Kanto City Office Worker bewildered by mixed-race families

Despite having worked in the Births Registration Section at Kakeochi City Office for sixteen years, and despite Kakeochi City having more foreigners than dogs within its boundaries, Katsurei Uketa still struggles with the concept of a family featuring a non-Japanese member.

City employees would feel shame if a new family were ever to leave this place smiling.

“Huh… The baby’s name is Natsumi… Parker… !?  And… she’s Japanese…!?” exclaimed the overweight and unfashionably unshaven 38 year old lifetime public servant.  As he took the forms from the beaming parents, Uketa proceeded to stare at them in the manner of a North Korean reading a book which shows Japan in a positive light.

Taking utmost care not to betray the fact that he serves people in exactly the same situation at least once a week, and that the procedure ought to be straight-forward with a minimum of fuss, Uketa’s only utterance for the next ten minutes is a laboured “Hmm…” as he handles the papers much in the way of a detective sifting through delicate yet incriminating evidence, his only reaction being to tilt his head every minute or so.

Failing to find even the smallest error that would allow him to unempathetically send the family away from his desk, Uketa humourlessly completes the paperwork and then abruptly directs the young family to another section of the office where they will be required to do just about everything they’d just done all over again.

I’d forgotten to get a photograph of Uketa serving a happy family, so I desperately grabbed a quick snap of him murdering a hamburger.

It’s a scene that occurs regularly at the city office, and precious westerners love retelling embellished versions of their encounters with friends at izakaya and British-themed chain pubs. But the experience from the other side of the counter is rarely heard, or even considered. Taking this gap in information on board, I decided to sit down with Uketa last week to shed some light on the matter.

While catching up with Uketa during his lunch break, he revealed that there is an international side to his actions, which can be seen when he stares at a form put before him silently for two minutes.  The poker face is, in fact, an instinctive reaction to any receipt of a formal document.  “I was trained by a stone-faced, elderly woman from the DMV in Ohio,” he says between highly off-putting chomps on a burger in the city hall lunch room. “My key takeaway from the course was to never act assertively or show an inch of initiative to help a client.  Staring blankly at a form for what seems like hours is all part of my training.”

In addition to the slow service, applicants are directed to purchase revenue stamps from this snack stand located across the road from the city office.

The pachinko-loving Saitama native also explained the perplexities he often has to deal with. “I can’t imagine how these people in international relationships meet, how they court, and how they live together. What happens in the house when the Japanese woman cooks dinner?  Can he eat Japanese food?  Can he use chopsticks?  Can he respond appropriately when his sexless mother-in-law tries to pleasure him at the kotatsu

“What about the relationships when the man is Japanese?  It must be hard for him using a knife and fork all the time and dealing with all those cultural differences. What about when they have sex? I guess he has to learn tag questions to confirm that she likes what he is doing to her every 30 seconds. What should he do when the woman gets into crystals and essential oils? It all seems like an enormously stressful way to live.”

Adventurous, yet poor, foodie treats herself to a KFC dinner matched with Asahi’s 16 Tea

“It was a meal that seemed to be calling out to me.  How can you say no to eleven secret herbs and spices which are washed down by tea featuring a blend of sixteen kinds of leaves and fruity goodies?” asks 27 year old Liz Austin as she describes her latest foray into exotic dining.

“Plenty of people tell me that deep-fried chicken is far from healthy, but I like to think that the herbs must count for something.  I mean, it would be super unhealthy if it didn’t have any herbs, right?” she ponders.  “As for the Asahi tea, I thought that my tastebuds were at risk of being overwhelmed by the blend of sixteen carefully selected natural ingredients.  I won’t lie; I was nervous before I drank it.  My senses aren’t as refined as those of the Japanese, so I wasn’t sure if I could handle such a complex beverage.”

Without the oriental conditioning behind her, Austin took a step into the unknown.  So, was it a step too far?

“Absolutely not!  I may not have been the first westerner to try this particular type of meal, but I believe that I’m the first to get loads of online karma for reporting on it.  I gave it a five-star rating, and I would urge all of your readers to try this amazing taste sensation.  People shouldn’t be afraid to try this kind of thing either.  And they should do it soon too, before major corporation shrinkflation hits the variety of herbs and minerals that they offer.”

Not everyone has responded positively to Austin’s accomplishment. So far one lone expert voice has challenged her decision.  “This is what we call a choc des goûts, a clash of tastes,” explained local chicken connoisseur Shitao Hawase. “Let’s look at the facts; chicken seasoned with eleven herbs and spices combined with a blend of sixteen varieties of natural goodness!?  My goodness! In this case, she has done her palate a disservice, and I fear that it’ll become a trend among impressionable young people.”

Austin is taking such feedback in her stride, perhaps weighed down by other matters. Despite the apparent success of the KFC & Asahi tea combination, the dispatch ALT from Alberta is finding that there can be an emotional trough between big moments.“To be honest, I’m a little depressed now, like that European guy who walked along the rope between the World Trade Centre buildings, or like that teenager who Demi Moore kissed as a birthday present.  Can anything top what I’ve just done!?”

