy” route over actually working to accomplish something they want (that’s more or less the entire driving force behind the english conversation industry here I think, “why study hard and dedicate yourself to learning english when you can just chat with a stanger a few times a week and learn to speak!”).

    Also, I don’t really have anything against Oshikiri Moe, but I’m not particularly fond of Leah Dizon either. I’ve seen a few English sites that have praised her for being “fluent” in Japanese which I thought was odd since everytime I’ve heard her, her Japanese was fairly terrible. :P

  7. Brooke
    Posted October 9, 2008 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    I know! Leah Dizon is anything BUT fluent. She struggles when she does speak Japanese and messes up on the easiest words that show she doesn’t use Japanese outside of her interviews that require it (even though she supposedly writes her own blogs and lyrics… ha!). She’s cute, sure, but she’s got a nasty personality. She thinks men are tools and dead baby jokes are hillarious… of course, in all her interviews in Japan she acts like she’s so sweet and innocent, and everyone thinks it’s so cute when she says “inuko” instead of “koinu” or whatever. Ugh.

    I think Japanese people would be surprised to find out that a lot of Western men like the more traditional looking Japanese chicks, with slanted eyes, long black hair, and delicate yet feminine features. And that Japan is like the only country that thinks “cute” is the same as “sexy”. And yeah, I think Japanese people can be really attractive, but the eye surgery and such is so common, even with non-celebs it’s hard to tell who is naturally beautiful and who isn’t. Like you said, even the kiddy idols get surgery done!

    You’re right about the easy way out thing. I used to teach for side money and NONE of my students ever did their homework. EVER. They kept making the same mistakes because they didn’t study, and sometimes in the middle of lessons they would get frustrated and switch to Japanese! They would do the lessons for a long time, but they wouldn’t get any better because we’d only meet once a week for an hour, they never studied, and yet they insisted on doing more difficult stuff than they were ready for. And then when they realized they weren’t fluent after only four months, they’d quit. They don’t have my sympathies because I learned Japanese by studying and making an effort to go to school every day and avoided speaking in English when I could, etc.

    Beauty is the same thing– nobody here wants to work-out, they just want some pill that makes them even skinnier (but really soft and flabby, have you noticed?), and they try to lure men with their big fake eyes and short skirts rather than using their personality. I think the most attractive women here are the ones who have a full-time job, are in a relationship (but are not slaves to their men), have confidence and look like ADULT WOMEN and not little girls.

    (I kinda ranted here… sorry! And if I sound like I’m picking on Japan, I’d probably do the same about my birth country. I really do love Japan, but living in Tokyo means you have to put up with a lot of shallow people and lifestyles, so I am aware that my rants are directed at a small percentage of Japanese)

  8. Posted October 9, 2008 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    I thought the whole marketing Leah Dizon as this innocent cute little girl thing was hilarious, considered the type of photos she was doing in the states before being “discovered” here.

    The whole western guys like… japanese girls like… thing is a messy situation all around. Obviously everyone has their own individual tastes, but yeah there are definite archetypes or stereotypes which tend to be more common, but then things get even more messed up because you end up with the whole “westerner who doesn’t want to date a Japanese who prefers westerners” and vice versa “Japanese who doesn’t want to date a westerner who prefers Japanese/Asians” and all the other various judgments, prejudices and everything else that get tossed in. It’s all a mess.

    I think the not wanting to make any efforts thing is more or less universal of late. But yeah, it’s always annoyed me when people think they are going to start speaking fluent English (or anything else for that matter) after having spent a few months chit-chatting in broken English about nothing important a few nights a week. I always try to make it clear to people when I get the whole “how long did it take you to be able to speak Japanese to this degree” thing, that I spent 4 years studying in Uni and then lived in Japan for 10 years and that I worked my ass off in college to learn the language. The whole “learning by osmosis” thing is getting kind of tired, so generally when people ask me what they should do to learn/improve their English, I just reply “study, practice, study some more”.

    But ah well, it’s human nature to want everything with no effort, I’m not innocent of it either (lottery ticket sitting right in front of me as I type this ;) .

    Don’t worry about the rant, I’ve never been a fan of the whole “you can’t complain about Japan (or anyplace else) because you decided to live here” or “if you don’t like it, leave” mentality. I’m a miserable bastard so I’ll complain pretty much anywhere I am, but it doesn’t mean I hate the place and I don’t assume that for other people when they complain either.

    I complain or rail against things in Japan specifically because I choose to live here, I pay taxes and everything else and have just as much right to complain or be unhappy about something as anyone else, and I extend the same rights to others. ;)

    I obviously like Japan or I wouldn’t stay. Do I think it’s perfect? No. Do I like it better than home? No. But I don’t think anyplace is perfect, nor do I like home better than here either. Everyplace has its good and bad, so feel free to rant all you like, doesn’t bother me.

    I admit freely though, I can’t stand living in Tokyo. Fortunately that problem will be rectified in a few months =)

  9. Brooke
    Posted October 15, 2008 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I have a friend who really can’t seem to say ANYTHING nice about Japanese guys (she doesn’t have the best of luck with dating, but I don’t have the heart to tell her it’s not necessarily the boys…) and goes on and on about how Japan sucks. Sometimes I really do wonder why she is still here, unless in America she did the same thing and only talked about the negatives. I just get frustrated that at average height and 130 lbs, I often get called “fat” and “chubby” because I’m a pant size 4 instead of a 00, and that I have to act like a bimbo so people will like me (an intelligent conversation never gets too far off the ground here… that IS different from what I was used to in America).

    Moving out of Tokyo, eh? Congratulations! I’ve found that people in other parts of Japan (except Osaka…) are generally friendlier and not as superficial as Tokyoites. I’ve also noticed that since NOBODY speaks English in the countryside, they are less likely to try to talk to you in broken Engrish, and treat you more like an equal than “a poor wittle gaijin who can’t do anything on their own”, as I sometimes get in Tokyo. I’ll just be waiting for a friend at the station and someone will come up and ask if I need help. Why would I need help?? Or automatically getting English menus… that kind of stuff gets my goat. In the countryside that sort of stuff never happens, thankfully.

    Haha, my friend said the tabloids are reporting that Leah Dizon is pregnant and marrying “a fan” and the people at her label are saying “she can’t sing and she STILL can’t speak Japanese, her time is up regardless”, with her concert tickets going on sale for like 100 yen on Yahoo! Auctions. Christmas came early! At least she hasn’t been all over the place lately like she was two years ago, and I guess this means I’ll be seeing even less of her. Huzzah!

  10. Posted October 16, 2008 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    There are a lot of people here who seem to be mostly unhappy about being here.

    For some reason it also seems that a pretty high percentage of the girls/women here from overseas have problems with dating Japanese, or even problems with other people dating Japanese. I used to know a girl from the states when I first came to Japan years ago who used to get angry about myself or one of the other foreign guys dating Japanese girls when their where “plenty of good American girls” in our little group. She didn’t seem to be able to grasp the concept that none of us were interested in the girls in our group (her included) and not because they were American, just because we weren’t interested in them in any potentially romantic way (for some of the people in the group I wasn’t interested in their existence as a human being period, but that’s a whole other discussion ;) .

    Yeah, Tokyo is not a friendly place. I don’t generally get bothered by the trying to speak to me in English or asking if I need help at a station or whatever, although you’d think the people in Tokyo would be more used to foreigners if anything. But I do dislike any and all explanations and exchanges of money being directed at my wife. I’m generally the one putting out the money, so I expect them to address me, and when I hand them money, I expect the change to come back to me not my wife. I think that is just a matter of simple common respect and courtesy. Unfortunately the whole “foreigner = cannot speak Japanese” stereotype is still pretty common. The whole can’t use chopsticks thing is pretty old too.

    I’m not moving too far out into the boonies though. I wouldn’t mind but my wife is Tokyo born and bred and can’t bear to be too far from what she considers civilization :)

    Yeah Leah Dizon is pregnant and she “all of the sudden” got married, so I figure she got prenant and then got married because of it. I doubt we’ll(hope we won’t?) seeing her prancing around in any miniskirts or anything for awhile.

  11. Brooke
    Posted October 16, 2008 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    Dating Japanese guys is very hard for foreign women! And not just with the men, but dealing with the families is sometimes just as tough because of the old saying that a Japanese wife is the best wife in the world for raising children, cooking, and doing laundry. In the past I’ve had guys try to date me for what I look like rather than what kind of person I’m like, or I’ve had guys who tried to date me because they thought I was an opportunity to speak English. I’ve dated some real loonies, especially my boyfriend before my current, who wanted to talk to my mother on the phone though he can’t speak English and we’d only been dating for a few days at that time, claimed he loved me in four days, and wanted me to spend all of my time with him. He was cute, but that only got him a week before I dumped him. I was reeeeal lucky in finding my current, who doesn’t speak English (and doesn’t want to) and just happens to like me being loud and funny (just the way I am!) over quiet and demure (just the way my other boyfriends wanted me to be!).

    I think guys have it hard too with Japanese women. Japanese women are CUNNING and I’ve known some poor saps who totally got used for a visa or free English lessons. But there are a lot more Japanese women who want to seriously date a foreign man than Japanese men who want to seriously date a foreign woman– most guys have told me a tall girl with blue eyes, full chest, and long legs is actually pretty intimidating for them, so even if they think a foreign woman is pretty, they don’t go up to her. I remember I had to initiate conversations without looking like I was flirting tooo much to get guys’ attention and then to make them comfortable. My friend who has trouble with guys tends to use a lot of sarcasm and jokes that don’t really work in Japanese, or will act a little full of herself and bad-mouth Japanese women in front of them. Which is NOT the way to get in good with a guy here… she has a great figure, she just says the wrong stuff and doesn’t seem to understand what happened.

