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(Compared to Pittsburgh, though, Okazaki is not very crazy.)

(Compared to Pittsburgh, though, Okazaki is not very crazy.) published on

To get from the school to my room, I usually use this underpass-thing that tunnels under the street and has on its walls an unattractive and geographically inappropriate tile mosaic of the ocean. Today, when I came up out the other side, a short guy wearing a dog collar was standing there waiting. He stopped me and asked in Japanese, “Do you speak English?”


He said in what was clearly carefully rehearsed English, “I would like to take a picture with you.”

I said in Japanese, “Uh… why?” (“Uh” in Japanese being “anooo,” incidentally. Or “etooo,” if that’s what floats your boat.)

Still in English, and clearly from a script: “I am interested in foreign countries.” Then he mumbled what I think was the same thing in Japanese.

See, if he had given me some kind of slightly sensical answer – like, if he’d said he was working on a photography project for college or something (he looked about twenty to me – which, uhh, now that I think of it probably means he was at least twenty-five) – I’d actually probably have agreed. It might be true! And if I’d said no to that, afterward I would have felt very Yellow-Peril-American about refusing to let the Japanese guy take my picture possibly-for-school.

However, to me, an interest in foreign countries does not intuitively lead to a desire to have your picture taken with girls.

“Sorry, I’m busy right now,” I said in Japanese.

He nodded, attempted no more English, and returned to his post at the top of the stairs.

So at least he’s not a pushy guy in a dog collar who waits at the end of the underpass for girls to get out of class.

(I will be so happy if it turns out this guy did like everyone does and confused Screech-san for a girl – I’m positive he’d agree to be in the picture. But 1) Screech-san’s Korean and 2) I think he left by himself today, so there wouldn’t have been any immediate cues in the form of race or language to label him as a foreigner. And this guy’s thing probably doesn’t apply to Asian girls anyway.)

I finally have heat again. They had to completely replace the heater. The new one has a remote control, which is obviously thrilling. If I ever sat anywhere but the desk, which is right next to the heating unit, why, then, I could carry the remote control over there with me and change the settings should the temperature grow uncomfortable!

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