YoMoYaMa online magazine Editor in Chief Molly Conner
Associate Editors Shannon Lough and Tonya Kneff
Layout and Design Daniel Pierce
Cover Design Daniel Pierce
Contributors Nicole Arnold Katrina Barrie Joey Bourke Peter Bussard Tony Ciero Melissa Cramoline Cousin Courtney Lee den Haan Justin K. Ellis Ryan Hicks Zach Hoel Erin King Tonya Kneff Shannon Lough Madilyn Marshall Nick McKay
Megan Montfort Rus N. Daniel Pierce Tom Read Sorin Ridgeway Browne Cade Robbins Wes Robertson Stephen Rodgers Thirim Son Joe Stephenson Vera Sticker Sabbi Topal Dan Whitehead Shima Yamauchi Grant Peterson
Letter from the Editor Dear Readers,
The first lie that I can ever remember telling, I told my mother. That’s pretty typical for a three year old. We were in the car, on the tail end of a family trip. I looked down at my thumb and noticed that it had been cut. I didn’t how it had been cut (in hindsight, it was probably the result of what turned out to be a lifetime cuticle-biting habit), but I looked my mom square in the face and told her, “My friends cut me, but I forgave them.”
Obviously, the holes in this story were clear right away. We’d been away from home for well over two weeks and the cut was an hour old. I was three. No one “cuts” a three year old. Not even I’m that street. Also, three year olds don’t have friends and are completely incapable of forgiveness. Yet, without any thought given to it at all, I tried to deceive my mom. Deception’s intrinsic – it’s as natural to us as speaking. The instinct to lie takes on a new dimension out here in Japan. We’re put with a set group of people that we have to find ways to get along with. While we click with some of our fellow gaijin easily, other cases take a bit more work. The latter can necessitate a very unique combination of boldfaced lying and blatant honesty. In some ways, I’ve been more deceptive and more truthful out here than I thought myself capable of back home. This issue of Yomoyama, the Deception issue, looks at both sides of that coin: deceit and honesty, truths and lies. If you want to know what your friends are holding back – what they really think and what really don’t – put your judgments aside and read on. Sincerely (maybe), Molly
D Table of
Special Feature: Deception
The Science of Lying by Thirim Son Misconceptions and Preconceptions about Japan Deceptions from Home Deceptions from Japan Deceiving Ourselves Lies my JTE Told Me School Lunch is Delicious! A Childhood of Deception Lying to a Lover Lying to Your PA Productive Conflict Between Friends Lying to strangers
28 30 32
Autumn: One Fatal Flaw
Pan’s Labyrinth Recipe Review Deceptively Delicious Apple Crumble
A Player of Panmunjom The Site of Reversible Destiny
Shooting the Sacred Cows of Money
The Thief by Sabbi Topal
39 The Average Nagano-ite The Worst Lie You’ve Ever Told
LIES why LIES LIESLIE
look at how and we
by Thirim Son
By Thirim Son
truth is we all lie.
here are, of course, two types of lies – the big fat lie and the little white lie. The big fat lie is the one we tell when we want to look good in front of our friends or co-workers. Or when you want to impress the cutie in the corner and tell her that you’re earning $100,000 a year when really, you work at McDonalds. In other words, these are the self-serving lies that we tell in order to gain an advantage. The little white lie is what happens when your friend buys a new pair of shoes that you think look hideous (Seriously? Orange leopard print pumps? Blargh!), but she loves them, so you say you love them too. These little white lies are the altruistic lies we tell in order to maintain our relationships with each other and allow for smooth interactions. Surprisingly, we all lie just as much as each other, regardless of gender. Both men and women tell about twice as many big fat lies as they do little white lies, except for when there
are two women interacting. In that case, there are just as many white lies as there are big fat lies. In a study that had random strangers talk to each other for ten minutes, each person lied an average of three times. Interestingly, each person thought they had been completely truthful until they reviewed a tape of the conversations, showing we’re all such proficient liars that we don’t even notice half the time!
The main difference between men and women’s deceptions are in what we lie about and how we do it. When lying, men are most likely to lie about the things that will garner them respect from other men and women, i.e. their job, how much they earn, how tall they are, etc. Women are more likely to lie as a means of creating social cohesion or de-cohesion. Example? Saying someone’s baby is really cute and you can TOTALLY see the resemblance, even though everyone knows most babies look like miniature versions of the same ugly old man. Or when a rumour spreads that So-and-so is sleeping with the boss because A-certainsomeone is mad that they skipped out on a lunch bill last week. Men tend to be more direct and blatant in their lying, saying “No, I didn’t,” after they’ve
eaten that last ice cream in the fridge that I EXPRESSLY told them I wanted!! Women, on the other hand, will tend to skirt around the question, or tell half truths, like that time I said that those new shoes weren’t very expensive because they were 50% off (50% off $500 is still 50% off, right?). Men are also more likely to lie about bad investments or financial choices, whereas women will lie to hide the extent of their spending habits. One thing that’s interesting to note is that men tend to “exaggerate” upwards and women downwards – guys are always taller or make more money than they really do and women are always younger and lighter. In a 2006 study in Norway, they found that when faced with an anonymous partner and given the power to lie and gain a monetary advantage, men were more likely to lie than
women. On the other hand, the unsuspecting victim was uniformly trusting regardless of the gender of either party. This was, of course, a study of the interaction of strangers where the consequences of a big fat lie were limited. The more socially and emotionally invested we become with each other, the more incentive we have to keep our relationships smooth. That is, the more entangled we get, the less inclined we are to risk our relationships for the sake of a big fat lies. On the contrary, the more that a relationship develops, the more little white lies might increase to make sure things keep running smoothly. Everything written above is, of course, generalized and about perceived tendencies – not everything applies to everyone. If you read this article and thought, “Nope, that’s not me, I never do any of that,” then kudos to you, you big fat liar!
graphic created by Daniel Pierce for Yomoyama
The YomoYama staff asked a survey of questions about the deceptions that cloud Japan for current residents, former ALTs, and their friends and families.
“What misconceptions about Japan do your friends and family back home have?”
