One Short Hanami Season
“Mike and I enjoyed one fleeting season of hanami. Japan cherry blossom viewing”

Suteki! (Wonderful!)” Yoko-san exclaimed as she entered my room. “Suteki desuyo, Jo-san (This is lovely, Mr. Joe).” She examined the red cotton Indian tapestry hanging from ceiling to floor that split my room into the entry/genkan, and a...

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The Pickup
"Mr. Yamaguchi took the first shot of sake, refilled shortly after he placed it back down on the table."

The rest of the night started with Junko-san serving me English milk tea with two omochi,(Japanese rice cake) then placing a bottle of sake (Japanese rice wine) and an ochoko (shot glass) in front of Mr. Yamaguchi. Junko-san joined us with a pot of ocha (Japanese green tea) for herself, moving....

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A Dog, A Tigress, and The Stallion
“The Japanese culture was full of stories exemplifying traits like those of Hachiko”

As I reflected on the statue of Hachiko I'd just seen, I recalled my afternoon at Odawara Castle and the “hollow” samurai coat of armor. I now realized it hadn't been playing with my imagination. Even Japanese dogs followed bushido, to “after-life” extremes which seemed unfathomable....

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My “One-Shot” Day
“This is your captain speaking. Beam me up, Scotty," came the voice from the after-hours phone outside the barbed-wire fence behind the building compound."

From the very beginning, The Captain called me “Joey,” a name only my family, childhood friends, and parish priests back home would call me. By using my childhood name, I subconsciously assigned him to the role of a foster father, and his genuine interest in every facet....

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Scent of a Japanese Woman
"An attractive smell of her natural body odor escaping her kimono swirled over to me, extinguishing the fragrance of my musk, as she turned up the air conditioning fan to cool me down."

As I shifted my gaze to her red lips, smiling gleefully to see me, I sensed that they were pantomiming like in an old silent movie. The words coming out of her mouth went over my head unheard, as only a subliminal message seeking a response. “Jo-san konnichi wa. Hisashiburi! You wait...

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A Garden Room Send-Of
"The tiptoeing around cultural minefields, which had been an integral part of our relationship from the very beginning, had me exhausted from battle fatigue."

Jo-san,komban wa (Good evening, Mr. Joe),” Yoko-san said softly. She'd quietly entered the Garden Room and snuck over to my table unnoticed. I looked up at her. I choked up. She looked radiant—classically made-up like a geisha doll with her hair put up in a bun, but in Western....

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Uncultured Gaijin
"His life after retiring in Japan had been one long string of confrontations with locals, and he was proud to let his American friends know abut these spats."

I think most Japanese looked at Al as an ex-Navy gaijin bully who never crossed the cultural goal post of acceptability during his time in Japan—university “professorship” or not. He had perfected his game plan to always stay in the lead, by interacting with the Japanese from his...

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Within You Without You
“My first four months living on my own in Jindaiji marked the end of childlike innocence and isolation on Zama, which had shielded everyday Japanese life from me."

My back-to-the-future hairstyle and wardrobe were right out of the Beatle's Maharishi Mahesh Yogi days of the late sixties. I was hoping Yoko-san would look beyond my unfitted traditional Indian clothes and whiskered facial that brought the “Cat” back out of me, to know..

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