A baby almost died at work today… So you want to teach English in Japan.

So I had perhaps the craziest experience at work today in which I came pretty darn close to seeing an eight-month-old baby die in front of my eyes.  I’m still pretty darn shaken up by the whole thing so I don’t think I’m really going to be able to write about it for a while.  Earlier tonight, however, I did record a stream of consciousness video about the jarring experience. (Note:  I may have dropped an F-bomb or two in the course of telling my story, so watch out.)

I’m not sure how common it is for couples to bring their infants in to English class in Japan but I’m hoping that I won’t have to deal with another choking baby in my class every again.  Seriously, I’m going to have sweaty nightmares about this day until the day I die or until Alzheimer’s blissfully erases the memory from my cerebrum.  Either way, this is going to stick with me for the rest of my life like the stench of poo in the hiking boots I accidentally crapped in on one of my boy scout trips years back.

What struck me the most is how casual the parents were about it.  If that were my kid, I would be crapping my pants and just generally freaking the fugg out.  Are they better people than me or worse than me?  I dunno.

So in conclusion, plastic kills babies, no matter how cute the kid is.

My suits are smelly and so are yours. (Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the Japanese fragrant suit spray)

So this job of mine requires me to be in full business attire all day everyday, full business attire being dress shirt, tie, sports coat and all the dressings.  Coming from the laid-back casual business culture of California, this has been probably the biggest adjustment for me in my move to Japan.  Not only have I had to abandon my beloved shorts and sandals (which are impractical during Mito’s cold winters anyways) but I’ve had to come in to work dressed like a big boy everyday.

At first this was a bit of a problem because, let’s face it, I’m anything but a fashionable guy (my idea of being stylish is throwing on the most random colors possible and calling it a day or dressing like Eddie Vedder circa 1995).  I could figure out the whole button-down shirt and slacks part because I’d worn those things before but when it came to ties, I was way out of my league.


When the day of my first job interview came, I actually had my mom tie my tie for me.  When the day was through, I simply loosened the tie and slipped it over my head and then reapplied it whenever necessary.  Practical and a sign that I’m obviously a genius? Yes.  A major stepping stone on my journery to full-fledged adulthood?  Not in the least bit.

The obvious drawback of my brilliant strategy was that all hell would break loose if my tie, in some horrible accident, happened to come untied.  Unfortunately for me, that happened before I even started packing for my move when, after a job interview, I absentmindedly fiddled with the thing around my neck and doomed myself to a life of tie tying and not being a total slob.

It hasn’t been easy.  It took me a good three hours to tie a tie by myself for the very first time and that came after hours upon hours of watching how-to videos on YouTube (note: Most how-to videos on the internet suck).  And even with that knowledge in hand, it still took me hours upon hours of practice to make my simple rudimentary knot not look like a pile of dog poo.  Even now, I still can only put my tie together in the most rudimentary of ways without it looking like a three year old tried to do it.

In other words, don’t expect me to be tying a foofy Chesterton Quadruple-Windsor knot anytime soon.  That stuff is way out of my league.

One thing that I have been able to do though is chose ridiculous colors for my ties.  Inspired by a binge viewing of Colin Baker-era Doctor Who, I was compelled to start wearing the most brilliantly obnoxious colors I could find.  Since my company is so stringent when it comes to its dress code, my ties are pretty much all I can get away with (and a lot of my students seem to like it, so there.)  Thus far, my bizarre tie collection only consists of a brilliantly puke-lime green tie with orange, blue, and white stripes (my go-to) and a milder tie with a pattern of what appears to be a picture of belts on it.  As time goes on, I certainly want to add to this collection because I am currently declaring war on your eyes.  And, honeslty, I kinda feel naked without a tie on now.  (No comment as to whether or not I wear one to bed.)


Watch out (insert famously fashionable celebrity here), I’m coming for you.


The concept of suits still confuses me.  “Here’s a jacket.  Just don’t wear it when you’re outside too much or you might ruin it.”  What is it about a sports coat or suit jacket that makes so much nicer than any other form of clothing?  Is it the fact that it’s intentionally missing buttons?  Maybe it’s the fact that you can’t throw it in the washing machine lest you want to waste three hundred dollars.

