Just as Star Trek and Star Wars fans ponder who would kick whose butt in a theoretical death match between Spock and Darth Vader, we contemplated just who would prevail in several imaginary match-ups between famous Japanese and pop culture icons. This month Mits Kato debates Doug Breath in the first installment of our new series: Japan Celebrity Grudge Match.
Eikaiwa Teacher vs. JET
In a Most-Looked-Down-Upon Job Contest
Mits Kato: I used to live in a “gaijin house” with a JET. He’d sit in his room looking at the school yearbook talking to himself in this scary Travis Bickle voice, saying “You little temptress with your sailor suit and your loose socks. Yeah, you may look wholesome, but I know what you really want.” At least the Eikaiwa teachers aren’t chasing school girls. They also have some small degree of autonomy, but the JETs are just human tape-recorders who aren’t usually even entrusted with making a lesson plan, & the whining from the JETs: “The school asked me to judge an English debating contest so my vacation will be only 7 weeks instead of 8.” Oh, poor baby.
Doug Breath: Nope. I’d go with the Eikaiwa teacher. Upon joining an Eikaiwa, teachers should be issued alarm clocks that scream, “Wake up, suckers! It’s time to go wish you were dead!
Job Placement Agency Lady: Yes, may I help you?
Joe Gaijin: I want to teach English in Japan. What have you got?
JPAL: Well, sir, what conditions would suit your needs?
JG: How about a job with no national holidays off. Let’s start with that. Throw in long hours with minimal pay barely above the national poverty line.
JPAL: Would you like drug testing with that, sir?
JG: Oh, yeah. Put that in there, too.
JPAL: …and a low-morale environment where your only friends will end up being tired, disillusioned union members?
JB: Perfect! When do I start?
Salaryman vs. Obasan
In a Race For the Last Train Seat On the Higashiyama Line
MK: I’ve seen this one a thousand times and the obasan always win. They have those calcium-depleted, razor sharp elbows to knock people out of the way, and absolutely no regard for the rights and feelings of others. Not only that but the salarymen are always too drunk or exhausted from overwork to pose a serious threat.
DB: Salaryman, all the way. What the salaryman lacks in speed he makes up for by setting clever traps or working with others of his ilk. And what about when one salaryman pairs up with another and they tie their ear hairs together to form a tripwire? Let’s not forget the whiskey/nicotine/gyoza breath that will clear a path wide enough to make even Moses proud.
Not only will the salaryman win, but if he has his way, he’ll be able to fondle an office lady on the way to his seat and then have the obasan serve him tea off her back (a back, I might add, which has been purposely bent over the years for just such occasions). Let’s not forget that in Japan, it’s a man’s world, especially when a seat on the train offers the highlight of the day.
The NHK Man vs. Door-Knocking Religious Nut In a Battle For
Your Immortal Soul / Beer Money
MK: Sure, the NHK Man is persistent enough to take both barrels of a shotgun blast and keep on coming, but all he has going for him is sheer bloody-mindedness. They may have picked up a few stick-your-foot-in-the-door type tricks from the newspaper salesmen, and they’ve scared a few FOB gaijin into paying their monthly NHK fees, but they’re no match for a Religious Nut. Whereas the NHK Man is persistent, the weapon of a door knocking religious nut is guile. You might think that you have them fooled by pretending that you are a deaf mute who only understands an obscure dialect of Swahili, but as sure as you do, you can bet they are going to show up on your doorstep a few weeks later with a sign-language interpreter and the Tanzanian edition of their monthly prayer manual.
DB: Nope. NHK man has got this one wrapped up. Everyone and their grandmother has tried to weasel out of paying the NHK fee, but just like American servicemen in Okinawa, those NHK dudes never take “No!” for an answer. The following is a dialog I had with the NHK man at the front door, 9:00 AM, hungover.
NHK Man: NHK no jushin ryo-o harate!
Me: Uhhhh…Me no speak Japanese.
NHK Man: I collect money NHK.
Me: Uhhhh….Me no have TV.
NHK Man: Why metal stick on top house?
Me: Metal stick?
NHK Man: The antenna, jerkwad. You come to our country to get boozed up and have sex, pay the fu*k up, you foreign bottom feeder!