One of my old coworkers asked me if they had toilets in Japan. –Justin K Ellis, ALT My parents were convinced JET was just a human trafficking racket and I'd be forced to work in the middle of nowhere Japan. Oh, wait... –Thirim Son, ALT The only thing that's coming to mind is the time I was wearing a green army dress of mine and some dude asked me if it was a traditional Japanese outfit. (What.) –Vera Sticker, ALT
My family was convinced that Japan is a third world country and that I'd be teaching classes to children, “outside under a tree with flies buzzing around.” –Joey Bourke, former Nagano-ken ALT My brother-in-law is convinced that it’s the Japanese that eat dog and I keep telling him it’s not! –Melissa Cramoline, ALT It’s the geisha robots taking over that my family is concerned about. –Jared Maier, ALT That Japanese students are all incredibly studious, mathematically inclined, and don't spend all day plotting new, more inventive ways of groping you. That cell-phones and other technology are more advanced and cheaper than in the Western world. Might have been true ten years ago... now? Not so much. –Joe Stephenson, ALT Used underwear vending machines on every corner! People walking around with pillows as girlfriends! Radioactive goo flowing like lava! Dogs who bark en Español! –Molly’s Cousin Courtney [Ed. I apologize. She drinks.] Some of my new friends were surprised to find that Japan is big. As in, they thought it was a small collection of islands off the coast of China. “No,” I said. “It's twice the size of the UK, putting it somewhere between Germany and Sweden.” That everything is okay up north now. That Chinese and Japanese people speak the same language and that it is OK to speak about Japanese culture to a Chinese person. –Tom Read, former Nagano-ken ALT Everyone is 3 feet tall. –Wes Robertson, former Nagano-ken ALT Japanese people eat sushi every single day. –Shima Yamauchi, former Nagano-ken ALT That excessive use of the bidet function of a washlet causes your ass to atrophy. I just heard this one and "an article" was cited. –Anonymous At any moment Japan is going to implode from the amount of natural disasters they’ve had. Every time they turn on the news they call me. –Nick McKay, ALT
Crosshairs What lies or misconceptions about your home country do Japanese people believe?” The only thing about NZ I have heard is that everyone thinks it is super hot like Australia and super close, like a ferry ride away. -Cade Robbins, ALT Being from New Zealand, I am constantly correcting people, telling them how our summer isn’t hotter and our winter isn’t colder than in Japan, just because we are in the South, not too far from Antarctica but close to Australia. It doesn’t mean we have both extremes. New Zealand is definitely not the sweaty bum-hole that is Tokyo in the summer. We also don’t have to put toothpaste and shampoo in the refrigerator in the winter to stop it from defrosting. Also, letting them know that other countries also have four seasons. It is pretty clear-cut in Japan with where one season ends and one starts, (sometimes it feels as if someone just turned on a switch, nek minnut it’s winter!) but c`mon I have seen leaves turn red and yellow before! –Lee den Haan, ALT I once gave a lecture at a university in Nagoya on life in the American South. Afterward, a student raised her hand and asked, “If you're really from Alabama... Then why can I understand your English?” On that day I found out that apparently it's a misconception that people from the South all speak like Yosemite Sam or something. –Ryan Hicks, ALT That Americans have never used chopsticks before arriving in Japan. –Madilyn Marshall, ALT My host family last summer thought that every American ate a big slice of cake after dinner every night. Some of my friends thought Americans went to bed wearing shoes… I don’t even wear shoes in the house, yo! –Peter Bussard, CIR
Japan is Tokyo S
What misconceptions about Japan or Nagano did you have before moving here? “This is my third time to live in Japan, but before moving to Nagano I still had a few misconceptions hanging around (and probably still do). Two years ago I would have scoffed at the notion of driving in Japan or even needing a car at all. Living in Nagano has changed that completely. I've always seen Japan as laid out in this ultra-convenient, high urban density fashion. Nagano has some areas that bear a striking (and eerie) resemblance to my home state of Alabama. Things that went through my mind during my first week in Nagano: “Drive-thru Coco's Curry House? Madness!” “I have to go up and AROUND the mountains to get there?!” “Where's the machine to put my train ticket? Hey, why isn't anybody in this train station....” –Ryan Hicks, ALT Lots of people, lots of buildings, lots of lights, lots of cars and lots of crazy technology. That’s pretty spot on until you make your way into inaka. –Lee den Haan, ALT My misconceptions were that the old people would all be sporting amazingly long white beards when they are all clean-shaven and that everywhere outside of Tokyo wouldn't be as flat as it is. I also thought everyone lived in shoebox size houses when most are really reasonable. –Cade Robbins, ALT That all technology would be futuristic. –Madilyn Marshall, ALT I thought Japan would be high-tech and futuristic no matter where I went. Then I landed in Hakodate last summer and was greeted by trough toilets. I don’t care how hygienic they’re supposed to be, I always feel like I’m going to soil my pants in those. –Peter Bussard, CIR I thought Japanese people were good at speaking English. –Nick McKay, ALT That I would live near a train station. – Justin K Ellis, ALT That it would be cooler in September -- at least in Nagano. But goddammit, it is STILL 30+ –Megan Montfort, ALT
I thought the trains would be more convenient. I was wrong. –Melissa Cramoline, ALT
I actually thought my town would be so small there wouldn't be any chain places. I imagined it to be like some of the more mist-covered parts of Kiso. –Tony Ciero, ALT I had it in my head that I couldn't get socks that would fit me out here. Half of my suitcase was stuffed with socks. –Molly Conner, ALT
Yama Asks: What untruths do you see purported daily in Japanese society? Japanese people are NOT always on time, but you should always be a little early –Anonymous …untruths from Japanese mouths, daijoobu when things are clearly not ok would be one, the lengths they go to recycle and yet they burn all their paper is another. -Cade Robbins, ALT Finding an untruth in Japan is as easy having a conversation or eavesdropping. Untruths are found in Japanese all the time. Whether is pretending to act as nervous as possible to show your inferiority with the short “eh……. eh………… eh……….” to acknowledge your listening or going the extremely long way about asking a simple favor: “sumimasen, yubinkyoku ni ikasete itadakemasuka”(would it be possible for me to receive your blessing of allowing me to go to the post office?). I know where I come from, a simple “hey bro I`m off to the Post Office, be back soon” would suffice. Over-politeness is a big part of the Japanese language and culture. You definitely see people not quite being themselves because of this sometimes. However, once the enkai begins all that gets thrown out the window and you get to hang out with your real work colleagues. –Lee den Haan, ALT You speak Japanese very well. –Zach Hoel, ALT I have a hard time believing that every single shop-person is that happy to help someone who is so confused and so inconvenient. –Madilyn Marshall, ALT I don’t think drinking what is basically heavy cream for lunch every day is really good for you. Also those arm sleeves are ridiculous. If it’s a matter of skin protection then fine, but is pale skin worth wearing wool in the summer? –Peter Bussard, CIR
Shoganai and Ganbarre. I hate those words now. “Ah, shoganai.” YES YOU CAN. Don’t shoganai me! –Nick McKay, ALT
Is it ever okay to lie in a relationship?