Spanish Festival fan Atama Denbu responds to readers’ questions

Our January article (“Spanish Culture Enthusiast’s festival gets rained on”) has has resulted in a huge response from concerned readers, not only in Japan, but from many places overseas too.  Atama Denbu has kindly agreed to sit down to answer just a few of the questions about himself, his wife Kao, and their relationship that have been sent since the article was posted.  So, let the informal Q&A session begin…

Dily Dally:  Have you ever considered doing Spanish cosplay in the bedroom to reignite your relationship with Kao?  

AD:  Umm… This is not a good idea.  Kao isn’t really a fan of anything foreign.  She’s one of those Japanese people who goes overseas and refers to the local people as gaijin.  When we went to Melbourne last year she moped around on the first day complaining that there was nowhere to eat soba, which she rarely eats in Japan.  What else does she do…?  Oh, yes – she’s the type that will mention that it’s great to get back to Japan, the best country in the world, when we’re on the flight home from a place like Australia, Tahiti, or Fiji.  Quite frankly, she’s happy living in a concrete block apartment building, watching panel shows, and munching on rice snacks.

Kylie Webster:  Both you and Kao tried to pick up with the intention of getting action at the festival.  I guess that means you have a mutually-agreed open relationship?  Is that right?

AD:  This is where things get awkward.  I was hoping not to get this kind of question.  I’m all for openness and honesty though, so I’ll just say that neither of us have officially had suspicions, or confirmed or denied anything.  We certainly haven’t had a deep discussion over these kinds of things.  I don’t know what she’s doing, and she doesn’t know what I’m doing.  Sometimes I’m late home and sometimes she’s late home.  That’s just the way it is.  Don’t you wish you could have a relationship like ours?

Lauren Gibson:  Have you stopped, just for a moment, to consider that maybe, just maybe, you might be doing a little cultural appropriating with this Spanish obsession of yours?

AD:  Are you insane?  Do you want me to start talking about Davie Bowie and Kiss with their geisha-inspired make up?  That would be pathetic, because you and your question are pathetic.  For whom the bell tolls?  Hopefully, it tolls for thee.

Mario Santostefano:  What’s with the attraction to Spanish culture and flamenco dancing?

AD:  Like many Japanese people, I was born with a flat ass.  My ass is particularly flat and it’s embarrassing because there’s so much unfilled rear space when I step out in trousers.  I heard that dancing was one way to beef up the buttocks which led me to a dance studio run by a woman who had spent a lot of time in Spain.  As a result, I just kind of fell into flamenco dancing.  If you’ve seen the movie “Shall We Dance?”, you’ll get an idea of what it was like for me.  I had no idea what I was doing at first; I had two left feet.  Many years and hours and hours of practice later, you can see me on stage coming fourth in the flamenco dance contest and having women throw themselves at me.  Iberian pork is an extension of this too.  I believe that all pork products are good for adding meat to the bone.  I like to think that these days I have a rather attractive set of buns thanks to the dancing and the consumption of pork.

Stavros Georgiades:  Do you get excited about the other culture festivals?  If so, have you ever had any “success” at those other festivals?

AD:  I’m going to be honest with you.  Yes – I used to go to all the festivals.  Yes – I enthusiastically got into the spirit of each one.  Yes – I tried to fraternise with various women at these events.  But… I was let down… by an Englishwoman.  She said that she had attended school with one of the Spice Girls and told me what she was really like.   I was smitten and she became my everything.  But, she had lied.  She had told me the name of the football team that her Spice Girl buddy supported, but in a photo that Spice Girl is wearing a different team’s shirt.  When I confronted the woman I loved with the photo, she made up a lie to cover up her original lie.  Our relationship had lost its foundations, and that was that.  She used to make dinner for me, but she would boil everything for far too long.  It was like she was being spiteful, but she insisted that it was the traditional English way.  Surely that can’t be true, though, can it?  Bad things happened at other festivals too.  I got hurt.  This all led to me realising that there had only ever been one culture festival to which I belonged, and that was the Itali- oops, sorry – the Spanish one.  

Vernon Grant:  How’s the state of Kao’s dildo these days?

AD:  The old one had to be thrown out due to the mechanical problems that were mentioned in the previous article.  That meant that for Christmas I bought a top-of-the-line model from Germany for her, which is working out really, really well.  I guess that’s one foreign thing that Kao does like.  It throbs, it pulsates, and it whirrs.  It’s put a smile on Kao’s face. 

Fred Clifford:  As a man who is awkward with women, what are my chances of getting a girlfriend at a Latin dancing nite in Roppongi? My mother told me it’s 15 women to every man.  Are they willing to date a Japanese man or only Spanish speakers who are foreign?

AD:  Every man has a chance in Roppongi… as long as you can dance.  You’ve got to move with a woman, chant with her, and if you’re good she’ll take you home with her.  Be careful not to be too presumptuous though; she will not necessarily be trying to seduce you, sometimes she’ll just be looking to dance the night away.

Hector Rimington:  Where do you stand on the great chorizo debate?  Which side are you on?

