The "GREG IN JAPAN" Thread...

Discuss anything and everything relating to that fascinating island empire of the east
User avatar
greg
Posts: 2159
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:00 pm
Anime Fan Since: 1989 (consciously)
Location: Shizuoka-ken, Japan
Contact:

Re: The "GREG IN JAPAN" Thread...

Post by greg »

Yes, my first teaching job in Japan was through the Himeji program. I tried giving it another shot a few years back and applied a few times, but it was another case of being too qualified for a job to get hired. I was born in Phoenix and my family moved to Glendale when I was about 4, so I grew up in Glendale. My wife and I lived in Phoenix and then Chandler for the last year before moving to Japan.

I honestly do not miss my hometown much at all, and I feel no desire to go back and visit. Actually, I wish I could go back for the Phoenix Comicon in May, and I do wish I could see my friends and (most of) my family, but I really don't feel like visiting America. It's been two years since I went back, and at that time I only went back because my mom had died soon after we moved to Japan in January 2012.
My presence on the Net, with plenty of random geekiness:
My homepage
My YouTube channel
My Flickr photostream
My Tumblr page

ParaParaJMo
Posts: 196
Joined: Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:27 pm
Anime Fan Since: 1986/1994

Re: The "GREG IN JAPAN" Thread...

Post by ParaParaJMo »

Sorry to hear about your mother. My grandmother died last year and I couldn't make it after her passing.

But I only visit during winter vacation like I said. I don't miss the environment per say, but mostly my friends and my family. I grew up in a big family so it's nice to see them when possible.

Heero
Posts: 260
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2012 7:32 am
Anime Fan Since: 1980
Contact:

Re: The "GREG IN JAPAN" Thread...

Post by Heero »

greg wrote:I do wish I could see my friends and (most of) my family, but I really don't feel like visiting America. It's been two years since I went back, and at that time I only went back because my mom had died soon after we moved to Japan in January 2012.
If you don't mind my asking, is there any particular reason you don't feel like visiting America? I'm just curious if it's just a simple "I have all I need and after living there for years don't feel like going there for vacation" or if living in Japan has given you a different view on America. (not in a "Japan is perfect" way, but more in a "America is disappointing" way)

Just curious.

User avatar
greg
Posts: 2159
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:00 pm
Anime Fan Since: 1989 (consciously)
Location: Shizuoka-ken, Japan
Contact:

Re: The "GREG IN JAPAN" Thread...

Post by greg »

Well Heero, it is a bit of both. There really isn't much of interest for me in visiting America. As you may know, I lived in Japan for two years from 2000-2002 and regretted moving back. When I lived in America, I always pined to return to Japan for a visit. Now that I am here, this is where I wanted to be all along, so I don't really miss America. I'm glad to be here. I'm making less money, but work is more stable and a lot more stimulating. I got homesick easily when I first lived in Japan when I was younger, but now, I really don't miss it at all. There are certain things I miss, but I'll be happy to never live in the USA again.

Like you said, living here definitely has given me a different perspective on American society. I never really thought much about my own culture until I lived overseas for a while. After that, I couldn't relate to anybody since nobody could understand me or the different vantage point that living abroad gave me. While living in Arizona we would visit Japan once a year. Whenever we returned to America, we just felt like, "Ugh. Well, here we are again." Especially after being greeted by scowling faces of TSA grumps at LAX and being buffaloed by ignorant customs agents, and then again after landing in the ugly, boring-ass desert of Phoenix. Trust me, after you've lived here for a while, you come to expect some common courtesy. It is a huge reverse culture shock to return to the USA after being in Japan for a while, with customer service employees basically swatting your credit card onto the counter with not even a smile, douche-copters driving around in low-riders blaring misogynistic, vulgar, and violent rap music from their car stereos, and just the sheer amount of morbidly obese people walking around. I remember one time after returning back to Phoenix after spending four weeks in Japan, we were jet-lagged and went to the grocery store because we had no food in the house for being gone so long. In the parking lot, there was an obese woman with her two obese daughters and the obese grandma was tagging along as well. The only one who wasn't fat was the youngest of the three daughters, but give it some time and she'll be joining their ranks soon enough. Load her up with some high-fructose corn syrup and preservatives! When we saw this family, we just wanted to get on the next flight back to Japan. You don't realize how butt-ugly so many Americans are until you separate yourself from America for a while. I'm certainly not skinny myself, and I admit I am overweight. But when you see that it is your own society as a whole that has become like this, it isn't good. In Japan, you just don't see many skanky people with tons of facial piercings and covered in tattoos and such. You don't see women with their huge boobs hanging out on display taking their tits out for a stroll, either. People here are more conservative in general. And the worst in the USA is this new fad of gauged ears lunacy. Sooner or later, nobody will consider that "cool" anymore, and they'll be stuck with goofy-looking earlobes for the rest of their lives. America is a culture of excess, and always trying to outdo one another. It's gross.