’m one of those who tout the seemingly contradictory cliché, “never say never.” It seems that everything I thought I would never do (have sex with someone of the same sex, cheat on a partner, hurt a best friend, like natto), I’ve done. It's experience, not intention, that guides this belief and makes me wary of ruling out any possibility. It’s with this premise that I approach the subject of lying to a boyfriend or girlfriend. I can honestly say that prior to my first real relationship, I never thought that I would cheat. Then one day, I did. I have absolutely no regrets about the cheating or about the fact that I lied, never telling my boyfriend about it. I once read that telling someone the truth (after lying about it) is really quite selfish as it is a means of making you feel better. If you’ve been carrying around a secret or lie, telling it to someone else can seem like a burden has been lifted. Of course, in the case of cheating, the burden doesn’t just go away; it’s now placed upon the shoulders of the person you’ve told. If said person happens to be the one who was cheated on, telling him or her could totally destroy the other person and ruin your relationship as trust takes only a moment to destroy. In the long run, you may feel free and glad that you came clean, and you may even have a higher opinion of yourself for having the courage to tell the truth (though I would suggest the latter is a bit of an inflated ego—real courage would have been telling the truth right away). I said that I didn’t regret telling the boyfriend that I had cheated on him, and it stems from this idea of unloading as an act of selfishness. The fact was that I no longer wanted to be with this boyfriend. I didn’t know it at the time of the affair, and had I not cheated, I may not have realized just how much I wanted out of the relationship. When I finally broke it off, he was devastated. We had been together for two years and had made long term plans together, even going as far as opening a joint banking account. When he asked me why I was breaking up with him, I gave him a list of reasons we shouldn’t be together: I was going off to school, we needed time apart to figure out and pursue our own goals, long distance is hard and expensive, etc. But one thing I did not tell him was that I had cheated. Why would I? At that point we were already broken up. He already felt horrible, and though I was ready to move on (and had in a sense), I wasn’t heartless enough to crush him further. And when he asked me, “Is there someone else?” I looked him straight in the eyes and said, “No.” Though we can simplify lying and say that you either lie about something or you don’t, the circumstances that bring about the lie are rarely that black and white. So my advice on lying to a lover? Think long and hard about where your relationship is going. If you’re truly in it for the long haul, then don’t lie, or if you do, admit your mistakes as soon as possible (laugh if you want, but Carrie in Sex and the City 2 shows a great example of this). Lies can fester the longer they sit, so it’s better to “man-up” and get the truth out there while there’s still time to repair the damage. If, on the other hand, you’re like I was and in a relationship that’s going nowhere fast, then ‘fessing up to past lies will depend on your motive. If you want to be free of the burden no matter what it does to the other person, then go ahead. But if you’re about to break up anyway, why make matters worse? Ultimately, I think it’s important to remember that secrets always have a way of coming out. If you care about someone enough, there won’t be a need to lie. And if you think there is, then you should probably also be thinking about whether or not a relationship that needs lies is worth it.
Lies My JTE Told me by Lackadaisical snowboarder
ies, eh? I don't know if I was necessarily lied to about lunch in the elementary and junior high schools, so much as had the reality glossed over a bit. I had heard that the food was nothing to write home about, and when I started working in junior high school I was moderately prepared but still appalled at the quality of food I was forced to eat. It seemed that there was one day of completely edible food punctuated by four to six days of barely edible food. However, it was the days when the four items on your plate were items a starving person wouldn't even consider as food (not including the milk, which always stayed the same). It's hard enough when you have to force yourself to eat one or two particularly unappealing food items, but when the entire tray would better serve the feral animals and insects that frequent dumpsters, then you're in for a rough lunchtime. And, you can see it on the faces of the students as they're trying to force down food before they regurgitate what they've already masticated and ingested. Looking around the classroom on these special days, one thing is obvious. While students can stomach some foods and will even trade or take things that you don't want to eat, there are many things they abhor.Â A few years ago, during winter, when my food had sufficient time to cool off and become stale and stagnant (at one of my schools my lunch is prepared sometimes twenty minutes or more before the students eat), I came back from class after fourth period to one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse sitting on my tray.
On the way to the classroom where I was spending my lunch, the JTE assigned to that classroom came up alongside me and said, “Can you eat fish?” To which I replied, “Hmmm...Sometimes.” He smiled. I did not. The fish was a thin slab of tail (maybe), breaded, and covered with some slop that was supposed to be the sauce. The sauce had cooled and congealed. I wanted to ask him if he enjoyed eating this shit, ‘cause it was obviously a cruel joke by whatever kyushoku center imagined up this nightmare nourishment. Instead I said, “Do you enjoy kyushoku? He smiled and said, “Oh, of course! We all enjoy kyushoku. And, it's important to eat everything.” Really? You all enjoy kyushoku with a big smile on your face? What a liar. Anyways, as I entered the classroom I could see that today's lunch had even put grimaces on the faces of the normally genki first years. I wouldn't have any luck pawning my food off on any of them. As with any lunch in a junior high, I started with the least appetizing item on my tray and ate as much as I could, without inhaling to keep myself from tasting it. Occasionally, I would shovel cold rice into my mouth to cover the aftertaste. By the way I was picking my fish apart, the students could tell I didn't like the food. And, I could hear them mutter under their breath, “Oh, **t* sensei doesn't like the fish either.” You're kind of right, there, kiddo, but actually *a** sensei wouldn't even consider this tabemono as a good prank to someone dying of hunger. As they called for gochisousama, I still hadn't finished the fish. I thought I could sneak it back into the metal bin without anyone seeing me. Wrong. As I was dumping my fish into the metal bin some kid looked at me and said, “Tabenaino?” No, I'm not gonna eat it, shorty. I smiled and dumped my fish into the metal bin. To hell with etiquette. However, as I was walking out of the classroom, more than half of the kids in the class dumped their unfinished fish back into the bin.
