Friday, February 6, 2009

My Gaijin Uniform

Admin. Note: Once I get some batteries for my camera, following my adventures will become twice as riveting for you, lucky reader. I anticipate full-color, photo-realistic images to accompany my engrossing narratives. Until then, you'll just have to deal w/ my text. And yes, getting batteries may take a while. I'm lazy. Oh, I also intend to retroactively account for my first few days and perhaps even add a prologue explaining why I'm in Japan in the first place.

Moving on.

Today I got to feel more out of place than I usually do. I went searching for the National Art Center in Tokyo to check out the 12th Japan Media Arts Festival . Seeing as I have a degree in Media Arts (and Sciences, no less), this seemed an appropriate event. Anyway, I wisely chose not to print a map, reasoning that the building was pretty distinct looking and appeared to be fairly close to the subway stop. My reasoning was flawed.

As a result I spent my afternoon wandering around downtown (?) Tokyo. Maybe I need to just go ahead and invest in a guidebook.

However, during my leisurely jaunt, I noticed that my clothing does not really fit in with the local style. The Japanese seem to be really big on the uniforms. Parking lot attendants dress kinda like cops, maintenance workers dress like sci-fi movie extras, little boys dress like pilots, little girls like British constables, and so on. Downtown everyone wheres nearly identical suits and coats. 90% black or navy blue w/ a few rebels sporting gray or the occasional tan coat. (Editor: There's supposed to be a picture to verify this)

I, on the other hand, and wearing jeans and a T-shirt w/ a Pirates hat and down vest. I was looking pretty stellar by any standards, but surrounded by the swarms of suits, I felt especially conspicuous. I decided to just consider it as my gaijin uniform and go with it. Not like I'd buy new clothes anyway. (Editor: I might include a picture to prove how awesome my uniform is)

I also encountered the best English-speaker I've run across since arriving. I went into some take out pasta place downtown. Assuming that I won't be understood, I forego trying to speak and just dive in w/ the gesticulating at a picture of some Carbonara. After watching me look like a jackass for a while, the lady behind the counter asks, without even a trace of an accent, "Do you speak English?"

Anyway, it's almost 7:30 my time and I'm going to head out and see what a Friday night in Tokyo is all about.

A sidenote, I decided to purchase my first beer from a vending machine as I was headed home tonight. Tragically, it turns out there are none on my route. I had thought there were b/c I'd seen Kirin and Asahi vending machines, but it turns out the beer companies apparently also make most of the non-alcoholic drinks.


  1. I had the same thing happen when I tried to ask (in very bad Italian) if this woman would take a picture of David and me. I really think she rolled her eyes at me before she replied in perfect English with a slight German accent. There should be clearer indications of language skills, really.

  2. When I was in Sweden, I went to a McDonalds to compare (it's completely different). I ordered everything in Swedish, perfectly.

    Then I said "oh, with cheese" in English. So naturally the McDonalds lady switched to English as well. I had to pick a language to learn where 99% of the speakers under 60 speak English perfectly. At least if you pick up some Japanese, you will get to feel cultured.