Foreign Affairs installment 1

Every single day spent in Japan has provided at least one stereotypical culture-clash moment. I have been documenting these little experiences in the form of snapshots and journal entries. My intention has been to compose one giant narrative, but I am realizing that such a post would take days to write and hours to read. I (and to a MUCH lesser extent, Boz) are a walking faux pas. The material is limitless. Therefore, I am pleased to announce and morally obligated to provide (for its inherent comedic value) my first regularly-occurring weekly column: Foreign Affairs.

This entry will grace the interwebs every Saturday for the next 10(ish) months. Without further ado, I bring you the first installment:


Thus far, I have unintentionally made it appear as though I travel around Tokyo in a relatively effortless manner. That is a complete crock of sh*t. Approximately 20 minutes, give or take 2.5 hours, of my day is spent in one of 3 ways:
  • Standing in the subway, staring at the map, and shaking my head in confusion.
  • Boarding the wrong train and pretending to be confident.
  • Almost crying.

This would be a sad, pitiable fact…if it were not for THIS GUY!!!!:

HELLO LINE FRIENDS!!!! I do not have THE SLIGHTEST CLUE what this cartoon is saying and yet he brings me inexplicable comfort. I first discovered him over the sumo weekend and it was love at first sight. As soon as I’m feeling overwhelmed and confused, I quickly scan the station, find ‘HELLO LINE FRIENDS!!’, and take a deep breath. I am fully aware that this makes me a simpleton…it is indeed a CARTOON…but it calms something deep inside of me. If this little dude thinks we’re fine hangin’ in the subway station…then ok…I can pull it together!

Signage (SPECIFICALLY for the english-speaking guests):

What. The.

Right on. Thanks for the guidance. Now I totally know where I'm heading.

Baked Potatoes:

Nope. No sir. That is not a baked potato. That may have potato PARTS…but that thing experienced something much more severe than a standard baking.


Cliched humor (among every American who's ever traveled to Japan)…but this is simply unavoidable:

Is the silence bothering you?? Performance anxiety gotcha down? No worries! Here we have some manufactured ‘FLUSHING SOUND’ to ease your mind. Boz LOVES this. I refuse to ever address this topic again.

Diet advertisements:

I’m not even going to try.


Those are all hot chili peppers (surrounding 3 pieces of chicken). This is essentially a plate of lighter fluid. be fair…this was labeled ‘spicy’ on the menu. I would love to see what the owners of this establishment deem an ‘exaggeration’.

Yellow Things:

Uh. I don’t know. Yellow sink squid?

I spent Wednesday morning shopping at Tokyo Hands. This is like a craft store version of Ikea…but with a more robust home goods department. I discovered this priceless gem in the laundry detergent/home cleanser department. I just don’t even know. I’m obviously going to need to purchase him…because he’s hilarious and adorable…but he clearly serves some purpose and I would love to know what that might be. Any suggestions are more than welcome.


My Tokyo Hands shopping trip was capped off with lunch at a hole-in-the-wall sushi place. This is the menu…located on the side of the building:

As always, I hadn’t the slightest. Lunch = pick a cute color and point.

This is representative of EVERY SINGLE DAY. It is humbling and motivating and eye-opening…and I am eternally grateful for every hilarious, priceless opportunity. Enjoy the column…and as always, thank you for reading.