Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Is this really happening? Part 3

My God... not content with slapping and kicking, the fiery sports teacher has nowresorted to punching and caning. The student that was kicked returned a few minutes ago, and was told to bow his head. The teacher then gave him half a dozen heavy punches (the sort you might administer to cause a "dead arm"), and then, asking him to bend over, gave him 15 very sharp stripes on the backside with his cane, pausing after each set of 5 to let the pain register...

I'm about to head home for the day, and the student that was slapped and another student, are still sat in seiza, hours later. Who'd be a Japanese student, eh?...


Is this really happening? part 2

stop press... the slapping teacher has just called another student into his office... as I write he is staring intently at him, having berated him with very harshly enunciated words. When he first came in, he was unaware of the teacher's fury, and wasn't prepared for the vicious kicks to the shins that came without warning. Limping slightly, he's staring at the ground. My oh my... what a day.


Is this really happening?...

What a day so far at my highschool... first of all, one of the sports teams captains was called into the office and given a sergeant major style dressing down by the the head coach. The student in question is very studious and dilligent in class, and to the best of my knowledge hasn't done anything wrong in the past. Yet this morning he was treated like a habitual ne'er-do-well, being shouted at for close to half an hour, culminating in a heavy punch to the chest and banishment to the counselling room for the rest of the day. What did he do, I wonder? Was it something serious enough to warrant such punishment?

And then this afternoon, another student from a different sports team was brought into the office and given a slightly less severe talking too from his head coach. The coach in question is a notorious hardman character, and used his wooden stick to thwack the table to emphasise what he was saying. But then, without any warning what so ever, he stood up and, setting his stance, proceeded to slap the student 4 times across the face with such force and speed that the student was knocked back against the filing cabinet before he knew what had happened. He is currently sitting in seiza on the concrete floor with a purple left cheek, where he will no doubt remain for some time...

I am all in favour of discipline in schools, but that didn't make witnesses these two things any easier...


Scrubs and others

Welcome to the onigiri Speed... yes, I for one have seen scrubs. It's pretty good, from what I remember, although I have only seen a handful of episodes. Something in the back of my mind is telling me that the janitor is the same guy that played the janitor in The Breakfast Club... is this the case or is my mind playing tricks?...

Speaking of American TV shows, are any of you guys familiar with OZ, the HBO drama set in a prison? For me, it's the best American Show of all time. Violence, insights, gripping stories, philosophy, drama, inner battles... it's got it all.

For the record, I have to nominate Six Feet Under for the worst TV show award. Never have I seen such pretentious Americana...



I know I haven't of late entertained the complacency of sitting down and watching the tube as was as was my daily ritual back in Oz after a hard day at the office - but I fear that I really have been missing out since being in Japan on some hiliarity that sets the mind at ease. It was only until this week that I was enlightened unto the brilliance that is SCRUBS. For any who have seen this series - and me being a mere novice at only watching the first seven episodes (another 17 to go on the other 3 discs from the first series) I do say without equivocation that the Janitor is the funniest character - a brooding and imposing tall streak with impeccable timing and utterly droll . Personally one of my favorite lines is:
JANITOR (speaking to main character J.D.) "You look unhappy....I like that".

Are there any others who have seen this zany series, "where the staff are bizarre and the laughter is contagious"? (sic)

Thursday, October 27, 2005


A couple of gems from high school...

Ahh, Nova student quotes... please click here to see a list of the memorable quotes I heard during my time at Nova.

The quotes here at a high school aren't as forthcoming, but occasionally a cracker does surface. Examples follow:

"Sensei, I am unnecessarily smug towards kimuchi" (response to "Do you like Korean food?" and after consulting an electronic dictionary)

"'FUCK YOU!'" (shouted response to "What does 'むかつく' mean in English?", just as the Vice Principals were walking past the window).

"シンダレラ は?” (sports teacher's gruff response to the arrival of two of his plumper, plainer looking students, showing rare humour and a surprising knowledge of western fairy tales).


Student Gems.

Talking of Nova students, I was chatting to one of my high level students who had just become a father for the first time.
"So Satoru, what's it like being a father? Any big life changes?" I asked him, expecting some thing along the lines of 'With fatherhood comes great responsibility'.
"Money." he replied quickly.
" mean worrying about the future? Saving for the baby's education etc etc?"
"NO NO NO!" he replied quickly "Before the baby I could afford to go to Russian hostess bar.... now I can only afford Filipino."

