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True Stories of Life in Japan

True Stories of Life in Japan is a series I decided to do as a creative writing exercise. My constraints were that I was to publish one per weekday, that each would be at least 500 words, that the series would have ten installments. They would each focus on some aspect of life there, while [...]

True Stories of Life in Japan, pt 10: All Good Things

My contract in Japan specified that I would stay one year at that company, and that nine months into the process both the head office and I would determine whether the contract was worth renewal. If we both decided that I should stay, I would get a raise of about $1000 annually and an automatic [...]

True Stories of Life in Japan, pt 9: So You Want to be an Expatriate

One of the more common reactions I get from people newly learning that I’ve lived in Japan is “I wish I could do something like that.” It’s actually not all that hard; all you need is a bachelor’s degree, some patience during the application process, a few thousand dollars to get you over there and [...]

True Stories of Life in Japan, pt 8: Nonverbal Communication

My entire stay in Japan originated because of my interest in Japanese. It wasn’t a particularly serious interest at first, but I discovered somewhat to my surprise that I really liked studying that language. It was only natural that once I actually got to Japan, I continued my studies, even though it meant paying almost [...]


True Stories of Life in Japan will continue through the finish after the holiday break.

True Stories of Life in Japan, pt 7: The Elusive Asian Girlfriend

When I first arrived in-country, I had a weekend of training and a week of dual-teaching with the prior teacher before officially taking over the position. It’s a useful system; my predecessor didn’t have a lot to say about teaching, but he did get me familiar enough with the local area enough that I could [...]

True Stories of Life in Japan, pt 6: Shopping Blind

It’s pretty much a tautology to say that the tastes of individuals are varied. Somehow, it was still a surprise to learn that entire societies have tastes, and they vary even more widely. Japanese food peculiarities go way beyond sushi; that’s just the part that gets exported to the world. In a Japanese grocery store, [...]

True Stories of Life in Japan, pt 5: Bicycling and Injury

Bicycling is big in Japan. Between the expense inherent in the car, the expense the government pays for registration and inspections, and the expense in parking, cars are just too expensive for everyday use for many people. Still, they need some way to handle medium-distance personal travel, and bicycles fit the bill nicely. One of [...]

True Stories of Life in Japan, pt 4: Combini and Vending Machines

Japan has been crowded for as long as anyone can remember. Even in prehistoric times, when the very first boatload of proto-japanese people landed and set up a settlement, they built their town in an area the size of a basketball court and reserved the rest of the land for a mixture of golf courses [...]

True Stories of Life in Japan, pt 3: A Cross-Country Drive

Socialization posed an interesting problem while I lived in Japan. I was the only fluent speaker of English in quite a large radius. I interacted socially with some of my adult students, but there was no way to be completely unreserved with them: they were my students; they paid for my livelihood. Almost as important [...]