Monday, 24 September 2012

Gaijin Tales: The brush-pass and accidental vandalism

Some of the stuff that happens to me is worth mentioning but not particularly meritorious of any drawn-out analysis or play-by-play. So, lifting the concept directly from Stupid Ugly Foreigner's Weekly Waygook, I present Gaijin Tales, a collection of vignettes from my life since I've arrived.


Coming down into the main part of Kansai Airport after having been detained at Immigration, my white face immediately identified me to an airport employee as the rightful owner of a heretofore seemingly masterless suitcase. Minutes later, I was all but tackled by the driver of a shuttle I was about to ride, who tracked me down by the same method. When I arrived at the hotel, the clerk behind the desk took one look at me and at once handed me my room key, without asking for my name or even what I was there to do.


The day of our arrival at the dorm, my German roommate and I decided to take a walking tour of the surrounding area. After a while, we started to notice that people seemed to be breaking right whenever they saw us, rather than left as they really should have been. You can kind of see the logic: White people are American, Americans break right, and there you have it.

I've since decided that the only solution was to aggressively position myself as far left as physically possible at all times, staring down anyone who breaks right as if daring them not to assimilate me into their culture. Later I asked about this, and it turns out that people actually more often pass each other on the right when they're walking, and then if one of you is on a bicycle and one is ambulating all bets are off. I don't even know any more.


Though this is my fourth time in Japan, until now I had yet to encounter one of those mythical creatures who refuse to be vanquished even when decapitated, the very possibility of whose presence can strike horror into the hearts of even the most stalwart. Yes, I opened my bathroom door and discovered a cockroach, who quickly dived under the cover of the sink cabinet and vanished into the darkness. The front desk supplied me with an appropriate weapon to combat the beast, so it may well be that it is now no more than a corpse. Then again, the room is supposed to have been fumigated prior to my arrival, implying that there is in fact an alternate entrance deep within. Perhaps it lies in wait even now, preparing to mount a counterattack.


In perhaps my unluckiest judgment call so far, I was walking behind a group of some other international students and watched them turn right; know what, I thought, screw that noise, and I went left. I ended up discovering what seemed to be a mild forest path, but it took only two facefulls of spider silk before I was hefting a stick, hacking at the air anytime I passed between two trees. The spiders in this area are massive, yellow, and terrifying, though they wisely flee from humans. I figured that surely I was now closer to the exit than the entrance, but my decision to continue forth merely delivered me into denser and denser foliage. Desperate to escape, I emerged onto a sprawling 18-hole golf course, and I think I experienced every single one of them by the time I was able to return to the road. I leaped onto the footpath, startling an old granny waiting for the bus, who listened to my story and was so amused she took my picture with her cell phone.


I always attach my housekeys to my wallet, which lately I've been keeping in my back pocket.

Since new foreigners have to get registered with the local Ward Office, we went down in a group of ten or so. We walked in, reveling in the air conditioning, trying to be quiet, and took our seats on the plush, couch-like benches.

“I just punched two holes in the seat with my keys,” I announced.


And that's it.  If enough stupid things happen to me quickly enough, I may turn this into a running series. Here's hoping my dumbassery continues to draw me into ever more facepalm-worthy adventures.


  1. The break right/left thing confused the hell out of me too. I never knew which way I should go. Some moved to the left, and others to the right. Which way would they move if I was Japanese? haha... never was really sure...

    1. I am pretty sure they don't even know themselves. ^^