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Friday, April 30, 2010

Rock And Roll

Once upon a time, my friends Matt and Jeff (there's a pun there involving a pair of comics characters from a century ago that I'm not going to mention) and I actually made an effort to become better AETs (Assistant English Teachers). As fresh meat rookies on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme, we didn't really have clue how to teach English to our Junior High School gakkusei (students).

The Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR - I know a couple of people who work for CLAIR who are unsure of the acronym's true meaning - go HERE for more on CLAIR) (Sorry... wrong link, but it's probably more fun than the Japanese alternative) had created various guides to aid the neophyte teacher. There were plenty of games and interesting ideas in the guides for us to choose from.

The three of us all correctly realized that our students would be more open to learning English if it was more fun--perhaps also because the three amigos were also quite enamored by the others sense of humour. Especially mine.

The games helped a great deal. However, CLAIR and most of our JTEs (Japanese Teachers of English - the real Japanese teachers we team-taught with at school) were firm believers in the power of song to teach English. While utilizing songs during our classes seemed to be a step in the right direction, I knew that I was blessed with a voice that could spoil natto. As well, none of the songs in our text books or guides moved us. I mean, "Beautiful Sunday" by Daniel Boone and Rod McQueen??!! Blllleeeccchhhh! Okay, it's a great song, but it's so... happy. By the way, it's not the Daniel Boone. Click HERE to see a video.

We figured that using popular Rock and or Roll songs would stimulate interest in our students to at least pay more attention in class, so we got together over the phone and plotted out our play list.

Since all Japanese students tended to have difficulty in saying the letters "L" and "R" (there is no L in the Japanese alphabets, and the letter R is pronounced like "dyu"), we wanted to find a song that might help them.
We settled on the classic song "Rock and Roll" by Led Zeppelin. We listened to the song hundreds of times and finally succeeded in copying down the lyrics. Remember, this was 1990, and while I might have been on the Internet for some 10 years now, not many people had even heard of it yet. Yes, I was a nerd. But I got better. I do like Led Zeppelin.

Anyhow, I took copies of the lyrics in to a 3rd year class (Grade 9's) and my CD of Led Zep IV and got down to brass tacks. Would you believe that these kids had never heard of Led Zeppelin? They had heard of some group called Ru-edo Ze-pu-rin. As well, they had difficulty with the words. Immense dificulty.
Click HERE to listen to the song.
That's what it sounds like.

This is what my students made it sound like: "Been a rongu time-u since I lock and lorr... been a rongu time, been a rongu time, been a rongu ronry, ronry, ronry, ronry, ronry time-u." At least they got the air guitar solos in the right spot.

Needless top say, I went back to the drawing board and decided on the classic tune, "I Sing A Rainbow" or whatever the heck it's called. Though not a rock song, I heard that it was permissible in these new rules I was making up.
Click HERE for a version of the song. 

On my visit the next day I cranked up the music nice and loud (please don't make me tell you that I had a CD of kid's songs) and led the class through the lyrics once. I sounded pretty good, but no one was going to eat lunch that week.

I then allowed the class to go it alone.

"I shi olange and pink and gu-reen, yerrow and pulpre and brue..." Whoops! Their poor little tongues spasmed and contorted into intricate knots that even an Eagle Scout would find hard to match. In the photo above, I'm checking on the health of one of the boys, while a few of the girls try and relax their tongue.

I guess the textbooks and guides were correct after all. Teach them simple songs - the nice easy stuff they recommend.

However, I learned it is still eventful to use one's own intiative... especially if you like to watch your students suffer.

Somewhere buying a stairway to heaven,
Andrew Joseph
PS: I'm pretty sure Matt & Jeff were just humouring me and didn't actually try this. Buggers.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ain't Talkin' Bout Love

I knew it would be a fun day because I was still suffering from the happy feeling of last night's drinking party with my goldfish. The cool mountain air from the nearby Nasu mountain range wafted down at about a thousand miles-an-hour and tried unsuccessfully to move my highly gelled hair.

The old man who was to drive me to school was, of course, driving a top-of-the-line white car. White cars, as I may have mentioned once or 20 times previously, are the most famous type of car in all of Japan.

