Patient Zero

It has not been a good week for me, dear Reader.

I have been, frankly, sick as hell — to the point I’ve lost about a pound of body weight a day for the past four days due to not being able to keep any food down. Today’s pukefest was the straw that broke the dromedary’s back, and I decided to take the day off to get some rest and go see a doctor.

I enter the neighborhood clinic. I explain my symptoms to the doctor, a man who acts as if he’s in a terrible hurry despite the fact that I am the sole patient in his clinic.

“I’ve been throwing up for days,” I explain. “I have occasional hot-chills, and my joints hurt. I think it’s a flu bug.”

The doctor examines me. He examines me to the point where I want to smack him for prodding my stomach and asking, “How is this?” when the previous several prods have almost made me throw up and I have through gritted teeth informed him of such.

Finally, Dr. Prodder determines that what I have isn’t a flu bug but a stomach virus. He begins writing out a prescription.

“Also,” I mention, “I had to take a day off work for this, so could you please write me a shindansho?” I ask, using the word for a doctor’s certificate. As in, the thing that can prove to my bosses I was actually being seen by a doctor and wasn’t out getting piss drunk or something.

only“What would you like it to say?” Dr. Prodder responds.

This takes me back a bit.

You’re the goddamn doctor, I think to myself. You’ve examined me, now just put something about this experience on a piece of paper.

I look at him. He looks at me, obviously expecting an answer.

“Uh … That I didn’t go to work because I felt like I had flu-like symptoms, and that you examined me for it?” I ask.

Dr. Prodder looks at me, tilts his head to one side as if not quite understanding where I’m going.

“As in, mention your condition and prescribed medication?”

As sick as I am, I want to put my foot through the back of this guy’s head.

“Yes. Please.”

He grunts, scribbles something into my file and mentions that a shindansho will take chotto (“just a little”) more money. I say that’s fine. And then I’m practically being shooed out the door.

I’m told my bill at the receptionist’s window: 4,200 yen, or roughly $42. In America I wouldn’t have blinked at a bill like that, but I’ve gotten used to doctor’s fees here regularly being in the $5-$10 range. Regardless, I fork over the cash.

Once outside, I give my shindansho a glance-over. Unlike the last one I received for that time when the people of Tokyo decided to screw up my back, this one is actually handwritten.

And the writing is so terrible that I can barely make out what it says.

“Virus … Work … Medicine something. What the fuck is this?!”

I get frustrated, move my attention from the shindansho to the printout of my bill.

Visitation fee: cheap. Medicinal fee: cheap.

Cost for written materials — i.e., my shitty illegible shindansho:

3,000 yen. Thirty goddamn U.S. dollars.


Is it just me, or has Gmail been sucking ass recently?

The title pretty much says it all.

Despite my blazing-fast internets connection, Gmail has been painfully slow and unresponsive in the past few months– and that’s when it bothers to be up and functioning at all.

Things have gotten so bad recently that on more than one occasion, I’ve had to resort to my old Yahoo e-mail account.

Yahoo, for fuck’s sake.

Google, please. Fire whatever methylphenidate-addled intern you’ve got running the show right now and get things back on track. Seriously.

Yours truly,


p/s – Yes, I know this post has nothing at all to do with Japan. At least it’s sarcastic.

Fuckity fuck!

Sorry for the drop-off in posting, dear Readers. Who knew that unemployment could be so time-consuming?

The past week or so has been a flurry of resume-bombing, recruiter visiting, freelance translating and binge drinking (big surprise on that last one there). I’ll get back into the blogging routine as soon as I can, but for now let it just be said that, for as long as I’ve been doing this blog, I’ve felt a certain sense of pride in the rirekisho category you see there on the left. I can safely say it’s the best English-language guide to writing a Japanese resume that you will find, period. It trounces a lot of the Japanese-language guides I’ve seen as well.

It is also, I’ve come to learn, sort of crap.

Last week at the Hello Work employment service center, my counselor turned out to be an absolute rirekisho wizard. Or sorceress, I guess. She claimed not to have been doing the Hello Work thing for long and wouldn’t tell me what her previous job was, but she took a pencil to my rirekisho and the suggestions she made were incredible. My rirekisho pops in a way it didn’t before, and it’s all thanks to her.

peI have also, at long last, encountered that most dreaded of rirekisho — the kind that must be written by hand. Jesus H. Fucking Christ. That was not a pleasant afternoon.

In any case, I’m going to have to do some serious updating to the rirekisho walkthrough to incorporate this new information.


