dorchadas: (Do Not Want)
There was a hashtag about gaijin confessions on Friday on twitter. My favorite is probably "Also told someone I wanted to buy a human instead of a carrot once" (Carrot is 人参 ninjin, human is 人間 ningen), but there's a lot of good stuff collected here.

It made me think of my own #gaijinconfessions, so here's a few of them:
  • To this day, my breakfast is miso soup, rice, salmon, and pickles while sitting on the floor at a low table. This despite that most of our students ate "bread and milk" for breakfast, including the kimono shop owner who met his wife through a 仲人 (nakōdo, "marriage broker").
  • I also took the trash out at night, because there's no way I was getting up at 8 a.m. on Saturday just to get the trash out by 8:30.
  • Japanese cheese is garbage and we happily paid $20 a pound for good cheese at the import foods store.
  • The first winter I was there I survived mostly off canned chicken soup from the Foreign Buyer's Club because we hadn't quite gotten used to proper shopping for our 3/4th size fridge yet.
  • We spent a week in Singapore in and I thought everyone was unconscionably rude because I was used to a Japanese level of service.
  • I got used to being able to talk about anything I wanted and would happy tell off-color stories secure that people around me almost certainly couldn't understand me.
  • Even though I'm American, I actually don't own a gun or eat hamburgers every day.
  • My favorite onigiri is the kimchi-ume one I bought while we were in Ōsaka for [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd to take the GRE. It was only sold in Ōsaka and the Japanese people we told about it thought we were making it up.
  • I was never sure whether to use Japanese or English with staff in Indian restaurants.
  • I once boarded a bus twice with the same ticket after I forgot my laptop. I disembarked and took the light rail back into Hiroshima, retrieved my laptop from the ramen shop, and got on the next bus on the same line using my same ticket. The attendant looked at me nervously, wondering why a gaijin was going to Innoshima, and I flashed the ticket and walked on. Saved me ¥4000.
dorchadas: (Ping Kills)
For context: If you leave Japan after having paid into the Pension Fund, you can apply for a refund of your pension money, which we did after we left. That was about two and a half years ago. They owe us around ~$8,000--it was ~$11,000 when we left, but exchange rates. (-_-)

Back around July or so, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd got an email from someone at the Pension Office asking to resubmit her documents. All of them--the entire application and the supporting documents. Note that this is two years after we first submitted them.

So last week, we got a note that we had a piece of registered mail that we had to sign for, and the sender was just listed as "Japan." Seeing that, I got all excited. I knew that sometimes, when the Pension Office is about to make a deposit into your account, they'll send a card to the address of record in order to make sure you still want the money (if you're planning to move back, you might want to leave it there if you plan to draw on it in your old age) and that you're living where you think they are. So, after an attempt to get it redelivered that failed, [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd went to the post office to go pick it up and see what it was.

It was a request for a form resubmission. Apparently, the forms that we had submitted six months ago weren't proper because...[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's name wasn't in all caps. They helpfully filled in the name field with caps so we wouldn't make that mistake again and asked us to resubmit it.

fffffffffffffffffffuuuuuuuuuu-

It is said that Stalin claimed that bureaucracy is the price we pay for impartiality--or at least, it is said that it is said that--but sometimes, it is a high price to pay.
dorchadas: (Zombies together!)
I'm tempted to replay Portal through again, since the new one comes out on Tuesday (before Episode 3, which is the new Duke Nukem Forever to me, even though it hasn't really been all that long). So much else to do, though...well, all in due time, I suppose.

I just beat Arcanum, and I do admit that it deserves all of the praise that was lavished on it. And a lot of the complaints, too. By about level 14 (out of 50), I could beat groups of monsters twice my level by abusing the magic system. By level 30, I was an unstoppable demigod who probably could have killed everyone in the game. The plot and mechanics are really good, though. It's entirely possible to be a crazed murderer and still finish the game because any important figure can have their spirit ripped from the afterlife and interrogated for important info. Similarly, if you know the Resurrection spell, a lot of quests take into account that you could find that the only person who knows the secret info has been murdered by assassins, resurrect them, and then join forces against the person who killed them originally.

The end boss annoyed me a bit, though, mainly because it's another one of the "Death is better than life, life is suffering, death is peace, I will bring peace to the world through death" negaBuddhist omnicidal maniacs you get so often in JRPGs. Plus one for the option to get into a philosophical debate and convince the guy he's wrong, though. Also the option to join him and actually wipe out all life on the planet.

We just this week got back from Tokyo to see [personal profile] fiendishfanfares, her husband and a couple of her friends. We went to a lot of the standard places I've been before, as is our custom, so I won't go into that again, I'll just deal with the highlights. The first was when we went to Meiji Shrine, we ran into a group (around 6-7) of Japanese college students who came over to talk to us and asked if they could show us around. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I had been there before, of course, but [personal profile] fiendishfanfares and the others hadn't, so we agreed. Some of the things we were told we already knew (how to properly purify ourselves, etc.), and some things were new, but the main neat part was talking to some people who obviously cared about learning English and were actually pretty good at it. It turned out they were students at Tokyo Foreign Language University and most of them weren't actually studying English. The one who showed [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I around was a French Major, there was a Czech Major there too, and one English major whose accent was frankly amazing. We ended up friending our guide on Facebook, and she's said she'll show us around there and the Imperial Palace when my parents come to visit. Neat :)

The second is the first real racism I've experienced in Japan ([personal profile] schoolpsychnerd ran into some at Mt. Fuji, of all places, but I didn't go on that trip). We went to an izakaya in Roppongi that had a 400 cover charge for non-Japanese people. I mean, I suppose it's possible they charged Japanese people too...except that it was only mentioned on the English menu and in English signage. Nowhere in the Japanese literature I read said anything about it. This kind of thing is still perfectly legal in Japan, even though the UN is always on the Japanese government's ass to do something about it. The government's response is usually that it would be "impossible to enforce" (which basically translates to "Fuck you gaijin, we don't care about your standards."), so there's no much I can do about it other than pay extra and be extremely annoyed. Oh, and I guess ask my sister if she wants to experience actual racism, which would be so ludicrously clueless upper-middle-class hipster I might do it just for the total irony that wraps back around into idiocy. Or something.

