We’re required to write a speech in Japanese for this speaking contest the school has. Apparently it’s not optional? I had a sore throat and was feeling kind of gross the day it was due, but nonetheless worked very, very hard on it. When we got them back today, it was gently suggested to me that my speech Would Not Do.
Bullshit. It’s a great speech. Here, look, I translated it for you guys:
Since I have come to Japan, I have learned many fascinating things.
For instance, there is the scarf. In manga, in scenes where it’s supposed to be cold, high school students always wear extremely oversized scarves. The scarves don’t look safe. Those high school students will break their necks! Naturally, I have always assumed that no one in Japan really wore scarves like that. I thought that maybe manga artists just didn’t like drawing necks. I can’t draw hands, so when I draw people they always wear mittens. Probably the same thing!
Also, the scarves are kind of cute. High school guys do not wear cute things. For instance, where I am from, male high school students mostly wear t-shirts picturing a wolf fighting with a wizard on a mountaintop during a thunderstorm. The manga scarf would not work. Clearly this is merely some type of manga artist fantasy.
However, when the weather in Okazaki got cold, I experienced a great shock! Lots of male high school students were wearing big scarfs! I even saw a guy in a pink one!
On that day, I swore that I would never again doubt a manga artist’s word.
Another thing that surprised me about Japan was the convenience store food. In the United States, convenience store food is always terrible. Also, I had read in many places that Japanese mothers always get up extremely early in the morning to make lunches for their families. In a place where homemade food was so important, I thought that convenience store food would probably be pretty bad.
In Japanese convenience stores, they have tiramisu and French onion soup.
Japan is truly a mysterious place.
On English websites, people often talk about the strangeness of Japanese fashion. But I have discovered the terrible secret of Japanese fashion. This secret is… that all clothing stores in Japan are exactly the same.
Clothing stores in Japan all have the same wooden floors. They all have the same steel track lighting. They all sell the same white faux-shearling suede coat. They all have the same two sales clerks. These sales clerks are a young woman who is tired and a young man who smiles too big. How they can exist in every store in Japan at once is a mystery. They possess strange powers. They are able to teleport, appearing behind you suddenly and silently to cry out, “Irasshaimase!” They are clearly wizards.
The woman hates the man. The man also hates the woman. That they must work in the same Japanese clothing store is probably some type of punishment. They doubtless committed some terrible sin in a past life. The white faux-shearling suede coat is their judge, sent by heaven. This is why no one ever buys the coat. The coat must watch them always. On the day that one of the two clerks, finally, destroys the other, the coat will be bought and worn, and the remaining sales clerk’s punishment will come to its end.
But that day is still far. The earth will probably have come to an end before that day arrives. Today, the two sales clerks are standing in a store, smiling, eternally locked in battle.
Also, the favorite perfume of women who ride subways in Japan is apparently some kind of freesia scent. Since it’s not musk, that’s okay with me.