Things I Hate/Dislike About Japan

Days 1453 - 1459
Sunday, March 11 - March 17, 2012

I literally dragged myself through this week trust me.

Day 1453 (1 year since Huge Earthquake and Tsunami / Things I Hate/Dislike about Japan)
Sunday, March 11, 2012

Stayed in all day today.

1 year since Huge Earthquake and Tsunami 

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that killed almost 20,000 people last year in Northern Japan :(

Today Japan marked a year since the massive earthquake and tsunami rocked Tohoku and its Pacific coastline on March 11, 2011, leaving nearly 20,000 people confirmed dead or missing.
News photo
Minute of silence: A woman prays at the remains of a disaster control center in Minamisanriku, Miyagi Prefecture, on Sunday. KYODO
The disasters and the meltdowns they triggered at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant combined to create the greatest political and humanitarian calamity the nation has faced since the end of World War II in 1945.
They also sparked an unprecedented outpouring of domestic and international sympathy and volunteerism, while the Fukushima crisis launched a worldwide backlash against nuclear power and a growing interest here in renewable energies.
A year later, recovery efforts continue but the pace remains slow and uneven. Officially, the death toll stands at 15,854, with another 3,155 missing. A total of 343,935 people have been evacuated, and more than 6,000 were injured.

Things I Hate/Dislike about Japan 

Last week I blogged about some of the things I like about Japan. This week you will see some of the reasons why I hate/dislike Japan. This is also in random order. But you will see how I rate them on my dislike scale. 1 meaning I don't really dislike it, 10 meaning I really dislike it.

Stares!!! 10 / 10 on the Dislike scale

I don't know if this is indeed number 1 on my list or not but it is very high up there. I know its probably a shoganai (inevitable) situation by virtue of me being black, but that doesn't stop it from being ANNOYING!!! I go in the supermarket, on the train, in the pharmacy, ANYWHERE!! people are just staring. The staring intensity depends on where you are and who you are with. I mentioned a couple weeks ago that in certain places like Tokyo, Kobe/Sannomiya and Hiroshima, the staring is less intense. I am still surprised that even though Yokohama is such a big and popular city, I still get the annoying stares here. Even in the very area where I live.

If I am walking with someone of another race, the staring intensifies. Especially if I am walking with a Japanese and we are speaking Japanese, oh boy....and as soon as you stare back at them, they turn around as quickly as possible, looking in the sky or checking the time or looking in the other direction.

My friend said in China they do the same thing but they don't turn away their heads if you look back at them.

The first picture above in Japanese reads .... Why do Japanese people stare at foreigners ?..... Its not a real book, just a book cover.

Hyper Xenophobia 10 / 10 on the dislike scale

Related to the stares above is this hyper xenophobic attitude that is experienced possibly by every foreigner here. And it is quadrupled if you are black. We are stared at and sometimes totally avoided. This can be observed at the cash registers in supermarkets, where people at times refuse to join the line I am in, even if its shorter than the other lines. It can also be seen on the trains and various other locations.

Hey I remember even in Hiroshima, one of my favourite cities in Japan, I was going to a hotel, when the hotel staff told me directly that they don't accept foreigners... Where in the world does this happen? Oh yeah Japan. I also heard that in Shinjuku, Tokyo, there are bars, restaurants and clubs that don't accept foreigners.  

Expensive 6 / 10 on the dislike scale

Yes Japan is expensive when compared to Jamaica, the US and other Asian countries. For example a full body massage in Japan can run from 3000 yen / US $35 upwards. But in the Philippines 300 yen upwards, do the math. Don't even mention the weddings that can run from 2,000,000 yen / US $24,000 upwards.

Driver's Licence Torture  8/ 10 on the dislike scale

This is one of the most annoying processes for foreigners in Japan who wish to or has to drive a car. We have to keep in mind that the first attempt at the exam, we are GOING TO FAIL!!! Only a few lucky ones will pass on the second attempt. I won't say the first attempt because that itself is a miracle. I think its a combination of milking money out of us along with oppressing the foreigner in a subtle way. The Japanese drivers who pay the unbelievable sum of around 300,000 yen for lessons then take the exam ALWAYS!!! passes.

It took me 4 tries to be successful. But I had to wake up really early, trod through snow and make a 2 hour journey on 3 separate occasions.

