The Japanese Convini Is Where Your Dreams of Convenience Come True

Why do I love Japan so much? To be totally and horibbly honest, it’s the fact that at 3 in the morning I can go to the nearest brightly lit convini (convenience store) and buy a super noodle cup, a candy bar and a lemon chu-hi. The convini is there for me like a good, good friend that never lets me down.

Okay, maybe that’s not why I love Japan so much, but it certainly helps. In the US, your local convenience store has nothing but questionable taquitos rotating in a grisly slow death on a filthy grill and nachos whose cheese comes from a ‘bladder.’ Oh, not to mention liquid meth energy drinks and frozen pot pies. Continue reading

Fukushima Fallout and the Annihilation of Japan

When reading news stories on the internet about Fukushima:

- Look for facts and the sources of those facts, either as sources cited or as links. Check out the sources to make sure they’re legit. If a website cites other pages of itself, those aren’t sources.

- Check out any ‘experts’ quoted by doing a quick Google search on the person’s name. Find out if they’re qualified to speak on the topic. ‘Researcher’ is usually a codename for ‘conspiracy theorist nutjob.’

- Take any unsupported facts that alarm you and do a quick Google search to see if any other articles or websites anywhere mention these facts. If not, they’re probably made up.

- See what the site is selling. For example, NaturalNews runs a story on the radioactivity spewing out of Fukushima and the cover-up by authorities and official news sources… then offers to sell you your own home-use radiometer. Ka-ching!!

- Avoid any article that uses hyperbolic language about armageddon, apocalypse, or death on a mass scale that hasn’t happened yet.

You’re too smart and skeptical to buy the BS the corporate media is trying to sell you. Good job! Now, apply that same skepticism to ‘alternative news’ websites, which could be run by some random dude in his basement.

We don’t need hysteria, panic and paranoia. We need facts. It’s better to admit that you don’t know and take precautions than to make stuff up.

How to Prepare for an Earthquake

Did you notice that things have been shaking a bit lately? No matter how many years I live in Japan, I never get used to that. The Great Tohoku Earthquake of ’11 stretched my perspective a bit and made all the others before it seem like nothing at all, but it still freaks me out when the earth moves under my feet.

I learned a valuable lesson in March 2011 – I discovered that I had no idea how to prepare for an earthquake. Whether you’re in Japan, the earthquake capital of the world, or anywhere else (they can happen anywhere), here’s a rundown on what to do. Continue reading

Abe Administration Flings More Money At English Education

Japanese politicians are blabbing once again about internationalization, something they know nothing at all about.

The plan? Just as bone-headed as all past plans – double the number of ALTs in Japanese schools and switch from one useless test to another useless test. The net effect will be zero and in a couple of years, they’ll decide it was a waste, cut the number of ALTs, etc. And then in a few years after that, talk about internationalization again, and so on, and still nobody graduating from a Japanese school can answer the question, ‘How are you today?’ Continue reading

Gaijin Is a Racist Word

This is a topic I’ve never wanted to write about but now it seems like the time is right. If you live in Japan, people will call you gaijin. I’ve always accepted it and not cared much about it. I knew it had racial overtones and wasn’t a polite word, but I actually like my outsider status and I’m happy to be a non-Japanese.

The problem is that my kids get called gaijin. This is going to be a problem their whole lives and in a society where bullying is epidemic, it worries me a bit.

So, is the word gaijin a racist word? The answer is: Yes. Continue reading