AD:  Politically, I try not to subscribe to any of the isms.  Likewise, with chorizo, I simply choose whatever will suit the occasion.  You won’t find me on the internet calling someone an asshole just because they prefer their pork sausage diced rather than ground, or vice-versa.  Oh, I just worked some Latin into my answer.

Daphne Van Olsen:  Why don’t you just move to Spain?  If you like it that much, what’s holding you back?

AD:  It would be nice, but I don’t know if my skills are required in Spain.  Here in Japan I perform a vital role in which I plan the reinforcement of river banks using an abundance of concrete.  If there’s a place for me in Spain, perhaps a Japan Wanko reader could let me know.

Sally Elliot:  I feel sorry for you after reading about how Kao treated you so badly at the festival.  Does she usually behave that way?

AD:  I wouldn’t say that she usually behaves that way.  It’s basically only when I’m trying to enjoy myself. 

And that’s where we’ll end our Q&A session with Atama.  A big thanks to everyone for your questions. 

Spanish Culture Enthusiast’s festival gets rained on

“I’m half Spanish and half Japanese, so when I see a sausage I don’t know whether to eat it or shove it up my jacksie.” 

It’s a tired old one-liner that gets reworked into every mixed-race permutation, but it kind of summed up Atama Denbu’s feelings towards the end of the recent Spanish Festival in Yoyogi Park.  For 44 year old Denbu, the festival is the highlight of the year, however, while the Nagano-based civil engineer gets into the Spanish spirit of things, his wife Kao tends to throw muchos shade on his passion.

The bolero and cummerbund always guarantee a lot of attention from the ladies.

“Last year Kao stayed home.  She just wasn’t interested in getting on the train and heading into central Tokyo,” explained Denbu when I interviewed him towards the end of the festival.  “She said that she was boycotting the event because of bullfighting.  In the past she’s boycotted in solidarity with Catalan separatists.  All nonsense, of course.  She just stays home and watches boy band DVDs while munching on rice snacks all day.  This year she decided to come and spoil the day for me.  I think it’s because her dildo stopped pulsating.  It’s more than just a battery issue, so she’s been in a deep funk over it.”

Upon arriving at Harajuku Station, Denbu slipped into the disabled toilets and spruced himself up.  Fifteen minutes later he stepped out looking like a stylish matador, turning heads as he made his way to the festival site.  But it was during this walk that Kao offered her first upper-cut of the day.  “You’d wet your pants if a cow came within a few meters of you.  Bullfight!?  More like Bullshitter, or even Pants-Shitter!”  It was an observation that Denbu didn’t deserve, but the harder body blows were yet to come.

Casually dressed men found themselves slightly embarrassed to be in the vicinity of a finely attired brewer.

Chatting to the affable Spanish Cultural Attache, Denbu turned grey as Kao gushed that they were looking forward to “visiting Lisbon and Porto on next year’s trip to Europe.”  Still, Denbu was determined to get some separation from his wife and enjoy his big day out.  It wasn’t easy though as Kao did a good job of tagging along and ruining any interaction that her husband had.  Photographs, for example, were bombed without fail, and poor Denbu found himself cock-blocked whenever a hot, young woman began complimenting him on his clothes.   A twenty year old student stroking Denbu’s bolero, found her hand being slapped away with the warning, “Hey!  He’s my husband, and he’d probably just disappoint you anyway.”

Shutting his wife up became a priority for Denbu, so he seized the initiative and stopped by the chorizo stand to buy some lunch with the assumption that Kao would be too busy stuffing her face to embarrass him.  It wasn’t to be though, as she slowly made her way through her rectangular styrofoam plate of sausages, making sure to fellate every single one audibly in front of as many foreign men as possible.  “I love the good stuff from overseas,” she explained to one of the few good looking Mediterranean men in attendance.  “It’s why I’ve come here today.”  

The chorizo stand had a queue in front of it all day, as the punters couldn’t get enough of the succulent fare.

Emotions can run high at these Yoyogi Park festivals.  Some men will humiliate themselves as they walk around with the assumption that all the Japanese women are only there because they hunger for the men from the host country.  Indeed, the Jamaican Festival and the Brazilian Festival are huge sausage parties due to expectations of loads of horny women getting along for a day of hooking up.  Tensions usually hit extreme with so many egotistical men peacocking into one another’s spaces.  

Some women will also bring shame on their families by taking up offers of obligation-free sex in barely concealed nooks and crannies, which are well known to perverts and opportunistic cameramen. The dearth of handsome Spanish men in Tokyo, however, went a long way to cooling the sexual energy at this festival.  Horny Spanish weaboos should bear in mind that this is definitely not a recommendation that they make their way to Tokyo to fill the void.   Seriously; stay where you are.

The notorious Japan Cured Ham Association and their shameless lobbyists once again tried to muscle in on the event, but with limited success this time.

If there was any peak in sexual activity at this particular festival, it was probably immediately after the flamenco dance contest which took place mid-afternoon.  Denbu placed a credible fourth, which put him as hot property amongst the impressed ladies in the crowd.  The lie that he had made (“One of my grandmothers was born in Valencia.”) during the post-dance interview only added to his high popularity rating.   Bumping into the earlier bolero stroker, Denbu believed that he was on a winner. 