Anyhow, I got in, said my usual Ohio gozaimasu (Top of the morning, boy-o) and got a nod in return.

I then asked him Okenki desu ka (How's it going, eh?) and got another nod.

We then drove off never to speak to each other again until we arrived at his school 20 minutes later when I said Domo arigato gozaimasu (thank-you very much, Mr. Roboto). He gave me another nod.

It was a heinous nightmare of a car ride, too, because he liked the heat in his car to be equatorial. But, on the plus side, he did thoughtfully turn off his car radio so we could hear our silence more clearly.

Oh well. School. As I walk through the front doors by myself (where did Nod-san get to?) I was accosted by a male student who asks me if I "like sex", and do I "have a big pen-is?" Now even though I'm from Canada, and am pretty open-minded, it's not the type of question I feel like giving a 15-year-old boy. Now if a girl would only ask...

Still, this was one of the schools where I had previously dated one of the teachers for a few hours. Not that we actually dated or went out, more like I made a pass at and had it reciprocated so that we both accidentally on purpose ended up in a school washroom and no, I don't know where your sock is, but what's your name anyways?

And like clockwork, there she was. She walked up to me and kissed me on the lips saying "herro" (konichi-wa) and grabbed what the Japanese call my hip-pu (aka, my ass). This started a chorus of "eeeeeeeee's" (pronounced ehhhhhhhhhhhh?) from the gathering of students that magically appeared for that personal moment. Naturally, more English questions ensued from meandering students, like "What do you like positions?"

And though a very crappy television show, I was indeed saved by the bell, allowing me the opportunity to slip away to my first period English class. Entering, I slumped against a pillar so that I could look cool. That was pretty easy, because everyone had correctly guessed that I had boffed the girl's Phys Ed. teacher.

The class began working on the question "Where is/are your ...?" and the appropriate answer - the nod. Actually it's "The  ... is/are in/on/under/on top of the ...:

My job was to hold up a card depicting an object in a room. The first card I held up had three baseballs under a table.

Sweet, demur little 15-year-old girl ichi-ban (number one) stands up and asks: "Andrew, where are your balls?"

You can't make this stuff up, people. If there was a TV camera there, I would have turned to look directly into it and smirk before turning back to the girl and answering politely.

Unfortunately, there was no TV camera present, so I began laughing. Loudly.

Regaining my composure (but not my dignity), I held up the second picture - this one of a clock on top of a desk. Sweet, demur little 15-year-old girl ni-ban (number two) stands up and asks: "Andrew, where is your cock?"

Not even looking for a TV camera I began howling with laughter as I dropped to the floor in an exaggerated attempt to ensure everyone realized I found something she said funny. Apparently no one else got it, though. Regardless, I laughed long and hard, as I realized I got my wish - the one I made up in paragraph six of this blog entry.

Anyhow, with me unable to stop laughing, I was sent home as it was suspected that the tea I had thrust into my hand upon entering the school (I left that out to avoid explaining how it occurred... okay, anyone entering a home or place as a guest is immediately given ocha (green tea) served by as many females as possible) was the dregs of tea can usually reserved for the female teachers, and thus, somewhat "off" .

Somewhere realizing that was the best school ever,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Every once in a while that Phys Ed. teacher would drop by to make sure I was swell. Oh, and the title is by Van Halen. Nod if you knew that.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Day In The Life

Contrary to one of the more popular Beatles songs, it's not so easy to just wake-up and get out of bed here - at least here in Japan.

Every morning I get up at 6AM. Not because I want to, or have to, or because my alarm goes off, but rather because yet another one of my neighbourhood dogs thinks its time for everybody to get up.

It's one of those stupid, little miniature collies that, as a species, have a cumulative brain the size of an shelled walnut. Of course, a major portion of the blame should be directed at the dog's owners who so thoughtlessly toss the poor stupid creature out at the ungodly hour of 6AM and don't let it in until 7:30AM when it's time for them (ie the man) to leave for work.