Lesson of the story: We all enjoy kyushoku. Bullshit.
It's important to eat everything. Bullshit. Just make an honest attempt at eating it and dump what you don't want back into the bin. Or, just dump what you don't want on a student’s plate when he or she isn't looking. If you're feeling confident, you can always janken your food away, but if you lose then you have to eat their portion.
A Childhood of Deception: A Beginner’s Guide to Torturing your Sister Anonymous
he worst lies I’ve ever told, in terms of their lasting effects and their egregious nature, are the lies I told to my little sister when we were growing up. My older sister was complicit in some of them, but others were the children of my own mind. I’ll tell you about the two nastiest here. See, my older sister tormented me mostly through facts. For example, I didn’t touch honey for over 15 years after she told me it was bee vomit. Silly, maybe, but the things you learn but don’t understand at age three and four can have a pretty strong influence on your behavior growing up. Three or four is probably about how old my little sister was when I started using lies to prank her. It might be that I resented her. She would often get her way when we played pretend simply by virtue of being the youngest. What a baby! Well, I showed her. She’s still afraid of the dark and deep water to this day.
The fear of the dark came first. It was a process. Every night I would turn out the lights and hide in the bathroom attached to our bedroom. She would come in, I would jump out from behind the door, and she would scream bloody murder. I found it hilarious. The lie was this: every single night, I promised that I would never, ever do it again. And she believed me. Every night. I eventually got tired of it, but by then I had unknowingly instilled a deep-seated fear in my sister of being alone in the dark. I didn’t realize that it had stuck with her until we were in high school. At one point my mother told her to go to the freezer in the garage and get something. I forget why, but the outside lights weren’t working or something and no one could find a flashlight. My sister refused to go. Mom got angry, yelled and made demands, and my sister just got more and more adamant and upset. Irrationally upset. And
that’s when I made the connection. She was honestly afraid of the dark! Not being lazy. Not being stubborn. Just afraid. What if someone or something jumped out at her from the dark shadows around the garage? I should mention it was a separate building, about 200 feet from the house, with dusty corners full of sharp tools and unknown insects. Not the cuddliest of places. I reassured her night after night in her toddlerhood, and then scared the daylights out of her over and over again. It made me realize I wasn’t a very nice person when it came to other’s feelings.
That experience stuck with her, and when we moved to a house with a pool in middle school, she reminded us of it. The water in the pool wasn’t very clear - it was sanitary, but all of the algae hadn’t been filtered out yet. That summer was hot, and we were all excited about living in a place with a pool. She asked us to please please please not pull any pranks while we were swimming. “Of course, of course,” we told her. “We promise.”
Cue Jaws theme. Cue jokes about the alligator kept in a special tank under the She was in elementary school when shallow end. “Why do you think it drops we started on the fear of water. It was a joint into the deep end so sharply? Do you feel effort between my older sister and I, but in that bump? That’s part of the trap door to let the beginning it was the opposite of what it out!” And don’t forget ankle-grabbing! It we intended. You was the same lie. We promhave to be careful Every night I would turn out the ised not to do it, and then we with gullible people did! Over and over. All day, lights and hide in the bathroom - sometimes they all week, all summer. We attached to our bedroom. She trick themselves gradually let off, but her rewould come in, I would jump out actions were just so funny for even worse than you could have on us that it was difficult to stop from behind the door, and she your own. So one entirely until we got bored of would scream bloody murder. summer in Sweden the effort it took. we were swimming in the ocean, and there were a lot of little I found out when we were in colfishes in the seaweed near the beach. My lege that she wouldn’t go swimming alone. older sister and I were having a blast scream- We were home for summer vacation, and ing at them under water and watching them my mother told her to go for a swim if she scatter. My older sister had the brilliant idea was so hot. Once again she refused to do to tell our little sister that the fish were, in this seemingly trivial thing until someone fact, piranhas. But that it was okay! Because agreed to get in with her. She was afraid of screaming at them made them go away! But. the pool, of swimming alone, of water where She only heard “piranhas”. Even after our she couldn’t see the bottom, of imaginary biologist mother explained that piranhas only alligators in imaginary trapdoor cages and live in the Amazon in fresh water, the logic imaginary piranhas. could not penetrate her terrified brain. Man. We really did a number on her!
[Ed. We asked Sorin and Stephen what the consequences of lying to the PAs were. Sorin said, “The last person to deceive the PA was eaten by a bloodthirsty pack of wild kangaroos. Just a coincidence? You decide.” Stephen had a few more thoughts on the matter.]
he famous last words of Julius Caesar, the PA of Rome. Throughout history many people have tried to deceive PAs: Brutus, John Wilkes Booth, Lord Voldemort, Bono, and many more. These people, as history tells us, are all dead (Bono has been dead to me ever since Joshua Tree). So I suppose the biggest consequence of deceiving your PA is death and your legacy living in infamy for eternity. But besides that, deceiving your PAs is just not nice. But the real question is, “why would you want to deceive your PA?” Do you want to deceive your lover, your family, your closest friend? Perhaps you are afraid we know about you drinking and driving, or skipping school, or not washing your hands after you use the bathroom. All these things remind me of story from when I was young… When I was five years old, my friend put the strangest idea in my head. He said that if I could lay completely flat on the road a car would just pass on over me without leaving a scratch. So my friend and I decided to put this theory to the test. We would lay in the middle of the road near my house, waiting for a car to come to briskly pass over us. We would even get a good view of what a car looked like underneath. But, my mom saw us! She screamed, “Get your butts outta the road! NOW!” My mom was pissed! And so was I! Clearly, she did not understand my friend’s theory. So after she left, my friend and I went back to the road and laid flat, waiting for a car.
