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[ café latté -- the lighter side of anime ]

Yoriko: Behhh!

You know you've been in Japan too long when...

Compiled by Steve Fylypchuk ( ).
Check out Steve's homepage at:

Many of the entries on this page were originally contributed by members of the topic "Too long in Japan" in the "Parti" conferencing system at in Japan.

  • ... you ask fellow foreigners the all-important question "How long have you been here?" in order to be able to properly categorize them.

  • ... you talk about your holiday plans in terms of x days and x-1 nights.

  • ... you starting saying "Anou" instead of "Um" when speaking in English.

  • ... you are anticipating the shock/surprise statement "Oh, do you drink miso often" from a co-worker who happens to be standing beside you as you prepare your cup of miso.

  • ... you are preparing dinner for fellow gaijin friends and you wonder if they'll want bread or rice with their steaks.

  • ... you converse in Japanese with your gaijin friends, even though you both speak English.

  • ... you start to dream in Japanese instead of English.

  • ... you enjoy and follow sumo.

  • ... you realize you know more about sumo than your elderly English conversation students.

  • ... you believe that seafood and rice cakes are perfectly normal pizza toppings.

  • ... all of your exclamations come out in Japanese (itee! instead of ow!)

  • ... purchasing hamburgers or o-nigiri, etc. out of vending machines does not evoke feelings of concern or disgust.

  • ... you're not terrified anymore of seeing 1 to 2-inch long monster cockroaches flying or scuttling around your bedroom.

  • ... you start to like enka.

  • ... you *really* like enka, but you wouldn't tell anyone under forty for fear of being laughed at.

  • ... you go to karaoke for the pizza and snacks.

  • ... you start longing for a sweet potato, teriyaki, asparagus, octopus and corn pizza for the low price of $40 US.

  • ... you think that the "pea-rukku" (pair look) is a normal fashion genre.

  • ... you don't mind waiting three hours for an attraction at Disneyland.

  • ... you are surprised to find out your friend from Osaka likes eating natto.

  • ... you can tell your mother with a straight face that you have a bottle keep at the local snack.

  • ... you see a blonde person and think "sugoi gaijin da na".

  • ... you are not afraid of catching aids from bouts of illicit sex.

  • ... you wonder where the hell the couches are when you go to the local bank back home.

  • ... you meet people for the first time and you grope for a way to say "yoroshiku onegaishimasu".

  • ... you think there are 10 eggs in a dozen.

  • ... you start thinking that Japanese with blonde hair look good.

  • ... you think it's normal for motorcycles to drive and park on the sidewalks.

  • ... you think the "Speak Lark" guy is attractive.

  • ... you give the peace sign when someone takes your picture.

  • ... you forget what lite beer tastes like.

  • ... you no longer understand a relative's perfect English.

  • ... you actually believe that Australians say "to die" instead of "today".

  • ... you pour shoyu all over your steak.

  • ... who won the baseball game is actually more important than a cyclone wiping out millions of people in Bangladesh.

  • ... you see the attraction of pachinko.

  • ... you think a city of 175,000 is a "country town."

  • ... when you have to use your handy phone to call a fellow gaijin to help you and another English friend remember an (easy) English word that both of you for some strange reason cannot seem to remember.

  • ... you notice you've forgotten how to tie shoelaces.

  • ... you rush onto an escalator, and just stand there.

  • ... you find yourself bowing while you talk on the phone.

  • ... you think US$17 isn't such a bad price for a new paperback.

  • ... you don't hesitate to put a $10 note into a vending machine.

  • ... you are talking on the telephone to your parents and your father says, "Why are you interrupting my explanation with grunts?"

  • ... you see a gaijin get on the train and think "Wow, it's a gaijin!"

  • ... you start thinking can coffee tastes good.

  • ... you have trouble figuring out how many syllables there really are in words like 'building'.

  • ... you wait for the first day of summer to wear short sleeve dress shirts.

  • ... the first option you buy for your car is a TV set.

  • ... you don't think it unusual for a truck to play "It's a Small World" when backing up.

  • ... you really enjoy corn soup with your Big Mac.

  • ... you think the opposite of red is white.

  • ... you leave your expensive bottle of Royal Salute with a sleazy barkeeper and don't worry.

  • ... you can listen to the ads in FEN without falling around the floor laughing.

  • ... you appear for your first skiing lesson with brand new Rossignol high performance racing skis and an aerodynamic racing suit with color matched goggles. And then snowplow down.

