Japan Brain

I was introduced to the idea of Japan Brain by several people who've lived in Japan a lot longer than I have. Like 10+ years. And what they're saying really, really scares me.

Here's the deal: No matter how well we speak or understand the language, westerners in Japan live in some state or another of puzzlement. In other words, life goes on around us in ways we simply don't GET and probably never will (unless we're delusional, but that's a different problem). To compensate, we equivocate with phrases such as:

It's just how they do things here.

Hahahaaa ... no way!

Huh. That's makes no sense.

Okaaay ... whatever ...

Wait. WHAT??

You have got to be shitting me.

I really need to walk away from this right now.

Crazy Japanese mofos!

My personally coined reaction is "Effin Dough" courtesy of hat pictured above (that's me) I found in the local hardware store.

Seriously with the hat, you ask?

Oh yes. No dope allowed in Japan, perhaps? I do not know. Like I said, it's a constant state of puzzlement.

Anyway. To stop ourselves from jumping on the next plane home, we expats equivocate. We maintain an internal monologue to remind ourselves not only did we choose to live here for whatever reason, but we also respect foreign cultures, we're crazy mofos ourselves just to be here in the first place, and we're in this adventure whether we like it or not so we might as well enjoy it. Right?

But that only goes so far.

This continual state of bewilderment, combined with attempts at rationalization and/or justification, starts to wear on us and side effects set in. Eventually we give up, turn off our brains, and start going about our days in a haze of complacency. We're zombies basically. When I heard this theory, I instantly recognized it's exactly what's happened to me. I have Japan Brain goddammit! My gray matter is now mush. GREAT.

So if you're ever traveling in a very foreign culture like Japan and you see a westerner who clearly isn't a tourist and looks like they've just undergone a lobotomy – don't be afraid – it's just a long-term expat.
Yo! Put that on your hat and give it a barl, effin!

[insert your phrase of choice]


  1. Hahaha. I guess you're not in Vienna anymore. ;) My only question is how in the world are you able to look so good in selfies? I'd have dropped the phone and you'd only see either (a) the ceiling or (b) the side of my shoe. Sigh.

    1. I'm not a fan of selfies but simply HAD to get the hat. So officially this is a hattie. :)