ceiving the PA
by Stephen Rodgers
A car came. As it got closer and closer doubt entered my head, and at the last minute my friend and I rolled into the nearby ditch. I quickly realized why my mom was so angry. If I had not moved I would definitely not be here today. I often think back to that time, and I have come to a conclusion. Why is it that I was so eager to listen to my friend’s stupid theory and get angry and deceive my mom? Because I couldn’t understand my mom’s reasoning I dismissed her and it almost got me killed. My friend’s reasoning seemed sound. But I should have been looking at something deeper. I should have been listening to the women who always took care of me, protected me, and watched the Muppet Babies with me everyday. Not the kid who was a jerk and pooped his pants in my house because at age five he still couldn’t figure out a toilet. It has taken me a long time to realize to trust those people who actually care about me. Even if I don’t completely understand their reasoning, I can still understand their heart. So before you think about deceiving your PA, or anyone else, remember who those people are and that they are probably trying to do everything to look out for you, protect you, and make sure you are safe. And don’t listen to your dumb friend (who probably poops their pants) telling you to lie down in the middle of the road.
Getting Productive PastConflict theBetween Lies: Friends
As Thi’s article has aptly pointed out, the longer we are in a social relationship, the more tempting it becomes to smooth potential conflict over with batches of little white lies. But these lies can lead to their own, new sets of conflict. Where do we find the balance between kind lies and necessary truths with our friends, when the need arises? We asked some of our readers for their own approaches to dealing with conflict between friends, posing the following question:
“How do you honestly and productively approach conflict within a friendship?” “Let me see. First, I would usually try to find a time where I could speak to that person individually, as I think people are less open in groups. Then, when I brought up the matter, I would try to be as nonaccusative as possible. If you make someone defensive from the get-go, you'll have no luck talking to them later on. I would explain how the situation made me feel, and maybe ask for clarification as to why the other person acted the way they did. I'd try to be open-minded, but if their response seems kind of douchey, then I'd let them know nicely but firmly that what they did wasn't cool with me, and ask them to avoid it in the future. Hopefully, if I can't make them see my point completely, then we can meet in the middle somewhere. To avoid conflict, I used to sometimes let people walk over me. Now, though, if it's a friendship I care about, it's more important to be honest with the other person and call them on the shit that everyone occasionally pulls. It usually works out better in the end.” –Katrina Barrie “I tend to not really worry about it until I feel it is serious. When it is, I normally talk to the friend about it directly. I'm not aggressive about it, but I don't tend to tiptoe, either.” –Tony Ciero “I avoid it. If conflict could be caused by differing and irresolvable opinions, for example religious and/ or political views, then I tend to steer clear of those topics and enjoy my friend for who they are (minus the bits I don't agree with) as I assume they do with me. There is a reason why we are friends, right?! But on the occasions where conflict is unavoidable and the friendship is worth fighting for I: A. Let the battle of wills begin! Sometimes you just need to get something out (that also goes for said opponent in brawl). If both parties leave feeling angry, that's fine. What matters is that you take the time afterwards to think about what lead up to the conflict, why you said what you said, why your friend said what they said - did you even try to understand things from their point of view? - etc. Take time to cool off. And don't be the one who is afraid to say, “I value your friendship too much to continue this stand-off.” You don't have to say sorry. But if you really do feel sorry, then say it! If you understand where your friend is coming from, even if you don't agree with it, say it! And don't expect a movie-esque "forgiveness-everything-is-going-to-be-great-from-now-on" scene. Your friend may very well need more time to get the funk out of their system. B. Try to take a look at the roots of the conflict before a smack-down takes place and bring up your feelings with your friend. Rarely does conflict strike the unsuspecting. And as much as you may want to think you're completely innocent, mull over how you could be contributing to the conflict. As my mom always said, "It takes two to tango."
Real friends understand the value of each other. And sometimes you just have to let go.” –Erin King “My very best friends are the people who can be absolutely, brutally honest with me. Blatant, brutal honesty gives me brobdingnagian brain boners. If I'm being a dumbass, I need a friend who can look me right in the eye and say, ‘Dude, you're being a dumbass.’ I might disagree. I might even be angry with them. But I'll eventually consider their point and if I am, in fact, being a dumbass, I will eventually face this truth and apologize to them. Likewise, if I think they're being a dumbass, I need to be able to look them in the eye and tell them, ‘Dude, you're being a dumbass.’ If they're my friend, they will eventually consider my point, and even if they get angry at me for awhile, they'll come around. These sorts of friends are my very best friends. Forgiveness and understanding go a long way, also. Our relationships with our friends are often so strange; we'll tolerate and forgive things of them that we wouldn't tolerate or forgive of another person. God knows my friends have forgiven my dumbassery on more than a few occasions.... There are times that very good friends just truly disagree about something. I think it's fine to disagree about things and remain the best of friends. If you're really angry at a friend, though, there's only one thing that can settle it: nine rounds of bare-knuckle boxing. If you find that you aren't angry enough to bare-knuckle box with your best friend, then you aren't really angry at each other, and you both just need to get over it (thank you, Red Forman).” –Joe Stephenson “For me, I don't like confrontations or heated arguments or discussions. If two of my friends were fighting about something, I would stay out of it and see if they could resolve the conflict like adults. Failing that, I would talk to them individually and try to be as unbiased as possible gathering all the details and offering any advice. And then I would go back again after having talked to the other person to raise the other person's issues/complaints. Sometimes it's easier to discuss problems without the person who has created the problems being present. Life is too short to waste precious energy and time being angry with someone. Also, we're not in elementary school anymore. Not everyone needs to be friends and not everyone will get along. And if someone can't act like a mature adult and talk about their problems or remove themselves from a situation or relationship that is giving them grief, do you really want to be friends with that person anyway? Think about the stress and negativity that will create in your own life.” -Nicole Arnold “I honestly try to stay away from conflicts between friends. I don't need the extra drama llama for your mama in my life. I'll still be friends with both parties involved, but I refuse to be involved or stuck in the middle of such arguments if it's two parties harping over something small. Of course, ideally, everyone in the world would get along with each other, so if someone asks for my help in sitting down and talking things out with the other person, I'd be happy to mediate, but I'm not going to listen to complaining about things I'm not involved in. Issues need to be dealt with directly and not funneled through a he-said, she-said situation with friends.” -Sabbi Topal
Lying to Strangers A good friend of mine up in Nagano city happens to have very common name. Grant Peterson. Unfortunately for him, it’s so common that he is constantly receiving emails from random strangers. For the first few victims, he went easy on them, explaining their mistake. After the 10th or so email, enough was enough. He began responding to the strangers as if he knew them, even going as far as making the supposed “real Grant Peterson” seem like a complete asshole. He sent me those emails to share with the world. In the words of Molly, “Please enjoy these in your life!” I know I did! -Daniel Pierce - Graphic Designer, Yomoyama
Olive Juice (continued)
Barbie Girl continued
Snatch Monster (continued)
Beautiful and perfect, except for one fatal flaw by Dan Whitehead
utumn is beautiful, isn’t it? I think everyone would agree with that. It’s just one of those unequivocal facts of life we can state with absolute certainty. Just as we can be certain, for example, that the tax office will always find us when we owe them money, or that the day after we finally clean our bedroom we’ll find a use for that random broken bike pump we just threw away, we can always be safe in the knowledge that autumn will be choc-full of pleasantly warm days and wonderful views of golden tree-capped mountains. But for me autumn has one glaring chink in its armour that prevents it from being perfect. Without fail it manages to let itself down year after year due to the simple fact that as soon as it ends (and it often ends far, far too quickly for comfort) we all know that they’ll be nothing left to look forward to except the ugly, frostbitten spectre of winter.
And I hate winter with a passion bordering on the pathological. In my opinion any season that necessitates the wearing of thermal underpants is worthy of the highest degree of scorn we can throw at it. And let’s not kid ourselves, as many people do, that winter is not too bad because it offers up the odd frisson of pleasure every now and again – a day’s snowboarding, for example, or a white, fluffy Christmassy view – because deep down we all know that the season is nothing more than a cruel climatic joke - a joke, incidentally, that only woodland creatures have managed to work out how to handle successfully (by gorging themselves on mixed nuts and berries for months on end and then sleeping through the whole sorry experience until someone tells them it’s safe to get up again). And this, of course, is what gives autumn its problem. If only autumn had been sensible enough to position itself at some other point in the calendar it would be perfect. But it wasn’t sensible enough, and it isn’t perfect. By placing itself as it has done, at the cusp of the most desolate, frigid season on our otherwise benign little globe, it’s ensured there will always be a cloud (sometimes quite literally) hanging over it.
Autumn always reminds me of that mixed feeling you get on a Sunday. On a Sunday you know that no matter how great a day you’re having, there is always work to come on Monday. And there’s just something so inevitable and uncontrollable about that feeling that it never fails to put me on edge. You could be having a perfect Sunday – lying on your back in the park in the sunshine, a cold beer and an obscenely large bag of dough nuts by your side – but you will still have your enjoyment ever so slightly tainted by the knowledge that tomorrow morning your alarm clock will go off (always with an obnoxious blah), and it’ll be Monday again, and you’ll be required to put on a pair of sensible trousers and go out into the world and earn some money. And I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of a single person on earth who, when confronted with that thought, doesn’t experience at least a partial sinking of the spirits. And that’s what autumn does; despite its many wonders it can’t help but induce a partial sinking of the spirits. It gives us pleasures tantalisingly with one hand and then rapidly takes them away with the other. It gives us beautiful, crystal clear views, on perfect, mild, sunny days; and then suddenly, without remorse, it gives us a cold gust of wind and a shower of leaves, and puts us in no doubt at all as to what kind of suffering is on the way soon. And I know, I know – I should just be positive and enjoy autumn for what it is. But I can’t help it. Every pile of leaves I kick between now and November I know is one more pile of leaves that takes me closer to winter. And every year that’s a thought that just makes me want to settle down amongst those leaves, pull them tightly over my head, and snuggle down with our furry friends until it’s all over.
By Rus N.