Sure there may actually be some well-behaved and intelligent miniature collies, though the only ones I've ever heard of roam the Plains of the Serengeti with their cousins the Poodles-with-Good-Haircuts, which is a dying breed. Now this particular collie is obviously not from Africa. It has papers denoting its lineage, but it's piddled on them. Repeatedly. This dog is just plain stupid. It barks at nothing. It barks at rocks. It barks at parked white cars. It barks at the cold morning air. It barks at tree bark, or at least it would if the Japanese actually had any trees in their backyards that weren't dwarfed bonsai trees (which is redundant).

Going out of my mind every morning, I have tried everything to make it stop barking: like reasoning with it - "Shut up or I'll kill you, ya stupid mutt!!!"; feeding it - "Suck on this, you bastard!" I politely scream as I toss an egg at it; bribing it - "Please shut-up and I'll buy you a nice steak."

Although the dog has a brain the size of a pecan (I have revised my opinion after seeing a feline give it a CAT scan - I even saw the Lab(rador) report), this dog knows (somehow) that I would never be able to afford a steak here in Japan. It's stupid, not crazy.

On this particular day, I get up at the aforementioned appointed hour. I stumble over to the toilet and read the newspaper that I got while you were reading this sentence. Suddenly the air around me is rend by multiple explosions: BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! It happens again. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! and again 30 seconds later, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

Apparently that's the local farmers shooting some form of concussive bomb into the air to frighten away the birds that would eat their rice crop if there were any currently planted. It's the middle of bloody February, and there ain't nothing growin' nowhere, nohow. Hmmm, so maybe it's not the farmers. Maybe someone is trying to kill that damn dog. Yeah! Ha-ha! Give'em another!

BARK-BARK-BARK-BARK! Dammit... they must have missed.

A few minutes pass, and then a siren begins to blare. As it draws closer, it drowns out the dog's incessant barking. Louder! LOUDER!! BARK-Bark-Ba-Pee-Pon-Pee-Pon-Pee-PON! It sounds like an ambulance. Ha! Maybe somebody has shot the dog's owner!!

Then, as if on cue, there's a screech of tires, followed by the sound of crunching plastic(!!), as two white cars plow into each other to avoid yet another miniature collie that has wandered out into the street. The stray waddles over to the bereft-of-grass-yard where my bane lives and begins to bark at it. BARK! BARK! BARK-BARK!! They start to have an argument. BARK! BARK! BARK-BARK!!BARK! BARK! BARK-BARK!!

Brains the size of a shelled, half-peanut. Dry roasted.

The two women get out of their cars and begin bowing apologetically to each other, but still in my mind, they do it LOUDLY!!

The ambulance - PEE-PON!! PEE-PON!!! wheels around the corner and SREEEECHES!!!! to a halt as it is now unable to pass by the fresh accident where the two women continue to bow apologetically. And LOUDER!!!!!

The ambulance driver curses the two women. BAKAYARO!!!!! (stupid idiots!!!!!) And then continues his ranting at the stray miniature collie that has just relieved itself on the ambulance's front tire. Both of THEM!!!!!! The ambulance can no longer back up as a long line of white cars has appeared out of nowhere to trap it from behind - just below my apartment. The car horns begin to blare. HONK! HONK!! HONK!!! The air cannons fire up. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! A cacophony of barking continues. BARK! BARK! BARK-BARK!! BARK! BARK! BARK-BARK!! WOOF!!! A lone stray miniature collie piddles noisily on everything white. It's only 6:45AM.

Somewhere, somebody spoke and I went into a SCREAM!!!!!
Andrew Joseph   

Brought to you by The Beatles with accompanying cartoon by Gary Larson, The Far Side and one of his books I own.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

We Are Devo

Q. How many people does it take to screw in a gaijin's light bulb?

A. Sixteen: One gaijin (little old foreigner me) to call his office supervisor (Kanemaru-san)(2) to ask where light bulbs are sold. The supervisor to call the apartment building superintendent (3). A visit from 11 Ohtawra-shi volunteer firemen (14) to come to said apartment after the supervisor and superintendent mistakenly believe the building is in flames. A visit from an electrician (15) who arrives on the scene at 9PM on a Saturday night with visions of Yen symbols in his eyes at the thought of overtime as he determines that the gaijin only has a non-functioning light bulb. And the superintendent's junior helper (16) aka idiot son-in-law who insists on installing a new lighting system all over the apartment building complex to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.