  • ... you buy a potato-and-strawberry sandwich for lunch without cringing.

  • ... when you squat waiting for a bus to come.

  • ... you phone an English-speaking gaijin friend and somehow can't bring yourself to get to the point for the first 3 minutes of the conversation.

  • ... you stop enjoying telling newcomers to Japan 'all about Japan'.

  • ... you remember non-wanman (one-man) buses in the Tokyo area.

  • ... you think 360 yen per dollar is a reasonable exchange rate.

  • ... you automatically remember all of your important year dates in Showa numbers.

  • ... you think every foreign movie title contains the word 'love.'

  • ... people stop complementing you on your Japanese, and start asking you where you had your nose and eyes done.

  • ... you still remember your first drive in your brand new Toyopet.

  • ... you wonder why Prince Akihito is already getting grey hair, and why you don't see much of the Emperor these days.

  • ... you think Masako is beautiful and Hillary is cute.

  • ... you spend all your time trying to think of reasons why you've been Too Long in Japan.

  • ... you noticed 7-11 changed its o-nigiri wrapping houshiki for the 3rd time.

  • ... you find a beautiful way to eat natto.

  • ... you are not worried about speeding in the rain, because you know the cops are only out there in good weather.

  • ... you think birds cry.

  • ... you think "English literature major" is a polite way to say peanut brained bimbo.

  • ... you are not surprised to wake up in the morning and find that the woman who stayed over last night has completely cleaned your apartment, even though you'll probably never ever meet her again.

  • ... you get blasted by a political speaker truck and think "sho ga nai..."

  • ... you no longer think it's cool to stand in the "Japanese only" queue at Narita Immigration but instead "Atarimae."

  • ... you develop a liking for green tea flavored ice cream.

  • ... you're talking to your mother on the phone, and she asks you what "genki" means.

  • ... you think the best part of TV are the commercials.

  • ... you think wet umbrellas need condoms.

  • ... your mother talks about "you foreigners."

  • ... your children call you Otousan/Okaasan.

  • ... matter of fact, you've never even been skiing, but the rack looks great on the car.

  • ... you have mastered the art of simultaneous bowing and hand-shaking.

  • ... you think it's alright to stick your head into a stranger's apartment to see if anybody's home.

  • ... your top is thinning and you consider it doing "barcode style".

  • ... you find nothing unusual in a television commercial for candy in which a model dressed in a high school girl's uniform comes up behind another model dressed in a high school girl's uniform, grabs her left breast, gives a devilish grin, and skips away.

  • ... you think the natural location for a beer garden is on a roof.

  • ... you think that you can impress foreigners by drinking Budweiser.

  • ... you think nothing about seeing 20 ads for women's' sanitary napkins during one movie.

  • ... you have run out of snappy comebacks to compliments about your chopstick skills.

  • ... you think "white pills, blue pills, and pink powder" is an adequate answer to the question "What are you giving me, doctor?".

  • ... you remember when Yamamoto Linda came on at the very end of the show (NHK's Yume de aimashou) and kept her mouth shut.

  • ... you have discovered the sexual attraction of high school navy uniforms.

  • ... when you no longer find anything unusual in the concept of "Vermont curry".

  • ... you think 4 layers of wrapping is reasonable for a simple piece of merchandise.

  • ... you don't find anything strange about a city that puts a life sized, red-and-white painted Eiffel tower imitation in its centre, as well as a scale model of the Versaille Palace for its Crown Prince.

  • ... you are only slightly puzzled by "Melty Kiss."

  • ... a new gaijin moves to your neighborhood and you know immediately you will get his mail for a while.

  • ... you put a fork and a knife in your right hand and attempt to use them as chopsticks.

  • ... you think the meaning of a red traffic light is: "Hurry up! 10 cars now in quick succession, and then we'll think about slowing down."

  • ... you get on a train with a number of gaijin on it and you feel uneasy because the "Wa" (harmony) is broken.

  • ... looking out the window of your office, you think "Wow, so many trees!" instead of "Wow, so much concrete!"

  • ... you find yourself thinking "great it's almost time for Paul Harvey, have to turn on the radio."

  • ... you think NHK is "the Japanese BBC."

  • ... the Yakult lady knows you by name.

  • ... in the middle of nowhere, totally surrounded by rice fields and abundant nature, you aren't surprised to find a drink vending machine with no visible means of a power supply.

  • ... you think nothing of it when that lonely vending machine says 'thank you' after you buy a Coke.

