☆ i heart japan,  ☆ life

Living Tall in Japan, part 29

☆ To see all of the parts in this series, click here

After a week spent in fangirl bliss, returning my boring, everyday job felt like being shot in the head and left to die. Instead of returning to mind-numbingly boring real life, I preferred to spend my time thinking about things like this:

Mmmm… So it’s back to real life for me, eh? I’ve been dreading this for a week and some. I don’t really want to go back to work. It’s just not what I want to do. I’ve been thinking of all of the different things that I want to do, ranging from paleontology and archaeology to translation to modeling. LOL, honestly, right now I want to be in the Prince of Tennis musicals. XDDDD Uhhhh, yeah. Well, I’m not asian, so big point against me, I can’t speak japanese, another big point, and I am a girl. Whoa, three points. Oh wait… I can’t dance, have little stamina, and have no coordination. Oh, and did I mention that it just wouldn’t work? XD I’m also taller than I think the entire cast. Maybe I could play Kabaji way down the road? :D;;;; Oh wait, I’m still a girl. XDD I’ll learn to dance, promise! And to sing! =D And sing a song incorporating the word “UUS” too many times. Or maybe a duet with Atobe! The “I’m so beautiful — UUS UUS!” duet! XD

I was pretty darn obsessed. I thought about Tenimyu all of the time. At work, at home, and in between. I made a ton of friends that were into it, and just generally lived in bliss. It was awesome, but life just seemed to be passing me by for a while.

On January 10th, I had my first episode of hey, you’re a foreigner, so I’m going to speak English to you! It went something like this:

Erin, Eda and I were standing around Ogikubo station saying our goodbyes, and a random Japanese guy in a suit was walking by. He turned toward us and said loudly, “it was nice to meet you!” We were the only people in close proximity to him, so he must have been talking to us…… even though we had no idea who he was. He didn’t say anything else or stop, just walked in through the ticket gates and onto the train.

It’s strange that it took almost four months for that to happen, because it became quite a common occurrence over the next nine years.

Now, in the middle of January, something strange happened. A random guy in a suit approached me, saying that he wanted to take me to a modeling agency. (This also happens a lot in Tokyo, but it was my first time). It’s not that I was particularly good-looking or skinny. I was actually overweight. It’s just that I was tall, and white. A white woman, the #1 modeling commodity in Japan, I kid you not. I was skeptical of this guy, worried that he was a bit sketchy, but finally agreed that if I could bring a friend, then okay, I would go.

I did end up signing up for the modeling agency, but afterwards, heard that it was a bit sketchy and never paid anyone on time from my coworkers, so I blocked their calls. The more interesting thing was this guy. He sent me a mail one day soon after this, and said, “I wanna show you around Tokyo. Do you want to hang out?” He had seemed nice, so I figured why not?

I wore a t-shirt and jeans (with a coat), and it seemed alright. The guy was friendly and spoke English, so I was beginning to think that I’d made a friend. We went to Tokyo dome, which is an amusement part in the middle of Tokyo. Unlike US amusement parks, it is free to go in, but you have to pay for each individual ride if you want to go on them. The first sign that we weren’t hanging out came when he wanted to go on the (dinky little) roller-coaster, and I agreed and pulled out my money to pay.

“No no no, I’ll pay.” I was confused… did this guy think that we were on a date? Sometimes my friends back in the US paid for each other when eating out, just because we were friends. And as for this day, nobody had EVER used the word date. In fact, he’d asked me to “hang out,” and I was definitely NOT interested in a date. Nope. Alright. I would pay for the next ride, then.

I did. I paid for the haunted house for both of us, to make it even. We took funny purikura (which I tore up later), and then went to eat after that.

We went to eat yakiniku, which is a sort of restaurant where the middle of the table is a flat grill. You order meat and vegetables and grill them yourselves, eating them with the dipping sauces (grilled enoki mushrooms are to die for! But I regress). After the waiter seated us and left with our drink order, he got up, and scooted in next to me.

“I just can’t wait any more!” he said, and went in for a kiss.