Somewhere, are we not men?
Andrew Joseph 
PS: That's a photo of me standing outside the entrance of my apartment complex, waiting until the electrician leaves my place. Really. Except for the crappy shoes, I look goooood.
PPS: Title provided by Devo.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sushi Girl

It’s Sunday, October 28, 1990, and the last day of my vacation in Osaka to meet a friend of my family’s friends who thought I was my brother.

Confused? That’s what she said. She being Toshiko. Toshiko of the happy mistake of me being older than my 19-year-old brother. Toshiko of I’m going to make a move on this gaijin despite having a boyfriend.

Of course, she’s not to blame. Alcohol and me flirting – something I have done with every woman I have yet to meet in 1990 – made for an interesting and now guilty weekend of pleasure.

As mentioned, Ashley and I had a fight prior to me going to Osaka – and while we weren’t officially apart, as a guy I assumed it meant go ahead and see if you can make sushi out of some octopus parts, rice and seaweed. While not a chef by any stretch of the imagination, I do like my sushi.

I guess Osaka became my Oh Calcutta! See HERE and HERE .

As such, when Toshiko came to pick me, up from my hotel at 8:30AM and took me back to her apartment for breakfast, cornflakes were not on the menu.

So much for the guilt I felt yesterday. This time I can’t even blame it on the drinky-poo’s.
We finish up our “meal” and dress and head out to a local park and museum where theses PHOTOS are from.

Since poor Toshiko is broke – I swear I didn’t break her – much – I pay for our entrance into the museum. It’s a pottery museum. Now if I gave a crap about pottery at this time, I might have found it stimulating and perhaps even awe-inspiring. But, the Andrew of 1990 was not yet the Andrew of 1993. (To be fair, the Andrew of 2010 may not give a crap about pottery either).

To me, the museum is expensive – 1000 yen apiece (about $10 per), and I do find it boring and short.
We walk around a park, snap those photos you should have already looked at via the above link, and then… we have to go and meet her boyfriend for lunch. If either one of us feels guilty, we don’t show it.
The boyfriend, whose name I can’t recall, was a very nice guy. Very friendly and funny – but since I’m pretty sure I still smell of sex, I try to stand downwind of him at all opportunities. Thank goodness we bow in this country rather than shake hands.

At the restaurant he walks us to, we all have spaghetti and beer, and I notice that his face turns beet red after only a few sips. It seems to be a Japanese feature when alcohol is consumed, and one I will touch upon further at a later date – perhaps in a blog entitled One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer. Or perhaps not. I’ll probably forget to use this title when the time comes. So forget I said/wrote anything about it.

After the meal, we head over to the Shin Osaka eki (Osaka shinkansen/bullet train station). He says he has to head somewhere so it’s just me and Toshiko, so I don’t feel bad about giving her a good-bye kiss.
I get on the 3:44PM bullet train to Tokyo, and arrive exactly on time at 6:36PM. Not one minute early or late. On time. Canada could sure as heck take a lesson from the Japanese rail system regarding timeliness.

By the way, I peer out the window to my left – and due to some heavy rain cloud activity, I am unable to see Japan’s tallest and most famous mountain, Mt. Fuji. Oh well, I still have 11 months to see it before my one-year contract is up and I head back to Toronto.

After boarding a northbound shinkansen to Nasu-Shiobara, my only difficulty ensues when I arrive at my destination and can’t find the entrance to the local JR (Japan Rail) line that will take me south to Nishinasuno eki (station) where I have my bicycle.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad trip. I got sex. Always a bonus. Drunk. Another bonus. Saw a few sights – although I did get lost walking to Osaka-jo, so my streak is alive. It was mostly cold and cloudy or rainy during my trip, so my new-found ineptitude of rain and travel is also intact. And I got sex. Did I mention it more than once? I should have. If you’ll recall, it was my whole reason for coming to this country – as pathetic a reason as it may appear to some of you. I know, you guys are saying: “No, that’s not a pathetic excuse at all”. I’m just saying that because I have more female readers than men.

Anyhow… now that I’m back in Ohtawara and in my apartment, I call Ashley a few times. I’m guessing that sex is like sushi. Delicious, but you want more. She’s not in until 9:30, though and says she will see me tomorrow.