    With the exception of Visual Kei fans, most foreign women I’ve met have tried to date men who looked very Western or would go to Roppongi looking for foreign men. Most foreign men have focused from the get-go on getting a Japanese girlfriend, though I’ve known several who after a few years tell me “I miss a woman with curves!”. Human nature to get what you want and then to instead want what you don’t have.

    I moved to Katsushika-ku with my boyfriend this summer… there’s NOTHING here. A big change from living within walking distance of Shinjuku. But it’s amazing how much cleaner the air is and how much friendlier some of the people are. And it’s nice that the high schoolers here aren’t all total tramps (I’ve seen enough kogals to last me for a while, thank you, Shibuya). Tokyo is great when your single, but not so much when you are starting to settle down with someone.

    Leah’s stylist apparently won her heart after she had a nervous breakdown this New Year’s. I’m guessing he speaks some English… or maybe he doesn’t, and that’s why he hasn’t caught on that she’s kind of a brat. Either way, yay, no more Leah!

  12. Posted October 16, 2008 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think it’s easy to date Japanese guys, but I don’t think anyone has a right to be pissy about who other people choose to date simply because they don’t want to/can’t etc. That’s all.

    There’s problems with “seriously” dating Japanese women as well, there are cultural differences both ways. I’m not sure about the Japanese women make the best wives/mothers thing though =P Not the more recent generations anyway.

    A lot of Japanese are very serious right from the get go though. I don’t necessarily think anything is wrong with a culture where dating is supposed to be a direct step on the way to marriage, but it seems sometimes some people want to leap over a few of the steps in between. I know some of it at least comes from the whole “must get married and have kids before age~~” mindset so many people here have.

    The whole wanting to date just because the other person is a foreigner thing is weird, but I tend to think a lot of relationships between two Japanese are often extraordinarily shallow too, so I guess it’s not too surprising that a lot of people would base a relationship on nothing more than that.

    My wife speaks English well enough, which is good for interaction with my family and such, but we use Japanese at home. We only use English when I feel like being sarcastic (east-coast U.S. sarcasm doesn’t work too well in Japanese) or when we are talking about something we don’t want people around us to understand (speaking fast in a philadelphia accent seems to be indecipherable for most people ;) ).

    There are definitely differences in dating and stuff, and it’s especially hard for foreigners to meet serious, worthwhile people, since many of the Japanese relationships/groups are based on time together in things we weren’t a part of (school mates, and such) and I’ve yet to hear of a really successful relationship coming out of a bar or the like =P

    My wife’s grandparent’s live in Katushika, we are up there every once in awhile, I’m in Edogawa-ku now, so more or less the ass-end of Tokyo anyway, but still too urban for my tastes. You definitely hit the nail on the head about Tokyo there. It is a lot of fun when you are young, single and goofing off, not so much when you are trying to build a life.

    Leah was on tv this morning. She says her husband looks like Johnny Depp, which my wife laughed out loud about. He looks more like a slightly greasy shibuya guy, but whatever I guess. It was funny though, they asked her what he found attractive about her and she replied in English “big peach” which is apparently how they refer to her ass in her photobooks and now they are trying to play it off as “in America peach is a perfectly innocent way to refer to one’s backside and is often used for children and babies”!

    I’ve heard the word peach used to refer to backsides before, but never in relation to children or babies heh.

  13. Brooke
    Posted October 16, 2008 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Did she say what her husband’s name is? I’m kinda curious about how he looks (greasy Shibuya guy? haha! though Depp is a bit greasy himself…). Did she do the interview in Japanese? Last time I saw her on TV she did her spiel in English with subs.

    Peach butts… yeah, no, not for babies. Apple bottoms is my favorite fruit word for butts, but Leah Dizon definitely doesn’t have that one. Gotta commend her boyfriend with liking girls with a little tush. Leah had that going for her– an Asian with a little booty. Well, half Asian, whatever. Thought she was an okay model, but when she became a talent it was obvious she was out of her league.

    Wow, two of my only three foreign friends are from Philly, haha, inluding my buddy who hates Japanese girls. Though I gotta admit, I’ve had a LOT of trouble making friends with girls in their early twenties (I’m 24)… I love talking to Japanese women in their mid 30s or older, but the younger ones seem to have only one thing on their mind: “LOUIS VITTON………” My best gal pal here was a year younger than me and fun, but when I introduced her to my guy buddies she started using them for money and free meals. Turned out she was also a prostitute… good kid until you crossed her with boys.

    Dating people in their early twenties here was such a pain I started dating guys 15 years older than me. Most of my friends are that age. I ended up with a boyfriend who is only four years my senior, but he’s pretty mature considering what some of the other 28 year olds here are like.

    That’s cool that you and your wife speak Japanese in the house. My friend Jason is living with his Japanese girlfriend; his Japanese isn’t perfect, so I think she speaks to him in English (but she speaks in Japanese to me, so I know she’s not using him as a free Nova lesson or anything). He keeps dating women who speak English, so he never learns difficult Japanese and can’t read kanji. That’s another trap most foreigners fall into; date someone who doesn’t want to speak in Japanese and you never push yourself to learn.

    Oh, and I live around Ohanajaya… near your wife’s family? That would be a weird coincidence if they did!

  14. Posted October 16, 2008 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    They showed a photocopy picture of him on whatever the talk show was this morning.

    Here’s one, if you can’t see it let me know and I’ll rehost it here or something.
    http://kobe-collection.com/fashionista/bun_01.jpg

    (There’s a couple here too, he looks better in these than that photocopy one at least, but I think Leah has to have a good 20-30 pounds on him heh)
    http://kobe-collection.com/fashionista/2007/03/coolbun.html

    The interview was in Japanese but she had a translator and choked out a few phrases anyone should know after being here this long.

    I suppose you can’t completely blame her for how annoying she is as a “tarento” though. If i had no self-esteem and someone offered me wads of money to stand around looking pretty and trying to be interesting, I guess I might too =P

    Yeah, I don’t know too many Japanese girls in their early 20’s. I imagine if I did my wife would castrate me, what with me being married, 30 and all that. My wife likes brand goods too much for my tastes too, but she hasn’t bought any since we’ve been married. She’s not insane about them, well not anymore so than you have to be to want them in the first place, but if we had the spare money she would buy them.

    Pretty crazy friend. I don’t think I’ve met any prostitutes (not that I know of anyway), but I’ve had a handful of yak or former yak friends/acquaintances.

    The whole learning Japanese thing is a sticky situation for me. I have to admit that my opinion of someone drops hugely when I learn they have been here for more than a year and still can’t handle basic conversation. Some people aren’t good with languages and all, but after a certain point I think the excuses just start to wear thin. Personally I can’t stand not being able to speak the lingua franca whereever I am. My wife and I went to Hong Kong last year, and my complete and total inability to speak cantonese really irritate me the entire trip. I’m so used to being able to communicate what I want.

    My wife’s grandparent’s are around ayase/kameari. Maybe 10 minutes or so from you by car.

  15. Brooke
    Posted October 16, 2008 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Argh, the picture didn’t load (error of some sort). Could you email it to me? *****************
    I’d appreciate it.

    I think I’m more angry with Japan for letting her be a no-talent tarento for almost three years. Of course anyone would take her job if offered, heh. But people started saying things like “Why aren’t you as thin and cute as Leah-chan? She’s American too” and I’m like “I’m American but my roots are Iranian/English/Cherokee! She’s half Asian, we have entirely different ethnic backgrounds!!” but they don’t get it. I also hated that people said “Leah can speak Japanese, she sings it and the albums credit her with writing the lyrics” and I’m like “She can’t speak Japanese! It’s obviously not true!” Seriously, why can’t she speak it? She was as young as I was when I came here, and I was having conversations beyond language school after only four months for sure. Her entire paycheck revolves around this country, and yet she still can’t do her own talking. Ugh. Then again, I’ve seen her English interviews, and her command of the English language isn’t terribly impressive either. (“What does ‘girth’ mean?” and “What’s that thing underwear models wear on their legs? You know, leg scarves? What? A garter? Yeah, those.”) She said once she chose modeling over getting a “real job” and going to school, but she said she never wanted to get married. So basically she’d only planned out about 8 more years of her life when she said that.

    How many years have you been here? I’ve been here 4 years this month,
    and though I have the occasional word that passes by my mental dictionary, or I’ll get a little lost if watching a show that’s heavy on the senmon words I get lost, but for the most part I’m okay. Not fluent I guess, as keigo occasionally trips me up (except for restaurant keigo, because I was a waitress for two years!) and business Japanese is hard, but I don’t use my dictionary for much these days.

    I agree with you. If after a year you can’t last five minutes in Japanese, I start to think “What’s wrong with you? Why move to a country that speaks a different language than your own if you don’t plan to learn the language?” I’d also say that MOST foreigners who have lived here for more than a year and a half and don’t learn the language don’t like Japan and think of Japanese as an inferior race or something. Maybe if they’d learn the language and interact with people who can speak more than just toddler-level English with them they’d like it, I dunno. People are always impressed I know who musicians or actors are, or that I can sing pop songs at karaoke. Maybe my skin is white, but I don’t live in a cave, guys!

    Oh wow, yeah, I can walk to Ayase from my house (technically we’re Higashi-Horikiri). Katsushika-ku is so far from “civilization” you have to do some heavy searching just to find a McDonald’s. But it’s quiet at night and actually DARK at night, which I am so not used to.

    Since I somehow got mixed up with a bunch of musicians (and now I’m a vocalist in a hard rock / metal band), many girls I meet are bimbo hostesses, hookers, or slutty older women who think it’s still 1987. My first boyfriend since I came here was a yakuza money collector who had previously been a kick boxer, so he was tough and had dragon tattoos all over his back and arms. But he also had eight other girlfriends I found out, so that and his yakuza background made him only last a week, heh. We’re still kinda friends and see each other sometimes… he’s a fun guy, but I’m glad he never got mad at me for dumping him, heh. The other yakuza guy I knew was a nightmare of a man, though, and people were terrified into being his “friends”.

