Thursday, July 30, 2009

How are you gentlemen?

Guten tag mis amigos, this is Greg. I don't have a whole lot to add to Andrea's post thus far (we're in the middle of a harried packing'n'moving frenzy) but I thought I should drop in to mention that I, too, have reasons for wanting to live in Japan that are as vague and imprecise as the Japanese language itself.

During our two-week stay in April 2008, I took so many photos that I swear I could feel my digital camera getting heavier as the trip progressed. In doing so, I found an image that I think expresses the real motivation for this upcoming odyssey of ours. More than the impressive natural beauty, fascinating history, technological marvels... more than any of that crap, the real reason I want to move to Japan is because I want to fully experience a culture that was capable of producing this:

What you see above is an arcade game in which you throw as many little plastic balls into an oversized novelty Cup of Noodles in 60 seconds. The lid-flap-thing curls up and down with an indescribably odd quivering motion. As you might imagine, American Skee-ball just doesn't compare.

And that, folks, is how juvenile I really am!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Japanese blog, please.

Welcome to Andrea and Greg's blog, Japan, Please. I had debated whether or not to do the blog thing for our time living in Japan but then I remembered the formula: young+white+middle class+living in a country where English is not the primary language=blog. Please enjoy and comment. If you're bothering to read this I probably know and miss you.

When I tell people I'm moving to Japan to teach English the first thing they usually ask is why I picked Japan. I think my desire to live in the country can be summed up by a story about when I visited Japan a year ago. Greg and I went to an indoor arcade/amusement park in Tokyo called Sega Joypolis. We eventually decided to go on something called "The Room of Living Dolls." We entered a dark room with our young Japanese ride operator. He pointed to some chairs and said, "please." He gestured toward a doll sitting at the head of the table. He was probably supposed to give an elegant speech about the significance of the doll, but the best he could muster was, "Japanese doll, please." He repeated this a few times, directing us to various other dolls scattered about the room. He then pointed to the headphones on the table and said, "headphones, please." We put on our headphones and our host bowed, said, "please," and left us alone in the now pitch black room. For the next seven minutes we listened through our headphones to the sounds of a woman telling what was likely a ghost story with increasing intensity. We couldn't understand a word of it. Sometimes she would scream. Sometimes it sounded like she was eating something. Once or twice our seats dropped down an inch or so. At a seemingly random point the lights came back on and our host returned. He pointed to the door. "Please."

Simply reading this, it probably sounds rather mundane, but it was really one of the strangest things I had experienced for quite some time. And that's what I liked about it. I'm so accustomed to how everything works in my home country that it was starting to feel a bit dull. I want to go to Japan because even something as dumb as going to an arcade becomes a thrilling experience due to the fact that I have absolutely no idea what's going on.