Say a prayer for my rirekisho. Say a prayer for this gaping-ass hole in my mouth where a sideways wisdom tooth used to be.

And say a prayer for my groin. Just because, as I’ve mentioned before, I really like the word “groin.”

p/s – Do magazines here really need to feature Korean actor/girlyman Bae Yong Joon, aka “Yon-sama,” on no less than five covers? I put to you that no, they fucking don’t!

Coffee prick

I’m an ornery person, dear Reader. This will come as no surprise if you’ve spent any time glancing over my profanity-infused writings. And perhaps because of this goddamn cold that won’t go away, or the fact that I was tossing back a Theraflu and vodka at 3:00 this morning while watching episode 2 of The Mentalist (a sort of silly show that nonetheless manages to entertain), I realized today that I also really hate this fucker.


Yes, you.

You stare at me on the trains. You stare at me from vending machines. You’re always either staring at me or looking contemplatively off into the distance. Who the fuck are you and what do you want?!

Apparently, the good folks at Kirin thought that this tosser would make the perfect poster child for their Kirin Fire line of canned coffee. They also thought it would be hip and edgy to make him a man of substance, a man of unswayable morals. Look no further than the incredibly deep tagline below.


“I hate … [dramatic pause] lies.”

Well, congratulations.

I hate your brooding countenance.
I hate your fortune cookie-like attempts at wisdom.
I hate your entire ad campaign.
But most of all — and I’m sure this comes as no surprise — I hate you.

Get a haircut and quit staring at me. Idiot.

Mr. Mouth-breather

Tokyo is home to any number of web-footed, mouth-breathing demi-humans, but there is only one Mr. Mouth-breather.

You will know him by his location. He has chosen to haunt the train lines of West Tokyo.

You will know him by his appearance. He wears boxy glasses and looks exactly like George Takei circa 10 years ago.

lemonAnd you will know him by his teeth, which are as blackened as those of any Edo-era courtesan.

Mr. Mouth-breather will, as is his wont, breathe on you. With his mouth.

It is a mouth that, though barely 7:30 am, will already be a potent mixture of coffee and cigarettes. And possibly decay.

Mr. Mouth-breather’s breath is such that, even in the artificially heated air circulating through the train cabin, it is palpably recognizable.

And unrepentantly potent.

Siegfried the legendary warrior may well have slain a dragon and bathed in its blood, but even mighty Siegfried would be given pause by the foetid fumes issuing from Mr. Mouth-breather’s dry, cracked lips.

Should you see Mr. Mouth-breather, make no mistake — the blast area of that yawning chasm of a mouth is an area you would do well to avoid.

You have been warned.

Idiots of the workplace

Like pilot fish clustering around a shark (an apparently quite deranged shark), Japan’s business districts tend to attract a few distinct, rather bizarre types of worker that are plentiful enough to be seen on a daily basis.

And predictably, I take issue with them all.

The Outdoor Napper
I understand you’ve had a rough first half of the day, Mr. Construction Worker. I can see how delivering things on your moped could be quite taxing, Mr. Transporter. But when noon rolls around, is it really necessary for you all to go lying on sidewalks, dangling over motorcycles or reclining open-mouthed inside your cars? In case no one’s told you yet, you look very, very foolish. Keep it up and I’m going to start sticking your hands into bowls of cold water.

The Bathroom Brusherwater
Dental hygiene is a good thing, so in that sense The Bathroom Brusher is to be commended. It’s his choice of brushing locales I find questionable. Personally, I associate the toilet with things like, oh, excreta and other dubious forms of particulate matter — sticking things in my mouth in there just doesn’t seem like the best of ideas. Especially when there’s a kitchenette right down the hall.

Incidentally, I have observed an offshoot of this fellow, The Inquisitive Bathroom Brusher. While the applying of toothpaste to brush and the brushing itself will begin in the bathroom, The Inquisitive Bathroom Brusher, or TIBB, will occasionally wander out into the hallway — while still brushing — in order to keep tabs on what everyone else is up to.

Golf-practicing Man
I once worked with a guy who would take his golf club outside on his lunch break and practice his swing — with no ball. Weird, but OK. At least he had a club.

The Golf-practicing Man of downtown Tokyo, however, will have nothing.

No ball. No club. Nothing whatsoever.

Yet practice his golf swing he will — in back alleyways, by the side of the road… Anywhere there is sufficient room for lateral arm movement and making an ass of oneself, there Golf-practicing Man shall be.