  16. Posted October 17, 2008 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    Here’s the pics:
    http://www.ttancm.com/wp-content/myfotos/bun/bun_01.jpe
    http://www.ttancm.com/wp-content/myfotos/bun/bun_03b.jpe
    http://www.ttancm.com/wp-content/myfotos/bun/bun_04.jpe

    I edited out your e-mail, I can see it from the backend of the site anyway, and I wouldn’t want you getting 8 million spam mail by having it posted here (the site itself gets thousands of spam comments a day, so probably not someplace you want your e-mail publicly posted ;)

    She definitely doesn’t strike one as being the most intelligent/forward thinking type. I saw someone writing about her on another site (a person who speaks 0 Japanese) who posted this huge post about how perfect how Japanese is, which was funny because 1. her Japanese sucks and 2. the person judging her Japanese as perfect didn’t speak a word of Japanese.

    I’ve been in Japan for close to 10 years now I think. Tokyo for the last 6-7. Came right out of college and never moved back home. I’m close enough to the popular definition of fluent to make no real difference, but I studied for 4 years before coming here the first time and lived out in the boonies for my first 3 years =)

    I’d say the majority of westerners who live here for any time at all never tend to get very good at the language. I can’t imagine living like that myself. Absolutely no intelligent conversation unless you are lucky enough to have someone around who speaks English, and always having to rely on people for the bank city hall etc. Blah. No way. Not for me.

    I think generally no matter how long you are here people will be surprised you can speak Japanese well at first. My friends and I call it the “talking monkey” syndrome, because people tend to react almost the same as if a monkey had started speaking to them out of the blue.

    Yeah, that area isn’t as bad as some parts of Tokyo. I’m in edogawa ku which is lots of working class, factories etc. The people aren’t generally very nice here either. I don’t actually speak to any of my neighbors. But we’ll be moving to Chiba soon. Building a house about 30 mins from the airport by train.

    I’ve never knowingly made friends with a yak, but a few people I’ve known have turned out to be, or be connected to them in some way. It’s generally not something I seek out heh. Slutty older women who think it’s 1987 refers to their clothing or mindset? Or both? =)

  17. Brooke
    Posted October 17, 2008 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for posting the pics! Oh my gosh, he does look like Johnny Depp… but… eww, not my type. Greasy looking is definitely a good description. I would be completely shocked if it lasted, though, since he reminds me of a lot of the playboys I’ve met since coming here. But again, thanks! My friend will get a kick out of these for sure.

    10 years! So then you came around the same age I did (I think you said you were around thirty… too lazy to scroll up and check). Congratulations on getting a house, too. That’s so out of our price range right now I can’t even imagine what that must be like, haha. And great location!

    Talking Monkey Syndrome.. I might have to steal that. I don’t mind people being initially shocked and experiencing TMS that I’m speaking in Japanese (and with a hint of an Osakan accent, thanks to the first Japanese friends I ever made all being from Kansai), but if I’ve said “doumo arigatou” and they say “Wow, your Japanese is UMAI UMAI!” then it annoys me. Like their praising me for taking a dump or something– any monkey who has ever heard the Styx song knows those words. Compliment me after I’ve said something that isn’t covered in the basic Japanese For Dummies handbooks.

    Even if you are with someone who speaks English, they probably only speak biz English and couldn’t possibly get into a religious or philosophical discussion. Thanks to that, some past foreign friends have said “I sure don’t get why Japanese are supposed to be so smart, they can barely hold a conversation.” Well yeah, because you’re not speaking to them in their native tongue!

    Man, I hope I’ll still be around in six more years. Then maybe I can build a house somewhere and raise some little halflings of my own. My boyfriend (we’ve both talked about the future and what we want, but we’re not officially engaged) says he can’t wait for me to birth him a half-Japanese son because he’s convinced that he’d grow up to be a pro baseball player like that half Iranian player (Darvish? I’ve only ever seen the katakana version of his name, heh). Ah, Japanese men and baseball… I grew up in a football town, so I don’t get it.

  18. Posted October 17, 2008 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    On the talk show the other one of the comedians commented something along the lines of “more like trying to look like Johnny Depp”. The boke half of the comedians Taka & Toshi has a new thing where whenever a joke has flopped or whatever he just suddenly shouts out “big peach”, which I found sort of funny.

    I came right out of college, thinking it through, maybe closer to 9 years then 10, but anyway I was 22 or so I think? Sometimes I struggle to remember how old I actually am anymore too. I’m 31 now, so yeah, 9 years and 22 sounds about right.

    At the moment housing here is actually starting to get cheaper than the U.S. with all that sub-prime nonsense and everything. Originally I planned to move out to the real boonies (like Tochigi and such) in which case we would have about 3 times the land at less than half the price, but the wife decided no way after we started looking for land. After that her parent’s decided they wanted to live with us and they would pay for the land, while we pay for the house, which works out because they wanted to live even closer to Tokyo than what I could talk my wife into, which increased the land price again, and we had to increase the size of the house so that we all had our own spaces and such and I didn’t end up going crazy and murdering my in-laws ;)

    The land was around $240,000 U.S. and the house is about $300,000, since the parent’s in law paid off the land flat out, I end up with about $1300 a month in loan repayments (what we call a mortgage). To move and rent someplace the same size and distance from the station as we have now we’d easily be paying that much in rent anyway, so I figured I’d rather buy and have something to show for the monthly payments at least. Of course, if we had moved to Tochigi like I originally wanted we’d be paying pittle every month because everything would be so much cheaper (probably half or less what I am paying now, but that would be with the land included!).

    On top of which I am just sick of apartments and “mansions” and all, and want my own damn house =) It’s been something like 14 years since I lived in an actual house, and I think I have reached my breaking point.

    Yeah, the whole “your Japanese is so amazing, you can say good morning!” thing gets old real quick. I actually just got back from the supermarket where a fairly young woman was behind me trying to reach something in the shelf where I was standing talking to my wife about what we needed to buy, and rather than just say “sumimasen” she instead tries to stealthily contort herself behind and over my shoulder. I noticed and stepped out of the way and said sumimasen and her eyes about bugged out of her head. She took what she wanted and quickly left the aisle without acknowledging me or my wife. All of this was of course made better by the fact that we were speaking Japanese.

    I’ve actually had a few people here not realize I was speaking Japanese to them, even though they are comprehending everything I am saying…

    But yeah, it definitely works both ways. I blame a lot of the English “teachers” here for the poor state of English education. I don’t think anyone has ever learned a foreign language well when the instructor constantly speaks slowly and in pidgin so they will understand. Used to be a guy lived below me who drove me nuts with that. He started every sentence with “maybe” when speaking with Japanese. In response to “what will you do tonight” he would answer “Maybe I will go to the store” and such rather than “I might go to the store”. Not the greatest example, but he constantly dumbed down everything he said in English, which I imagine must have been just great for his students when they found themselves in a situation with people speaking “real” native English.

    I imagine with the awful real estate market, houses will only keep getting cheaper. My parent’s in law are selling their 2bedroom house in Kasai for $200,000, land and house included.

    If you buy a house as is, used, or you know, the way almost all American’s tend to buy houses, you can get really good deals.

  19. Posted October 24, 2008 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    We’re not quite into the house market just yet. I had lived in a one room apartment for nearly three years when I moved in with my boyfriend to a spacious three bedroom apartment (or mansion, whatever) with living room, separate kitchen, a HALLWAY (gasp!) etc etc. So I am still perfectly content to live in a mansion, though having our own house would be great since we’re both musicians and wanna play it LOUD.

    If we ever DO move to Ehime, as he’s told me he’d like to do, his parents over there own a construction company, so I know we’d get a good deal on housing. I don’t think I could imagine raising a child in an apartment… after the kid hits 3, I’d want to have a house, I think. But the very best thing about a house would be getting to own a dog again! Being a dog lover and living in a no-pet mansion sucks.

    Ha! Your supermarket story is amazing because I think we’ve allll been there. Even if we couldn’t speak Japanese, “sumimasen” and a couple of gestures would get the message across just find. It’s not like a foreigner would whip around, face the Japanese, and shout in English “I don’t know what you are saying to me! Please, speak English! What is it that you want from me!?” Yesterday a Pasmo dude came up to me while I was leaving the station and said in Engrish “Do you have a pass?” I’m sure “bitch” is shining in bold letters across my forehead when I do things like this, but I just laughed at him and walked away. I mean, what if I had said, in English, “What is this pass you speak of? Why is the mascot for your company a hideous puke-faced corruption of a panda?” He probably would have wet himself. When I first came over here, people would talk to me in English, and they’d practice that first line over and over.”Do you have a pass? Do you have a pass?….” But they didn’t know how to follow it up. I remember when I bought my first cell phone, I went to a store that claimed people spoke English, but when I asked technical questions that went beyond “What colors are available?”, the girl just started shoving English pamphlets at me. I went in just a month ago to buy a new model from Softbank, and it was the first time anyone had actually spoken to me as if they were a Japanese, and I was like “Wow, I wish people would have explained all this to me earlier, instead of assuming I just wouldn’t get it.”

    I think the only place I don’t get elitist or bitchy toward a Japanese for speaking to me in English is Roppongi, since it’s the retreat for anyone who can’t speak Japanese looking for someone to help them out. So I understand how someone might see me and assume I don’t speak Japanese. I only get mad if I speak in Japanese and they continue to speak in English… sorry, no free lessons here.

