Before I get any more flack from people reading my stuff for being flippant, critical or even racist (!), I should point out that I like being an English teacher (and on a good day I love it) and I adore being in Japan. I’ve lived all over Europe and Asia, and Japan is the only place that doesn’t annoy me daily and where I really feel at home.
With that fact in mind, and the fact that in none of the circles I have ever moved in has racism against the Japanese been an issue, I feel quite free to be critical from time to time- especially when it’s funny and/ or criticizing the ruling classes rather than everybody. Apologies when it is neither, but I hope it is at least obvious that showing some of the dark side of Japan is not the same as saying negative things about an oppressed underclass back home.
And ditto with teaching- as someone who is always professional I feel like I’ve earned the right to let off some steam and be sarcastic from time to time. I understand that I am often risking misunderstandings by people who are not at the same point as me in either of those areas (4 years in Japan, 11 years teaching), but that is what the comment box is for…
Anyhows, here’s something that is hopefully fun and can work for everyone. As I said, I’m pretty sure Japan suits me but of course that is no more of a recommendation to the rest of you to try it than saying I like Marmite or gangsta rap (both true). So here is my attempt to give you a way of finding out for yourself whether you should be in Japan too- whether that means you should come if you aren’t here or should stay if you are.
Note your answers as you go along, check it with the key and compare your score to mine.
Should I be in Japan? Part One- Food and drink
1. If you buy a bottle of ‘English Ice Tea’, what’s the most important thing to you? (Choose as many as you like)
a) That it tastes something like tea in England
b) That is has lots of amusingly bad English on the packaging, and cheesy pictures of beefeaters sipping
c) That the shop assistant automatically puts it in a separate bag from anything hot that you bought
d) That the packaging will open first time
2. What’s your attitude to eating food from ‘back home’ when you’re living abroad? (Choose one)
a) Never, would prefer not to have to choice- let’s be ‘authentic’
b) Sometimes, but it has to be the real thing
c) I’d like to try a burger with a bun made out of rice, or a donut with curry in it, if only for a laugh
3. What’s your attitude to a loaf of bread that never goes off and has no crumbs, or a bacon and egg roll that never needs to be refrigerated? (Choose as many as you like)
a) How convenient!
b) How space age!
c) What kind of additives must they put in that thing??
d) Can they really call that bread?
4. Which of these would you like to try? (Choose as many as you like)
b) ‘A decoration cake on a stick’
c) A red bean jam cake in the shape of Hello Kitty
d) Whale meat
e) Blood sausage
f) Pumpkin flavour Kit Kat
g) Chewy ground rice cake covered in chocolate
h) Russian roulette takoyaki (octopus balls)- one is incredibly hot!
i) Hamburger with gravy, served with rice and roast potatoes
j) ‘Pocari Sweat’ sports drink
k) Raw horse meat
m) ‘Colon’ (tube-shaped chocolate snacks)
n) Rabbit stew
o) Poisonous puffer fish
p) Frankfurter sushi
r) Green tea flavour ice cream
s) Chilled monkey brains
5. How would you feel about paying for your meal at a vending machine near the entrance of the restaurant?
a) Saves time
b) Saves having to talk to anyone
c) Shows me clearly the essential dehumanisation of modern society and city living- but in a good way
d) Ditto- but in a bad way
1. a) -1 point b) 1 point c) 2 points d) 2 points
2. a) 1 point b) 0 points c) 2 points
3. a) 2 points b) 2 points c) -1 point d) -2 points
4 a) 3 points b) 2 points c) 2 point d) 1 point (not so widely available) e) -2 points (this is Spain, France and the UK) f) 1 point g) 2 points (mochi, recommended) h) 2 points (highly recommended, tasty and fun) i) 1 point j) 1 point k) 2 points l) -2 points (Korea and China) m) 1 point n) -2 points (UK) o) 1 point (fugu- very expensive and only available in specialist restaurants) p) 1 point q) 2 points r) 1 point s) -2 points (only available if you are Indiana Jones)
5 a) 1 point b) 2 points c) 2 points d) – 2 points
Total possible points: 34
My score: 19
And you? Should you be here too? Let me know below: