Culture Shock – Column

cultureshock200Culture Shock

Photos and captions by Chad Van Wagner, our man in Japan

Two years and counting, and I’m still in the middle of what appears to be absurdity.

Emphasis on “appears.” It’s easy to slip into arrogant mockery when surrounded by the unfamiliar, particularly when the unfamiliarity in question is one that is as wide-eyed and bushy-tailed as Japanese Culture. The willy-nilly embracing of English, regardless of actual comprehension, is bound to lead to the inevitable silliness, but who the hell am I to laugh? Seriously.

Who am I? I’m a smartass, that’s who. And God only knows what atrocities I’ve visited upon the Japanese language in my recent excursions in bilingual communication. Case in point: The words for “tits” and “full, because I ate too much” are remarkably similar, so I’ll just leave it to your imagination what transpired on one fateful evening.

Which doesn’t stop me from snickering. Shit, I laughed at Americans all those years ago, what, should I stop just because I moved?


culture-centerin

Well, I suppose that’s as good a name for tampons as any.


culture-cigarettelove

I know the Japanese have a reputation for, uh, “odd” attractions, but the guy in the middle really needs to take a cold shower.


culture-dogmilk

Ew.


culture-drunkkid

“Well, tequila made me crap myself during naptime last week, but Mad Dog made me hurl on my Hello Kitty tote…”


culture-excitingmuseum

Who says learning is dull?


culture-fishpetting

“Do Not Stroke Fish. Nor Shall Anyone Prance.”


culture-guitarwolfguy

“Of course not. Do YOU know how to play that thing?”


culture-kawabata

MARS NEEDS HAIR.


culture-onionscrotum

That’s supposed to be a bowtie. Really.


culture-pigass

Japan is ahead in EVERYTHING. Trust me, in two years, pig farts will be the biggest thing in advertising since celebrity endorsements.