I am just so tired of American culture. I'm tired of the stupid, polarized political bickering on the news. American news no longer separates the news from editorials, and they only pay attention to news from other countries when a whole bunch of people die. If I ever feel like I want to move back, all I have to do is remind myself of my psychotic, pear-shaped bitch neighbor standing in her back yard just outside our bedroom window, shouting obscenities at us at 7am because we dared to report her barking dogs to the police the night before. "You can't tell me my dogs are too loud! I'll sue you!" We had to call the police on her that day for harassment. Dear God, what a psychotic moron. To me, THAT is the face of America.

There is very little consumer awareness in the USA, and political leaders from both parties are in bed with Monsanto Corp, thus saturating everyone with allergy-inducing genetically modified vegetables and meat ladened with hormones and antibiotics. Here, the food not only tastes better, but it has better vitamin content and energizes me more. Here, even the candy is flavored with real fruit juice and doesn't use artificial colors and such.

Here, you can walk clear across Tokyo and people leave you alone. Not only is it safer, but you don't have to worry about deadbeats trying to mooch meth money off of you. I can live in an apartment building and not have to listen to neighbors blaring loud rap music late at night or having fake-sounding orgasms. No derp-a-derps bloated up with high-fructose corn syrup doing their own thing without considering others, letting their dog crap everywhere and not picking up after it. No drunken fights in the parking lot ever, either.

Man, I can rant on and on. Sure, Japan has a lot of its own BS you have to put up with, but comparatively speaking, Japan is more courteous, quieter, safer, more convenient, the food more delicious, and overall more enjoyable.
My presence on the Net, with plenty of random geekiness:
My homepage
My YouTube channel
My Flickr photostream
My Tumblr page

ParaParaJMo
Posts: 196
Joined: Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:27 pm
Anime Fan Since: 1986/1994

Re: The "GREG IN JAPAN" Thread...

Post by ParaParaJMo »

March 11 is what made me stay for the long term. Seeing how March 11 was handled and with no looting or consequential crimes in comparison to the cluster f**k of Hurricane Katrina with the local and national governments bickering against each other and how people were abusing their benefits, I completely agree with Greg. Granted the yakuza reacted faster to the disasters than the government, I take the Japanese governments handling of disasters over America's any day of the week, twice on Sunday.

When my niece visited last year, she said she enjoyed not seeing fat people lol. She can't stand it when she sees fat people on electronic wheel chairs and was happy to not see that in Japan the most. But my Japanese co-workers complain to me that cigarettes are expensive and it is hard to find a place to smoke and they couldn't smoke in hotel rooms. In Japan, it is more smoker friendly.

Despite having friends and family in America, my life just wouldn't work there. Like Greg, there would be no one to relate to about my experiences of living abroad and the values you gain from it. My friends and family enjoy my stories but my job experiences would not transfer well over in America for the most part unless I work as a low paid anime translator lol.

Heero
Posts: 260
Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2012 7:32 am
Anime Fan Since: 1980
Contact:

Re: The "GREG IN JAPAN" Thread...

Post by Heero »

That's interesting, thank you for sharing your perspective. I haven't yet stayed long enough to really feel like I "integrated" and my wife and I are both close enough to our families that I don't think I could move to Japan simply for familial tie reasons, but I DO think there are many things I appreciate about the country when I visit.
greg wrote:Especially after being greeted by scowling faces of TSA grumps at LAX and being buffaloed by ignorant customs agents, and then again after landing in the ugly, boring-ass desert of Phoenix. Trust me, after you've lived here for a while, you come to expect some common courtesy.
This is actually my one recurring "joke" EVERY time I go to Japan with newbies or talk about visiting Japan to people who are interested in going. My opinion is this:
* Japan LOVES their own citizens and HATES foreigners, so when you go through customs it is much nicer and more convenient for citizens of Japan
* America HATES it's own citizens and really WANTS guests/visitors, so when you go through customs it is nicer for foreigners and an absolute BEATING for citizens

(Obviously that's a bit exaggerated, it's a hassle for everyone but I came to that assessment PURELY from doing a rough estimate of the number of open "immigration" counters in the airport. For the record though, the agents AT the counter are usually pleasant in Japan and admittedly a mixed bag in America)

One last note though, while I FULLY understand your issues noted and in MANY ways greatly respect the cultural "values" inherent in many Asian societies, I also think SOME of that varies by regional and other situations. While working my first post-college job in Dallas I very quickly decided I did NOT want to live in a major city if I could avoid it, because you do get a REALLY different feel in major cities vs. in small cities/towns. My current locale seemed ok when I first arrived, but has fairly quickly grown beyond the point of comfort for me. I expect to move on from here in a few years.

