☆ i heart japan,  ☆ life

Living Tall in Japan, part 30

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

Writing every day sometimes makes me tired, and sometimes it fills me with energy and creativity. Today is the former.. I actually wonder if I may have hypothyroidism, so I scheduled an appointment to get that checked next week. How neat would it be to be able to flip a switch and stop gaining weight and being tired all of the time! 😀

I don’t know if I was suffering from it back in my first year in Japan, mostly because I was at first beset with all of the different and interesting things, and then of course, Tenimyu. As I wrote the other day, I was completely and totally obsessed with Tenimyu from the get-go. I also thought that, hey, since I didn’t make anything remotely resembling an affluent salary, maybe I could buy goods sold at the musical and sell them to fans online, and that would in turn pay for my own tickets and goods. There wasn’t much of a foreign fanbase to start with, so I started scanning the photos and pamphlets, and offering to buy them to people, and slowly, over time, the fandom became huge. It sort of took off on its own, and I took orders all of the way until I started working for Konomi-sensei (I quit because, well.. yeah). That was my first experience with a small business, and although it never made the kind of money that I could live off of, it certainly paid for itself, and I really enjoyed it!

I hope that that experience will help me in the future! So, near the end of January, I had an online friend who wanted to come and stay with me. Her name was Kira. She was on an exchange program in another part of Japan, and as we were very close online even though we’d never met in real life, I was ecstatic to have her!

We arranged to meet in Tokyo station, which neither of us had much experience with, but I figured that it wouldn’t be too hard to find her. “What do you look like?” I asked.

“I’m short and asian,” she told me.

Well……. well, in Tokyo, that described almost everybody in the country. So, because I was the token sky-high white girl, it seemed like her best bet would be to find me. She didn’t have a cell phone, either, so although she had my number, I trusted to the fates that we would end up finding each other right away.

Let me tell you right now that Tokyo station is an insane, huge, convoluted maze. There is no logical rhyme or reason existing in Tokyo station, some of which is underground and some of which is not. In fact, I found a map of it to show just how insane it is.


This map is from the JR East train company website, which you can find here.

Now, despite my troubles with trains when I first arrived in Japan, I still hadn’t come to terms with the idea that a station could be such a crazy, convoluted monstrosity. Surely, I’d be able to find Kira easily!

Well, if the fact that after 9 years, I still had a hard time finding my way through Tokyo station tells you anything, you know what I’m going to say next.

It took forever to find her! I had taken the Marunoichi line, unaware that it wasn’t directly connected to other parts of the station, and I was worked into a near-panic by the time that Kira found me and called on a payphone. The problem then was.. she didn’t have any more change, and couldn’t find a place to change her bills into coins!

“Don’t worry, I’ll find you!” I told her, listening to the description of the things around her, which made no. sense. to. me. at. all.

I wandered and ran through the station, time passing and the hour getting later and later.

FINALLY, she called out to me. We’d found each other! I was about through with stupid Tokyo station by then. We headed to my little home on the outskirts of the city.

Hanging out with Kira was like being with an old friend. 🙂 We went to see the next Tenimyu musical at the end of the month, where there was much more fangirling, demachi, and I met another girl who became an amazing friend; Aloni! When I think about how many amazing, lifelong friends that I made through getting into Tenimyu, I can’t help but shake my head in amazement!

We went to another play, too, a musical called Rock’n Jam that was an original story, and featured a whole huge handful of the cast from the Tenimyu that I’d seen a week ago. Aaaaand… well, we could only get tickets for a day that I had to work. Work wouldn’t let me off, because they had a policy that you have to ask two weeks in advance, or switch with someone. So, bleh.

Since I was interchangeable as a teacher, I just called in sick and that was that. I don’t regret it for a moment! In my defense, even when I got sick, I never once called in sick for any of the other jobs that I had in Japan. For my tv job (the last one that I held), I even came in with the flu once, because I had to. I could barely stand up, and I had to act like an active normal person, and that was torture! But my job with NOVA was torture, and I didn’t care. At all. No regrets. :3

Nope, I’m still not sorry more than 9 years later.

In February, I got sick again– my throat, over and over, bumbled between “sort of scratchy,” and “omg I’m on fire!” Even so, I went to another concert by the NaBs, and learned from the parents that we’d met last time, that they had read my livejournal! That was quite a revelation to me– despite how tall I was, and how much I stood out in Japanese everyday life, it was the first time that I felt anything other than anonymous to the Japanese population on the internet.

Does that make sense?

For a while, I spent most of my time at work and things related to The Prince of Tennis, but despite the occasional amusing conversations, I was longing for something else. I just didn’t know what. Yet.

Here’s a snippet from my livejournal back then (which is now closed):

Part of our job is that when the students request a progress report from the staff, if we were the last teacher to give them a lesson that day, we have to give the office staff a quick review of how the student is doing. Easy enough.. ^^ But it’s utterly amusing when you hear a conversation like this about why a student failed her level advancement test.

There are four people in the staff lounge: Me, my AT Glen (AT is like a branch manager), Viren (another teacher), Hiroko (our newest japanese office staff member):
Glen: [about why she failed] We did a roleplay where she had to use the appropriate level of politeness. I was an old man who gave her my train ticket, and she was suposed to thank me. She only said ‘thank you’ very quickly.
Hiroko: Okay… *looks confused*
Glen: I did her this big favor, and saying only ‘thank you,’ is kinda rude. She could have said, ‘thank you so much, sir,’ or ‘I really appreciate this, thank you so much.’
Hiroko: Ah, I see…
Glen: She was rude because of what she said. It’s a little like if I’d said, ‘hey, fuck you!’
Hiroko: fookyoo?
Me: ……………*bursts out laughing*
Viren: *looks surprised*
Hiroko: *looks at Glen and then at us* Uhhh…
Glen: *is actually pulling off not laughing and starts to explain again that she was rude*
Me: *keeps on laughing because Hiroko was so cute!* Hiroko, you can’t repeat that to the student.
Hiroko: okay…..

Later on, I told her why it was not something that she could repeat. XD;;; nomg Hiroko is so cute! I also had a conversation about Glen and the appropriateness of swear words in the classroom. XD; It’s not appropriate…. at least you think so until you find the phrase “Go to hell” in a level 2 lesson. XD;;;;; That’s not all. I’ve found so many! Some of them are in the new texts and they’re disguised as puns or names. It’s hilarious.. to me, anyways. XD;

This does not mean that there’s nothing more to tell! Oh, quite the contrary, because there are a few very, very interesting things left to happen in my first year! For example, did you know that I was quite soon after this given a tour of the JUMP manga offices?

That, and more, is to come, so stick by! <3

(265 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.

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