While we were there, a lot of people kept thanking us for coming. The college students at Meiji and the chefs at the sushi restaurant in Tsukiji (which was deserted. When we went there a year and a bit ago, there were probably 200 people waiting for seats on restaurant row. This time, there were maybe 20, if that) were especially kind.

The other weird things was doing translations. I mean, I really actually liked it, a lot (and wouldn't it have been fucking lovely to find something I'm good at, have talent for and enjoy earlier? I'm good at and have a talent [or so I'm told] for writing, but half the time I don't enjoy it :p), but I'm nowhere near even conversationally fluent in Japanese, so it was still a bit strange to be always translating for other people. The context-based nature of the Japanese language does help, though. Leaving stuff out, leaving sentences hanging, and so on is a fixture in daily speech, which worked to my advantage. When the fare adjustment machine wouldn't refund us the 10円 we had overpaid by, we went to the ticket counter, and I got as far as "Ticket Refund Machine" and a slight pause to think of how to format "isn't working correctly" (I think you can use 働く, which usually means "to work" in the sense of "I work at a movie theatre," in the "that machine doesn't work" way, but I'm not sure) and he ended up refunding us the money and writing us a new transfer ticket that got us all the way there. That was nice.

Also, totally random thought. You visit tons of planets in Mass Effect, and lots of them have ruins. If you look at the dates, it quickly becomes obvious that the ruins all date back in in multiples of 50,000 years. Foreshadowing!

Argh

2009-Jan-10, Saturday 01:18
dorchadas: (Default)
So, recently, our cell phone bill has been going up by quite a lot, even though we aren't using the data-transfer on our cell phones more. It wasn't until recently that I realized the problem.

We're paying for our cell phone bill using a credit card, because apparently it's illegal for gaijin to use their legally established Japanese bank accounts to do so. That means we're paying in dollars, but the bill is in yen. And the dollar has been tanking against the yen recently (down like 20% from the rate it was when we came to Japan). Blarg.

Sadly, paying in cash each month is also not an option. I just wish I had paid for the iPhones up front now.
dorchadas: (Iocaine Powder)
So, I just got back from a trip over to Saijō to go to the Sake Matsuri. Some people went both Saturday and Sunday, but we decided to just go Sunday, which meant we missed some of the neat stuff (parades, musical performances, etc.). We did get a brief tour of a sake brewery and went to the sake tasting tent--1500円 to go inside. They give you a cup, and you go around to taste different brands of sake from all around Japan. We managed to get in early, which was good since a few hours before it closed they ran out of all the other sake and ended up giving out Saijō sake. It's not like it tasted bad...but it wasn't what we came for.

We did manage to get some excellent falafel from an Egyptian couple running a food stand, though, which made my day. And I do feel a little bad that we didn't at least check out the food stand that put in the extra effect to do their barking at us in English.

We later ended up going to a kaitenzushi place where they went a little heavy on the wasabi for my taste but it was otherwise good. Somewhat surprisingly, it was essentially the same as an American kaitenzushi place would be--lots of weird rolls, things with mayonnaise, fruit, etc. I'm glad they had pineapple, but there wasn't as much of the standard nigiri as I might have liked.

After that, we tried to find a bar somewhere (and accidentally ended up wandering into Saijō's red light district...oops), but all the ones we did find had a minimum 40 minute wait for 8 people, so we just went back to a house and chatted for a bit. Those of us who had to catch the last train did so, and [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I crashed a a friend's place in Fuchu, just inside Hiroshima's city limits.

Then we came back here. :) I'm sad I missed all the neat stuff, but next year (if we're still in Japan), we'll know to go on Saturday.

As a side note, it's interesting how little we cared about wandering around dimly lit dark alleys in the city. Japan is safe, but it still has a crime rate. I guess it's because we're the ones who are supposed to be committing all the crimes. At least, I assume that's why when, on our way to the train station, the four taxis we hailed just blew past us without even slowing down. It's possible that they were full (even though we didn't see anyone in them) or that they weren't in service (even though the lights were on), but...well, it's also possible that we're gaijin.

One of the people at the party who knows conversational Japanese was mentioning how most people he talks to are fine, but he sometimes runs into someone who has massive cognitive dissonance with a foreigner speaking understandable Japanese and just...shuts down. Pretends not to understand even if he speaks slowly, etc. Has anyone seen something similar in America? I'm sure it happens, but I'm curious if anyone's ever seen it.

Grr

2008-Jul-29, Tuesday 15:57
dorchadas: (Office Space)
So, apparently, when Hiroshima told [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd that she didn't need to worry about my transportation to Hiroshima, what they actually meant was, "We're going to tell you you need to drop $330 on a plane ticket the day before you leave."

If I had known going over at the same time would be so expensive, I would have just waited and gone over two weeks after [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd did.

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