apanese food and I haven’t always been such good friends, and every so often, like an angry Post-It note on the fridge door, I get a little reminder of that. I only live a 15-minute walk from the nearest supermarket. It’s convenient and easy to get to, so while ravenously hungry over the weekend and with no food in my cupboards, I decided to brave the early evening air and constant threat of rain to see what delicious morsels I could find. Eventually an unmarked bread roll caught my eye. It looked crusty and delicious, but most of all it looked dangerous… One lesson I quickly learned the hard way upon arrival in Japan is that you can’t trust food to look the way it tastes. “Hmm,” I thought on my first supermarket trip, “these delicious caramel coated balls on a stick will make a fitting dessert!” And happily I went home with my dango, resisting the urge to consume them before dinner. That entire time I was waiting to savour the sweet caramelly deliciousness. “Damn you dango!” I would later say, screwing up my face in disgust, “Damn youuuuu!!!” The caramel was all lies and the sweetness I craved was replaced with the flavour of sweaty arse (I imagine). Dango was the first Japanese food to deceive me, and remains my enemy to this day. I have been battling against this ever since, not one to ever leave leftovers I tried to outwit the food by Japanising my flavour expectations. I adjusted my English palette to fully appreciate Japanese cuisine. After a few months I thought I had won; I ate natto with impunity, school lunch was my bitch! I could not be tricked any longer. I was sorely mistaken. One fateful day along with the usual school lunch fare I had let my guard down. We had some interesting looking cakey/savoury things on the plate, which I imagined to be a veggie/tofu slice and some kind of flavoursome rice dough. As the students around me polished them off first I left these intriguing delicacies until last and ate the rest of my meal in happy anticipation of the end of my feast. I should have realized as soon as the veggie tofu touched my tongue and revealed itself to be sloppy, cold, tasteless and full of muddy water, that the other thing was not to be trusted
either. But I didn’t. Upon taking a sizeable bite of the rice dough thing I felt instantly defiled. It was konyakku. No. Not just konyakku. Konyakku in it’s purest, greyest, coldest, dampest, most nauseating form. I quickly learned the name so as to avoid it forever more. Screw you konyakku, you spotty bastard! Someone once said: “What is Konyakku? Why is it here? What does it want!?” I also demand answers! It’s been well over a year since that particular incident and although I have been deceived many times since then, I’ve pretty much eaten or witnessed people eating every other type of Japanese food. However, there is still one nemesis I never seem to be able to beat; Bread. Fucking bread. It is the most deceptive of Japanese cuisine. It's threatening to rain outside now, back in the supermarket. I’m staring at the crusty roll but I just can’t trust it. The various options are running though my head; could it be full of cheese? Or cream? Or butter? Or blueberry? Or curry? Or anko? Or miso paste? Or tuna? Or egg? Or some kind of strange meat?! There is no way to tell. I’m famished, I don’t care what it contains at this point, only that it is food, I rush to the register to pay and head straight outside to consume my treat, I shove as much of it my mouth as I can and bite down…. Nothing. I throw it to the ground and howl in despair as the heavens open. Empty! It’s empty! It’s fucking empty!! Why would anyone make a hollow roll?!? True story. Next time: ケーキ and I : A love/hate relationship.
Busting chops since 1989 with T. Marie
ating is my passion. It’s the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning and the reason for most of my activities. Take exercise for example. Some might exercise to be healthy, to feel better, to sculpt a smoking hot bod… not me, however. I exercise so that I can eat. And by eating I mean the full-fat, high calorie, heap on the butter, add extra whip cream and sugar, never put the dressing on the side, “hell yeah I want seconds” kind of eating that only southerners seem to appreciate. Of course, I seem to be surrounded by people who make these healthy choices, telling me as they nibble on soy lettuce that “it’s just as good!” Well, to them I say, prove it. From now on I’ll be challenging you to submit your healthy food recipes to the test – the taste test, that is. I can assure you that I have a very advanced palate (probably due to my large olfactory glands—thanks, dad) and am an excellent judge of savor, piquancy, and esculent. This month I’ve sampled two very different recipes, one for brownies made with tofu and the other a no-animal fat microwaveable gravy. Read on if you think you can handle the truth.
Tofu Brawnies (recipe from Mr. Manly Izuna Mountain Man)
This brownie recipe is deceptive. The brownies smell divine, the texture is rich, and density is very near a regular brownie. Once the chocolaty sweet hits your palate you may think you have died and gone to a healthy eating heaven. While these brownies are indeed a healthier option, there is a distinct difference in taste. After eating about half the batch, I finally realized what it was: though the chocolate prevails and they are mildly sweet, the taste lacks the fudge. It’s kind of like tasting soy milk for the first time: so many things seem right (the temperature, the texture, the thickness), yet there is still a hint of bean curd. It’s the same with these brownies. However, these brownies get points for being easy, cheap, and chocolate. Once I finished the rest of the batch, I figured that just like soy milk, you have to get used to the taste. The person who submitted this recipe may have had it right all along by not calling them brownies but brawnies. In fact, I’d say that these brownies suit mainly a manly or Japanese palate: they’re not overly sweet, the bitterness of the chocolate stands out more, and they use easy-to-find ingredients in Japan. They’re not really for me, but I bet most of you will like them.
aking gravies can be tough; it usually requires the drippings from the meat as it’s being cooked (basically, it’s animal fat) and a lot of time spent stirring to reach the desired consistency (and to get rid of inevitable lumps). Having neither drippings nor time, I found a recipe where the flavor supposedly comes from bouillon cubes (or consommé) and the gravy is cooked in the microwave. Skeptical of the ease it boasted, I decided to give it a try. Per instructions, I did heat the water in the microwave and only took about a minute. Then it was time to add the cornstarch (which is what thickens the gravy), and the ease evaporated faster than a raindrop in the desert. Though it may seem that stirring every 30 seconds is no biggie, trying to stir contents in a microwave is just awkward.
he bowl was too long, and the cor up, I poured the conte it over the stove, a mu opinion.The flavor wa poultry seasonings (th salt and pepper to ma consistency resemble too much cornstarch i shiny blob of goo. The taste post-season without, it was boring sistency was good if y with the cornstarch. A better, and take longe this recipe, it’s wet an nice flavor to your ma
hot, my whisk was too rnstarch was too settled. Fed ents into a pan and cooked uch better option in my as pretty bland so I added hyme, rosemary, marjoram), ake it taste like gravy. The ed gravy, but if you add it will turn into a massive,
ning was quite nice, but g and pointless. The conyou donâ€™t get carried away Animal fat gravy does taste er to make, but if you tweak nd tasty enough to add a ashed potatoes.
Lightening gravy (from allrecipes.com) Ingredients 2 cups hot water 2 cubes chicken bouillon 2 tablespoons cornstarch 1 tablespoon cold water Directions In a microwave safe dish heat water and bouillon on high, stirring occasionally until just boiling. In a small bowl combine the cornstarch and cold water and mix together; stir into the hot broth and cook on medium for about 1 minute, or until thick, stirring at 30 second intervals. Original recipe: Tweaked recipe: Think you have a healthy and delicious recipe? Think your recipe stands as the best? Submit it to email@example.com and see if it passes the test!
Delicious Apple Crumble by Rus N.
