It started off in college in Hastings. I was a young student and in-between classes I used to be quite an active guy, hanging down the gym to work out and scope at women with great bodies - well, mostly the latter to be frank. However, there was this one particular girl that always caught my attention, who happened to be Japanese. I saw her time and time again, and her looks really started to grow on me, and after a while the idea of hooking up with this beautiful stranger seemef pretty appealing, and for months I'd dream of
the perfect situation where I could get talking to her. But there just wasn't much of a chance, and at the time, well, I guess I wasn't much of a confident guy. Not only that but I didn't want to find out she couldn't even speak English, or hated foreigners or some shit.
So, anyway, opportunity rose when two of my classmates Fadel and Anas (I know, don't laugh) invited me out for a few beers one Friday night. Down at the pub I met a couple of Spanish mates of theirs, who in turn started introducing me to their pals. Fortune had it that the babe from the gym happened to be in the same social circle as the Spaniards, and there I was, shaking her soft hand and introducing myself. Immediately we hit it off. Now, I wouldn't say I was the worst looking guy in the world, so usually I survived on a well-balanced staple of Scandanavian blondes and husky Spanish senoritas and thought the world couldn't offer any better, but after talking for a couple of hours with this amazing girl with the radiant smile and cute laugh, I realised that I'd never felt so attracted to anyone like that in my life. I got the feeling that she'd be up for a date, so I took a deep breath..shitting my pants that she'd say no..and asked her out to the cinema the next day.
To make a long story short, I ended up falling for her, and 6 months later we were living together in a double-bed one room flat.
Those were the happy times. She was great, being with her was so much fun, this sexy Asian chick. We never seemed to run out of conversation, and I just couldn't help but treat her like a queen since she took bloody good care of me through the good and the bad. It's funny, but the difference in culture only made life more interesting, it was never a problem, and I never would of thought that I could enjoy eating seaweed, but now I love it. It just seemed as though she genuinely loved and cared for me. Something that, sure, I'd had from my Western girlfriends before, but it was like she took those feelings to unexpected depths. In the end I really felt like I couldn't live without her. Being with her turned what was a passing interest in Japan into a passion. I'd liked my video-games and anime, so the idea of going to Japan seemed appealing before I'd even met my girlfriend, but being with her opened up a whole new state of wonder, and so soon my nights were spent dreaming of sunny days drinking sake under cherry blossom trees, high-tech gadgetry, the worlds greatest pyrotechnics, and neon-lit highways that writhe under monolith skyscapers as high as the eye can see. To be honest, I'd gotten tired of England. It just seemed as though I couldn't meet anyone who gave a shit about what was going on in the rest of the world. I'd spent a lot of hours entertained by stories from foreigners about their own countries, and I wanted to saddle up and see it all for myself. Travelling is in every Englishmans blood. The prospect of going to another country, and especially Japan, seemed mind-blowingly attractive to me. I started picking up bits of Japanese here there and everywhere, and began to make plans to go to Japan.
Unfortunately, my girl was just a foreign student in the UK to learn English, so when her studies finished, it was her time to return to Japan. Although it broke my heart to see her go, I promised I'd go to see her in March, and she said I could stay with her and her family if I wanted. I'd finished college by then, and had some spare time flying around in order to get a job, so for six months I typed crap into a database for some company and managed to save up some decent bread. However 6 months wasn't really enough to save up the kind of dough it takes to spend the kind of time I wanted to spend in Japan, and do the things I wanted to do. However, fate had already intervened by the time I boarded the plane.
Rewind to a few months after my girlfriend left. One day, I'm walking to my pals for some serious Tekken action, when I see three hard-looking bastards having an argument on the street up ahead. I could smell the signs that there was trouble brewing so I was thinking:
"Shit, better steer round these guys."
