Challenges of being tall, blonde, white, and/or a gaikokujin in Nippon

(that's me)
If you read my personal blog early on, you may have noticed this article (written a long time ago). I have updated it and added a few things to the list in order to validate my reasons for posting it again. But let's call a spade a spade; I am just a lazy kid who got conscipted into doing this blog for a while. So, here's the list.

1. Really confusing train schedules. Click here to see what I mean. You are allowed to scream. I thought I had gotten pretty decent at doing the trains thing, until I got lost two days in a row. Oy.

2. Every five minutes I receive offers of alcohol, coffee, or ocha (green tea). When I have to politely refuse,* they look really sad. Oh, and mugicha (wheat tea): stay away from it. That stuff made me sick.

*: due to my religion, in case you don't know me.

3. Everyone speaks some weird dialect of English over here that sounds like another language or something. Oh wait, it is. Seriously, cogitating the "tte" form of a verb in polite-distal past tense depending on what gerund precedes it is surprisingly fun*, but very hard to do. Look for my guide to speaking Japanese, coming to the sagablog soon!

*: Fun in the sense that it's like solving a puzzle on a decoder ring; but every phrase turns out to be, "you are bad at Japanese, please drink more Ovaltine."

4. Not being invited to parties if you don't drink. However, I finally did go to a party with the PTA when the junior high went camping. After the kids were all in bed, the teachers and some parents got together. I didn't drink, but I did enjoy stuffing myself on their food. We're talking all kinds of foods, like Tara-town's Japan-famous crab, and a googolplex of sea foods and meats. The Men turn into 13 year olds when they drink, and brag about how well endowed they are and how they'd like to grab the women on the other side of the room. Tré entertaining.

5. Not knowing if the kids are trying to get you to say something compromising. "Do you like so-and-so?" what, exactly, do you mean by like, kid? Cause I'm pretty sure you just used one of the Japanese words for love... Update: My first day in one class, I was asked if I loved Mrs. Ito. When I said no, all the students acted as if I had slapped her with a wet fish.

6. Hitting your head on doors when you walk into a room because you are too tall. Dang, I do this a lot. In some places, I now instinctually know where I need to duck, but new locales are a safety hazard for me.

7. Using squatting-style toilets. Ew. I had to do this today (at city hall of all places), I don't know if I'm too tall or what, but this was not easy, and I looked like I was break dancing or dodging bullets in the matrix, or something. And after watching that movie linked right there, I now realize I was facing the wrong directionMust not touch the ground! I felt better when I got out and all the people from the office gathered around the stall clapping and saying, "Oh, you poop so good, Crayton-san!"
As a digression, I should relate that our intermediate Japanese class in Saga city had a very in-depth discussion of Japanese-toilet-technique, in which we advised a newb to completely remove his pants. I'm laughing just retelling it.

8: Being asked the same questions over and over again. "Where are you from? Do you have a girlfriend? Why not? Why aren't you drinking the tea?" And if drunk: "which of those women* do you want to have?" I quickly learned that I should just put out certain information up front:
"Hello, I am Clay. Clay. C-L-ay. Crey to yonde. Yes. No, Clay. I'm from Wyoming. Not Miami. Wyoming. WY-O-MIN-GU. Yes. I am 185 cm. Yes, takai. I have no girlfriend. I like karate...

*:said well within earshot of the women in question

9: Enduring heat and humidity. I'm from cold, dry Wyoming. I'm not used to rivulets of sweat suddenly soaking me. And my neither-regions itch all the time... is that natural, or did I pick up crabs from a squat-style toilet?! Thank goodness, Saga is starting to cool down, and so have my itch levels.

10: Not having some of the foods you like. Took me forever to find marinara sauce at the grocery store, and it turns out it's in a pouch instead of a jar. And regular bread? Ha! Fuggetaboudit.

11: Being too attractive... yeah, that counts as a challenge. I intimidate the girls a little bit, and have to listen to them whisper about me, but they rarely approach me unless they are shoving their friend at me for an introduction.
Except for the junior high girls, who insisted I cook with them when I went camping. Then they insisted on serving me. Then they insisted on doing my dishes... etc.

12: Bugs. Japanese houses don't have many ways to keep out bugs. Or insulation, or proper kitchens... I could go on. I experienced the mother of all freak-outs last night when a cockroach crawled across my neck whilst I tried to sleep! Had to go sleep on the futon instead.

13: Being set up. Sometimes, a girl just shows up at your house/class/social setting. And you get the sense that she's not just there to give you cookies, but she's not exactly thrilled to be set up either.

14: Being asked about obscure people/places/events. "No, I don't know if Jim, the ALT you knew from Nagasaki four years ago was affected by hurricane Katrina. No, I don't know him." After being asked three more times, I change my answer to placate them, "Okay, sure, I probably know Jim. Yeah maybe. Lost his whole house in the hurricane. Yeah, real shame."

In conclusion these are really minor inconveniences. As the McDonald's commercial here says, "I'mu roving it!" [sic] As my tenure at this blog proceeds, you'll be exposed to the horrors and hilarity that I have. Enjoy!