With his wife nowhere in sight, he hurriedly make his way to one of the passion pits behind the stage, only to find his wife there enjoying a moment of intimacy with the third place getter.   It was a scene that the still euphoric Denbu didn’t deserve to encounter.  With both of them unable to deny their respective situations, the husband and wife combo sheepishly moved back to the main event, leaving the third place getter and the bolero stroker the opportunity to get acquainted.

Dirty tricks; These tasty looking sandwiches were not sold out. Instead, rival vendors had placed black Xs over popular menu items to hinder sales.

It was then that I was able to sit down with Denbu for a couple of glasses of sangria.  Although no longer in a fiesta mood, Denbu was nice enough to share his thoughts of the festival, and his experience.  “I wouldn’t say that this has been the best Spanish Festival that I’ve attended, but it’s certainly not the worst.  That was in 2018 when the Japan Cured Ham Association hired macho guys in boleros with pert buttocks to promote their products. Kao wouldn’t have laughed at them. Apparently they blew their marketing budget with that stunt and haven’t tried doing it since.

“I’m not sure what we’ll say to each other on the train home, to be honest.  She’s been in a sour mood all day, and I ruined the one bright moment that she had.  He (the third place getter) was a handsome guy.  Kao did well getting some fleeting action with him.  But, we are a married couple and, as such, we ought to try to enjoy these events together.  Will we come here together next year?  Well, Andalusian horses couldn’t drag me away from this festival. Flamenco dancing is my life. It’s too early to say if Kao will come again but, let’s face it, we’d definitely have to establish some ground rules before that happens.”

The Hunted producer doing his best to get the movie canceled

“It wasn’t a bad movie.  It was alright, but it’s never got the attention that it deserved,” explains uncredited executive producer Dirk Flinders. “Christopher Lambert did a great job in his portrayal of a dorky westerner succumbing to yellow fever.  There was not reason to watch it beyond the moment when Joan Chen’s character was killed.  But, that’s the point.”

Flinders, an aging Hollywood industry type who’s by and large lived off his giant-sized trust fund for most of his life, has never been the talk of town, and time is running out for him to achieve some kind of fame or notoriety.  He wants that to change though.  He wants people crossing the street to talk to him and, if they don’t, he wants people to remind themselves that they must chat to him about the gossip that they’ve been hearing about him next time they have the chance.

“I’m against ignorance and blinkered thinking.  Why don’t young people react to my movie in the way they kind of got annoyed with Lost in Translation or that other movie with Chinese actresses instead of Japanese actresses (Memoirs of a Geisha)?  With The Hunted, they have a great opportunity to vent, to protest, and to chant my name after I tweet a well-timed retort.”

While taking credit for a movie when there is no proof of his involvement may come across as very brazen thing to do, I find myself warming to the veteran power-broker/creative adviser. His non-stop enthusiasm for such a dud movie starring a one emotion actor has to be admired. But, that enthusiasm definitely crosses into creepy territory as he focuses on the obvious high point of the film.

“I want people to channel their outrage towards this film.  There’s a Japanese woman looking sexy as hell in it for eleven minutes, but she’s not actually Japanese.  She’s got boobs to die for too, a juicy ass, and she’s seducing a European man. That fact alone ought to get bored Illinois suburbanites interested.  I want the steamy sex scene to be the gateway into the film, my film, being hotly discussed by the easily-outraged web-addicts around the world.

“Joan Chen had teenagers getting all hot and bothered downstairs when they saw her in The Last Emperor and Wildside.  Have you seen how many views that stuff still gets online!?  That’s an incredible amount of masturbating going on right there.  But she never got that kind of love with The Hunted, and I’m sure that must put her in a cloudy funk when she thinks about it.  So, I’m here to try to brighten up her day as well. Only more randy punters jerking to Joan will do that. 

“You see, I care about the artists long after they’ve worked on my projects.  That’s part of the old time Hollywood tradition of which I’m a custodian.  I was uncredited as an executive producer due to Hollywood politics and an unsavoury incident with a jealous ex-lover. But, I don’t play dirty. I’m a supporter of art. You won’t see me spilling the beans about who slept with which best boy or who relieves themself into stray buckets between takes.  I’ve read those books, of course, but I didn’t contribute to them.

“Let the podcasters, the YouTubers, and the Redditors love it and hate it, the way they’ll go on about Starship Troopers, Revenge of The Nerds, and 60s rock stars. It’s time to debate The Hunted, and it’s my job to see that it happens.”

Q&A with ALT of the year Kilbey Wilson-Piper

Kilbey Wilson-Piper. The man. The assistant language teacher.

Our September article (“The best ALT in Japan – Take a bow”) has has resulted in hundreds of responses from around the world.  Never did any of us imagine just how much interest there is in teaching in Japan.  In order to try to satiate readers’ curiosity, we have asked Kilbey Wilson-Piper to address a selection of quality questions, and he has readily agreed to respond.  So, without further ado, it’s over to you guys…

Latifa Malik:  How does it feel to be so privileged, a white man from a G7 country being able to easily move to another G7 country and smoothly get a cushy job?