    The biggest problem with schools like Nova or Berlitz or wherever is that they literally hire based on nationality. You’re from Canada you say? You must be qualified to teach professionally! I knew a girl from Spain who spoke worse English than many Japanese, yet because of her skin color her employer assumed she could speak English and hired her. I asked her why she didn’t teach Spanish, and she said the money was better with English. All she had to do was read the text book, whether she herself understood it or not. Fortunately she didn’t last long, since her Japanese wasn’t very good either. She married a Taiwanese man and vanished one day. Never understood her decision, since the Taiwanese man couldn’t speak Spanish.

  20. Posted October 27, 2008 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

    I went from a 3 room apartment out in the boonies (no hallway though) by myself, to a smaller 3 room apartment with my wife (and all her stuff) in Tokyo, so I’m just itching to get into a bigger place.

    Prices in Ehime should be good to start, and only get better if his parents own their own company. The closer to Tokyo, the more expensive, although to me it seems like it should be the opposite!

    We’ll be getting a small dog after we move too. Still not a big and spacious enough house and yard to be fair to a large dog for my tastes.

    Yeah, trains and train stations are like magnets for people who want to practice their English. Everytime I ride the train someone whips out an English book conspicuously where I will notice it, as if I am going to see the book and just start offering them free eikaiwa lessons on the spot.

    And cellphones, well I bought my first cellphone here from an out and outright racist store clerk, who was convinced I would somehow rack up thousands of dollars in cellphone bills and skip the country. Because, you know, forget the thousand dollar plane tickets and the job that paid me almost 40k a year right out of college, my real reason for being here was just to rip off a cellphone company and cause problems for some clerk monkey in an electronics store!

    I know of a lot of marriages here where there’s almost no real communication between the couple before hand, so the story about your friend doesn’t surprise me too much. Hell, a lot of the military mixed marriages here are between people who can barely speak 10 words to eachother that they will both understand.

  21. Posted October 28, 2008 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    What sort of work DO you do? I work at a place that designs and sets up booths at conventions to companies who want to show off their newest products, and I was hired to speak to foreign customers (after I graduated I had only a few months left on my visa and just took what I could to get the upgrade). There aren’t many foreign customers, though, and they won’t train me to do the other work, so I just sit here all day and do things like, well, like write to you, heh. My boyfriend calls me a “給料泥棒”, and I feel like that too. In the spring after one of our major functions is over with I’m gonna shop around for a job related what I came to do, which was comics.

    More than anything I want to get an Italian Greyhound, which I think are the smaller versions that are bred to be house pets and not track stars. I don’t get the appeal of a dog with more hair than body mass, and tend to like thinner breeds like dachsunds with short hair, greyhounds, and dobermans. I used to work at a pet store and they let me take home a greyhound I was really attached to because at my new apartment my roommate said pets were allowed, but when I brought a dog he said “No! Only small things like mice!” because pets weren’t ACTUALLY allowed, but he figured something small could be kept hidden. I was mad that he lied to me and had to give the poor dog back, but fortunately he found a home a few weeks later. I was really upset, though. I had a lot of problems with that guy, actually.

    That cell phone store guy was a jerk, but what’s even worse is when you see the very foreigners they are talking about. I just want to crack a few jaws and say “Stop! You’re making it hard on the rest of us!” Like how I used to get stopped on the street at night by a cop just so he could see my passport or whatever. That always made me so mad… then my dad in the US told me America was doing that with people who looked Hispanic. I don’t feel sorry for illegal immigrants, but I do feel sorry for people who are being mistaken for one just because they aren’t white or black or “American looking”, whatever that means. Here I usually get asked if I’m from Peru (obviously Japanese don’t know what Peruvians look like, or they wouldn’t ask me).

  22. Posted October 28, 2008 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    I’m a freelance translator. I translate exciting things like contracts and computer manuals, and the occasional video game, manga, anime or movie.

    Having a job that pays you to surf the web would be nice for me. Maybe I’d actually update all my websites =)

    We’re probably going to get a pug. But I don’t think it will be until a while after we’ve settled in. I doubt I’ll need any extra monthly expenses at first on top of having to buy furniture, 7 air conditioners, etc. :(

    There definitely are some foreigners here who I’d rather not admit to being from the same country as, but I don’t think that is reason enough for Japanese to treat me differently based on some other jackasses’ behavior. I could treat all Japanese based on my opinions/perceptions of the red army terrorists, tojo or yoko ono but that wouldn’t be very fair either would it ;)

  23. Posted October 31, 2008 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I wouldn’t mind doing translations– supposedly that’s what my job was supposed to entail, but so far I’ve only translated a few emails and a catalog that said “slant woody” for a wooden shelf before I got to it. I have no idea how to get into it, though. Translating movies and games sounds fun :D

    How about we trade jobs? :D :D :D

    Haha, that’s true. I like the little cartoons showing Tony the ambiguous gaijin and his Japanese wife on the Yamanote trains they’ve been showing lately. I thought it would be about how “stupid but loveable” Tony the Gaijin would be, but it seems to be more about how the wife learns that people do things differently, and it’s not necessarily wrong. I would like to see more programming like that, where the foreigner doesn’t speak broken Japanese and interject English every other sentence.

  24. Posted November 1, 2008 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Slanty woody is a good one. I used to get lots of giggles out of some of the “in-house” translated manuals I would rewrite which would go on and on about “inserting” things into the projector’s “rear end” and such.

    Movies and games are simultaneously the most fun and most excruciatingly boring types of work. I dunno if you’ve ever actually read a video game manual cover to cover, or paid attention to just how much English there is in all those little menus and crap in a game, but having to translate ALL of that can be close enough to torture as to make no difference.

    As for trading jobs, you might get the raw end of that deal, business is down big time this year (like literally 1/3 of my income from last year…)!

    My wife has those “darling ha gaikokujin” books. I’ve only briefly seen the cartoons, but the books were fairly good, although there is a large enough segment of the foreign population here that seems to think they are racist and horribly insulting (oddly enough they generally belong to the segment which can’t speak Japanese).

    Tony is a real person btw. He seems like a nice enough guy I suppose, although he can come off as a little full of himself at times (but then, I haven’t met many foreigners here who don’t, myself included ;)

  25. Posted November 4, 2008 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I never realized how full of myself I was until I moved to Japan, heh. I just went on this huge rant to two guys who admitted they’ve been to pink salons and fashion health places before, who really just don’t see what’s so bad about paying for sex. I know it’s been in their culture for forever, and never balked out, but my American Bible-belt ways are CORRECT!!!!! and I told them so. Some culture barriers will probably never be broken for me, like that one.

    Well I knew that Tony was at least based off the author’s real life husband, but I never knew how much was real and how much was exaggerated, etc. That beard cracks me up every time I see it! I think I’ll pick up a copy of the manga on my way home today.

    I was watching my boyfriend play one of his war games last night, and there were SO many sub menus and menus and scripts flying up everywhere, that MUST be tough work translating. But I would love to work on a game like Pokemon. I played that when I was 13 and I got into it again when I bought my DS, and I always thought naming the monsters would be fun. I’ve done manuals before, but not a game manual. I was actually told by my employer that I was too much of a stickler for details, and that it didn’t have to be ALL right (wtf?), and the final product ended up not having all of my revisions put into it. So from now on they have me translate and revise it and circle the revisions that are the “most important”. So it will still say “we are pleased to be making of the friendship with great humans”, but the fire safety guide at least will be all correct. Since I prefer to do a job PROPERLY, these bizarre requests to cut back kinda get to me.

  26. Posted November 6, 2008 at 3:19 am | Permalink

    Yeah, most of the stuff related to sex and gender roles tends to be easy for people to get upset about. I can’t honestly say the idea of paying for sex “morally” bothers me or anything, I just can’t say I’ve ever been desperate enough for sex that I would pay for it. Don’t know how enjoyable that be either. I’m a bit paranoid, so I’d probably be constantly thinking about diseases the girl might have and such =9

    The first two manga are decent, the one’s that are actually written by Tony are horrendously boring and aren’t worth buying, but his wife is a funny lady.

    Yeah, there is a lot of stuff in games that isn’t interesting at all. Actually doing dialog and story/narration and stuff can be fun, but it also depends on how much freedom you have. A lot of games you don’t get to name characters or anything, English names are already decided. Then there are games where there are stupid parameters you have to stick to. One of my least favorite is the Japanese translation industries tendency to equate Osaka dialect with a southern U.S./Texas, stereotypical hillybilly accent regardless of the setting of the game, which is why you sometimes end up with characters talking like Billy Bob Clampett in a medieval role-playing game…

    I’ve done a few games for the DS now, but portables actually present another problem which you don’t think about until faced with it the first time. Most games have a limit on the number of text characters you can use in one “speech bubble” or dialog or whatever, but because the DS and other portables have such small screens, the text is tiny, and players don’t generally like having to scroll through 15 pages of text dialog, so you end up with absolutely insane limits of like 3 lines of 25 characters each max which doesn’t work very well.

    Ex.
    犬が鳴いたので散歩に連れて
    行ったけどドアを閉めたら鍵
    忘れちゃったこと気づいた!

    in 25 characters per line total 3 lines in English is not easy to do.
    This is 22 characters.
    So translating the above is hard:
    You would want a decent translation to be something like:

    The dog was whining, so I decided to talk him for a walk, but after I shut the door behind myself, I realized I had forgotten my key!

    Which is almost twice as many characters as allowed total, but it’s not even just a matter of dropping it to 75 characters total, because you would have to manage to perfectly fit 25 characters per line, perfect, including spaces!

    Try playing around with the above and see if you can rewrite it to fit those parameters. What I quickly came up with is below, but it’s a clunky sentence.









    The dog whined so I went
    to walk him, but I forgot
    my key inside the house!

    Also note that being forced to leave mistakes and stuff is fairly common. One very common reason for this is because a lot of companies have been handling translations before you or I or whatever native speaker came along, and they don’t want to have to tell the client that there were “this many” mistakes in past translations which they were responsible for!