Now this is where I started all of these diary entries for you… so you are kind of up to date. Next: Andrew & Ashley break up! This time for sure! Part 1 of 47 different break-ups!

Somewhere wondering why I didn’t call up Kristine while I was in the area,
Andrew D’oh! Joseph

Today’s title brought to you by The Tubes – click HERE for an SCTV video of the group.
Did you know that SCTV alum Catherine O’Hara went to my high school? Dave Foley of Kids In The Hall, too. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Joker

"Some people  call me the Space Cowboy.
Some call me the Gangster of Love
Some people call me Gaijin, 
'Cause I speak of the pompatus of love.

People talk about me baby
Say I'm doin' you wrong, doin' you wrong
But don't you worry, baby, don't worry
'Cause' I'm right here, right here, right here, right here at home."


Why fight it? To quote Rodney Dangerfield in the movie 'Back To School': "I'm a lover not a fighter" - although I am going for a Taekwondo lesson again with my son later this afternoon.

Anyhow, I'm the lover of wordplay again, so I guess I'm back to being the Joker again.

According to the scientific poll I conducted this past week, people voted early and often, and all 7 of you have said they want their comedy before all else.

So, after I finish off my last day in Osaka, I will revert back to the funny business, rather than the monkey business - unless I can make said monkey business funny. Which I'm pretty sure I can do. I'll make Osaka funny rather than just a guilty horn-fest.

As mentioned, I just wanted to show you that despite all the fun and games, my head was often in an altogether different place. Beats me how I was able to write the funny stuff when I was in turmoil. Oh well, screw psychotherapy. You asked for comedy, you're gonna get comedy.

On with the show, this is it!

Somewhere on a couch talking to myself,
Andrew Joseph 

PS - I have no ideas what "pompatus" means, but it was invented by Steve Miller who probably smoked something wacky when he provided the musical accompaniment to this rambling episode.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Daydream Believer

Saturday, October 27, 1990  - the second day of my three day trip to the city of Osaka (aka Osaka-shi).

Getting up the next morning was a chore. Apparently there were no curtains in this Japanese-style hotel, so I was up at around 5AM when the sun rose.

Since I had had a shower the night before and it was wet when I went to sleep, my hair was doing weird things, and no amount of wetting it down could tame it.

I suppose I could have had a shower, but that would take effort, and I spent all of my effort last night into a condom. I really was spent.

I'm very vain about my hair. It's one of the few vanities I have that I will admit to. The other vanities I won't admit to.

Screw it... who's going to recognize me in this city? No one.
I sat around the room for awhile and thought about what I was going to do today. Not knowing what was in Osaka except for it's wonderful castle, I knew that had to be my ultimate destination.

I had lunch at a nearby McDonalds - I had a terriyaki burger - really.

I found a subway system, got on a train and departed four stops later and began walking in the direction of
Osaka castle. It was fairly obvious that I had taken the train in the opposite direction as I had just pas my hoyel from the previous night. Wrong Way Joseph nearly did it again. Actually, I did do it. Twice. But enough about last night.

After 30 minutes of walking, I hailed a taxi. He took me the one kilometre to the castle. The fair was 480 Yen for which I gave him 1000Yen telling him to keep the change as I got out of the car. To my chagrin he got out, chased me down, bowed so deep that I could see that he hadn't washed the nape of his neck in weeks and held out two hands with my exact change. Apparently they don't do tips here in Japan.

Osaka-jo (castle) was wonderful to look at from the outside, and I spent 4-1/2 hours exploring it and the surrounding grounds. It was my first ever castle - never even went to Casa Loma in Toronto. Is that a castle? Anyhow, click HERE for photos of Osaka-jo.

Sated, I went and found a pay phone and slipped in my VISA card and called Ashley. Needing an excuse to talk to her - I was on vacation, right? - I told her I was lost. I found out later that she told all of the other AETs in our prefecture (province). Damn. I was feeling very guilty. I had told her I was seeing this Japanese girl that was a friend of the family's friends... so I just wanted to hear her tell me not to do anything with Toshiko - like her telling me would mean I couldn't actually do it. Pathetic, ain't it?