And so proceeded around them with my head to the floor. As I walked on a couple of heartbeats later I heard:
"Oi! You got a problem mate?!"..in British English that means you're fucked even if you didn't do anything. I was thinking to run, but too much alchohol had slurred my reflexes and before I knew it I was over a car bonnet, and barely had time to get up before someguys steel-studded foot cracked against my temple. These guys were no fuck-nuts so I knew it was fight or die, so I got up and managed to smack one of them in the mouth before he could do the same to me. It was a good punch and he went flying but, ah man, life just ain't like a Bruce Lee movie. And even if you think you're a tough guy, 3 against 1's pretty useless, especially if they outweigh you. Much as I'd like to say I Round-House kicked one in the mouth, and did the One-Inch punch on the other guy sending him crashing through a car window, all that really happened was that I shite kicked outta me. After wave after wave of punches I could barely see through blood that was clotting in my eye, and I actually remember thinking to myself during it:
"Oh man, so this is how I'm going out.."
But as luck would have it, they ran out of energy quicker than I did, and when I saw an exit I dashed away over a trainstation platform without looking back. I don't even know if they were following me or not, all I could think about was the fact that out of all the people I was running past, no-one bothered to help me out despite the fact that I was covered in blood. Human nature, what a pitiful creature it is. I'd lost a lot of blood so when half-an-hour later some cops came along to the phone-booth I'd called them from, I was taken straight to hospital.
My right eye felt like it'd been split in two. And when the doctor saw it he wrote in his report that I'd possibly never see through it again. When I gave the police my statement the next day, one of the cops said to me:
"You should apply for Criminal Compensation...You might only get 20 quid or something, but, well, at least it's something"
I have to say, after getting my eye-sight back the next day I was hardly fussed about applying for criminal compensation. As far as I was concerned I'd taken a good battering but at least I given one of them a sore jaw to go home with, and I'd identified one of them in some photo's the pigs had given me to look at. But my gf was insistent that I do it. And good thing to that I followed her advice.
Three weeks later in the post arrived some confidential post that looked like it came from the dole office, but when I opened it I saw that it was from The Criminal Compensation Department. It said:
"Kristian !&*##! you have been awarded ?500 for injuries and liabilities caused by the offence of...."
Well I didn't even bother reading the rest, my eyes were still fixed on that figure.
...well fuck me sideways and call me Sally! and there I was thinking I'd only get a tenner or something!..Needless to say, I booked my ticket to Japan two weeks later, sorted out my passport, and went to chase the girl of my dreams..Yes, that's right. Just as it is the destiny of every Pakistani in England that he or she shall one day become the owner of a corner-shop, so it seemed that it was written on the cards that this English bastard would one day make it to Japan.
I remember being on the plane thinking how weird it was to be the only guy without black hair, and for the first time in my life, I could see over 90% of the crowd. 16 arse-killing hours of plane flight late r, and I had arrived in Chitose Airport. I got through immigration and my heart was beating so fast I felt like I was E. Jesus what a rush. I looked around, and there she was! My lovely gf, waiting for me in the foyer. I met her family, and we went back to her place where we had a delicious meal, and her family listened to my crap Japanese. They asked me if I was tired, but I'd slept on the plane, and all I wanted to do was look around, it was all so amazing. I felt like the guy from Coming to America, in the scene were he shouts "Good Morning AMERICA!!" I was so happy. Only this wasn't America, this was J-A-P-A-N. I felt like I wanted to kiss the floor, or do some breakdancing or some shit. And I got on well with my gf's family, especially her pops, who I managed to communicate with on some caveman-esque level. Funny thing is that when I first met him I had come to the conclusion that he thought I was a prick as I gave him an expensive tie for a present which he took uncomfortably and carried around while we were walking through the airport without hardly a thanks. I found out later that there's a time and a place for giving gifts, and that time isn't when you've just got off the airplane. Anyway, I was just happy that the old sod didn't throw a rag at me and shout "Oiiiii..Kris-san Clean car! Wax On! Wax Off!..ouuussss!".
I can't say that at that time my Japanese was any good, and the Japanese comic books I'd read in England hadn't really paid off, though I often made my gf's family laugh by using the words I'd remembered from them in normal conversation. Actually I hadn't understood the words I was saying, I'd just memorised the passages, and had a vague idea of what they meant, yet I found out later I was saying stuff like 'I've gotta get out! This place is gonna blow!' and actually just meant to mean 'I think I'll go out because I'm a little bored'. And stuff like 'I did it! I really did it!' just to mean 'I've finished my meal'. Fun times.
