Nagoya Writes

November 29, 2007

Coping Strategies For Gaijin by Sarah Winslow

Filed under: Issue: May 2006,Poetry,Winslow — usbengoshi @ 4:06 pm
Tags: , ,

Some study for their masters and some their PhDs
Or write a textbook or novel or even poetry

Some spend all their holidays traveling around Japan
Soaking in onsen, staying in minshuku, exploring ryokan

Some settle right in completely at home, find a Japanese partner to wed
Never returning to their own country, they build a house, start a family, pay off the mortgage instead

Some end up joining churches, some disguise themselves as priests
Some become addicted to sushi, going out for nightly feasts

Some are academic, become tenured professors
Act as counselors, advisors, father (or mother) confessors

Some gamble with pachinko, some gamble with stocks & shares
Some just spend time in sleeping to avoid ex-patriot cares

Some take up water-colour painting, some join a group for drama
Some even open nail salons to alleviate ex-pat trauma

Some study Japanese martial arts, some hang out at the gym
Working out with those little weights, perhaps a daily swim

Some sell organic vegetables, some sell Australian beef
Some make business trips ‘down under’ to swim the Great Barrier Reef

Some write for newspaper columns, some publish magazines,
Some watch TV cooking programs to master Japanese cuisine

Some join hash house harriers for running and for beer
Some join a Japanese chorus, sing a concert twice a year

Some study kanji and kana, take the Japanese exam
Some stand outside train stations where they try the phone-card scam

Some open cozy cafes and convenient little bars
Some escape to Gifu every weekend in their cars

Some get involved with sake, go out drinking every night
Some do tea ceremony, turn the cup the correct number of times, must get it just exactly right

Some turn into dorama fans, obsessing over Kimura and Tsuyoshi
And some haunt department stores, Maruei or Mitsukoshi

Some become followers of pop stars, Morning Musume or the Smap boys
Some ride with the bosuzoku and make a lot of noise

Some flee Japan in the holidays, travel around the hemispheres
Some work with homeless people, become soup-kitchen volunteers

Some organize committees: ‘foreign wives of Japanese’
Some start import businesses and sell us English cheese

Some rent and copy CDs, build up a huge collection
Some worry about their purpose here, obsessed with self-reflection

Some work in little bars, mixing cocktails, measuring shots
Some take photos, some sell jewelry, some paint pictures, some throw pots

Some collect exotic masks from their travels to foreign places
Some spend all their savings on their teenage children’s braces

Some fall in love with students, some just take them to bed
Others abstain but cheer their mates on, ‘full speed ahead’

Some even become geisha, mastering the art of the kimono
Some get into sumo, becoming fans of Akebono

Some support their kids in boarding school in Australia, Malaysia or France
Some attend evening classes: Spanish, Chinese, judo, salsa, belly-dance

Some organize gay discos, aids marches and demonstrations
Some visit temples, sit in zazen, get hooked on meditation

Some become computer freaks, spending hours in front of screens
Meet possible partners in chat-rooms, fall in love, sight-unseen

Some collect little creatures: doraemons, gromits, pooh-chans
The cooking gaijin buy exotic spices, expensive pots and pans

Some teach ecology, save forests and wetlands single-handed
Some sight UFOs, secretly hope the real aliens have landed

Some play in a jazz band, rock band, homemade jazz-band
Some go off with their girlfriends for a two-week fast in Thailand

Some cope by using sarcasm, have a good bitch and moan
In this country of over-population they feel isolated and alone

Some leave forever, then return each year for a visit
After all it’s perfectly natural to want to come back… or is it?

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