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Phenomena published on

Getting through half a textbook in a-month-and-a-half makes me feel all productive. (even though I already technically already studied most of the stuff in that book…) I am slightly grumpy about the fact that this means I just spent another $50 on textbooks. Though that is two whole books, which is pretty good compared to American textbooks.

Apparently Sanrio’s licensing fees are generally too high to allow for the Daiso to sell Hello Kitty merchandise. NOT THAT I’M BUYING ANY OF elongated_tito‘s PRESENTS AT THE 100-YEN STORE OR ANYTHING.

Yesterday, when I walked out of Zigzag (school-owned restaurant/bar/thing where I buy lunch when I’m too lazy to pack something) with the fried-chicken-and-soy-sauce-and-rice-thing they had that day, a bunch of grade-school kids in their little yellow crossing-the-street-safely helmets were marching through the parking lot. A little boy saw that I was holding a plate, ran over to look, and, said, “Wow!” Then, to make sure that everyone in the vicinity understood his feelings on the subject, he said it again, louder: “Wow!

He was completely correct. Those people are very good at frying meat.

I wonder if maybe that small Japanese children feel less reticent about observing me and making commentary than they do about the larger, more intimidating-looking-type foreigners. A couple weeks ago in the grocery store, I heard a girl pointing out to her mother that I was “just looking at the tofu.” She was also completely correct – I was, in fact, just looking at the tofu. Possibly for upwards of a minute. I was a little tired.

Today Z-san (Swedish) got very excited about American Christianity: “They have these, these really big churches, that are like stadiums, and there’s a big movie screen in the back, and the preacher gets up in front of the movie screen and is projected so he’s huge, and he says, “…sigh. Oh, Jesus.””

He then put his hand over his heart and swooned. He was also very pleased by the existence of faith healing.

Remember, Dad – no matter how weird you think Japan is, the rest of the world thinks the US is even weirder.

(Great-Artist-san, who thought I was Catholic because I knew when All Saint’s Day was, got very nervous about this turn of conversation because he thought I would get offended and probably shoot someone with my concealed American Gun. I assured him that I, too, thought American Christians were kind of weird. He also got annoyed with Kuma-san (Swedish) for saying bad stuff about Satanists, and patiently explained the precepts of Satanism to him. For once in my life, I was not the only person in the room defending the Satanists.)

The Japanese say “in the black” (kuroji) and “in the red” (akaji), which mean basically the same things they do in English. However, apparently, in French a person-or-group who is “in the black” is cheating on their income taxes. This caused Heteronormativity-san (Belgian) a good deal of cultural shock when we did an exercise in which a “typical” girl told her “typical” mother that she didn’t care if her husband was poor if he had a sense of humor, and her mother counseled her to marry a man who was kuroji. I imagine that, until I re-explained it to him, Heteronormativity-san for a few moments reconsidered his deeply subtle assault on Japan’s female population.

I am going to Ise on Sunday. I will try not to, you know, pollute it. If I can even pollute Ise. If it’s Japan’s holiest site, do I even really have the necessary power to pollute it? I’m not a very high-level American, I don’t even have a van. Well, I’ll wash my hair Saturday night anyway, just to be careful.

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