  27. Posted November 6, 2008 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    This also explains why information sometimes gets forgotten. I’ve been playing a game at work where I take text from my Pokemon game, translate it, and then get online and compare it with the official English translation. I find they are usually really accurate, but sometimes due to space things get left out. Like, instead of “my surroundings and my own whereabouts” it would just say “my surroundings”. The art of translating has really interested me lately, because watching movies it surprises me to see how totally off the Japanese translations for American movies are. My favorite is when I was watching a Will Smith movie, and a man tells Will to hold something, “hold it!”, and below it said “ちょっと待って!”. I’m like NOOO that’s not what he meant!!!, and jokes are totally lost in translations all the time. Sometimes I’ll laugh when nobody else is, and it’s because the translation ignored the joke completely and just said something like “Yeah, I know.” Ugh.

    I took you up on your challenge. “I took my whining dog for a walk, but after shutting the door I realized I forgot my keys.” I don’t even think that’s correct English (“I’d forgotten”)… oh, I bet you meant spaces too, right? Forgot to count those. Oh well, your point was definitely made, it’s hard!

    I actually bought the first volume of the Darling Wa Gaikokujin series yesterday. I got halfway through it when my boyfriend came home and I told him he should read this, “It’s me with a beard!!” because he thinks it’s weird that I yell at movies or games, get overly emotional about certain (stupid) subjects, sometimes complain at restaurants, and can read and write a lot of kanji and big words but will sometimes get stuck on something simple. When I came back after a shower I found him reading it, so it’ll be interesting to hear his thoughts since he’s been with me for nearly a year now and has experienced the ups and downs of dating a foreigner. We didn’t have trouble with the 不動産屋 when we found an apartment together, but we’ve been turned away from a hotel before because of the way I look.

    When I say morally wrong, I don’t really mean religiously speaking, but there’s just something wrong about paying for something like sex or companionship of any kind (I also disapprove of host and hostess clubs, which doesn’t involve sex). When I was 21 I got talked into working at a hostess club, and at that age I wanted to try just about everything once, just so I could say I’d been there done that. So I took the job, but wouldn’t you know, it was a pink salon, and I was the only white girl there who was, well, decent looking and under 30. So I decided not to knock it before trying it, and I did one day’s work. Some of the customers were okay, didn’t have families, etc. Karaoke was fun, and some of the other girls were hillarious. Customers said they had fun, left after they ran out of money (which is sad, why blow all your money on drinks for us? our drinks were watered down so we wouldn’t get drunk anyway), and that was fun for me. But then came the married man with kids, who I managed to convince to go home (he was nervous and obviously had second thoughts about coming), the married men who talked badly of their wife and children (which is just downright scummy), and the gross Hong Kong guy who kept trying to buy me, like I was a pet or something. They got like Y200,000 out of the guy because they promised him I would sleep with him, even after I refused. He got so mad when I refused to do anything with him that they had to throw him out. He offered more money and then when they kicked him out demanded he get what he paid back. The other girls laughed when he was gone, called him a desperate loser, and smoked while the scouts hunted for other customers. The owner than tried to “break me in” by having alone time with him, and after escaping that I decided this kind of world was not “okay”, because women shouldn’t be treated like objects and they shouldn’t let themselves be treated like objects. None of the women who worked there were happy or cared at all for their clients. My prostitute friend I mentioned earlier said she usually had repeat clients who brought her gifts and stuff, as if she was their real girlfriend. They tried to take her out, etc.

    My boyfriend has gone there in the past (“but just for receiving, because there is no way in hell I would go down on a woman like that”) when he was younger, and he said the reason he did it was because at that time it seemed like a better plan than courting a girl, taking her out and paying for everything, and then possibly not even getting sex. I don’t see why men can’t just do what women do and buy a big-people’s toy. I’ve never met a girl who has paid for sex before.

    I think the only time I don’t mind prostitution too much is when you have that rare case where the woman is a nympho and really honestly loves her job. I have met one before, and technically she wasn’t paid for having sex with others. She worked at a sex club, where members could have sex with their partners in public or whatever, and said that she often got invited to participate. That doesn’t bother me somehow. But men who have girlfriends or families and go, and men who go frequently, that really strikes me as pathetic. What I find even weirder is when I meet guys who are good looking and nice who tell me they’ve been before (like, well, my boyfriend). What are women supposed to do in this country when even the good ones are scumbags!?

    Man, I need to stop ranting about this. I do think it’s funny, though, when my guy friends tell me “I’m sure your guy friends in America have all been, too”. Uh, no, they haven’t. I do have a favorite term, though, I picked up from my working friend; 素人童貞, a man who has only ever had sex he’s had to pay for. Now THAT’S pathetic.

  28. Posted November 7, 2008 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, the one of the reason’s movies are so terribly translated is because most of them are done by one person (Toda Natsuko if you are interested), who is actually not that competent an English speaker. Just another case that proves in Japan it’s not what you know, but who you know, and then the people at the top are incapable of judging quality of translations because they don’t understand the original.

    The little translation test there is hard, and yes spaces do count as a character, so your version, while not bad sounding, would be rejected because you end up with 5 lines if you make each fit within 25 characters, and trying to rewrite it so they fit is a total pain in the ass.
    I took my whining dog for
    a walk, but after
    shutting the door I
    realized I forgot my keys
    .

    You see especially the “shutting” and “realized” being long words end up hitting the 25 word limit in the middle of the word, and you can’t hyphenate words and split them on lines, so you end up with a lot of wasted space, including the final period not fitting.

    Now imagine trying to do that for a 30,000 character translation that you need to have done in 2-3 days =)

    On top of this, add that game translations are among the lowest paying translations I work with, and you really have to enjoy doing them to bother.

    Yeah there are definitely some similarities most foreigners who have been here for a time will find in the manga. They are fairly interesting. It goes to show how well done they are, since they are written almost entirely by the Japanese half of the relationship, but still (in my opinion anyway) seem to do a fair job of representing both viewpoints. They are still more about the differences than the similarities, but I think that’s what most people tend to find interesting.

    I didn’t think you meant moral in a religious sense, but in a strictly moral sense. As in according to one’s own moral code. Like I said before, I’m not necessarily against prostitution, I don’t generally care what other people do with their private lives, but I’d never use it myself. Sex for the sake of sex alone has never had that much appeal for me. I don’t find myself interested in sex if it’s not with someone I’m interested in, and I don’t find myself able to be interested in someone who has sex for money, so it is sort of a non-issue for me.

    I have to admit that I do tend to have a lesser view of someone who has sold sex, but I don’t think it’s the end all determining factor of a person’s character.

    I’ve had friends, both male and female, who have worked in the host/hostess industry and the entire scene is fairly scuzzy, but that’s more or less what I expected. Mind you, alot of the people involved really are complete and total human dross, but there are those involved just because of poor circumstances or lack of judgment.

    There is definitely need of better legal controls for all of those related industries however. There’s a lot of people being taken advantage of on both sides and a lot of really sketchy stuff that happens, I figure if they are going to legalize it they may as well try actually keeping it as clean as possible.

  29. Posted November 10, 2008 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    I just wish little Japanese girls and boys would dream a little, you know? “When I grow up I want to work in the sex industry, and for an extra $70 I’ll be the girl who let’s a guy spew in her mouth!” Yeah, that’s aiming high. I know in some countries that’s pretty much all a woman can do with herself, which is sad, but Japan is not a third-world or even a second-world country. The hosts are even worse. I know a few, and I would NEVER date one, I don’t see the appeal. They are arrogant and if you say no to them they get really angry, like a spoilt child. I remember my boyfriend and I were walking around in Kabukicho at night and saw a host outside his work place with a pregnant girl, and they started fighting and when she tried to leave he hit her. I tried to go over and yell at him, but my boyfriend stopped me and dragged me away (and then in turn WE fought, heh). He said “Any girl who dates THAT kind of guy has it coming. It’s her own dumb fault. Besides, even if you ‘save’ her now she’ll just be in more trouble when you’re not around for it.” It sucks, but he’s right… really, there should be police on patrol around Kabukicho. I cannot go there at night and NOT see something horribly wrong and illegal.

    OH! I’ve seen that woman’s name before at the movies! Her translations are TERRIBLE. My friend and I vowed someday to protest the movie industry because she’s so bad, but we of course never followed through with it. I think it’s funny how in America the reverse always happened– there’d be too many additions to the subtitles that the characters hadn’t said at all.

    I always think that as long as I have a dictionary I can translate anything.. until I talk to a kogal. I saw some comedianne named Hime-chan on TV this weekend and only understood half of what she was saying, and almost every joke fell flat with me because I don’t have any gal friends anymore and their “gal speak” changes every three months. I can’t keep up! I would imagine gangsta speak and net speak would be really hard for a Japanese person to translate.

    Read something about Leah Dizon in the news the other day. She apparently didn’t tell ANYONE she was pregnant and her agency has said “She THINKS she’s coming back, but not with us! She was selfish and always cancelling jobs and demanding things, and she didn’t even tell us she was pregnant. What was she thinking?! She’ll never work in Japan again.” Apparently the fans are mad that she got pregnant before she ever did a nude photo, heh. Actually, I’ve never seen fans turn on an idol like this before… some are mad that Leah lied about being a virgin. Ha! The only other Leah stuff I’ve heard lately are owarai saying “Big peach!” over and over in their acts. I dunno if she lost her last sponsor, but that commercial where there were duplicates of her seems to have gotten pulled. I think I’m actually surprised that Japan has lost all interest in her in just one month. I thought they’d still route for her until she got fat… oh well.

  30. Posted November 11, 2008 at 4:40 am | Permalink

    Well, I don’t think too many people dream about working in a hostess bar or being a prostitute, I just think there is a bit more moral flexibility here in terms of using those as quick ways to make some cash.

