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Saturday, Nov. 25, 2006

JAPAN LITE

Living among aliens on Planet Japan


Japanese entrepreneur Daisuke Enomoto was going to pay $20 million to go into outer space. Not me. I can go into outer space anytime I want. All I have to do is walk out my door.

News photo
Fill up your UFO here! AMY CHAVEZ PHOTO

We even have a "Do-it-yourself-UFO" home center in my city. Its logo is an alien carrying some materials and a hammer, with a spaceship in the background. See? You have no excuse not to build your own UFO.

You're probably thinking: But if I did build my own spaceship, where would I get fuel for it? No problem. Our city anticipated this and has built a UFO gas station.

Just bring your flying saucer in and hover near the gasoline pumps while the helpful attendants refuel your UFO, check the oil and wash the dead birds off the windshield.

All this makes me wonder why it is me who is carrying an "alien registration card." I don't even own a space ship.

Yet I seem to be discovering new planets all the time. Just the other day I went into the eye clinic and paused in the genkan because I could clearly hear the music from the "Twilight Zone" playing: "Doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo."

But since I was on a mission, I didn't let the warning stop me. You see, I had updated my foreign driver's license and to do so, I needed an eye test. Simple enough. Unless you're trying to do it on another planet. I adjusted my laser gun and stepped inside.

A nice young Japanese girl swished her hand in the direction of the waiting room, so I took a seat. Within minutes, she rushed over to me, pen and clipboard in hand, and knelt down on one knee.

She looked up into my eyes, cocked her head to the side, smiled broadly, and in an itty bitty tiny voice which I immediately recognized as Aliengo, said "Please fill out this form," and handed me a form written in Portuguese. I filled out the form and gave it back to her.

Minutes later, the girl rushed over, knelt down, looked up into my eyes, cocked her head to the side, and smiled broadly. In that ultra-sweet Aliengo she said, "I am so sorry. There is no excuse for my error. That was the wrong form. Please fill out this English form instead."

Eventually, I got the eye test finished and left the Eye Clinic planet. The next day at home I suddenly heard "Doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo."

This was odd coming from my own home. I investigated where the sound was coming from and sure enough, someone was at the door. The postman was holding an envelope for me from the Eye Clinic planet.

While I was inspecting it carefully for any Kryptonite, I noticed the postage was 510 yen. It must be very important for someone to spend 510 yen to express mail something, I thought.

Inside was an elaborate note written in Japanese with furigana. The letter was in the Japanese style with the obligatory two pages and was decorated in seasonal gilded autumn maple leaves. "Autumn is here and the days are getting colder and colder -- we hope you are doing fine," it started.

Finally, at the bottom of page one, they finally came to the point: "We are so sorry. There is no excuse for our error: We have mistakenly overcharged you 70 yen for your eye exam."

Inside the cash envelope was one 50 yen coin and two 10 yen coins.

In the meantime, I had gone to post the eye exam for my foreign driver's license and noticed the doctor had neglected to fill in his registration number. I also noticed that the bottom of the instructions on the eye exam form for the foreign driver's license said BE SURE THE REGISTRATION NUMBER IS FILLED IN OR WE CANNOT PROCESS YOUR LICENSE!

Back to the eye clinic planet the next day. The receptionist swished her hand in the direction of the waiting room, so I took a seat.

Within minutes, she rushed over to me, knelt down on one knee, looked up into my eyes, cocked her head to the side, smiled broadly, and in that itty bitty tiny voice that is unmistakenly Aliengo, said, "How can I help you today?"

To tell you the truth, I was fed up with her alien politeness. So, I pulled out my laser gun, pointed it at her and said, "Just give me the doctor's registration number and no one will get hurt."

She handed over the number and I was off that planet within a minute. As the door closed behind me, I could hear the music from the Twilight Zone playing "Doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo."



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