The first thing I wanted to check out was what they sold at the local store. Call me nuts but I love doing that, going to a foreign country and seeing the differences between their Spar or 7-11 and our Spar (we don't have do 7-11 in the UK). So yeah, I did that, I bought a Japanese cheeseburger and some chocolate. Man, sorry to say, but Japanese chocolate to the excemption of some stuff I found called Sasha totally sucks and should be avoided at all costs. The Cheeseburger tasted good though, and they even heat it up for you in super-fast microwaves. And if you don't eat meat in Japan, you're fucked, because nobody is a vegetarian and besides it's pretty nigh on impossible to find food in Japan without traces of meat in it. That's what I like to see, a country that isn't afraid to admit that eating meat is goooood. It's healthy. In fact, better than that, it's natural. What vegetarians don't realise is that without the essential proteins for brain-growth in meat, human beings would never have gained an intellectual capacity wide enough to rise to the top of the food chain. Hell, we'd still be shitting in caves and running from tigers if it weren't for delicious artery-clogging red meat, so, lets have a hand for our less nonsensical ancestors who were happy to take a meat-cleaver to porky and not give a fuck, and a commendation for the clever guy who decided to slap two buns and some processed cheese on top of it. Oh and by the way, plants have feelings and emotions too you smug little vegetarians. It's a scientific fact that if you act happy around a plant it will flourish. So there. What I'm trying to say is that it's only the vegans I respect at the end of the day. Jesus what a rant that was.
Me and Pops really started to gel and he even asked that I start calling him 'Oto-san' which is.. er.. 'Pops' in Japanese. My Japanese daddy (good song title?) really came through for me when hefound me an apartment in Chitose when some 'so called' Japanese buddy of mine let me down when he was supposed to be putting me up in Nagoya until I found a place. Lucky for me he didn't otherwise I never would have discovered the Jewel of the Nile, Sapporo.
Sapporo is the biggest city north of Tokyo which a population of about 1.8 million. Not bloody huge but not bad being a quarter of the size of London. More importantly it was only 40 minutes on train from Chitose, so when the time came in Japan for me to write to my old dear and tell her how life was treating me in the sunny side up, I decided to head off there and try to find some sort of Internet Cafe where I could write to her and tell her about all the amazing things that I'd seen..well..alright then, to ask her to send over some vitals I'd left behind.
When I got off the train and landed in the big city I was surprised at how cool the place it was. I was expecting it to be Hicksville Tennessee since we are talking Hokkaido here, but instead I was barraged with a mini-metropolis boasting streets full of food stalls, hot chicks and big department
stores. More importantly I found some huge video-arcades, and I must've spent half a months rent blowing away 5 good hours in one until I finally got round to going to the Sapporo International Communication Plaza (Kokusai) and asking some really hot receptionist where I could use the internet. She told me of two places, one of which was pretty close, called Ants English School.
When I arrived at Ants I was greeted by some elderly Japanese woman, who showed me where I could use the internet. So I went online and did my thing, and an hour later I went to see her to pay and leave. She asked me to sit down and said in heavily-accented English:
"Do you know, as it happans I need some mooru goodu British tee-chars heyar."
I was like:
"Err..well, if you're asking me if I want to teach then I'd have to say no. I don't think I can do it, I've never taught before."
She said it wasn't a problem. But it was a problem for me. I could just see myself sweating as some 16 year old Japanese kid asks me what a fricative is and what's the difference between metaphors and allegory. The old lady saw my face contort in fear and calmy said:
"Well, thinku abaat it yes...Actewly, thar is sam yaang radies here, wood you rike tark them about Engurand or something? they intareisted in your caruture I sink, please jast for five minutes oright?"
I was wondering what the hell she was going on now, and I had come to the conclusion that the old lady was barmy after watching her 'shift' around the room whilst talking to me. All I could think about was escaping from the room, but being the polite guy I was I instead accepted her offer. Besides, I got an eyeful of the girls and they were both cute, so I thought I had nothing to lose.
I sat down, and didn't have a clue what to say and didn't know for what purpose those girls were in there. I guess I assumed they were just waiting for the old lady boss to teach them some English or something. So I just turned on the charm and started talking about England, myself, love, whatever. It wasn't too hard. I had years of experience living with people who couldn't really speak English, so pretty soon we were all getting along like we were old friends, and before I knew it an hour had gone.