And she did, in a playful joking manner - like love-struck Andrew would ever cheat on Ashley.

I found an International department store and bought some western-sized condoms - two more boxes... that should last me the year! I was either optimistic I would get to use them all or pessimistic that I wouldn't need more.

I had lunch at around 4:30 at what the Japanese call a famous American restaurant called Carls Jr. - which I later asked Matthew and Ashley about, but neither had heard of it. The food gave me the runs.

I meet up with Toshiko back at my hotel at 6:30 and go to dinner - Japanese style  - with two other couples. At 8:30 she says it's time for the two of us to leave as she wants to show me the sights down by South Osaka. Honestly, if I wasn't from Toronto, I might have been impressed, but it's just a big westernized city with zero personality.

We head out for more drinks - at a place called Kirin City. Kirin isa major manufacturer of beer - and is my favourite brand. I have three Kirin Dark draughts and some more food - I pay! Toshiko is already hammered after one beer, and on the way back to my hotel she keeps trying to grab my hand. I keep switching my shopping bag to different hands to confound her - and it seems to be working. Ashely said not to do anything with Toshiko, so now I'm listening. Aren't I a good boyfriend? I don't think so either.

I do give her a good night kiss when we get to my hotel but I tell her I'm tired and want to sleep. She's disappointed. I've disappointed a woman, but not for the usual reasons. It feeds my ego, which is starting to put on weight in this country.

Despite my exhaustion at carrying my heavy conscience around, I stay up and watch television. There's a weird show on with lots of big-breasted Japanese women on it (Do they really exist here??) One has her breasts painted by an artist - he's a professional, and does something Dali-esque. Next there's a sex demonstration with a lady showing a couple how to turn each other on by stroking each other's legs.
This is all in Japanese, but I'm guessing sex is an International language, because I swear I understood one of the men say: "The hell with this", and grabbed his wife and began sucking her toes.

Somewhere I am only able to watch this crappy television show for two hours.

Andrew Joseph
Today's title brought to you by The Monkees.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sweet Cheater

Here's a story I owe you.

On Friday October 26, 1990 - to backtrack a few weeks, I decided I would visit Osaka - by myself.

Friends of my family said I should contact a Japanese girl they knew, who had visited them here in Toronto a couple of years previous.

Toshiko was her name. I had called her up and chatted with her and told her I would like to come to Osaka for a visit, and if she had time perhaps we could meet. She said she would love to see me again.

Now her English wasn't the best over the phone, but I was pretty sure I had not met any Japanese girls named Toshiko back home. It's not the kind of thing I was ever likely to misremeber. By the way, baseballer Roger Clemens got a lot of flack for using the word "misremember" - but it's a real word, so either he's a wordsmith, or he just got lucky.

I don't know how to pack for my three day trip, and my baggage is already heavy without me having bought anything. And this weather - rain, sunshine, warm, cold. I pack for all occasions.

I ride my bike to Nishinasuno-eki (train station) and ride the regular train north two stops to Nasu-Shiobara-eki. From there, I go upstairs and take a Skinkansen (bullet train). When it arrives, my first thought is an audible "wow". It looks like an airplane minus the wings.

I get on the smoking car - hack - is that my lungs I just spit out? I'm in an aisle seat so I don't see much of the country side. It's four seats to a row, divided by an aisle. It's a very smooth ride, but it doesn't seem all that fast to me. If that's 100 kilometers per hour then I have no concept of speed. We do have to make stops at Tochigi's capital city of Utsonomiya, it's southern most city - Oyama, and Omiya before the final stop of Ueno-eki in Tokyo. It takes one hour and five minutes - which is good for a 200 kilometer trip.

I ask a man there how much a ticket to the actual Tokyo train station is - and he tells me in perfect English  and take the three-stop regular subway train to Tokyo.

This place is like Grand Central Station in New York. Massive. I follow the excellent signage and board a Shinkansen headed west to Hiroshima. Oh... I bought a couple of sandwiches and Cokes at a store before getting on.

I'm nervous. Travel does that to me - especially when I'm by myself.