And yet, we have to wear them every single day.  I guess it makes us look professional.  I’m not sure.

What I am sure of though is that whoever these suits were actually designed for does not have the same shaped arms as me.  “The armholes go a half foot under where the shoulders are, right?”

Of course all of my suit problems may just be a result of the cheapness of the wares in question.  When all of your suit jackets have been purchased through clearance or sale, you’re bound to encounter some quality issues.

And since you can’t wash them, your suit jackets wind up smelling like wet dog turds by the second month in and you start having to sit in the corner of the office so as to not inconvenience your co-workers with your rotting stench.

Thankfully, the Japanese are big on clothing spray so your jacket can smell like a field of daffodils with a few swishes of the spray bottle. (As to whether or not spraying your suit makes it smell better, I plead the fifth.)

The Verdict

Overall, I’m enjoying the whole businesswear thing more than I thought I would.  It makes me feel accomplished and dapper and those are modest victories in my book.  Plus my new-found love for awful ties allows me to still be weird without being overly obnoxious (ha!).

In other words, now I’m an adult… but not really.


PS, go ahead and stalk me on the social medias and stuff if you’d like.  Hell, go ahead and dislike every single one of my videos on YouTube for all I care.

PPS, any thoughts, questions, or declarative statements?  Feel free to send them to me via the comments section here OR on twitter (@STEPHEN_TETSU).  I will respond to them.  Believe me.  I have absolutely nothing better to do.  At all.  At.  All.

Corporate airplanes are the prison cells of the skies.

I’ve never really been all that bothered by long airplane trips.  Sure they pack you into a tight enclosed space with some of the least comfortable seats imaginable and you’re essentially strapped in place of hours on end like some sort of mental patient in a Kubrick movie or something.  And then there are the several hundred other passengers also thrown onto the flight for good measure, some of them almost certain to be quite ill or small children who will undoubtedly spend half of the flight screaming like someone just sawed off their leg.  Sure (until recently) you’ve been forced to inexplicably turn off all your electronic devices for what seems like half of the flight because, in all their infinite wisdom, the world’s best and brightest apparently just can’t figure out how to make it so airplanes won’t explode because Cousin Jimmy is playing Angry Birds on his iPhone, forcing you to resort to (a) reading a book, or (b) cannibalism.

But with all those caveats, I don’t mind the mind numbing immobility of a long haul airplane ride.  Hell, I might actually like it.  In a modern world filled to the brim with all sorts of stimuli and crack-monkey culture, sometimes it’s good to just take a chill pill and enjoy the pleasantly tasteless monotony of airline food.

In terms of this bleak world of cross-oceanic airplane travel, my flight from San Francisco onwards to Haneda on Wednesday night was a freaking trip to Tahiti.  The main reason why?  Free space.

Unlike most of my other trips between Japan and the states, this flight was relatively lightly travelled, giving me an entire half a row to myself.  Add in the fact that I was on a newer plane (the ironically named Boeing 787 Dreamliner, I’ll get to that a bit later.) and I was practically staying at the Ritz.  Okay, well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration but it was still better than the usual situation where you have to stuff your full-sized adult legs into a space that could have only been designed for the legs of a ten-year-old girl and a small one at that.  The great thing about the new Dreamliner is that the in-flight entertainment system is new, in other words, not the 1980s reject systems I had to deal with all my other times across the ocean.  One thing not so awesome about the Dreamliner I was on: there was a constant buzz through the entirety of the eleven hour flight, meaning it was even more impossible to sleep on the Dreamliner than on the usual run-of-the-mill aircraft.

As per usual, the movies on the plane were either things I’ve already seen (Pacific Rim) or complete and utter crap (World War Z).  Since Pacific Rim was one of my favorite movies of the year, I didn’t mind watching that again but I want the two hours I wasted on World War Z back.  Spoilers: Brad Pitt saves the world and Peter Capaldi doesn’t use his TARDIS.  At least the screen they built into the seat in front of me was bigger than an iPhone screen like the old ones almost were.  Audio system’s still crap though.