The old nutcase came back in and said something in Japanese to the girls who all of a sudden left without hardly a wave good-bye to me. I was
about to leave the same way when woman suddenly handed me an envelope which I opened to find some yen inside. I asked her:
"What's this for?"
"Faast Engurishu lesson pay-cheku ne?"
I was confused. "Sorry, all I did was talk slowly to them about life and that, I didn't teach them anything. I didn't do any work at all really.."
"Ahh Yes! And that is what we Japanese cawl Engurishu Canvaasation Crass!"
I thought, nah, she is shittin' me, right? This has got to be a joke.
But it was all true, she was gonna pay me something like ?2 an hour just to talk crap, about nights on the piss, video-games, travelling, whatever. Oh man, what a job! So that's basically what I did for the
next 5 months, I became a bard.
I did start to teach 'real' English from books eventually, but oh man, nothing like we had in primary school. And when I ran out of ideas I just chatted the shit, or did daft things like ask my 'students' to pronounce properly things like cloves, clothes, close, and close (as in 43 Avendon Close). I can honestly say hand-to-heart that it was a joyful job to do. The old bird told me she told me she was happy that she'd found a guy who could speak with the 'nice Queen's accent'.
I told her that in England there's quite a lot of 'queens' with different accents, but if it takes longer to explain a joke than to tell it you start to wonder why you'd even opened your mouth in the first place.
So then after a couple of trips back and forth from Chitose, the old girl starts telling me about a place in Sapporo I could move into, called Happy House, which, although I found out to my great dismay later was a complete dump, there were other foreigners living there, the rent wasn't too much of a nightmare. At the end of the day I wasn't fussed because here was my chance to live in my paradise, Sapporo. I loved the place so much I would've probably let some guy bugger me for rent to live there by then, so I asked her where to sign, apologised to Oto-san for having to move out of the flat he'd only recently found for me, and moved into the city this page is dedicated to, and I will truly never forget. Sapporo, my Sapporo.
Well, much as I'd like to say things really worked out with my girl, things had changed a lot in the months we'd been separated. She'd found herself a job touring Japan, and I was stuck sucking my thumbs waiting for her to come back at the weekends. When I moved to Sapporo and realised she didn't want to see me even when she was back at home in Chitose, I knew I was slipping out of the equation. I should've suspected something was going on when she didn't even tell her family I was her boyfriend. She didn't have any time for me. We drifted apart. Personally I still had a lot of feelings for her, I mean, for Chrissake I'd come all the way to Japan for her, we'd been inseparable for nearly 2 years, and I still think the only thing that broke us up in the end was distance and insecurity, but what can you do? It's like what that gangster guy in the movie Bronx Tale says to Robert Deniro's son about women, and how there's only 3 great loves in your life, and the rest are just the gap-fillers. I guess I met my first great love in my Japanese girlfriend. I've yet to meet the second. I was as bitter as hell, but yet I would spend most nights getting beered up with my new found international house-mates.
But besides all that--
Do you realise how INCREDIBLY HOT JAPANESE BIRDS ARE? Bloody hell!, it's like the Land that Time Forgot, with all these foxy, exotic-looking Asian birds, with their perfect honey-brown complexions and big cute eyes to die for. I swear the minute I stepped off the plane I knew that English chicks just couldn't quite do it for me anymore!. Oh hell yeah did I play the field when I was over there. I'm sure Freud would probably say "You're playing of the field is an insecurity-driven adverse reaction to heart-ache and loss, and will only promote further inner-conflict and painful rumination when you awake the following day next to a strange girl"..but what the hell, you only live once, and it couldn't have happened in a better place!. Sapporo was choc-a-block full of great-looking women to fit all tastes and manner of appreciation. Yes my friends, this site is about Japan and all the wonders they won't tell you about in those other pages. Are you sick of reading lines like "As I reached the peak of Mt.Fuji a flake of snow fell on my shoulder reminding me of the tears I once weeped when I was a child..", or "The izakaya was rather small and I had trouble shifting my gaijin shape into the tight seating place.."..good, because you came to the right place!! Japan as it is, and not as it's written by some crusty nerd who thinks he's Jack Kerouac. Just the babes, the clubs/bars, finding love or just getting laid in the country that is as excellently cool as it gets!!