    Most of the people who I know who work/worked as hosts/hostesses did it because they needed money. One had two kids and both the parents were full-time university students and foreigners to boot, so the wife worked as a hostess nights to make money. The husband worked as an English teacher and a host, although the guys don’t make anywhere near the same amount of “easy” money the girls do, so he ended up quitting it pretty quick. Another lives alone with their father who does nothing but use money, and the girl pays for the house and everything else, etc. etc.

    There are plenty of them who do it just to make quick buck for the latest brand whatever, and for the guys there are definitely plenty of them that do it as some sort of ego trip. I personally have always found the hostess/host industry somewhat more repulsive than prostitution. Prostitution is generally someone just trying to quash a physical desire, but paying those insane amounts of money to have people pretend to like you, talk to you, etc. just strikes me as repulsive/pathetic.

    But hey, I don’t patronize the places, and if other people choose to do so, or choose to work in those places it’s no skin of my nose. Morality, standards, etc. are all fine and good until the taxman is knocking down the door and we all have different lines we’re willing/unwilling to cross.

    Police in kabukicho are too busy accepting bribes and playing mahjong. Intervening in this country is sort of a mixed bag. It can lead to weird situations back home too, but it always seems to lead to weird situations here.

    I was on a train with a female friend when a guy groped her, right in front of me, saw the whole thing. I guess he didn’t think I was with her or something I dunno. I clocked the guy and threw him off the train at the next stop and man the girl got pissed at me for causing a scene. She was mad at me for weeks and would rather I had just let the whole thing go.

    Another time on a train some whacko attacked the conductor and I intervened and ended up stuck in the police station being questioned for 12 hours. All I did was grab the guy from behind and hold him until we got to the next station.

    Toda Natsuko’s translations are generally horrible. In fairness, a lot of humor is really hard to translate, but things could still be done better than she does them. But she’ll be in place until she dies, as with so many other things in Japan.

    Yeah, Dizon strikes me as a bit of a clod and I can’t imagine her being very popular with the staff/wranglers etc. Meh. Again, no big loss for me if she disappears from my tv. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if she did end up doing nude stuff or whatnot if she can’t get regular “geinou jin” work anymore.

  31. Posted November 11, 2008 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    I know people who have been in a tough spot and had to go to hostessing for money and whatever, and then quit when they could pay off their school debts.. that’s not so bad. It’s still sad that people will pay to get attention, but I know it’s tough for some people, and being a hostess is better than selling sex. But most hostesses I know do it because they don’t want to go to school, etc, and think they’ll get married at 25 and it will all be in the past for them. I met a 17-year-old high school student who lived with her parents and dated a guy ten years older than her and went out drinking with him. She didn’t seem under 20, so I was suprised when she showed me her school ID card. Then she told me she was a hostess, giggling that she lied about her age when she was interviewed. I asked if she wanted to do anything after high school and she said she’d never thought about it before. That really bothered me. I have one friend who is in her late thirties who still works as a hostess but lives in a capsule-styled dorm. She’s a really interesting person, but she is addicted to partying and would call me up at 3 am to see if I wanted to go to Roppongi with her customers. I guess she’s saving up her money so she can retire, because she certainly never used it on brands or a nice apartment.

    I think Japan somewhat glorifies hostessing, though. On TV they often show women who are the top ranking hostesses and will show off their apartments and talk about how much money they make, etc. I bought a game the other day for cheap of that Nana manga (it’s one of my favorites), and it turned out to be one of those life-sim games where you have to dress up and meet boys, etc. One thing you had to do was get a job, and they had two hostessing jobs available. The way the game was set up, if you didn’t work you couldn’t make money, buy clothes, etc, and that would hurt you in your goal of being popular (I think?) and you’d lose points, and like RL the hostessing job was the quick way to get money so I would bet most kids playing this would click that option. The game also made it harder to hold a job than in real life, so in the end I even had to use the virtual hostess gig to make ends meet in the game! Can you imagine there being a Barbie game where kids could be Call-Girl Barbie? Not quite the same, but still.

    Dude, you are awesome for clocking a chikan. If my boyfriend ever did that he would forever be the sexiest man alive to me. I have heard Japanese talk about “no no, it’s best not to make a scene”, but I can’t figure out why. Once at Donki my Hong Kong friend caught a guy robbing her wallet red-handed and we were all taken to the police station. They were really excited that a foreigner had caught him because apparently he had been apprehended like four times for theft, but NOBODY had ever pressed charges against him! I asked why and they said “Well, Japanese people just find it too troubling and don’t want to be involved in these sorts of things.” So when my friend decided to press charges they took a huge bow and thanked her. I thought it was really weird, though, when in the store she was wrestling the guy and I was calling for security NOBODY tried to help her. But she could handle him because Hong Kong women are TOUGH.

  32. Posted November 18, 2008 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    Lack of planning for one’s future is definitely a problem. The hosting/prostitution thing here is so much more common because of the lack of morality/shame culture related to it I suppose.

    Also just to clarify, for the working side of things hosting/hostessing is definitely more appealing than being a prostitute (or whatever they want to call it in the soaplands and such), I just personally find, looking at the customer side of things, frequenting hostess/host clubs a bit more sad/creepy somehow.

    Lots of underage girls in places they shouldn’t be here. Most businesses aren’t big on carding and some actually use that as their selling point =P

    There’s all kinds of stuff like you mention in that game. Obviously different societal views and cultural views and such, also depends on what age group the game is intended for and such. I know a lot of Japanese tend to be shocked by the idea of letting kids play FPS (first person shooter) game where you are essentially a disembodied hand with a gun, but in the states something like 70% of the market for those games is 17 and under.

    Drinking and smoking tend to be other big problems when translating games. I always have fun trying to explain to Japanese ossan that in the U.S. going home from work and drinking yourself unconscious everyday is considered being an alcoholic. Actually, if you look at the alcoholism self-assessment, most adult Japanese males are alcoholics by American standards heh.

    Protecting the “wa” is everything here, so making waves in the natural order is considered bad/embarassing, even if the natural order is all fucked up. Same reason unpaid overtime and other abuses at work are so common here, no one wants to make waves =P

  33. Posted November 18, 2008 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    That is so true! “Wa” is everything here. I had read about it before coming to Japan and thought it meant peace and harmony. It really just means keeping things to yourself and, as you said, not making any waves. Or rattling cages, as my mother always put it :P I know if I’m eating with my Japanese friends and I ordered bread with my steak and they give me rice instead, and I say “Excuse me, I asked for bread”… sometimes my friends will be embarrassed. I don’t make a scene, and I even apologize as if I did something wrong, but my boyfriend now just laughs and says “There you go making complaints again.” He was once given a completely different meal from what he ordered and he just shrugged and ate it, even though it was something he didn’t particularly like. “Wa” is such a completely Japanese thing, and when I explain to people that most industrialized countries don’t work the way they do, they are shocked. Like yesterday on the Wii my boyfriend and I were answering the surveys you can do on there, where they ask a question, we answer, and then we answer whether we think the rest of the world agrees or not. Hiro thought the majority of the world’s people live in apartments and take their shoes off when they enter their homes. He was shocked to find he was totally wrong. I told him I had never taken my shoes off or lived in an apartment before Japan and he told me “Well, you’re different from most people.”

    You know that Beat Takashi guy, right? Do you know what he actually said on TV about Japanese youth and planning for their future? He said something like “I think it’s good that only a small portion of people actually folllow their dreams and end up doing what they want to do. Nobody wants to work at a convenience store, so if everyone had dreams and went for their dream jobs, we wouldn’t have anyone working the menial part time jobs. Society doesn’t need everyone’s dreams to come true.” And he wasn’t being cute and sarcastic and using humor to make a point, he was serious. And while yes, we would be a little stuck if every single Japanese got their dream job (because I think at least a fourth of all Japanese girls would then be licensed “princesses”), I’d rather the majority of high school kids consider their futures a bit more. The whole 部活 here is something my American school couldn’t compete with, so I thought kids would have more to think about because they have all these school activities that they can do, but for some reason a lot of kids are still clueless. They study as much as they do for tests but it’s like they don’t really consider life after tests. Also, have you ever noticed that taking tests here and your score on tests is how they decide intelligence? My friend said her Japanese friend told her she was glad she did well on tests because it was her “proof to the world” that she was smart. Like the TOEC (or whatever the English proficiency exam is called), where people think scoring a high score means they are fluent, but then they get a job where they work with foreigners and are surprised the big words they memorized aren’t as useful as words like “thanks”. I was pretty surprised when I said “thanks” to a bunch of Eikaiwa students and they didn’t know what I was saying. Don’t they watch American movies like all the time??

    Yeah, smoking and drinking is also pretty bad, though I’ve noticed the no-smoking ads on TV and in the subways have been more frequent this past year. My boyfriend quit smoking after I bugged him for months about it, but he wasn’t a heavy smoker like 80% of my friends are. I used to work at an izakaya and it was murder on my health! The cooks even smoked in the kitchen, so I couldn’t escape it. On nights where it was a full house, and you literally had a cloud of smoke hovering over the whole pub, I would go home, blow my nose, and what came out would be BLACK. And after two years of working there, I can’t tell you how many times I saw people drink themselves stupid because their senpai told them to. The senpai figure would go to the bathroom and everyone else at the table would say “Man, I just want to go home, I wanna see me kids…” “Yeah, but senpai wants to keep drinking, so we can’t go home” “Yeah, that’s true. Oh well.” And then senpai would come out, order a round of imojouchuu and they’d wave their ties and applaud. Go home! See your families! Thank God I’m a foreigner here and the senpai/kouhai rules for some reason don’t apply to me. I used to go along with them, but two years of that left me pretty broke from drinking every other night until morning. Of course, my senpai were all washed-up rockers from the ’80s, so getting drunk with them was never enough. We’d have to drink until we were blind, then go someplace else and drink some more, then take a morning train to some onsen out of the city, drink, call some “chicks” to go karaoke with, drink more, and then at around 11 am we were done when the senpai figure finally passed out on the sidewalk with his pants around his ankles. I wish that had only happened once, and with only one senpai, but that was pretty much the usual schedule. It’s no wonder my views of Japan can be pretty jaded, I hung out with the wrong crowd, heh.