We stop at Nagoya, Kyoto (10 minutes from Kristine!) and finally Osaka after three hours. It's exactly on time. Always is, I hear. It's now 6:04 PM and I look around for Toshiko, but she's nowhere to be found.  I have a photo of her so that something. She said to meet her at an the exit. Which one? There's four of them! Twenty minutes later I hear over the PA system: "An-do-ryu Jo-se-fu... Tochigi-ken..." I guess I'm being paged. I head to an information booth and sure enough, there she is. She doesn't look like her photo, but is still very attractive. She seems quite pleased to see me, and kisses me full on the lips. Oh-kay.

She's about 5'-4", slight build, black hair to her shoulders - is 27 years old, and speaks enough English for it to be a struggle for us to understand each other - but I understand that she's really good-looking. She tries to take my bag - but can't quite lift it.

With the luggage in tow, we go to dinner - Japanese style on a beer garden roof and have a beer. She pays. Oh-kay. Next, we go to the top floor of a hotel and drink at the restaurant overlooking Osaka and its famous castle, Osaka-jo.

I have a White Russian and then a Strawberry Daquari - so does she! She's now bombed and is touching my body - until a male friend of hers comes and joins us. We meet some more friends of hers and have afew drinks. I'm tipsy - but these guys are lightweights and are completely hammered.

Anyhow, after they leave, she says she will take me to a hotel she arranged for me. On the way down from the restaurant she kisses me hard on the lips - which I return. She grabs my hand and swings our arms while singing: "Happy Mistake!" in English.

Y'see, the family friends mistakenly told her that the person coming to visit was named Ben, and was 19. That would be my brother. She was very happy I wasn't 19.

Anyhow, after escorting me to a Japanese-style hotel - that means a futon on tatami (grass) mats - she comes in and well, let's cut to the chase and say I added a second notch.

Japan is awesome. A guy could get used to this.

Anyhow, she says she has to go home because her boyfriend will be calling soon - apparently that was the first guy to have joined us for a drink. Oh-kay.

I have a shower and get to bed, but stay awake for awhile. Although Ashley and I had a fight a day earlier, we hadn't really broken up (in my mind), though it sure felt that way, and I was feeling quite guilty over what had happened. No, really. A man feeling guilt over sleeping with a woman.

Somewhere wondering what I'm going to do tomorrow,  
Andrew Joseph 
PS - bottom photo: This photos shows off  Japan's infatuation with white cars quite nicely.

Today's song by Ratt. I know... I have strange taste in Rock and Roll. I was going to use Lucky Man by Emerson, Lake & Palmer... but the title I chose could refer to more than one cheater.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Thursday, November 15, 1990

I'm up at 6:30AM. It seems like it's going to be one of those days. At 7:15, I notice one of my goldfish swimming outside my tank. He's lucky and I toss him back in. Stupid suicidal fish. I've had fish since I was 4, and don't ever recall a goldfish jumping out of the aquarium.

Next, after having a shower, I'm unable to turn off the hot water heater. After struggling for 10 minutes, it turns off.

Tomura-sensei of Wakakusa Junior High School comes by at 7:30 after I shovel in two spoonfuls of corn flakes. I go to school hungry.

Perhaps I should have just stayed in bed. I'm still grouchy over last night. I keep mulling over my question to Ashley two nights ago: "Do you trust me?" "Yes," she said. I'm not so sure, though. Last night I said to her that I was in love with her. She never said it back. It hurt. A lot. I'm pretty sure I don't want a relationship with someone incapable of loving me. Something to dwell on, to be sure.

Classes at Wakakusa go smoothly with Mrs. Onuma - what a cutie! The last class of the day is a team-teaching demonstration between us in front of eight teachers - all from Wakakusa but from different class subjects. It goes well.

At 4:30, I'm driven home by Tomura-sensei - he tells me the students aren't allowed to leave school while there is still some light out. We discussed the major differences between Western and Japanese schools - maybe I should make a document (Or at least tell you in this blog what those differences are!)

I go home and read a letter from Kristine. I like her innuendos, which is too obvious a joke for me to do about breasts. Anyhow, unless I'm reading the letter wrong, she's more or less suggesting I visit her because she's 10 minutes from Kyoto, a city famous for its 400 year old temples. I'm pretty sure that the temples aren't going to be my primary reason to visit. Something to really think about. The innuendo! The innuendo!