  • ... you stand before a sign on a bridge and ponder the possible meanings of "Bridge Freezes Before Road."

  • ... it takes fifteen seconds of deep thought to recall the first name of the President of the United States.

  • ... you have a favorite bush to pee behind.

  • ... the TV commercials make sense to you.

  • ... a non-Japanese sits down next to you on the train and you get up and move. You're not prejudiced, but who knows what they might do?

  • ... you are outwardly appalled to see someone pour miso shiru over rice, but do it in private yourself (neko meshi).

  • ... having gaijin around you is a source of stress.

  • ... you only have 73 transparent, plastic umbrellas in your entrance because you have donated 27 to the JR and various taxi companies in the past few months.

  • ... you realize it's perfectly reasonable for the Post Office to designate you as the local redistribution agent for all letters addressed in yokomoji.

  • ... you absolutely do not possess the ability to mispronounce Japanese words "like a non-Japanese would."

  • ... you pay over 6000 yen for a lipstick and realize a few days later how much you really spent.

  • ... you're arguing with someone about the color of the traffic light being blue or green...and you think it's blue.

  • ... you think that, in a crowd of Japanese, the presence of another foreigner breaks the "wa," although for some reason your presence doesn't.

  • ... you are proud of yourself for beating the system by buying a case of Labbatt's Blue for 160 yen a can.

  • ... you can't have your picture taken without your fingers forming the peace sign.

  • ... you think rice imports should be prohibited, because Japanese consumers would never buy imported rice.

  • ... you forget how to spell simple words like "wear."

  • ... you think one kind of rice tastes better than another kind.

  • ... you rush home from work to catch the last few minutes of sumo.

  • ... you get a "Nihongo ga joozu" and feel really insulted.

  • ... you see a road with two lanes going in the same direction and assume the one on the left is meant for parking.

  • ... you think Japan has four distinct seasons and is unique for this reason.

  • ... you pull out your ruler to underline words.

  • ... getting ready for a trip you automatically calculate for omiyage and you leave just the right amount of space in your suitcase for them.

  • ... not only do you overcome your childhood training and spit out the mikan membranes, but you discover the knack of peeling the mikan so that the peel forms a neat receptacle for you to spit the membranes into.

  • ... you watch the grocer's with interest to see when the price of mikans will break.

  • ... on a cold autumn night, the only thing you want for dinner is nabe and nihonshu.

  • ... you return the bow from the cash machine.

  • ... you can't find the "open" and "close" buttons in the elevator because they're in English.

  • ... you think children should have to walk around in the freezing cold with only short sleeves and shorts up to their butt (to make them strong!).

  • ... you think that coffee goes perfectly well with squid pizza.

  • ... the Christmas music in the stores does not make you feel at all sentimental like it used to.

  • ... you can do arithmetic using man, oku, cho. and kei.

  • ... you sympathize with your Japanese student because her daughter is baka because she wears spring tops with winter skirts and you sit down to try and see what can be done about this wild child.

  • ... you count things with chuu chuu tako kai na.

  • ... you can't read your kids the Three Little Pigs without giggling when you get the part about "Not by the hair of chinny chin chin."

  • ... you bow to other drivers who give you the right of way.

  • ... you mention "Japan Times" and "objective" in one sentence.

  • ... you fully understand the concept of "cuteness."

  • ... you look forward to the porno reviews at midnight on Fuji TV.

  • ... you believe that the perfect side dish to eat with a juicy, deep-fried pork chop is a pile of raw, tasteless, shredded cabbage.

  • ... it doesn't surprise you that a case of beer has the same per unit price as a single can.

  • ... you think cod roe spaghetti with chilled red wine is a typical Italian dish.

  • ... "natsukashii" comes out of your mouth instead of, or before "what you're saying makes me so nostalgic that I must look like one of those wide-eyed manga characters with a tear rolling out of my eye."

  • ... you start to recognize BGM as a meaningful genre of music.

  • ... walking into a crowded bar full of non-Japanese makes you nervous, because they "look dangerous."

  • ... you buy a Christmas cake on Christmas eve.

  • ... you walk to the local 7-11 in your wife's shoes.

  • ... you run for the Yamanote line pushing people left and right, jump on the train holding the doors open to let your bag follow you on. Because you know there will not be another one for at least a minute.

  • ... you no longer pay any attention to what anyone does when you sit down beside them on a train.

  • ... you accompany your "no" by the famous waving hand-in-front-of-nose.