Sir, you are swinging at nothing. And with nothing! I put to you that this is a tremendous waste of time.

I once saw a variant of Golf-practicing Man, the elusive Baseball-practicing Man, repeatedly swinging his canned tea while passing through the doors to my office. It was the silliest thing I’d seen in a good while, and I hope my look conveyed as much.

bowThe Random Stretcher
There is no shortage of Random Stretchers here in Tokyo, and frankly I don’t know what their problem is. Stretching is always a good idea prior to engaging in physical activity, but most of these whackos look like the last time bit of physical activity they engaged in was heading to the toilet to go brush their teeth.

Without fail, The Random Stretchers’ stretch of choice is the bow-and-arrow stance, which they will enter into dramatically and start bouncing up and down, a spectacle that says, “Make no mistake, I am stretching, goddamit!”

That you are, friend. You’re stretching your hamstrings. And unless your job is to lift heavy objects with your crotch, I would suggest that you are in fact stretching the wrong body part. Not to mention making yourself an object of ridicule in the process. But that’s just me.

Mr. Slipper
I have a strong, almost irrational hatred of Mr. Slipper.

I understand the concept of the slipper — you’ll be at the office all day, so screw it, you might as well take the old shoes off and get into something more comfortable. So far, we’re in agreement. It’s the fact that you never change out of those slippers that makes you a silly enough bastard to get you onto this list.

When you go to the bathroom … When you walk down the street to get your bento … When you’re at the convenience store … When it’s fucking raining outside … There you are, undaunted. In your slippers. And on a good day, in socks shaped to fit around each individual toe.

You silly, silly bastards. A plague on your houses, all of you.

p/s – Just to show that I haven’t been entirely consumed by hate and anger, I’ll round this post out with a rather interesting person of the workplace. The first time I encountered this person, I thought for sure my ears were playing tricks on me. I walked toward the fenced-off construction site, peered through one of the slots … and sure enough, I had actually heard what I thought I’d heard.

While his fellow construction workers lolled around napping on tables or on the ground, one worker was seated in a chair — from which he played the didgeridoo for his entire lunch hour. As well as every subsequent lunch hour I’ve passed by.

You, sir, rock.

Stupid fucking teens, media bring “Uncle Hitler” to TV

Japanese TV, in case you hadn’t noticed, flat-out sucks.

Anyone who can defend the mindless crap that counts as television in this country (including such riveting entertainment as having a celebrity attempt to gain 22 pounds in a single week and then make fun of the newly fattened individual) should be locked up in a small cage.

cycoBut wait, there’s more.

On December 4th, pedo-bait “idol” group ℃-ute made an appearance on the television show “Yorosen,” which airs on TV Tokyo. In the segment 世界偉人DEN!, or “Legend(?) of the World’s Great People,” the group of 14-year olds you see here showed up in high school uniforms to discuss none other than 偉人のヒトラー.

Meaning, “The great man that is Hitler.”

Preceded by a small quiz as to the meaning of “Hitler,” in which the other members of ℃-ute slapped palms to foreheads and exclaimed, “Aargh! I’ve heard that somewhere before. What is it again?” ℃-ute member Saki Nakajima stood at the front of the class and began a lecture on good ol’ ヒトラーおじさん, or “Uncle Hitler,” remarking on the “soothing” manner of his speeches.

If only I were making this up.

The “Uncle Hitler” skit apparently sparked a firestorm on the internets shortly after airing, finally making it into the English-language media this very day, upon which TV Tokyo took the moral route and deleted fucking everything. Yes, the cowards have since removed the YouTube video of the skit, which was available until at least noon today, citing copyright reasons. Spineless bastards.

Japan Probe is hosting an embedded copy of the vid. Should’ve known those damn Probe guys would beat me to the punch. Watch the vid (with English subs, no less) while it lasts.

In their “apology” for the incident, TV Tokyo stated 誤った歴史認識に基づく不適切な内容でした, or, “The content was improper and based upon a mistaken understanding of history.”

Wow, ya think?

Seriously, did no one involved with this consider that maybe — just maybe — it might not be the best of ideas? Did no one pause to say, “Uh, guys, we may want to think about not doing this”?

In a stunningly obtuse follow-up, TV Tokyo remarked, 社内のチェック体制が甘かった, or “Our in-company check system was insufficient.”

Again, ya think?

You idiot child performers. You ignorant managers and program directors. All of you, go get a fucking clue.

Useless pricks.