OH HELL NO. WTF! Since when had I ever given him the vibe that this was a date? Since when had I ever given him the idea that I was even remotely interested in his creepy, slimeball ass? Besides, I liked girls! I made a short work of dinner and when he texted me on the way home, I only told him that I didn’t want to see him again.

The guy (whose name I can’t even remember anymore, haha) could not understand why I didn’t want to see him, or why I had freaked out.

UMMMMM, because you invited me out on a date without even telling me?

I still don’t see that as normal, and I learned to be VERY clear when guys said that they wanted to hang out after that. It’s NOT a date. I am not ever going to date you. If I wanted a date, I would ask for it myself, in any case. I definitely don’t appreciate being taken on a date without knowing it.

Argh. Thinking back, it still makes me angry. Some people these days say that I seem hostile towards men, and it’s true. I’m sorry if I ever seem rude, but I just have to be very, very clear. Very, very very clear nowadays, to make sure that there are no more misunderstandings.

Not that my troubles with men in Japan ended there by any means! By the time that I left, I was being hit on almost every day, and I was so sick of it that it was almost a relief to get away from the constant pressure. At least in the US, nobody randomly comes up to me on the street and goes straight for my boobs.

Well, not so far, anyways.

Haha. See you all tomorrow for some more fun tales of my disastrous first year in Japan! *^^*

(427 geeks have read this)

Hi! This is Jamie Lynn Lano! I am a Washington State (USA) native who: ☆ Holds a Bachelors of the Arts in Media Arts & Animation from AiPx. ☆ Worked as an assistant mangaka in Japan for Konomi Takeshi on The Prince of Tennis. ☆ Was an essay columnist for Asahi Weekly from 2008-2013. ☆ Was the star of Asahi Pop'n Press on Asahi TV (Japan) from 2009-2013 ☆ Was a write for Metropolis magazine in 2010. ☆ Has kept a blog foreeeeeeeeever! First and Current blogs.


  • Big Rob

    I am a 6’5′ 375lb powerlifter who will be visiting Tokyo in a few months. After reading through some of these stories I think I am going to have my own to tell when I get back.

  • Tray

    I thought Japanese guys were supposed to be shy, but I honestly don’t understand why a ton of them have the guts to do nanpa.

    I once experienced it while I was traveling alone in Osaka. I made the mistake of actually stopping when someone tried to talk to me. 15 seconds in and I knew it was nanpa. I started to pretend I didn’t know Japanese to end the conversation. That bastard suddenly switched to English (he wasn’t fluent, but good enough to make conversation). I told him politely I wasn’t interested in hanging out, but he was friggin’ persistent. He even held my hand! When he loosened his grip, I shook his hand off and put my hands in my pockets… But he still tried to hold my hand again. 😐

    I was pretty annoyed. I was planning to go shopping until later that night, but had to go back to the hostel I was staying at so I could get away from him.

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      Yeah, I keep hearing that, too, and I’m like, no way are Japanese guys shy! They’re much louder and more rowdy than most guys I’ve known in America. They’re really threatening, like they don’t see women as anything more than a nameless thing to just have sex with. Rawr. I am so sorry that you had to go through that– it totally ruins your day, doesn’t it?

  • Audrey

    ughhhh nanpa. I feel you girl!

    That agency does sound super unprofessional if one of the ‘managers’ is going to treat you like that! Disgusting D:

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      The sad thing is that it’s the biggest agency in Tokyo, and they have exclusive rights with a lot of huge channels. But I would never go with them.

      Years later, they still had my number even though I hadn’t been called in years, and I decided to answer the phone and go on the interview. It was a HUGE mistake– the manager there seemed to think that he could also get kisses from me– at the audition! I was mortified and decided to turn it down even if I got the part (I didn’t).

  • Aurora

    Awkward!!! If it were me I would run away.
    I hate it when men misunderstand when a girl accepts to hang out.
    I hate that kind of men.

    I don’t know how did you handle being hit on almost everyday. I just can’t stand when I’m walking on the streets and weird guys try to hit on me or when dirty men yell at me from their cars obscene words. I just feel disgusted.