I go to Iseya department/grocery store (after first seeing if Matthew is home - he's not), and purchase food. Again. I also pick up a copy of a picture and some dry cleaning. The clothes smell good.

I sit in my messy apartment listening to the metal-rap take my brother Ben sent me. Red Hot Chili Peppers and EMF. Me like. It's all new to me.

As I'm eating, Matthew comes over. we watch the TV video tapes Ben sent over - there's a lot of Tiny Toons, which is sugary but watchable. There's also Cheers, Simpsons, In Living Color, Kids In The Hall (I didn't realize it at the time, but Dave Foley and I were in Grade 9 together, and were friends).

Matthew leaves at 8:30, I do a serious clean-up of the place and do some laundry. I talk to Tim Mould. Like myself, Tim has been asked to speak at an AET conference in Saitama prefecture (essentially next door to Tochigi-ken). Because I tend to get lost when I travel in this stupid country, I ask if I can travel with him as we leave a day earlier than the non-speaking AETs (Assistant English Teachers) like Matthew and Ashley.

I'm supposed to speak about Team-Teaching at this Nov. 27-30 conference. I don't team-teach. I either give self-introductions or pretend I'm a tape recorder and have students repeat after me. This speech is going to be a killer. I only did it because Catherine (Gasoline) called me up and asked me to.

You know what's even more weird? On the evening that Catherine called me to ask if I'd do her ... a huge favor, the next morning my OBOE (Ohtawara Board of Education) office apparently knew all about it.
My apartment is finally clean. My mind... it's confused and very tired, and I hit the hay early at 11:30.

Despite the crappy beginning, the day was good. Actually... things seem to have worked out... now can I keep it going? Can I go and visit Kristine while keeping Ashley ignorant of that fact? Maybe I need to break up with her for a weekend or more. Again. It worked once before. (Okay... the next blog will reveal woman #2 and a trip to Osaka).

Somewhere, it seems unbelievable that my apartment is cleaner than my thoughts,
Andrew Joseph

Today's title from EMF

Friday, April 2, 2010


Just a brief note here... I was in contact with Kristine this past week. She read THIS blog to her husband who laughed at the content and more than likely, my choice of grammar.

While Kristine wasn't aware in 1990 that I was a virgin until arriving in Japan, since then she has "jokingly" suggested that that explained a few things about my choice of women. Even though our conversations were via e-mail and did not include "quotes" around the word 'jokingly', I could tell she implied it.

Now hold on a minute, oh gentle reader. Over my time in Japan, I slept with a lot of women (I know the real number, but it's not pertinent to the point I want to make), and dated a lot more... I never asked a woman out. I was asked. I was still shy. I know, no one believes me - but it was true then.

Remember how I mentioned that Kristine first stopped me while I walked through our hotel lobby in Tokyo. Or how Ashley grabbed my hand and dragged me into the Java Jive dance club even though I had no idea who she was. And then that untold Blog of that woman in Osaka--I'll mention her briefly in a future blog--mostly because I have a lot of neat photos to share--but let's just say that she had a boyfriend and still threw herself on me.

Hey... why did Kristine stop me? Maybe she thought I was part of her group? Maybe she's just a friendly person? Maybe she thought I was hot and wanted to get to know me? Or maybe, just maybe she caught me looking at her first. I'll be honest, since I still thought of myself as shy, I was more than likely walking with my face staring at the floor, and after seeing a cast on a leg, I looked up and at the person wearing it. Who knows why? I'm just glad any one of the above might have happened. 

This country was like one big ole Disneyland. You must be at least this big to ride the rides. And I was growing (changing) for better or for worse.  

It's what It's A Wonderful Rife is all about. Yes, it's about Japan and how wacky it is, and how fantastic it is, but it's also about a foreigner trying to get to know himself.

Anyhow...Kristine would have slept with me in the 90s... and even though I know of this 20 years and 40-lbs later, I still feel pretty darn good about it.

Somewhere realizing this blog is much cheaper than psychotherapy,
Andrew Joseph
Today's title courtesy of KISS.