KWP:  My goodness.  Try having my upbringing.  I dare you.  And trying growing up with such a miseducating mainstream media.  I didn’t know what a poppadum was until I was twenty, and I didn’t know that “soccer” was actually known as “football” in most other countries.  I still haven’t had the opportunity to drink ginger beer.  All those years reading Enid Blyton books and having no idea that ginger beer was just a soda.  I thought those British kids were getting hopped up after eating ice cream.

Angelina Scuderi:  ALTs are not teachers. Full stop. They are legally not allowed to teach, design or give any input whatsoever. Lazy Japanese teachers dodging responsibility have led to people misunderstanding what the job is.

The ALT program is about exposure, nothing else. Your job as an ALT is to be a friendly foreigner. A marketing project to make foreign language and, most importantly, foreigners less scary so kids may be more inclined to study. All they want is for a small percentage of students to say, “Hey, English is kind of cool and foreigners aren’t scary,” so they go on to study English in the future.  The goal is definitely not to teach English.

KWP:  Don’t say that, please.  There is a wide scope for the job definition.  Let me just say that I am a teacher.  Students only see me with the expectation that they are going to learn something.

Krystal Hastings:  Do you enjoy the full confidence and cooperation of the Japanese teachers with whom you teach?

KWP:  Good Question!  I’d like answer in the affirmative, but there are some teachers who change lesson plans unilaterally which makes me look like a schmuck sometimes.  I find that unforgivable.  I have a file of lesson plans which I’ve developed over the years.  These plans have saved so many Japanese teachers over the years when they’ve been out of ideas.  Occasionally a teacher will try to “borrow” my plans, but I’m not having that; they’re for me and my students only.

Tiffany Greenidge:  Are you like one of those dorky white guys who can barely look after themselves and end up with a Japanese woman who kind of adopts them as their husband, and the only thing that you’re qualified to do in Japan is teach your mother-tongue?

KWP:  Oh please…  I’m all about style and culture, and I often receive compliments from people around me.  I use no less than eight bathroom products before I step out of my house in the morning.  As for qualifications, I’ll just let you know that I worked as a junior records officer for my state’s land administration office for six years prior to coming to Japan. 

Jasmine Knowles:  How much does it bother you that you have to take orders, or at least directions, from someone who has just graduated from university?

KWP:  You’re assuming that I’m bothered by that!?  Let me tell you that I am part of the mentoring process for these graduates.  I’m usually teamed up with them because faculty leaders know that I can take the rookies under my wing and nurture them further.  What people like you need to understand is that there is pride and respect in any job, but that all depends on the pride and respect that you bring to it.  I find it sad that you’d expect me to be bothered by the age/seniority diametric in which I work, a diametric which is perhaps more common than you think.

Amber Portendorfer:  Do you have any friends in Japan?

KWP:  No, I don’t, but I think friendship tends to be overrated.  I once had a couple of friends here, but I had to greatly lower my standards to accommodate them.  One was Australian and the other was English.  They were both hopeless drunks who spent all their time trying to pick up.  It was embarrassing when we ordered at the izakaya because they’d both be trying to chat up the waitresses.  They were complete clowns but they would simply lie their way into women’s panties.  One would always say he was a film producer while the other would say he was an importer.  They both had a lot of success using that strategy.  I’ve always been too honorable to do that sort of thing.  Where are those guys now?  I think they both live with their parents back in their hometowns.

Roxy Nithercott:  I’ve heard that many ALTs are just perverts who like being around teenage girls in cute uniforms.  Are you one of those types?

KWP:  Unbelievable!  Would you ask a doctor or a pilot a similar question?  

Tiffany Rummage:  Do you go onto the roof at lunchtime in the hope that you’ll be able to see two teenagers making out?

KWP:  Oh, for God’s sake!  I am a professional, and I’m here to answer questions about career development and living in Japan.  Some of these questions seem to have been written by fourteen year old boys taking a break from beating off.  

Audrey Hepburn and the perfectly packed suitcase.

Dominique Raynott:  What kind of experience is necessary to become a good language teacher?

KWP:  To me, experience is a small suitcase like the one that Audrey Hepburn carried with her in “Paris when it sizzles”.  What’s in that little suitcase?  Everything.  Your childhood is in there.  Your family is in there.  Students don’t want to find out about those things, but they want to soak up your wisdom and techniques that have come from the contents of that little suitcase.  To come back to your question, all kinds of life experience is necessary to become the best teacher you can be.  Go to South Sudan and live in a refugee camp for a few months.  Live in a Kibbutz and fall in love with a man who’s older than your dad.  Hitch-hike from one end of Mexico to the other, and then hitch-hike back again.  Don’t forget to pack these experiences into that little suitcase of yours.

And that’s where we’ll end this Q&A session.  Thanks to all of you for your well-considered questions.

The best ALT in Japan – Take a bow

Enthusiasm abounds; Teachers have found that students arrive at school earlier on days when they are scheduled to take Wilson-Piper’s class.

