Friday, July 31, 2009


I cant even begin to explain all the weirdness. I may still be jet-lagged, because I sort of feel like Im in a dream. Also, Im at school using a Japanese keyboard that doesnt have an apostrophe key. Please rest assured that my basic punctuation skills have not deteriorated.

Here are a few hilarious mistakes I have made.

-I went to have my photo taken and I was told I shouldnt show my teeth when I smile, so they had to re-take the photos. Apparently teeth in photos is a no-no! Thanks Mom for always chiding me to smile bigger in photos; you have offended the Japanese by proxy.

-There are indoor shoes and outdoor shoes. I change into different shoes when I get to my high school, which are what I therefore wear for most of the working day. So, I figured outdoor shoes dont really matter and I wore some flip flops to walk to school today... very bad. A teacher took me to the bank to set up an account and was basically like, you better not do that again. Seriously.

-There are no discernible street signs and towns are definitely not neatly gridded. And since everything is in Japanese, its nearly impossible for me to remember how to get anywhere... Ive been too scatterbrained and overwhelmed to recognize landmarks much at this point. This is to say, both days so far I have been clueless as to how to get to school from the train station. Today I wandered long enough to get the courage to go back to the station and ask, and I bumped into a student who took me to the school, haha. In broken English and Japanese I learned he liked the Yankees, so as a thank you I gave him this baseball keychain I brought from New York as an omiyage (souvenirs people returning from vacation or arriving for the first time give to their co-workers). It was pretty cute.

-I did not bring enough omiyage for all the teachers. With the help of my desk neighbor, Tanaka-sensei, Ive been sneakily trying to give omiyage to some of the teachers without alerting others to the fact that theyve been snubbed. OMG everyone is going to hate me.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Why Japanomie?

1. Because I like making up fake compound words.

2. I previously thought "anomie" meant a sort of dissociative depressive state, but thanks to I discovered it can also mean

a state or condition of individuals or society characterized by a breakdown or absence of social norms and values, as in the case of uprooted people.

which sounds a lot like what I'll be going through upon arriving in Japan. Not in a bad way necessarily, though the unfamiliar etiquette concerns me. Everyone says the Japanese will be understanding of the cultural faux pas I will most certainly commit, but honestly: if you were serving a Japanese guest dinner, and they were very loudly and ostentatiously slurping their soup, wouldn't your reaction be more, "What's the deal with THAT guy?" than "Oh, it must be because they have some sort of custom in Japan in which slurping your soup is a compliment to the chef," the latter actually being the case?

That is to say, I am worried about the limits of folks' open-mindedness with regard to my inevitable brash American trampling all over their way of life. But! I'm sure my humiliation will be tempered by the ensuing comical blog posts I get out of these experiences, for your (all my hundreds of readers, har har) benefit.

Wish me luck!