Monday, October 24, 2005


Nova Students

How about a "wakarimasen" of Nova students, or a " ..................? " of Nova students?

Speaking of Nova, I've actually been teaching 3 high school girls some Quest-esque lessons for the last couple of weeks... great fun, surprisingly! Much better than facing a baying mob of 35 slackers (to quote Miles Strickland)...


Collective Nouns

I always thought it was a "drunk of Scotsmen",or Scotspersons if we are to use the modern PC term.
How about a "retard of Nova students"?

Sunday, October 23, 2005


Some more collective nouns...

How about:

a chlak-chlak of young women (the sound they make as they descend the train station steps in their pointy high heels).

a lockpocket of Scotsmen.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


Collective Nouns

I believe you will find that the collective noun for Salarymen is a 'Grope',as in "My sister was accosted by a grope of salarymen last night"

Friday, October 21, 2005


Japanese police

You have to love them... they drive around in convoys of four cars, 4 policemen in each car, following the teenage bike gangs at 15 mph, yet schoolgirls get raped in public on trains and nothing happens...

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Crime stats

Last week a 4-foot high day-glo pink Nova Usagi was stolen from outside the Yanagawa branch of Nova at 10.30 approx on a Sunday morning.
Within ten minutes of the reported theft four bustling policemen burst out of a patrol car to take statements from the two workers at the school and from the three students who had arrived ten minutes after the telephone call was made. This was followed by earnest dusting for fingerprints and fingerprint samples being taken from every somewhat bemused person present. Whilst people were being interviewed a senior policeman peered intently at the empty chair where the Usagi had been sitting not 25 minutes earlier but did not seem able to come to any conclusions about who the culprit might be.
Over the following five days the same four policemen visited the Yanagawa school a total of eleven times. This was not to pursue any lines of enquiry but to let the staff now they were still treating the case as serious and they would be in touch if they heard anything.
A Police Commission report in 2001 stated that 63 per cent of small businesses in Japan had been approached, and threatened, by criminals wanting protection money. A further 42 per cent of these businesses said they were paying some form of insurance to local criminal elements.
Reports from a 2002 study in Central Honshu state that 6.2 per cent of police working hours was taken up by investigating protection racket scams and that in the past ten years a total of fourteen people have been arrested and convicted of such dubious insurance help. It seems that the focus of attention is not perhaps what business rate payers would hope it to be in some areas of Japan.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Collective names for Japanese people

Interesting... a giggle of schoolgirls is very apt, as is perhaps a majide! of schoolgirls, or a bai-baaai! of schoolgirls. Here is my makeshift list of offerings:

a clomp of young men (that wear catepillar boots and drag their feet)
a grumble of old ladies, a miso of old ladies
a yattai of salarymen
a wakarimashita of telephonists
a panic of motorists
an incompetence of public servants
a sugar-rush of game show contestants

Sunday, October 09, 2005


school fun

teachers beating children. you'll be interested to know that my school does not go so much for a whacking stick but more for a swift hand across the back of the legs. this is usually performed by the old science teacher whose face and personality is not unlike a a rabid pitbull. she often yells from a good distance away, runs to the terrified girl, then beats her legs until her legs look like they are the inside of a cavemans dwelling (handprints that is...) . first time i saw this i was horrified. astonishingly, now i am quite used to it. i do too sometimes join in the fun. great way to embarrass little shits who annoy you (although i dont partake in the physical abuse. im sure the old dog-faced woman is hitting the girls for many other reasons as well.... ie they are younger, prettier and have a calm demeanor).
i dont understand two fashionable things the boys do though. i understand the history of the low pants on the boys and the one leg pant up..... but why do they not realise how much of a mong they look? sure i had ridiculous faashion when i was in high school, but i think that was just because i was living in the age of MC Hammer. ( i still think Happy Pants are kinda cool.... and comfy) . the low pants suggest : no arse - surely the girls want something...
a freakishly long torso - it just looks weird
a kind of overall mental patient "i dressed myself today" look - speaks for itself.

as for the pant leg: you are not in a gang. your parents are dentists. you look stupid with half a pant leg up.

