It was a lot of fun rewriting the posts about my friends’ visit to Japan. My original blog posts ranged from two sentences to a paragraph each, which was not nearly long enough to properly describe the events. Using a combination of my original blog posts, pictures from the time, and recent conversations with some of the guys, I was able to flesh out some of the details.
There are a few small things that got missed in the daily updates:
Flounder stands out: Flounder was stared at almost everywhere we went because he was gigantic compared to most people. He actually started counting the number of people staring at him on each day. He was in the double digits but stopped counting when we walked by a few hundred elementary school kids.
So much Playstation: We played a lot of Playstation while working off our hangovers. The most popular game was WWE Smackdown: Here Comes the Pain. I only had two PS2 controllers, so two players had to use PS1 controllers that we borrowed from Lux. Since taunts were only usable on the PS2 controllers, we had to impose a house rule banning them.
Hippies like gyoza: Hippie took a serious liking to gyoza from Shop 99 – the awesome 99 yen store near Hello House. I have never seen someone so enthusiastically demolish an entire package. “I like dumplings” because his catch phrase for the trip.
Laryngitis: I had a bit of a sore throat when the guys arrived. They bombarded me with so many questions about everything around us that I actually lost my voice completely a few times in the first days of their visit.
Are we there yet: On our many train rides, the guys would annoy me by asking which station we needed to get off at. Then they would ask how many stops were left. Then they would ask me which station again. Then they asked how many stops now. It was a variation on the classic “are we there yet”. I told them to just get off the train when I did and to stop asking questions.
To stop this game, I got off the train unexpectedly at a station on Odakyu line with no explanation. All of the guys followed me off the train and then I jumped back on suddenly. They all scrambled to get back on the train before the doors closed. I though this was hilarious. They didn’t appreciate the humour.
Representing Canada: Like most Canadians, we proudly displayed the Canadian flag in our travels. However, all the flags got put away when we were drinking and acting like idiots. This was something we learned in our fraternity days – don’t act stupid while wearing fraternity letters.
Not everyone can read Japanese: On one of our Tokyo adventures, I needed to hit a bank machine. I told the guys to meet me at the coffee shop across the street. They asked which coffee shop. I told them it was the only coffee shop on the street. They still didn’t see it. At this point I realized the problem: the coffee shop sign was in Japanese and I was the only person who could read it.
Thailand: If you are standing on a train holding on to the handle and someone asks you what the capital of Thailand is, you are about to get punched in the junk.
The final word:
It has been ten years since my friends came to visit me in Japan. We don’t always see each other very often, but when we do we always have fond memories of our 17 day adventure in Japan. We have all grown up since that time and now all have real jobs. The crazy guys who had a non stop karaoke, video game and booze filled vacation are now a professional accountant, an elementary school teacher, a train conductor, a corporate account manager and something to do with military intelligence. Hippie and I were in each other’s wedding parties and I look forward to setting up play dates with my newborn son and Flounder’s soon to arrive baby.
If I hadn’t joined a fraternity in University I likely would never have met Code Red, Green, Hippie, or Flounder. There are some people who say that joining a fraternity is just a way to buy some friends. If that’s the case, I didn’t pay nearly enough.
#1 by James on September 21, 2016 - 8:19 am
Pleased to hear that you’ve all grown up.
Unfortunately, people coming here and taking advantage of the permissive culture, generally acting in a fashion that would get them punched in their home country does have an impact on those of us that would prefer to integrate. I personally view it as enormously disrespectful.
But, each to their own. Glad you had fun, glad you grew up.
#2 by Barniferous on September 22, 2016 - 1:02 pm
While I don’t necessarily appreciate the judgmental tone, you do make an important point: gaijins behaving badly reflects on all gaijins, even the ones who behave well. It’s unfair, but it’s a fact of life. Being a foreigner in an extremely homogeneous country like Japan automatically makes you an ambassador for foreigners in general.
When my friends were visiting, I was quick to remind them that after they left the country that I still had to live and work there. Despite the shenanigans (which I have documented here), my friends were always very respectful at temples and shrines, polite to everyone they met, and generally good tourists and representatives of Canada. This may not have always come across in my recounting of their adventures, but that is largely because drunken shenanigans at karaoke make for more interesting reading than respectfully admiring a temple.
I do encourage people who visit other countries to have fun, but always remember that your actions do affect the other foreigners who actually live there. In the wise words of my friend Jamie “don’t be cocks”.