Gonna make this a two-parter because a lot happened once I landed and I kinda want to keep posts coming at a normal pace/whenever I’m near a stable internet connection.


As I was writing this, I just experienced the first earthquake of my new life in Japan (only a 3 on the Shindo scale, magnitude 4.8).  My grandparent’s house rumbled and shook for a few seconds but nothing too major.  It’s an old house made of wood with paper thin walls, which means it’s freaking old but also durable when it comes to tremors.  How did I react to the shakes?  I stopped writing for a brief moment and simply admired nature at work.  I suppose I should have a little fear in me but what’s the point?  If I freaked out about every earthquake I felt in Japan, I’d probably be freaked out all the freaking time.

Hello Out There (Alternate Title: Are you There God, It’s Me Stephen)

By the time you’ll be reading this, I’ll have officially accepted a job teaching English in Japan at a private English school chain-company-corporation-conglomerate-thingy.  Not exactly the most exciting way to start off a brand new blog (Still looking for a good title, by the way), I know, but the truth nonetheless.

I suppose I should probably start this whole thing off by introducing myself since, hypothetically, there will be people reading what I write who know nothing about me. (The biggest hypothetical here is of course the contention that there will be people even reading this blog at all but that’s besides the point.)  So here goes nothing.  Here comes the deep philosophical avalanche in which my every deepest darkest secret is laid bare before your very eyes like your supper after a very long, very rough night of drinking.


Hey there,  My name is Stephen… or Tetsu… or both…  Honestly, I don’t care.  People screw up my name all the time anyways so I’m freaking used to it.  Anyways, I’m 22 (even though I look like I’m in my mid-thirties), a recent graduate from UC Davis, and a goddamn sexy beast.  Alright, so maybe I made that last bit up.  The rest of it is true.  Go ahead, try and prove me wrong.  I dare you.

So where were we?  That’s right, my favorite topic: Me.  I like many things such as (but not limited to) nerdy stuff like comics and Doctor Who and other stuff you’ve heard people talk about but were too cool actually care about, music (both the listening to and creating of), sports (everything except for hockey because, hey, if I wanted to see a bunch of alcoholics beat the crap out of each other for no good reason, I’d rather just pay a couple of hobos to fight to the death), and food (both eating and making, but mostly eating because I’m fat).  I don’t dislike many things but things that really curl my crepe include  douchey dudes who take advantage of really drunk (and/or otherwise incapacitated) chicks at bars/parties/company functions/bridal showers/Little Timmy’s Bar Mitzvah, angry drunks, humid heat (which, since I’m moving to Japan, is going to be an issue), wine, things that give me heartburn, and people from Seattle (unless you’re reading this blog, in which case, you are the freaking best).

I guess the responsible thing to do would be to elaborate upon some of these things but I’m a recent college grad so screw responsibility.  Well, kinda… Not really… I was one of those college students.  Since I plan on focusing on stuff that I like (primarily food and sports and pop culture-y sorta things), there will be posts introducing my views on those things in the days to come (I obviously have a lot of time on my hands at the present moment).  Hell, maybe if I have the time, I’ll explain why I hate what I hate as much as I do, although most of those things are tied to things that I like.

Anyways, I suppose the big question revolving around this blog/thing is a simple one: Why?

My answer isn’t nearly so easy to get across.  When I was younger, I used to write… a lot… Probably too much, come to think of it.  Be it melodramatic love poems (some which I’ve somehow managed to keep and could possibly come to share somewhere down the road), ridiculously insipid musings on stuff going on in my life (did not keep those, thank god), posts upon posts of writing for text-based RPGs (don’t knock it til you try it/I was really lonely at the time), and works of fiction that I mostly would start and never finish (still have most of those).  Then, sometime in college, I just stopped writing.  It’s been a few years now and that decision still nags at me like the ache of a bad dream.  Which brings us to this point.  (There’s definitely a lot more to this story than that but it’s five in the morning and I need my sleep so that’ll be a story for another day.)  I dunno what I’ll wind up writing but lord knows I’m going to try to write as much as I can.

So stick around and be patient.  I’ll try to make sure that patience is dutifully rewarded.

Thanks for your read-timing.



Pictured: I was obviously dropped on my head as a child.