User avatar
greg
Posts: 2159
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:00 pm
Anime Fan Since: 1989 (consciously)
Location: Shizuoka-ken, Japan
Contact:

Re: The "GREG IN JAPAN" Thread...

Post by greg »

Whew. I am glad. I was worried that I would've avoided offending people when I posted that. I usually try to keep most of that to myself, but when asked, I give an honest opinion. I certainly don't think that Japan has some superior culture or anything. We have a lot to learn from each other. American giving and compassion could really stand to be assimilated here, for example. Sometimes all the formalities and procedures could be enough to frustrate even the Vogons from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Then there was that recent scandal at a soccer game when somebody hung a "JAPANESE ONLY" banner. (Which is silly though, because it's believed that this was aimed at a Korean soccer player as a retaliation for when a totally different Korean soccer player badmouthed Japan at a totally unrelated soccer game. It's stupid, but the fact that everyone's outraged about it and it's on the news here so much is a good sign. So yeah, Japan does have its own problems. Japan is responsible for some of the worst things ever to be inflicted on the world: high fructose corn syrup, MSG, crystal meth, and disgusting porn fetishes.

Still, Japan still wins though because people treat each other better and people here leave me the **** alone. I enjoyed taking the train to work in Phoenix, but I also enjoyed reading books. If some bored person sat next to me, they might ask, "So.... ah, whatcha readin'?" I could be snarky and say, "It's a story about a guy who reads books on trains to dissuade goofy people from talking to him." But, you never know, so it's best to just be polite. Walking around downtown on my breaks, I would be approached by somebody asking for a dollar. I give them a dollar. So then they ask me for two dollars. "Uh, you asked for a dollar, so I gave you a dollar. You didn't ask for two." Then I get an F-YOU. Well, if you're gonna be that way, can I have my dollar back?

There was a bit of looting going on after the tsunami, but it was just by juvenile delinquents. It certainly wasn't widespread looting like there was in Louisiana. Some friends of mine pointed out how people were patiently waiting in line to buy stuff and how everyone cooperated all over the country, and compared it to the Katrina debacle. They told me that they understood why I'd rather raise my daughter in Japan than in the USA. This was when I first told them that we'd decided to move back. My mom always believed that the USA was always the best way to go, and she could never understand why my wife never wanted to renounce her citizenship and become an American citizen. She was personally offended to an extent.

So Heero brought up something in a PM that I thought I would just reply in the PM, but I may as well say it here. Regarding independence, I do think that the USA's greatest virtues: independence, liberty, and freedom, are its culture's greatest assets. However, those are also the USA's greatest downfall. It fosters selfishness. "I'll flick my cigarette butts into Greg's yard because I sure as hell don't want them in my yard! I'm to stupid and lazy to just throw them away. Hey, my independence is so important that I want to express my independence by looking and behaving like a total jackass. I'll gauge my ears. I'm sure that'll never go out of style! My pursuit of happiness is more important than anyone else's because I am independent. So that means that if my pursuit of happiness leads me to blaring hip hop on my stereo at 3am, by golly that is what I am gonna do because I am a special case. If anyone doesn't like it, they can go **** themselves. It's my right, and my happiness." Add to all this the huge drug problem and it just escalates everything. My cousin was a meth head and was constantly going to prison for grand theft auto and such all the time. Now after all these years he's cleaned up his act and has changed his tune. Now he's just a conman!

Japan has its problems too, for sure. There are some lousy people here who are starting to exhibit this behavior too. I see it in some of the schools I teach at. It happens. I know Gaijin Punch (whenever he will eventually come back to check up on this forum) will have things to say on this, and would disagree with me on my point of view on this. I just don't delve deeply into research on all the big dirty secrets of Japan like he does. I'm not saying ignorance is bliss, but at face value, I am far more comfortable here than in my own country.

Now that the school year has ended, my work at my schools is over and now I have to stay at city hall with all the other teachers for the next couple of weeks. Now I'm listening to constant sexual innuendo jokes, witnessing some immature temper tantrums, etc. I was really dreading this. At least half of them are decent people. I just prefer the company of Japanese people. They take their work seriously, don't make constant giggly sex jokes, and don't get upset if they're asked to wait an extra half hour past the time they feel they're entitled to go home (despite the fact that they haven't done any actual work all day).