    You know what I DO like about Japan? You don’t get any snotty high school brat behind the register at a fast food place sneering at you for ordering something with extra pickles. They smile and say “Kashikomarimashita!” like you are their favorite customer of the day. And most American friends I have known have complained that waiters and waitresses won’t talk to you enough at restaurants, but in America I was always thinking “Stop trying to make conversation with me, I am eating!” And I like that they put corn and potato salad on pizza. Amazing!

    I figure since I’ve only been mentioning what I don’t like, I should mention what I DO like to balance things out. :D

  34. Posted November 19, 2008 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Hah. My wife is the opposite of the stereotypical timid Japanese! If anything I’m usually the one who’s embarrassed by her complaining or getting overly excited about things, but yeah definitely most Japanese don’t tend to make a fuss even when they have a perfect right to.

    I’m surprised your boyfriend didn’t know about the removing shoes, but I suppose the apartments thing is understandable. It’s not just Japan that is like that either, in Hong Kong owning an actual house generally means you are loaded. I know people there who use hammocks because they don’t have enough space in the apartments for beds for the whole family. =)

    Not everyone can have their dream jobs and such, but not being able to fulfill a dream and giving up on your life before you turn 18 are two entirely different things. One of my Japanese professors loves Takeshi though, thinks he should be made prime minister heh.

    I’ve always found the bukatsu thing to be more about having an excuse to have a group to hang out in than actually working towards anything or planing for a future in anyway.

    Tests and grades here are misleading. For one thing almost all Japanese are graded on a curve not an absolute scoring system, so since that obviously means somebody has to have a high score they are skewed compared to other countries. That’s why Japan can have fairly high “official” test results and still have kids whose knowledge of history and geography is almost as bad as ours back in the U.S. ;)

    There is a huge tendency to study just FOR tests here rather than to actually learn the material. An obvious danger with tests anywhere, but a lot of the tests here seem especially pointless. The TOEIC and TEOSL and the other tests are mostly from the U.S., but they are generally pointless as well. I’ve actually taken parts of the toeic and even though I write/edit/translate for a living and scored perfect on the SAT verbal in high school I still couldn’t score perfect on the sections where they want you to point out what syllables need to be accented in words and such.

    Smoking here is bad, but I suppose thats to be expected when the government is one of the major owners of the tobacco company. ;)

    The senpai kouhai, etc. stuff never really made too much sense to me. Generally just an institutionalized form of bullying in a lot of cases, but I imagine growing up in the “system” gives you a perspective I’m unable to develop from my outside viewpoint.

    There’s plenty I do like about Japan. Fast food places are one of them, they were a bit of a shock when I went home after being here for awhile. Had the misfortune of changing planes in Chicago and having the staff at O’hare being the first Americans I interacted with back home. I went to a McDonald’s (forgetting how incredibly disgusting it is back home) and when I got up to the counter the girl behind it just says “What?”. Not, may I help you, etc. Just “What?”.

    I also like not having to worry about some random stranger trying to knock my ass out because I was “looking at them all hard” or some similar intelligent reason, but I have to disagree with you on the corn and potato salad on pizza. ;)

  35. Posted November 26, 2008 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    I knew a teacher who worked at a regular public school teaching English (he was Japanese, btw) and he said he hated the school systems because they didn’t promote learning, they promoted good test taking abilities. He said there were times when students failed over and over again, and the teachers would take them aside and tell the kids they can take the tests as many times as it takes to get a good score. It kind of reminds me of the jock days at my high school, where the star players on the football and basketball teams would never fail a class even though I remember every other day they would ask me for the answers to the homework that they, once again, failed to do. Yet they always passed with at least a C- because the coaches had a little deal with the teachers, since students with below a 2.5 GPA couldn’t play sports. What’s really ironic about Japanese students and their schools is that they were known for being particularly studious and intelligent compared to American students, so in high school my parents wouldn’t let me be an exchange student here! They thought it would be too hard for me because I’ve always been bad at math. And now, of course, I know that Japanese students are no better than the rest of the world.

    My boyfriend has only ever raised hell once, and that was when I started crying because a love hotel refused us a room, clearly stating that they didn’t serve “gaijin”. I was mad because not only did it imply they thought I was unclean or something, but also because every other place was full and we just really needed to sleep before work in the morning. But my boyfriend didn’t make a big scene at first, and I was upset that he didn’t defend me, and finally he found his cajones and dragged me back to the place and yelled at the woman until she threatened to call the police, and for good measure he punched the sign outside. He’s so laid back usually, and never ever fights with people… he’s the kind who will order beef, get chicken, shrug and eat it anyway because asking the waiter to fix it is too much of a hassle. It’s a good thing he DID go back, though, because I was starting to question if I wanted to be with a man who wouldn’t stick up for his woman. That’s still the only time I’ve heard him yell at someone.

    My brother came to Japan for a week in March and raised more hell in that short amount of time than my boyfriend ever has. I laughed when you mentioned getting hit just for looking at someone… my brother basically did that at a bar and kept assuming people were either trying to rape me or picking fights with my brother by acting “like con-men”. It was pretty embarrassing… I’m used to it from my musician friends, but we weren’t in a slummy little snack somewhere in Otsuka, we were at one of those HUB pubs.

    I just got back from a trip to Bali with my co-workers… that is something else that totally baffles me. Company trips to Bali? That’s not normal for American offices! Even when I worked at an izakaya we all went on a trip to Saipan that my boss paid for. But man, Japanese people sure do get suckered into buying useless crap from street vendors more easily than any Americans I’ve ever seen… and they KNOW the Japanese will buy it, so the natives there don’t even learn English, they learn Japanese. “Shenyen, shenyen! Anata-san,
    10 mai shenyen!”, as in1000円… I was completely ignored. Some of them would even follow us onto the bus, and I was the only one who would stand up and say “Get out!”, so I was like a human shield for the whole trip. But because the group was mostly Japanese, we kept getting taken to CHINESE restaurants, which was disappointing. Odd fact I learned: the Japanese seem to prefer fish that smell as much like rotting boots as possible. I hate seafood, but we were given freshwater fish and some mahi-mahi and barracuda to eat and I thought it was delicious. My Japanese companions were like “It smells weird, and it tastes kinda funny…” But then on the airplane they served stinky Japanese-styled fish and everyone was like “Oh yummy, this is more like it!” and I had to breath into my shirt to keep from puking. I don’t think I’ll ever learn to like Japanese sea food.

    And although I like corn and potato salad on my pizza, I think they overdo it a bit with the mayo sometimes. Like when the sauce IS mayo? That’s just silly. People are shocked when I tell them most Americans would gag at the thought of tuna mayo pizza.

  36. Posted November 26, 2008 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    One more thing! Do you know of any places that serve turkey dinners? This year I’d like to at least pretend it’s Thanksgiving in Japan and eat some friggin’ taters and stuffing. I’d heard of a place called The Pink Elephant, but couldn’t find it when I looked it up online.

  37. Posted November 26, 2008 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Most U.S. public schools aren’t much better, they are just bad in different ways. But yeah, Japanese school is definitely geared towards test taking, and in addition to the “no failing, unlimited retries” thing, most classes are graded on a curve as well. The secret behind the international Japanese-wonder student myth revealed!

    That sucks about the hotel, I’ve been turned down or away for being a foreigner a few times, but most of the time I couldn’t care less. Personally, no matter how tired I was I wouldn’t sleep in a love hotel though. I’ve watched too many of those tv exposes to not be convinced that every inch of every piece of furniture is covered in sort of bodily fluid or other heh.

    Yeah Japanese love their company trips and company parties. I usually can’t stand them. Add together the fact that I’m a picky bastard (about everything, what I eat, where I sleep, the toilet, etc.etc.) and the fact that I’d rather not spend any additional time with a large percentage of my co-workers from any job I’ve ever had here, and I usually turned down the chance to go. If there were people from work I got along with, I hung out with them outside work, but not with the rest of the company/office/ka/kakari whatever heh. Also, I don’t drink, so that eliminates most of the fun from a lot of Japanese social gatherings right there…

    Japanese buy crap from vendors and stuff partially for the same reasons as they don’t stand up for themselves in other ways. That’s why they used to have all the big guys in roppongi who would sort of propel Japanese customers into the clubs. A lot of them are so incapable of standing up for themselves, even with simple things like saying no to pushy vendors. It’s like that in Hong Kong as well, they have whole shops there dedicated to targeting Japanese tourists on tours. My wife and I would firmly say no and they would still try and be pushy and I’ll tell them flat out I was not going to spend a dime in their store and they would all the sudden switch from fake happy to snooty.

    I’m a picky eater in the first place, so a lot of Japanese food in general is out for me, but I’m not generally huge on Japanese style seafood either. Raw is completely out for me, but even a lot of cooked dishes turn me off. Especially all of the “boiled” varieties.

    I hate mayo in general, so for me some of the things it gets put on here are a real horror show. For a society that is supposedly so health obsessed they really like something that is horribly bad for you =)

    I don’t know of anyplace that serves turkey dinners other than I think the American Club, but that is like crazy ridiculous expensive as far as I know. I’m sure there are probably some bars/pubs around Tokyo that might do it, but turkey is really hard to find and expensive here (9000 yen for a 7 pound bird I think I saw, the weight might be wrong though, might have been 7 kilo?).

  38. Posted November 27, 2008 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    I finally found a place for turkey dinners, called The Pink Cow near Shibuya I think, but when I asked they were already full for tonight. They apparently do the same for Christmas, though, so maybe I’ll check it out then.