It’s hardly a secret.  For years now Kilbey Wilson-Piper has been widely regarded as the best Assistant Language Teacher in Japan.   Traditionally a much-maligned and often ridiculed occupation, the role of an ALT is largely decided by the local teacher with whom they’re assigned to teach.“Some assistants are shoved to the side and used sparingly as a human voice recorder,” said the finely groomed 47 year old from New Hampshire, who now resides in Kobe.  “I’ve found that my role is the polar opposite of that.  The Japanese teachers just hand over the classes to me.  I can teach better than them, and they all know it.  So, they’ve come to realise that any contribution they’d make would be surplus to requirements.  They sit at the back of the classroom.  They don’t want to, but it’s a union rule; no gaijin can take the job away from a Japanese teacher.  Therefore, they aren’t allowed to lounge in the teachers room.  In this case the rule is a joke, but it’s one to which we must adhere.

“Usually the Japanese teachers will just sit at the back and mark essays or tests.  One female teacher texts her boyfriend.  I think she’s happy with him but, deep down, I know that she’d prefer to be mine.  I made a pre-emptive strike with that one though.  From the start I let her know that I’m married and living in a house in Ashiya.  I didn’t have to tell her about my house, of course.  But, I thought that it was important that she knew that I was successful, and not like those other teacher’s assistant losers who live paycheck to paycheck, forced to supplement their income by either working at Eikaiwa in the evenings or conducting weddings on weekends.  I decided, however, not to reveal that my wife contributes far more to our finances than me.

May we present, the best ALT in Japan. The earrings are removed prior to teaching, but the rest stays the same allowing for students to get the authentic, unadulterated Wilson-Piper experience.

“Teaching is in my blood,” explained Wilson-Piper, perhaps wishing to further distance himself from the other teachers who do the job simply because they have no other marketable skills.  “My grandfather taught English on an island in the South Pacific after World War II.  Apparently he loved it there, and only left after some not-so-dark-skinned babies started to appear.  He was forced to run to a ship as it headed out to sea, kind of like in a Hollywood movie.  He was quite proud of the chorus of clearly pronounced threats in English that were shouted from the docks that day.  For him, it was proof that his teaching methods were effective.  

“My father was also a language teacher.  He spent years teaching English in a Paraguayan prison after recklessly endangering the lives of bystanders during a high-speed police chase in the backstreets of Asuncion.  It was all a great misunderstanding involving a faulty tail-light, after police had observed him smoking in a no-smoking zone.  I don’t like to talk about it, to be honest.  The pain of growing up with an absent father still runs deep, and I don’t think I can ever forgive the US Consulate staff for abandoning my father to the court system of an undeveloped country.”

Responding to the continual rave reviews, executives at Wilson-Pipers dispatch company recently agreed to grant him a pay rise, taking his wage to $25 per hour.

Midara Kosei, one of Wilson-Piper’s Japanese colleagues (but not the aforementioned woman who texts her boyfriend from the back of the classroom) is full of praise for the immaculately presented American.  “I wasn’t sure what the pecking order was for the ALTs when I started at the school.  But then Kilbey took me aside and criticised all of the other assistants one-by-one behind their backs.  I’m so grateful for him putting the record straight before I had a chance to get to know any of them.  Some westerners are mega-ego heads, and Kilbey was there to tell me exactly who to look out for.  He even went further by backstabbing some of the Japanese teachers, which was helpful, although a little disconcerting. It was actually rather brazen, considering that he’s employed by a dispatch agency.”

“Kilbey has shown that he’s down with Japan, and I love that about him,” said English Department Head Teacher Haimen Kijoi.  “While other dorky assistants just go home and watch streaming services and argue on reddit,  Kilbey actively goes out and gets involved in traditional, but easily-learnt, Japanese stuff like tea ceremony and calligraphy.  Not much is expected of westerners in these areas so it’s basically impossible for a westerner to fail.  There’s such a low participation rate in these things these days that a teacher will pass anyone who bothers to turn up and hand over some cash.  Having said that, I respect Kilbey for pursuing these activities, particularly when you consider that his Japanese language ability is embarrassingly poor.  I think he knows how to say the days of the week, but not much beyond that.”

They’re happy because Wilson-Piper is their teacher.

But it’s not just wanky Japanese things that float Wilson-Piper’s boat.  He still likes to get amongst it at his local skate bowl to pull off a gnarly ollie or two, while on weekdays he can be found chilling in the teachers room playing super hero games on his phone while ignoring students’ requests to have essays checked.  “Japan has what I like to call a time-strict culture, so I’m just doing my best to fit in,” said the perfectly-coiffured veteran.  “I’m often told that I’m the best teacher in Japan, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t have some quality me-time when I so desire.  Do I feel self-conscious that my hobbies are kind of teenager-focused?  Not at all.  And I resent that question, to be honest.”