  • ... you're impressed with a girl with a 94 cm bust (Hosokawa Fumie).

  • ... you write or phone home and say things like "In Japan we..."

  • ... you find yourself apologizing at least three times per conversation.

  • ... you let your car idle for half an hour while you go shopping.

  • ... you find your self asking all your foreign acquaintances what their blood types are.

  • ... you find yourself practicing golf swings with your umbrella on the train platform.

  • ... you take practice golf swings on the train platform *without* an umbrella in your hand.

  • ... you buy an individually wrapped potato in the supermarket.

  • ... you think that "Lets SPORTS yOUNG gAY CluB" is a perfectly normal T-shirt logo for a middle aged lady.

  • ... you have to pause and translate your phone number into English before telling it to someone.

  • ... you order a "bottle of draft" in a pub.

  • ... you are speaking in English but all references to money come out in Japanese.

  • ... you go to a book shop with the full intention to read all the interesting magazines and put them back on the shelf.

  • ... you're careful to specify a non-smoking seat on the flight from Denver to St. Louis.

  • ... you ignore other gaijin in trains like they're plague carriers.

  • ... you forget to hit the bilingual switch while watching Clinton on the TV.

  • ... you schedule your commute around the availability of seats on the train.

  • ... you think Bosozoku are dangerous.

  • ... you think sushi at a baseball game is perfectly normal.

  • ... your idea of a larger home is an extra 10 square meters.

  • ... you leave your office mid-morning and go to a coffee shop in order to get some work done.

  • ... you go for a drink with friends back home and start pouring everybody's beer.

  • ... your sister starts making pointed comments about your American spelling.

  • ... you vow to gambaru before every little activity you engage in.

  • ... you pull up at a gas station and wait for a bunch of Norman Rockwell type attendants to jump out and clean your windshield.

  • ... you say that one of your hobbies is "doraibu."

  • ... you stupidly wait for a kampai at a gaijin party.

  • ... you think no car is complete without a tissue box on the rear shelf and a feather duster in the trunk.

  • ... you ask a gaijin colleague who wears short sleeves in October, "Aren't you cold?"

  • ... lunch is yesterday's leftovers out of a Hello Kitty bento box.

  • ... you draw a sharp distinction between "English" and "English conversation."

  • ... you use the "slasher hand" and continuous bowing to make your way through a crowd.

  • ... all of your December Sundays are reserved for Bonenkai hangover recovery.

  • ... you are disappointed when Dominoes doesn't have corn pizza, and the driver is disappointed when you forget the tip.

  • ... you glance at the clock and accurately predict the next line of dialog in the TV dorama.

  • ... you feel an irresistible urge to point your windshield wipers outwards when you park your car in a ski resort.

  • ... you go to a coffee shop in your home country and order "American coffee."

  • ... you put eleven 10 yen coins in the vending machine before you notice it's sold out.

  • ... you see some real cleavage and think WOW!

  • ... you buy tickets to a Tigers' game and spend time practicing the cheers.

  • ... you forget about July 4th, but get all worked up over Tanabata.

  • ... it takes you three attempts to fill in a check correctly (happened to me last night).

  • ... you have to think about it to remember what a 'check' is.

  • ... you develop the fine sense of Japanese manners that prevents you from facing traffic when you take a leak outside (sorry ladies!).

  • ... you enjoy drinking until you vomit.

  • ... you start shunning foreigners you meet far away from your metropolitan abode in Tokyo (they're probably not worth talking to, you know).

  • ... you remember when shouchu was not a chic drink drunk by high school girls, but rather one drunk under the railroad tracks by construction workers who never take off their haramaki.

  • ... you remember when the average Japanese person under about 30 did not have a telephone.

  • ... you remember when telephones were almost always placed near the front door and next to them was placed a little box or jar to receive 10 yen coins from people who stopped by to 'borrow' your phone.

  • ... you remember when public telephones had just been put out on the street that could be used for out-of-city calls as well as inside the city, and had a sign on them to indicate this new high-tech function.

  • ... back in the states for a short visit you patiently wait outside your taxi for its door to spring open for you.

  • ... you get great service with a smile at a McDonalds and you're not surprised.

  • ... you think every movie on TV is supposed to end with "Ikaga deshita ka?"

  • ... you feel uncomfortable carrying an umbrella that's not fastened on the subway.

  • ... you think Christmas Eve is not Christmas Eve without fried chicken and a gaudy decorated cake.

And finally, you know you've been in Japan too long when

it all seems. . .

. . . normal.

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