Archive for November, 2007

Read the Air

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007 by Steph

We’re told over and over as foreigners living in Japan that this is a high-context culture. On an abstract level, this means that many things are left unsaid, and it is the listener’s job to tease meaning out of innuendo and implication. Practically speaking, this may manifest itself as imperatives in the form of polite suggestion, or outright refusal disguised as the slightest hesitation.

This quality of Japanese communication can be described by a delicious little phrase: 空気を読む(Kuuki o yomu). The literal translation is “read the air”, and it describes how you have to feel out not just what’s being said, but also what’s left unsaid. Just like “reading between the lines”, 空気を読む describes in a nutshell the necessity of ascertaining intent from the barest framework of spoken words.


Booty Call

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007 by Steph

At first, I thought it was my imagination. I was on my way to teach my first class of the week, which, as usual, means climbing flights of stairs to the top floor of the high school to teach the first years. My mind was on the lesson at hand, how to begin class, when… wait… is that… could it be… are those HANDS on my BUTT?


The Holiday That Keeps on Giving

Thursday, November 1st, 2007 by Steph

There’s something really satisfying about celebrating your own holiday in a foreign country. Maybe not the ones where you usually spend time with your family, but the other ones where there’s lots of silly customs and games, those are fun. Take this Halloween, for example. Because I don’t live in the states, I am not subject to the grotesque advertising free-for-all that comes with any major holiday. I have the luxury of ignoring the commercial aspects, and celebrating if and when I want. Cut to this week’s eikaiwa class.