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Saturday, Jan. 9, 2010


You know you've been in Japan way too long when . . .

We've all heard the "You know you've been in Japan too long when . . ." jokes followed by a list of tired expressions, such as "when you start bowing while you're on the phone." Ha-ha-ha. It was probably funny the first 100 times you heard it but can't someone come up with something new?!


Here's an updated list. This is not a list of ways to know you've been in Japan too long, but ways to know when you've been here waaaaaay too long. Some foreigners will feel that even a year is way too long, but others, such as "lifers," may feel way too long is a little longer. Or a lot longer. You decide.

Warning: Some of these you'll only get if you've been here way too long.

Here goes. You'll know you've been in Japan way too long when:

1. You go in to rob the convenience store, shout, "Put your hands up!" and then, "Give me all your celery, cream cheese and peanut butter!" After your bag is full, you get the store attendant to promise to get in more foreign foods, including a better selection of cheeses and some decent wines. And, you plead, might they put in a tool section? As you leave the employees shout, in unison, "Arigato gozaimashita!"

2. You can't remember the last time you burned the roof of your mouth on hot food.

3. You criticize your home country saying: How can such an advanced culture, that has had flush toilets for over 100 years, not have something as basic as heated toilet seats? You even get "Shock of the Patooty" when you sit down on a non-heated toilet seat (or one without a fuzzy toilet seat cover). You've probably developed the technique of sitting on the back part of the waist of your pants to keep the backs of your thighs from touching the cold toilet seat.

4. You admit that your Japanese is horrible, even when it's "better than a Japanese."

5. You're lying doubled over on the tatami mat floor unable to move. You reach for your mobile, call 1-1-9 and say, "Help! I've overdosed on goma (sesame) salad dressing!"

6. You have defied all the stereotypes: that gaijin go home, that gaijin can't speak Japanese, and that your parents miss you (heck, by now your parents are probably dead).

7. You've crossed over to the pink and sparkly side of life. Kawaii!

8. You wake up in the middle of the night screaming, "But I don't want to be a poodle!" and you have nightmares of sales ladies trying to push the newest pedigree look on you such as furry high-heeled boots, leggings, short shorts, and a waist length coat.

9. You wonder why people get so much pleasure out of vacations. As if you had time to kill!

10. You find it extremely entertaining that in English chickens say "cockadoodledoo," dogs say "bow-wow," and, just in case you're wondering, pigs say "oink-oink." Ha-ha-ha! Oh, and do you know what horses say? Oh . . . sorry.

11. You hate Christmas.

12. For years you have gone along with the two-broom rule, one for inside and one for outside. You have been careful not to mix the outside dirt with the inside dirt. But recently, you had a brilliant idea: to get rid of the inefficient outside broom and use the much better quality indoor broom to clean both spaces. After all, by now you have earned the right to be able to make your own broom choices that work best for you. You make the switch, but the neighbors stare in disbelief as you sweep the outside with an indoor broom. How dare you! Really, now . . . how could you?!

13. You get paranoid that your neighbors are noticing you're having too much fun in life. After all, you don't want to look available for the next neighborhood clean-up day. Maybe you should get some of that frosted glass?

14. You want to know that dog's blood type before you adopt it.

15. Lastly, you know when you've been in Japan way too long when, at last, you die here. Even God thinks you've been here too long.

But the truth is, for many of the "lifers" in Japan, on the occasion when you do get to visit your home country, you may find that even a few weeks there is really, well, you know, way too long!

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