Ha, I remember one guy last year was so shocked when he discovered how rigged sumo wrestling is. It's all rigged by the yakuza, he said. He was incredulous. I'm not a super sports fan, but I used to watch Phoenix Suns basketball games all the time to bond with my sister who was into that stuff. Sure, Michael Jordan was a top athlete, but how many free throw points did the Chicago Bulls gain each game? The refs were always on their side. My sister could predict the outcome of each game as soon as the refs' names were announced. It was painfully obvious when the Suns played against the Bulls at the final championships that one year. Then later, coincidentally around the same time that Michael Jordan suddenly switched from basketball to baseball, his father was found dead in the trunk of a car somewhere. Mafia? Naaaaah. Couldn't be. Every country has skeletons in its closet. To me, it just boils down to which place pisses me off the least. Japan wins. I may never make as much money as I did in America, but I am far happier here.
My presence on the Net, with plenty of random geekiness:
My homepage
My YouTube channel
My Flickr photostream
My Tumblr page

User avatar
greg
Posts: 2159
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:00 pm
Anime Fan Since: 1989 (consciously)
Location: Shizuoka-ken, Japan
Contact:

Re: The "GREG IN JAPAN" Thread...

Post by greg »

Friday evening after work, we're boarding the shinkansen to Osaka! The J-Mom will be driving down from Nagano-ken the day before, and we'll board the shinkansen to Osaka. It will take roughly 2.5 hours, because we are taking the Kodama shinkansen. The Kodama stops at every station, and since Fuji lies along the Tokaido line, only the Kodama stops here. A few Hikari shinkansen stop at nearby Shizuoka, but we are in no rush, so we'll just enjoy the ride. I'll bring my novel and DS/PSP for the ride. Until my daughter enters elementary school, she can ride for free as long as she doesn't require a seat.

I haven't been to Osaka in 10 years. Our main destination for this trip is the Osaka Kaiyuukan aquarium located on the bay. I posted a video of Yokohama's Hakkeijima Sea Paradise a year ago. While it is technically a larger aquarium, the Kaiyuukan is far more impressive. The building is a huge box. Upon entering, you ride up a long escalator to the top and the path spirals downwards. An immense central tank contains a whale shark, lesser sharks, schools of tuna, and other fish. The path wraps around this, and along the outside are smaller tanks. So if you see seals diving into the water, by the time the path spirals 360 degrees down, you will see the seals from below.

Image

We will also visit the Dotombori area, the most famous location in the city. That's where the famous Glico marathon runner mascot sign is and such. I took the photo above in 1998 when I first visited Japan. J-Mom wants to eat okonomiyaki there. I really want to visit the Shin-Sekai area since I've never been there, but that may not be feasible. We're going up Friday evening, arrive sometime after 8pm, stay all day Saturday, and leave sometime after lunch Sunday afternoon.

In other news, J-Dad won two tickets to either Disney Land or Disney Sea when he bought something a few months ago. He gave us the tickets. We will likely wait until autumn to go. We'll take a day off during the week so as not to wait in lines forever on a weekend. I've never been to Disney Land. I was taken to Knotts Berry Farm and Sea World as a kid, and I've been to Universal Studios Hollywood twice. The only things of interest to me there, it seems, is the Star Tours and Indiana Jones Adventure. However, here in Japan, you can't do both! Star Tours is at Disney Land and Indy Jones is at Disney Sea. Drat! Will they have Tron stuff? Tron isn't even popular here in Japan. Naturally, we'll go to Disney Land because that's where our girl wants to go. She'll likely run away from the big mouse costumes and such because that sort of thing embarrasses her. I remember being intimidated by that sort of thing as a child, too.
My presence on the Net, with plenty of random geekiness:
My homepage
My YouTube channel
My Flickr photostream
My Tumblr page

ParaParaJMo
Posts: 196
Joined: Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:27 pm
Anime Fan Since: 1986/1994

Re: The "GREG IN JAPAN" Thread...

Post by ParaParaJMo »

Well, have a good time in Disneyland and/or DisneySea. I still ahven't gone yet either. But my cousin will be visiting Nagoya in a few weeks and I plan on seeing her though I am like 4 1/2 to 5 hours away from Nagoya but I haven't seen her in 10 years so I think it is best I go visit her anyway.

User avatar
greg
Posts: 2159
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 9:00 pm
Anime Fan Since: 1989 (consciously)
Location: Shizuoka-ken, Japan
Contact:

Re: The "GREG IN JAPAN" Thread...

Post by greg »

How will you get there? By car, or take a train down to Tokyo and take the shinkansen or something from there to Nagoya?
My presence on the Net, with plenty of random geekiness:
My homepage
My YouTube channel
My Flickr photostream
My Tumblr page

Post Reply