school is really a micro-cosmos of weird ideas. i must admit its made me laugh about some of the crap i used to get up to. the nerves of asking a girl on a date ( i have actually helped more high school boys with this than you would believe...) the "oh shit, thats right i have a test today" realisation panic, or the "sensei, what aftershave do you wear because the girls always say you smell nice so i want to buy it too....." - this being my favourite comment ive ever had.

i will finish with one question to anyone. what is the collective noun of high school kids? my friends and i thought maybe a "giggle" of schoolgirls and a "glom" of students on bikes (i nearly kill a few every morning as they are spread 5 kids thick across the road, all riding at the same speed). how about the boys? any ideas. a proud?
a glamour?

Saturday, October 08, 2005



And like a penny twisting in its metally drop to the floor, it all becomes clear...

Yesterday, being the first Friday in October, was the monthly Principal's School Address, an event which consists of all the students sitting in long lines according to their classes, all the teachers scuffing about in their socks, the sports teacher with the microphone trying to sound like a TV yakuza and - my favourite - the Student Appearance Evaluation.

It's really very simple. Two of the department teachers (one holding a red pen and the register, the other with a discerning eye and a two foot stick) call each of their students forward in turn and bark orders at them (show me your nails! show me your belt! turn around!). If their appearance is satisfactory, they walk back to where they were sitting and wait patiently. If there is any kind of quibble (boys = hair dye, tufty hair, hair longer than a couple of centimetres, shaven eyebrows, an under-tshirt any colour other than plain white, an elaborate belt, low-slung trousers, an unfastened top button, any kind of keyringage, any kind of fringe, unkempt nails girls = hair longer than the shoulder when tied, hair that almost covers the eyes, longer hair at the front that isn't pushed behind the ears, hair dye, unkempt nails, unfastened top button, cosmetics, skirt shorter than a determined length, and many many more) then the stick teacher gives them a cheerful but painful crack across the back of the legs, on the top of the head or across the backside, and the red pen teacher records the quibble in the register.

If you have hair dye? Get rid of it by Monday. If you have shaven your eyebrows? Get them back by next inspection, and so on. Once the inspection is complete, those students that passed may leave, and the ones who failed must sit in the traditional Japanese sitting style for 10 or so minutes whilst red pen and stick berate them and give them their speech about respecting the rules of society and considering their place at their high school.

And me? Well, I usually have to stand alongside red pen and stick, as well as the department boss (who incidentally is just like the skilled swordsman with an old face from The Seven Samurai) and watch the proceedings.

And after the inspection, and for the next 30 days until the next one? It's back to falling-down trousers, like-a-belt skirts and one trouser leg rolled up...

Friday, October 07, 2005


Sideways flowers

Japanese ladies of a certain age are renowned for carrying large bunches of flowers sideways on the pavements of Kyushu. This has caused consternation to many foreigners who have enough problems navigating through hordes of schoolgirls, geriatrics bent-double with osteoporosis and dizzy chihuahua-walkers without having to steer their mammacharris into the gutter at a micro notice to avoid an eye-gouging by gladioli. The reason for the sideways flower holding is because of the gtreat sensitivity and awareness of the Japanese toward all things `Nature`. The flowers will suffer greatly if held upright under the full glare of an autumnal sun or to the direct ravages of a cataclysmic typhoon. Makes sense really. Historically, this horizontal holding has been challenged by the younger Japanese but an incident in Beppu in May 1992 led to the reinstatement of Oita council`s formal policy on carrying flowering plants. A 23-year-old woman was taking her fresh cut daffodils to her mother, a birthday present, carrying them upright and walking quickly. However, a sudden gust of wind caused pollen to be blown from the daffodils into a passing bus-driver`s eye leading him to him to swerve into a queue of passengers at the stop he was slowing to meet. Only three of the queue were injured and only slightly; ankle, thigh and hip damage the main concern, but this was enough for a local edict on flower-carrying to be restated and reinforced nationwide. It transpires horizontal flower- carrying shakes off the pollen immediately and allowing it to settle more quickly thus leading to a safer environment for bus queuers and contact lens wearers alike.

Monday, October 03, 2005



Welcome to the Onigiri, Ben. Here's something for you - why do old women in Japan always carry their flowers sideways, thus impeding pedestrians and causing a major bother?..

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