Nihongo Ga Jyouzu / Your Japanese is Awesome  6/ 10 on the dislike scale

Japanese people automatically assume that foreigners can't speak Japanese. Nothing is wrong with this really, because its based on their experiences with other foreigners. But after hearing that my Japanese is good for the 1000th time it gets really annoying. Especially because they are saying the same thing to every single foreigner that utter even 1 Japanese word. Just by saying Ohayou Gozaimasu (Good morning), They will heap praises on how good your Japanese is.

Fake Apologies and Fake Compliments 7 / 10 on the dislike scale

This can also tie in with the above. Sometimes Japanese people will heap apologies and compliments which are totally fake. At times you will be able to tell the difference but at other times you have no clue. It is good though that they apologize and try to make customers feel welcome and stuff but this too gets annoying after a while.

No Greetings For the Foreigner 6 / 10 on the dislike scale

It is offensive when a sales person or a random person comes in the school office and tells everyone good morning and TOTALLY ignores me. It is not only disrespectful but also rude. The teachers also do it at times. I am sitting beside an English supporter and a teacher will directly greet the supporter but ignore me. I still don't get this kind of thing.

Japanese Doctors 3 / 10 on the dislike scale

You feel sick and go to a Japanese doctor. All they do is run some routine checks, ask some questions then send you out. A grand total of say 3-4 minutes. Not that I really want to stay long there but just making sure that they prescribe the correct medication for my illness is always a concern. Most times they seem to be right though. So that's good.

Cold and Cold 10 / 10 on the dislike scale

The winter is long, annoying and very cold. I hate to be cold which is maybe why my electricity bill came to so much last time. The winter also brings with it sneezing, stuffy nose etc, so more than likely you will catch a cold, or at worst influenza. I think I caught the cold at least 7 or 8 different times already since I moved to Yokohama.

Earthquakes and Tsunamis 10 / 10 on the dislike scale

This of course speaks for itself.

I am sure there are more but these are all the things I can think about now. One would observe that my dislike list is more than my like list, so why am I still here??? This is why when people ask me the inevitable question "How is Japan?" My answer is "It is like a roller coaster, the highs are really high but the lows are really low".



Day 1454 ( The Invisible Enemy )
Monday, March 12, 2012

My Jamaican friend who recently got married to a Japanese man, recommended me for a part-time job in a area not too far from me. So I will start to work there on Saturdays starting in April. I have an interview with them this coming Thursday.

The Invisible Enemy

Yoshiko Ota keeps her windows shut. She never hangs her laundry outdoors. Fearful of birth defects, she warns her daughters: Never have children.
News photo
Bottled up: Yoshiko Ota displays bottled water she bought at a local shop for daily use at her house in the city of Fukushima on Feb. 26. AP
This is life with radiation, nearly one year after a tsunami-hit nuclear power plant began spewing it into Ota's neighborhood, 60 km away. She's so worried that she has broken out in hives.
"The government spokesman keeps saying there are no 'immediate' health effects," the 48-year-old nursery school worker says. "He's not talking about 10 years or 20 years later. He must think the people of Fukushima are fools.
"It's not really OK to live here," she says. "But we live here."
Ota takes metabolism-enhancing pills in hopes of flushing radiation out of her body. To limit her exposure, she goes out of her way to buy vegetables that are not grown locally. She spends ¥10,000 a month on bottled water to avoid the tap water. She even mail-ordered a special machine to husk her family's rice.



Day 1455 ( Hay Fever / Sherlock Holmes - A Game of Shadows )
Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Last week after I decided to cut down my AC usage, 2 days after I woke up with a terrible throat ache. Today along with that throat ache, I woke up with extremely red eyes. The worst thing is that I had a full day of classes today from 8:40 am until 3:00 pm. The teachers said it seem that I got hay fever (kahunsho), which about 75% of Japanese get in the spring time. I lived in Niimi 3 years and never had this thing and as soon as I got to Yokohama walla!!! Look at my eyes....

I know I like scary but I can assure you I am harmless. What you don't believe me??

Anyway, I still ended up watching Sherlock Holmes 2 ( A Game of Shadows). It was incredible. GREAT action scenes, good humor, great acting, good story line so over all great movie. I give it a 9/10. You should go see it.