    I have a lot of trouble with seafood and wasabi and I have an allergy to nuts, but other than that there aren’t many foods I just refuse to eat. But sometimes I pick the shouga out of my okonomiyaki (I mean, I like a little ginger, but the whole root is kind of hard to eat) and I always get annoyed when they put katsuobushi on my food. I hate it. It tastes weird and wiggles, so I always brush it off or to the side or something, to which Japanese respond “好き嫌いが多いね” or wahtever. At first I didn’t know what they meant by that, but now that I know it’s got a bit of a negative ring to it, I get upset that someone has to judge my tastebuds. I can’t help that I wasn’t raised on crappy stink fish shavings and wasabi! And I’m pretty sure half of the Japanese menu is an aquired taste. The most seafood I ever ate as a kid was Long John Silver’s once a year for religious purposes, and that’s freshwater fish, I think. But Japanese can seriously eat anything, except for canned cranberries. Every time I’ve fed them to a Japanese person, they freak out and ask why I’m feeding them jelly.

    Japanese ARE pushovers. In samurai movies they’re so badass and filled with awesome, but in real life it’s less than spectacular. At my old izakaya job my co-workers sometimes knowingly gave people the wrong meal, but knew they wouldn’t complain, and when kouhai would come in to say hello, they’d make the kouhai eat a giant bowl of mayo spaghetti and like lace it with some Korean spicey powder. The poor kouhai would look at the food and be like “But I just ate…” and the senpai would yell at them and the kouhai would eat it. I asked one why once and he said “Because senpai took the time to make it for me, and I don’t want to meiwaku him” and I was like “You’re not going to meiwaku him, you’re going to stand up for yourself and he’ll probably never do this again to you if you do,” and the guy just shrugged, picked up his fork and said “It’s not really that bad, I guess.” He ate it, and I’ve never seen a more unhappy (and pukey) looking man. The others laughed at him as he sweat and I just shook my head. I used to get picked on at work, like, they’d call me a BOKE and say I was useless, or they’d yell at me for making drinks to slow but get even angrier if I spilled the drinks (the bar was so termite infested that the drinks would wobble when you set them down because the wood surface was uneven). So my new system was to throw up my arms in the middle of whatever I was doing and say “You’re right, I’m a moron! I can’t do anything, so I guess I’ll have to leave these to you!” and I’d walk away and leave like five or six drinks only halfway done. And then my co-workers would come in and yell MEEEEAN things at me while they tried to figure out what drinks had already had what poured into them, etc. Then when they’d yell at me I’d say “Sorry, I’m just so dumb and useless…” That place was sucking the life out of me, and I didn’t appreciate 19-year-old drop outs yelling at me because I wasn’t fast at making drinks or didn’t know the word for “carbonated water”. When foreigners came in they would all hide behind the bar, though.

    I just saw last night on TV a thing about a Japanese girl who brought her weight down to 26 kg. All the Japanese were like “Eww, that’s so gross!” I looked it up, and it’s like 57 lbs. But the girls on the show were like “I’m 160 cm tall and 48 kg, I’m so fat.” That’s 105 lbs. I looked it up, and if I or any of my American friends weighed that much, we’d be considered dangerously underweight. I’m 127 lbs and nearly 166 cm tall, and my guy friends, old work place, and boyfriend all joke that I could stand to lose some weight. I’m pretty impressed that the Japanese people on the show recognized that 26 kg is not attractive. Honestly, I think at least one girl from the show probably went home and said to herself “If I only ate an onigiri and bread every day, how much could I lose?” I’ve met several anorexic people (I think… the Japanese word they used was 拒食症 which I’ll assume means anorexia) in America, but I asked my boyfriend and coworkers if they ever knew an anorexic and they said they hadn’t. How in Japan can you go your whole life without ever meeting one? I get on the train every morning and see at least a third of the people are underweight. They must have super bodies, because I will go to restaurants and eat a far healthier dinner than the girls on my right who are stick thin and eating katsudon teishoku with mayo and parfaits after. I know they don’t get fat from eating white rice like I do (but it is sooo delicious… it’s not fair!), but it seems like more than Americans a Japanese metabolism is higher. My boyfriend ate two steaks yesterday, some chicken, cheesey potatoes, and drank four cans of beer, and he doesn’t even get a full looking belly afterwards. I eat corn on the cob and you’d think I stuck a basketball in my stomach.

    Yeah, Japan is obsessed with diets but hate exercise, and they use “healthy” on menus when the item is anything but. And it was a big surprise to hear them say “diet” and not actually mean “diet”. I walked up the stairs instead of used the elevator at work and someone said “OOh, diet-o diet-o!” and I’m just like “….uh, yeah, diet-o.” I always thought it was all the walking Tokyo people do, but I’ve got friends in New York who have gained since they moved up there BIG TIME, so I’ve chalked it up to Japanese metabolisms.

    I looked over the photos on this site again, and looked through a magazine and realized that the “surprised look” plastic surgery gives these people looks cute to Japanese and ridiculous to everyone else in the world. On the train today there was a woman in front of me who had had her eyes done, but she hadn’t done her makeup and the lines from the surgery were totally 100% visible and ICKY. On TV yesterday I saw some idols who had to be like 16 and they’d had it done. It really just makes them look like bimbos. I love the new trend with wide-eyed bimbo idols, where especially cute girls aren’t doing as well as ugly ones because fans now want a girl who SEEMS attainable. And I’m like, if that’s the case, girls shouldn’t be trying to make themselves cute with plastic surgery and super diets to be idols, because it’s the average-looking or goofy looking girls who make money now. I remember Morning Musume, which had mostly cute girls, was once the big thing, but now it’s Perfume and AKB48. None of those girls are particularly cute (and some are like 10!), so the trends in Japan are now just totally bogus. I’m looking forward to the time when skinny will be out and squishy big girls will be dancing up on stage. I know in America that one is starting to happen…

  39. Posted December 10, 2008 at 1:47 am | Permalink

    Our new house (moving the end of this month) has a real gas oven so next year we’ll hopefully be able to try and do the turkey thing at home (assuming buying the bird doesn’t bankrupt me).

    I noticed that Ikea in Chiba has some sort of holiday chicken dinner thing at the restaurant in their store heh.

    Anytime a Japanese razzes you about the whole suki/kirai thing break out the rootbeer and licorice. Most of them can’t stand it.

    The only fish I used to eat back home was whitefish, but I’ve started to eat some other stuff here, still just can’t deal with raw though…

    Sounds like you had a pretty horrible workplace. I’ve worked in some shitty companies but nothing that bad yet. Then again I guess it’s a lot easier to pick on a girl than a guy too. I know some ex-corworkers didn’t like me, but they never said anything to my face anyway =)

    A sister of a friend of mine was anorexic for awhile. Had to be hospitalized and force-fed and such. It exists, just people don’t tend to probe too much behind the social face of things.

    I put on weight when I moved to Japan in large part I think because it took awhile to find foods I was willing to eat regularly that still worked out to be some kind of balanced meal.

    I don’t know if I’ve ever actually met anyone face to face who has had plastic surgery. Obviously, being male I can’t get away with like staring at the faces of girls on the train or anything, but I’ve never noticed anything out right. I think plastic surgery is pretty big in Korea as well, I’m amazed at how similar a lot of their popstars look.

  40. Brooke
    Posted December 10, 2008 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    Yeah, plastic surgery in South Korea is big. I think it’s funny that my Japanese co-workers made fun of Korean women’s obsession with plastic surgery, but when I mentioned the work done on Koda Kumi and Hamasaki Ayumi they were shocked. Actually, I don’t know what all Ayu has done, but her face looks totally different from her early modeling days and she just looks plastic-y. Koda Kumi? Even if you haven’t seen her high school pic, just compare her debut PV with what she looks like now. It’s hardly the same person.

    My co-worker said there are some really crazy plastic surgery trends in Korea that are gaining popularity… one is Leg Straightening, which I don’t even understand. They don’t have straight legs already? Apparently they want legs like Western women, but I don’t even know what that means. It involves some bone crunching and muscle twisting, I think. The other really pissed me off– it’s a surgery done on little kids. They clip their tongues a certain way so that English will be easier to speak. How can that possibly be real? I have known Korean-born people who learned English as a kid WITHOUT surgery and spoke English as fluent as any other American, with no accent or anything. I just hope those fads don’t make it over here.

    There’s a really funny double-standard in Korea that my old Korean friends told me about, though they seem unaware of the irony. Guys think it’s totally okay for women to get plastic surgery. They think if a woman wants to feel better about her looks she should be free to do it.. However! When I asked about if their girlfriends or wives had ever had it done, the men were suddenly very upset and said they would never in a million years allow their woman to get plastic surgery, nor would they want to marry a woman who has had it done. Uh, okay. So basically they all want to marry the handful of natural beauties in Korea, that’s fine and unrealistic. Every single Korean man I’ve ever asked has said the same thing– I think I’ve asked around ten or so. It’s bizarre.

    The movie “Kanna No Daiseikou” or whatever is pretty good to watch if you’re curious about plastic surgery in South Korea. It’s a comedy and actually really funny, and the final omake scene during the credits will take whatever moral you picked up from the movie and drown it in the tub, it’s ridiculous.

  41. Posted December 11, 2008 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, they are huge about that on the net too. Japanese sites pointing out how much plastic surgery Korean celebrities have had and Korean sites doing the same for Japanese celebrities.

    Koda Kumi is horrible, I can’t stand to even look at her…

    The korean tongue thing is pretty old news. They clip the bit under the tongue that connects it to the bottom of the mouth which makes pronouncing certain sounds easier apparently. I saw a documentary about it once and it did seem to make some difference, but not anything I’d be willing to have my tongue cut for (*_*)

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