That me-time doesn’t just stop at the cellphone games at lunchtime though, it extends to his hair maintenance regime and even to his extra-marital affair with a Scandinavian woman residing in an stylish waterfront apartment.  Jana, a 27 year old reasonably attractive Swede with a real job, has been dating Wilson-Piper for four months now.  “First of all, I’d just like to say that his wife is probably banging a wealthy manager at her company, so don’t go judging me.  They are also childless and will probably stay that way too.  I appreciate how much time Kilbey takes choosing his outfits and fixing his hair and beard every day, but I could never take a 47 year old assistant seriously as either a lover or a peer.  I think he’s a bit slow, but he is good at his job.  He should be, as he’s been doing the same thing year in and out for ten years here.”

The man who provided the inspiration; Max Wilson-Piper, the grandfather of Kilbey, and the father of total English learning in the South Pacific.

And that’s where the real Kilbey Wilson-Piper comes to the fore.  Unlike the other ALTs who have a variety of backgrounds and jobs, Wilson-Piper is employed solely as an ALT.  Therefore, he’s available for more hours that anyone else, and deserves respect for dedicating his life to being an assistant, even when he’s assisting people who are 25 years younger.  The students appreciate his hipster fashion sense and attention to detail in coordinating his clothes. 

But, the meat of the matter is that Wilson-Piper famously takes the quality of his lessons very seriously. Japanese teachers have shared stories such as the time when Wilson-Piper berated a teacher who make him look bad in front of the kids by not giving him adequate material to cover, and the time when he wrote to the Board of Education in a bid to get a Japanese teacher fired due to a lack of positive feelings toward her.  He may have spent far too much time at a job with a notoriously high-turnover rate, but he’s prepared to care more about the stuff that doesn’t matter than others care about the stuff that does.  And that’s what really counts.

TV Series Debut: Hot & Bothard

The big boys are banking on Jaden Smith to bring in the big ratings, streams, and downloads.

Hot on the heels of Tokyo Vice comes a new crime series featuring two deputised cops working in Japan’s capital.  Starring Jaden Smith and Rupert Grint,  Hot & Bothard will be hitting screens across the world from September, and signs are there already that it’s only a matter of time before a second series is commissioned.

Damon “Hot” Somers (Smith) and Brett Bothard (Grint) are two foreigners who get dragged into a Police Box one day after walking across a crosswalk against a red light.  Instead of getting three weeks in remand without being able to notify loved ones, the pair quickly win over the policemen with their witty responses during questioning.  This leads to the pair being recruited by the police to handle petty crimes committed by other foreigners which the local cops don’t really want to deal with.

Rupert’s had to grint and bear being #3 for ages, but his time to shine has come at last.

The second episode, for example, sees the pair overseeing an initiative to stop the occurrence of go-pro arm initiated verbal stoushes on the sidewalks in the vicinity of tourist attractions.  The local cops make it clear that they’re sick of dealing with foreign tourists acting all high and mighty with each other, so Somers and Bothard are called on to take action.  With absolutely no training, the pair come up with unorthodox ways to solve the problem, earning them a pat on the back from the sergeant, who takes them out to a downmarket izakaya to congratulate them.  

The running gag in the series is that the sergeant is originally from Nagoya, and is stereotypically stingy, always conveniently forgetting to take his wallet to the izakaya at the end of each and every episode.    This is just one of the hilarious tropes wheeled out to keep the vibe of the show fresh and light-hearted, something that serves as a relief to the grittiness of the storylines.  Episode 5, for instance, features a young Canadian who has been ghosted by his sexy girlfriend.  Unable to face the reality that he’s probably just been dumped for a rich local guy, the Canadian visits the Police Box every day to demand that the police take action to solve the “kidnapping case”.

These wimpy and annoying little vehicles are bound to be featured at some stage, hopefully in a negative light.

Other episodes are expected to feature typical tourist-related stuff like Mari Cart triggered road rage incidents, oversized suitcases on the trains during morning rush hour, and one guy experiencing difficulty ordering a meal at Burger King.  From the trailer that I saw, he appears to stubbornly refuse to call a “Whopper Combo” a “Whopper Set”, thus setting off a seemingly innocuous international incident at the Ochanomizu outlet.  It quickly turns into a Dog Day Afternoon situation though, with Somers and Bothard called in to calm things down.

Eager to dispel rumours that this is just a cheap series which has been produced to surf the wave created by Naked Director and Tokyo Vice, studio number-cruncher Ira Steinmann stressed that couldn’t be further from the truth.  “This idea was floated years ago, but it was going to be set in Barcelona or Venice.  After the tourist outrage stories coming out of Tokyo and Kyoto, however, we decided to switch the location.  So, if anything, we’re cynically exploiting the tourist outrage stories in the news.”

Kitagawa Keiko will be kept busy in the lab analysing all kinds of body fluids from the streets of Roppongi.

During a promotional visit to Tokyo last week, I was granted a brief interview with the two stars in their hotel overlooking Hibiya Park.  Rather than an interview however, I was treated to a hilarious back and forth between the effervescent duo.  Smith kicked it all off by stating, “Grint has received the lowest amount of sexual advances out of all the young movie stars in cinematic history.”  To which Grint quickly retorted, “At least my character was 100% me.  Ask anyone who played the role of the Karate Kid and nobody, and I mean nobody, will say your name.”  