Day 1456 ( Surprise Surprise ) 
Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My supposedly favorite school today pulled a stunt on me that I wasn't really too happy about. I followed my schedule exactly and went to work at 8:30 am. As I was entering the school premises, I saw the English coordinator along side one of the English supporters, signalling me to hurry. So I ran and met them and they hurriedly took away my bags and stuff. Then they told me to prepare a speech. I was like What???? Then they pulled the apologizing like crazy thing on me. The principal joined and told me again to prepare a speech and he will walk with me into the auditorium.

When I walked into the auditorium with the principal, there was a goodbye ceremony being held for guess who? Yeah Me!!! And I had to give a speech in wonderful Japanese!!! The entire school was there waiting on me and I was totally unaware of this ceremony and I was even worse unaware that I should give a speech. The principal lead me up the platform where there was a mic. Some children were MC-ing the "event". I didn't know whether to stand or sit, or head for the mic. So I started heading for the mic to which the principal said not yet. Then some students presented a number of paper made stuff to me. While the 1st graders gave me a big set of flowers.

At the first presentation, I sat and received the gift, because I was still in my surprised mode. Then a teacher told me to stand and receive the gifts. So I did, then I presented my 3 minute speech in very confusing Japanese, but they seemed to have understood what I said. Or at least I hope they did.

After this surprise ceremony, they switched up my schedule and gave me two - 1 hour classes with the grades 1s and 2s instead of four separate 45 mins classes. My company said ALL classes should be exactly 45 mins. So of course they weren't corresponding with my company. However it worked out in my favor because four - 45 mins classes is much longer than two - 1 hour class. But all of this was a big surprise, because my schedule says otherwise.

Anyway, the English coordinator and the principal kept apologizing to me throughout the day, whenever they saw me.Check out these different portraits of me from the different grade levels.

This looks like Usain Bolt



Day 1457 ( Short Interview / Tokyo #6 in Global Competitiveness )
Thursday, March 15, 2012

Short Interview

Today I got some late paper presents from some students and teachers at this school. I don't know but I generally don't feel the appreciation from a couple teachers at this school.

After work, I went to an interview at the YMCA about 15 mins by train from the school I went to today. I guess the interview was just for formality because even before the interview, they were asking me if I could teach this coming Saturday. But I should really start working there on the second Saturday in April. And all subsequent Saturdays there after.

Tokyo #6 in Global Competitiveness

New York ranked first and Tokyo sixth among 120 major cities in the world in terms of competitiveness, according to a survey report released Monday by Citigroup Inc. and the research arm of The Economist magazine. 

London and Singapore came in second and third, followed by Paris and Hong Kong tied for fourth place.
The report ranks cities in eight categories of competitiveness, including economic strength, human capital, institutional effectiveness, social and cultural character, and environment and natural hazards.
While many European and U.S. cities earned high rankings overall, Asian cities dominated the top rankings in the economic strength category. In this most highly weighted category, 15 of the top 20 cities are in Asia, and 12 of them are in China.



Day 1458 ( New Ipad )
Friday, March 16, 2012

I think today was my last set of classes at my main school for this year. The other times I should just go there for goodbye speeches or just sit and do nothing.

After work I had dinner with my friend at TGIF in Yokohama.

New Ipad

Apple Inc. on Friday launched a new version of its popular iPad multimedia tablet computer in Japan, where domestic manufacturers like Sony Corp. are struggling to attract customers amid the iPad's dominance. 

The third-generation iPad, released about 11 months after the iPad 2 hit the market, features a faster processor, a sharper high-resolution display, and voice dictation that recognizes English, French, German and Japanese.
About 450 people lined up at Apple's flagship store in the upmarket Tokyo shopping district of Ginza for the launch of the iPad at 8 a.m., while over 70 people lined up at the Ginza shop of Softbank Mobile Corp.



Day 1459 ( End of School Year Drinking Party )

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Went to my main school today in cold rain, to attend a drinking party. A teacher drove me to the location which was about 45 minutes away. It was held in a massive Japanese style hotel. The hotel rooms were extremely big and spacious. One night there would cost about US 200. So I opted not to stay over.

The food was also Japanese style, raw fish (Sushi) , some beef, miso soup, Japanese radish and some other stuff. Luckily there was a little candle fire under the plate with the beef, in order to cook it. The beef was served in a special type of heating plate along with some vegetables. I ended up cooking not only the beef, but also the raw fish as well. It was fun though going there. It is always interesting seeing Japanese teachers get drunk. Their whole personality change drastically, at least most of them.