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      I hate it, too!!! It’s like, now I have to be absolutely clear that I just want to hang out, as if “date” is the default option! But it should really be the other way around– the one asking someone out should be clear that it’s a date and not just hanging out. >.< I feel disgusted, too. There's a movement online to stop this kind of harassment, but I feel like it will take a long time before it reaches the parts of society that never gets online.

  • Victoria

    Whoa! That was totally unexpected! It must’ve been insanely awkward…..maybe he wouldn’t have done that if you been armed with a friend (pepper spray isn’t a bad option either!). *^~^*

  • zoomingjapan

    I can’t remember ever hearing about that guy. Did you write about it on LJ?
    Sounds weird, but definitely something that would never happen to me. I guess I seem to be very hostile to anyone. I’ve never been approached other than the “Uh, let’s speak English with the foreigner!” kind of thing. ^^;

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      Nope, I didn’t, to my own surprise! I remember it really well, but I wasn’t sure when exactly it had happened, and then while checking my lj, I wrote briefly that my friend Kira was going to be visiting and staying with me for the weekend, and I remembered that while she was staying, the guy kept emailing me and I wrote back telling him that I was a lesbian and he needed to let it go. He wouldn’t give up! Eventually he got the idea that I wasn’t going to answer his calls or texts anymore, but maybe a year or so later, way after I’d deleted his number from my phone, I got a call from a number that I didn’t recognize, and it was just a guy doing heavy breathing and asking me what I was wearing. I still think that that was him, to this day.

  • Kimberly

    I just found your blog yesterday and I’ve read the whole series in one go. I’m so glad you update daily! It’s very fun to read your (past) adventures. 🙂 I’m pretty tall myself (1m80/5’9) so I felt an instant connection with you, haha.

    I’m going to Tokyo (my very first time) in July and these posts are like “preparing” me for Japan :3 I’m really excited to go, Japan is def on my bucket list, and it seems a little unreal that I’m going in 3 months.

    Anyway, keep up the good work, you have a new follower. ^.^

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      Ooh, thank you, Kimberly! I’m glad that you like it. 🙂 I love writing in my blog, and this part of my life was full of so many strange things, it amazes me that I never had the time to tell them before. ;D And yes, you are pretty tall! You will stand out a lot in Japan!

      I hope that you have a great trip! Please let me know how it goes– and I hope none of these terrible things happen to you! 😀

  • Rodney

    Lmfao!!! you should have told him that your lesbian! I wonder what his reaction would have been. What do you mean about Japanese guys going straight for your boobs???? Did they walk up to you and grab it or something? Pretty strange

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      I definitely have used that excuse many times since then, but it doesn’t always deter pestering guys, unfortunately!

      In the summer of 2012, I was walking to the grocery store a few blocks from my apartment. I wasn’t even dressed cutely or anything– my hair in ponytail, jeans and a t-shirt, no makeup. Along the street came an old man, and he stopped me. He started talking to me in really terrible english and I tried to end the conversation politely, but he acted like he wanted a hug. Whatever, I thought, if it would get him to leave me alone, and it was an old man, so I moved closer, and suddenly he moved his hands as if he was going to grab my chest! I backed off and yelled at him. He apologized and left, as if an apology would negate what he had tried to do!

  • Elizabeth

    Argh — how awkward, annoying and embarrassing! How did you handle that situation in the future?

    If a person ask you do go somewhere with them, did you explicitly reply with “Sure… but this isn’t a date. I’m not kissing you. EVA. ‘KAY?”

    • Jamie Lynn Lano

      Hahaa! I will have to use that line exactly int the future!

      Well, there is a certain guy friend that I have, whom I met when he contacted me through MySpace (oldskool, I know!), and he asked me to hang out. I told him straight up that there was no way that I was interested in dating, and I would bring a friend, and it would be a public place. It should have offended him, but it didn’t (or he didn’t let me know), and now he is one of my best friends. He’s one of the only guys that I know that I can spend a lot of time with and never feel threatened. 🙂

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