The non-stop banter,  a clear indication of how the two had become buddies beyond the screen, extends into nicknames that they’ve given each other.  Grint is usually referred to as “Freckly Balls” while Smith finds himself being called “Soaf” (Son of Angry Fist).  At one stage of our interview Grint took out his cell phone and pretended to get acting tips from Ralph Macchio.  Not missing a beat, Smith took out his cell phone and pretended to chat romantically, and have phone sex, with Emma Watson.  It was this good-natured ribbing which has me convinced that these guys have the right chemistry, and could even become the new Punch & John, or Crockett & Tubbs.

Asakusa takes centre stage in the series, which will probably lead to even more tourist pressure on the besieged sightseeing spot.

Predictably, online gatekeepers have made disparaging remarks about a series that they haven’t even seen, with people already getting their schadenfreude simmering on the stove.  “I wonder which one will butcher the Japanese language more,” wondered one poster.  “Jaden Smith won’t stop until he gaijin smashes as many aspects of Japanese culture as possible,” joked another.  There were some brave posts of support for the actors, but these were overwhelmed by a truckload of contempt.

Stateside reviewers have so far gushed over the chemistry between Smith and Grint, which has built tremendous interest in the new franchise.  “The only drawback that I can see here is Grint inspiring hundreds of redheads around the world to head to Japan” said Steinmann.  “I’m not sure if we’re ready for loads of mixed race kids with that particular background.”  It seems a trivial, and certainly far-fetched, concern.  What can’t be denied, however, is that this series has the potential to create a buzz on both sides of the Atlantic, leading to more tourists heading to Japan and the possibility of even more annoying tourist-related storylines being created.    

Okinawan base welcomes new air-conditioning mechanic from South Korea

American base residents in Okinawa have woken up this morning to the news that legendary refrigerator and air-conditioner mechanic San Hyon Kim will be arriving soon at the bequest of Rear Admiral Tom O’Loughlin. 

Kim has previously worked in maintenance and repair at bases overseen by O’Loughlin, where he earned the respect and admiration of the rugged senior officer.  “Mr Kim first impressed me with his diligence and reliability in Korea, but it wasn’t until I moved to Guam that I really came to depend on him.  Unlike his countrymen trying to manufacture stuff there to pass it off as Made In America, or the women trying to have a baby on American soil, Mr Kim was there with a sincere mission; keeping my nuts dry.”

O’Loughlin, a career officer from the city of Columbus in Ohio, explained at great lengths how sweaty and itchy testicles can be a hindrance while having to grapple with the problems imposed by vast distances, inhospitable terrain, unfavourable climate, and potentially dangerous enemies.  “Until Mr Kim arrived in Guam I was directing the movements of thousands of men around the Micronesian Archipelago.  all while sweat ran down my front and back, eventually pooling in my standard-issue underpants. The Navy air-con mechanics seemed completely indifferent to just how critical the situation was.

“You’ve seen Top Gun with Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer posing in their tightie whities?  That’s what I wear.  I imagine that I don’t look as sexy as those guys do in their jocks though.  Those guys were really buffed in that movie.  Yeah… So many chicks in the cinema got wet watching that stuff, although it was aimed at homosexuals too, apparently.  I guess it was a sex-charged movie for everyone.  Millions of throttle pushing teenagers must have converted their bedsheets into mini hard decks every night back in 1986. That’s how powerful that silhouette scene was.

“Navy pilots have always enjoyed getting the action stateside, whereas regular guys like me consider themselves fortunate to get the exotic women in the tropics,“ continued O’Loughlin.  “It’s not a myth, either.  If you’ve seen “Mutiny On The Bounty”, it’s something like that. Contrary to what you may have heard from Vietnam Veterans however, the women do care about personal hygiene.  That’s why this sweaty ball situation was such a concern.  There was a need for me to keep it all nice and tidy downstairs.  I was going through truckloads of talc and vaseline, but in the tropical conditions my nether regions still looked like they had been on a coast-to-coast Motley Crue tour.

“I don’t want to hear anyone referring to him as “that Korean guy” or even  “the air-con guru”.  Thanks to Mr Kim, I’m able to sit here in comfort, with testicles and an ass crack dry and free from sweat rash.  This is all thanks to Mr Kim.  I expect everyone here to show him some God damn respect by calling him “Mr Kim” or “Sir”.  Do you have any idea how difficult it is to oversee a patrol roster with sweaty balls?  We’ve got competing interests playing cat and mouse every day.  We are dealing with a delicate back and forth situation where every inch is critical.  Hang on… Now I don’t know if I’m still referring to the state of my balls or these military games that we’re playing.”

O’Loughlin has stressed that his new assistant should be held in the highest regard by everyone at all times.  “He may be a civilian, and he may not have a green card yet, but my balls are in his hands.  He knows all the techniques to ensure that they remain in a healthy state.  If I hear one story about someone disrespecting Mr Kim, I’ll make sure that the person involved is sent to live amongst those knuckle-dragging inbreeders in Saipan, or even to Wake Island to go slowly insane from the extreme isolation.”