The photograph above kind of blows several stereotypes westerners have of the Japanese.
Taken on December 14, 1990, the photograph shows me (on the right) pretending to study Japanese, while a smiling Hanzaki-san (one of my two bosses) at the Ohtawara Board of Education office pretends to write something.
Stereotype #1: Hanzaki-san is drinking coffee, not Japanese green tea. I am drinking green tea like all good Japanese people do, six or seven times a day. Hanazaki-san enjoyed changing things up.
Stereotype #2: Hanazaki-san is smiling. The Japanese have a great sense of humor. Plus, there is no longer a belief that showing one's teeth is a sign of aggression. Hanazaki-san and Kanemaru-san, hell every damn person I meet in Japan had a smile for me and I for them. It's not just a land of unsmiling grumpy faces - that's the stereotype.
Stereotype #3: Not all Japanese people know how to work a camera properly. My other boss, Kanemaru-san, proves that by chopping off the heads of his erstwhile subjects to show more of the less-interesting pile of paperwork on our desks.
As an aside, here are some truisms as evidenced by that photograph:
- the 'busy' Japanese work desk was always cleaned up at the end of the day;
- no one ever spilled a drink of anything while I was in Japan - except when at a party or bar. That was weird, but true, given Hanazaki-san's proclivity to placing cups near the hand;
- My computer had a cozy placed over it to stop dust from getting on or in it. I have no idea if that worked to provide it with a longer working life, but I never had a dusty computer - unlike how I do now (in 2015) at work and at home;
- This was PRE-internet!!! I will state, however, that I had actually been on-line since 1980 via message boards;
- I'm still wearing the same watch;
- I am not still wearing the same sweater;
- I am a wee bit more mature in my physical appearance now;
- I am older now than Hanazaki-san was in this photograph, a fact that depresses me.
- I have no idea, thanks to Kanemaru-san, if my hair is any different now than then.