On Sexual Harassment in Japan (Part 1)


Last week, Ayaka Shiomura, a 35-year-old lawmaker in Tokyo, was raising questions about the role of working mothers in Japan when someone started jeering.

“Why don’t you get married?” one voice shouted out. Then another: “Can’t you have a baby?” Continue reading

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On Not Being Offended by Avril Lavigne in Japan


If nobody in Japan thinks a racist video about the Japanese is racist, can anyone be offended?

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On Being From Somewhere Else in Japan


One of the most useful discoveries of a recent trip to Italy was that I had remembered some Italian curse words overheard during my childhood at my grandmother’s house, where older relatives would engage in a memory contest of their native language after a few glasses of wine. A corrupt Roman hotelier and later, a hostel that would not refund my money, resurrected those words that had been buried in some unconscious graveyard of language. Continue reading

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On Pilgrims


I live on Tabard Street in London, one of the original streets leading into the city proper, a site where pilgrims gathered before departing the city (such as those in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales) or upon arriving in it. The entire area, just south of the Thames and connecting to London Bridge, is rooted in a history of transience, making it a perfect place for me to be living.

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On Life after Japan

The airplane is parked at the far end of a runway, the airport clear outside the portal, the name of my city, Fukuoka, in clear red letters. The mountains are clear in the distance, lush green trees reaching toward blue skies like a painted dome over the planet. We start accelerating and I feel the pressure in my body pulling me back towards it: My home for three years. The people I knew, the places I stayed, the feelings I muddled my way through. Some people, when they leave, seem to know that they’ll be back. I knew that I would not. Continue reading

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On Facebook Fans and Christmas Miracles

Irrashaimase! This Japanese Life’s Facebook page has just crossed the 2,000 fans mark. To celebrate, This Japanese Life (the book and e-books!) will be marked down by 20%! How lucky we are that this has happened so close to a holiday celebrated by many around the world with traditional gift-giving? Indeed, that is remarkable! Maybe you would like to buy this book for some friends who may be going to Japan? Perhaps the book has material suitable for anyone going anywhere? Perhaps it does! The perfect gift for anybody bound for JET, or a culture-shocked friend. Sugoi!


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