Few of us have grown to accept that we’re here in Japan to stay. There’s no budging us. For better or for worse, we’re Lifers from here on in. Others on our staff are unsure, however, so we’ve devised a simple test to help them make up their minds. Being the kindly folks we are, we thought we’d share our little pop quiz with you, our readers. Simply circle the answers that make you feel the most comfortable, and check your final score against our key at the bottom. Pens at the ready? Good ruck…
1: You’re late for a date with that hot young thing you picked up at the bar last week. As you run onto the escalator you…
(a) take it three steps at a time – other passengers be damned – desperate not to be late.
(b) pick your way testily past the randomly positioned commuters in your way.
(c) join the slow moving queue walking up the right-hand-side.
(d) come to a complete standstill and stare vacantly at the beige raincoat in front of you.
2: It’s election time, and the political speech vans are out in force. As you walk down a quiet side-street, Tanaka Keisuke and his moronic, grinning cohorts pull out from nowhere and blast a ferocious onegai shimasu down your unsuspecting lughole. Do you…
(a) assail his van, fists whirling like a frickin’ kanransha
(b) shove your fingers in your ears and grimace disapprovingly
(c) ignore it and continue with your journey
(d) come to a complete standstill and stare vacantly at the waving girls. You’ve not seen anything so kawaii since you bought that yoghurt with the smiling grape on the label yesterday morning.
3:You’re in Baskin Robbins, perusing the variety of flavors. You’ve only enough cash for a single cone, so you plump for…
(a) Rocky Road, ‘cause dude, it’s almost named after that John Denver title, right?
(b) Rum’n’Raisin, because you’re feeling a little bit extravagant; a little bit continental.
(c) Popping Shower, because you’re easily distracted by sparkly stuff.
(d) Matcha, because it takes you back to the days when grandmother would brew it up with some zenzai and serve it at the kotatsu
4: You stop at the local bakery to pick up a couple of croissant for tomorrow’s breakfast. The girl behind the counter takes your money and proceeds to bag and label your purchases as though they were body parts at the scene of a traffic accident. You…
(a) cry out in pain as the planet chokes under this pointless addition to the landfill crisis.
(b) take the bag from her before she’s finished, unwrap what she’s done so far and begin eating before you’ve even left the store.
(c) politely interrupt, explaining you don’t need a bag today.
(d) stare vacantly as the bags pile up and… hey! Oden’s on sale again!
5. You’re out for a day in the countryside, dazzled by the mirror-like beauty of the freshly flooded rice fields. It’s an open plain, and you can see nothing for miles around, other than an old wooden shrine shrouded in a thicket of camphor trees. As you walk around it, stunned by its ancient majesty, you bump into a brand new Coca Cola vending machine. You…
(a) collapse in a fit of tears, hands clawing at the sky, howling that nothing in this country is sacred.
(b) smile cynically, and briefly wonder how they’re powering the thing.
(c) step around it, looking for the chozubachi.
(d) fish out ¥150, hit the Pocari Sweat, and bow politely as the machine thanks you for your purchase.
6: You’re at the Hiroshima Peace Park, and you suddenly become aware of someone pointing a camera at you. You…
(a) rush forward, pressing your angry palm against his lens, forcing him back until he falls into the nearest bush.
(b) turn your back on him and walk away pointedly.
(c) smile, pose, and introduce yourself, making sure you wish him a nice day before he goes about his business.
(d) come to a complete standstill and smile vacantly as your fingers do the thinking, twisting upwards into the obligatory victory sign.
7: You attend a friend’s wedding. As the bride and groom make their exit, the choir strikes up a rousing chorus of Land of Hope and Glory. You…
(a) make loud and passionate remarks concerning cultures borrowing from other cultures without understanding the political implications.
(b) stand up and salute the couple – military style – as they go past.
(c) try and sing along, realize you don’t know the words, grumble that they aren’t doing Beethoven’s 9th today.
(d) clutch you hands to your chest, weep like a pansy, and decide that there aint nothing says I love you better in Japan than an ill-fitting wedding dress, a balsa-wood church, and the crippling debt that goes with the whole affair.
8: You’re asked to fill out a questionnaire concerning what you do in your free time. Under the hobbies section, you write…
(a) traveling extensively, reading the Financial Times, political debate, cricket
(b) traveling a bit, reading Yahoo News, drunken debate, watching K-1
(c) going to the conbini, reading Flash, commenting on friends’ MIXI diaries, playing with my WII
(d) sleeping A
So are You a Lifer?
You’re as un-Japanese as can be. You’d happily head back to the MacArthur years and berrate the good general for the sloppy job he’s doing. Talk about a pushover! What these people needed was discipline! These islands are too good for them! Ship ‘em out before they fuck it up any further! Where are those cauldrons they used in Shogun?
Hardly the kimono-and-geta type, you’re much more cautious when it comes to accepting Japan at face-value. While a healthy cynicism is probably something to be applauded, try and remember that you’re a guest here – though probably not for much longer. You’ll be happy to consign Japan to your past once this contract has run its course.
Things are afoot, and that’s for sure. Once you stop questioning the English on cheap t-shirts, you know it’s just a matter of time. You’ve probably found a J-partner and looked into the possibility of settling down here – though you’re sending them to English classes, just to be on the safe side.
Lafcadio… darling! You’re home! Actually, you’re probably worse than that. What with all that time you’ve spent questioning nothing, you’re closer to becoming a countryside obaa-chan than your neighbor from Aomori is. If the culture shock doesn’t kill you, you ought to head home this instant and bury your befuddled mind deep within the bossom of your native family. Oh, and return those one-size-fits-all paisley pantaloons on your way out. Satou San needs them for a “girls” day out, floating their saggy chests in the local onsen