Category Archives: Fun

On Onsen, or Bathing With Friends and Coworkers

I was naked except for a green smock, flashing some leg and God-knows-what-else to two older women with shovels as I stepped into a small dirt hole in the center of a Japanese bath house. Lying on my back with … Continue reading

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On Roller Skating in Japan: Notes on One Year of Culture Shock

This month marked my first year in Japan: My Japanniversary. My first year as an expatriate felt a lot like a bad prom date. I was incompetent, needy, never quite sure where to put my hands.

Posted in Culture Shock, Fun, Homesickness | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

On Obon: Japan’s Homecoming Game, with Ghosts.

There’s an old Buddhist story about a monk named Mahamaudgalyayana – let’s call him Mokuren, for short – who was doing alright, as monks go, and had finally developed the skill of peering into the world of the dead.

Posted in Fun, Shrines, Thinking, Tradition, Uncategorized, Zen | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

On Bowling in Japan

If you don’t play a sport, you’ve run out of possible conversations with about 90 percent of Japanese men. So I started lying: “I’m a bowler.” At first it was a genius move. I would never be asked to talk … Continue reading

Posted in Culture Shock, Fun, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

On Climbing Mount Fuji (With a Fear of Heights)

About 300,000 people a year climb Mt. Fuji. A handful of them die. Very few of them get panic attacks from standing on porches. I’m acrophobic: Seven feet high and I’m nervous. Higher up I get dizzy; at 30 feet … Continue reading

Posted in Fun, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

On Watching a Baseball Game in Japan

American baseball spills beyond pastime and into national ritual, with more performances of the national anthem than the most fervent political race. But baseball in Japan strips the bleachers of their red, white and blue flare and keeps it firmly in … Continue reading

Posted in Fun, Uncategorized | 9 Comments