Autumn is upon us and winter will be here soon. Fruit crumble is the best food to keep you warm and full on those long, cold, dark, cold, frosty, freezing Nagano nights. Deceivingly cheap, easy to make, and only taking 15 min. to prep it means you don’t have to leave your “warm room” for long or wait for special occasions in order to enjoy this delicious and filling dessert. For me this is the best dish for cold weather. It’s simple, lasts ages, and tastes sweet and amazing. This recipe is for apple crumble but you can use any seasonal fruit. Plums are a favourite as are any combination of berries and things. Also, being British I can use both Cups and Grams and know only that the latter makes sense, so the ‘cups’ quantities listed below are a bit hit or miss. The only catch here is that you must have/beg/steal the usage of an oven (toaster oven is ok) in order to make it and an ovenproof dish with a flat bottom – I’ve been using a nabe dish.
Ingredients: Serves 4-6 Calorie count: 450 per serving For the filling: 2-3 largish apples 50g (1/3 cup) brown sugar 1 tbsp plain flour 1 tbsp cinnamon
For the Crumble: 110g (3/4 cup) brown sugar 110g (1/2 cup) butter 180g (1 1/2 cups) plain flour Preheat your oven to 180*C For the filling: 1. Skin the apples and chop them into little bits around 1cm, 1/2 an inch in size. 2. Gently mix the sugar flour and cinnamon into the apple bits and place it in an ovenproof dish.
Now for the crumble: 3. Pour the flour and sugar into a mixing bowl and mix. 4. Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the mixture. 5. Rub the butter into the dry mixture in order to make it crumbly. Do not pre-melt the butter! To ‘Rub-in’ You have to basically squeeze the butter and dry ingredients between your thumb and fingers and rub it together until all the chunks are gone. 6. When you’re left with a nice even crumble and no buttery pieces, simply sprinkle the mixture over the fruit so that you have a nice even layer over the whole dish. 7. Put it in the oven for 45ish minutes! 8. After 45 min the topping should be golden and hard with the apple filling bubbling through in places. Remove from the oven and consume your treat! Hurry! Before anyone finds out! I like to serve it with hot custard, but yoghurt or cream is also good. It lasts for at least a week if it’s kept in the fridge and is great reheated, or cold with ice cream or anything else for the matter. You can vary the amount of fruit or crumble according to taste/the size of your oven/ dish and even mix up exactly what it contains. Have fun with it! It’s a pretty difficult recipe to get wrong!
A Player of
by S.A. Lough
e should have been born a mute. He doesn’t need his voice at work and he works most hours of the day. He’s not married. His job is too important. His duty is to monitor from inside the zone. Three times a day, he is responsible for the people in the buses that roll in. He stands guard and watches them everyday. With their timid unsure faces, awake with anticipation to see the other side. They file one by one from the bus. With clothes crinkled and unkempt from weeks spent in a backpack or suitcase, and soiled by the humidity. They are always careful to follow the rules after their guide tells them that the standard issued shoes are a safety precaution, so they can run away faster if the other side opens fire. They sign a death waiver to absolve the nation of any responsibility. The fear adds to the experience. They only live it for an hour, so close to the line, while he stands guard within the boundaries of precarious treaties signed by fervent leaders. We gave them cows, they gave us stories. And they let them starve, as the upper echelons fill their bellies and use their mouths to bark orders at their prisoners. Citizens held within the demarcated lines. Borders fixed by barbed wire. At least this is what he’s told. Or what he imagines as he looks out into the desolate mountain landscape. There are movies about it. He hears from others what it’s like up there. The families that were divided. The rules that the One Authority created. All for the sake of the common good. Yet, he isn’t affected by their rules. Only the common rules created by the world community. Two years in the army, that’s all his country asks of him. He wanted to see what he had been told. He wanted to join the stage for his side. To be a big-time player if the curtain should happen to fall. Three buses come in a day, and the lucky few who fill the seats get a taste of what bullshit is capable of. They are given a tag to wear. They are guests from other countries, fully loaded with media filled expectations and cameras in tow. By the time they reach the joint security area, they have already taken a glimpse at the other side through high-powered binoculars.
Panmunjom A captured look at the world’s biggest flag, in its heavy lethargic wave. It seems to say: Hello, this is our country, we even have a real flag, which is bigger than yours. Enjoy the memory, because you can’t take pictures past that line. All the rules laid out, a strategic placement for your personal deception.
It’s all about appearances. If his nation has the money, then the other side will have the flag. If his nation forces its men to give two years, then they’ll ask for ten, and the women will do seven. If his side has the support of the most powerful country in the world, they will build the stronger army. They will build the infantry, the weapons, the nukes, and breed the fear. The unknown. No one really knows what’s happening up there. But through those lenses you can see the provocative flag, belittling the other flag. On a clear day, you can see the village that lays below the flag. The people who act out their daily lives according to the delivered script from their superiors. As people watch and think, maybe it’s okay up there. Only it’s so forced. So comical. It can’t be real. At the line, they stand with stifled expressions. Some want to smile. Others want to point. They hold back in fear, not wanting to disrupt the seemingly tangible balance that is laid out before them on this day. The binary of good versus evil resting in a gravel sandpit. The austere building on the other side seems to stare back through the large cameras. They are watching. The one officer on the other side stands back, under the shade of the entranceway. He plays the part, as he holds the binoculars tight, he becomes a part of the vigilant Eye. The building could belong anywhere else and seem less threatening, but here it commands authoritarian respect. There are two Blue houses that pass through the demarcated line in the gravel pit. They stand for Freedom and maybe Peace. He is responsible for standing guard, as they step carefully into the Freedom House. They don’t want to disturb the delicate balance that weighs as thick as the summer’s heat. Each tourist takes turns with the officer, standing over the imagined line. They have made it. They are on the other side. He waits outside, while they add to the mockery of war. A war that seems to continue for the sake of war. A yin and yang. An observable area of the world that functions for war and peace simultaneously. His face is stoic, and his body is unmoving, but he notices the dragonflies. They are dancing around the helmeted heads of the other officers. They probably see them as well. Their flight is the only thing that makes this place beautiful today. Usually, he greets the discipline housed in silence.
the site of
DestIny Breakage, Toilets, and Invisible Japan
by Molly Conner I found myself trapped in a house with five broken doors or five working walls. In the end, everything was broken and I climbed over a bathtub to freedom. hat the hell am I talking about? I’m talking about The Site of Reversible Destiny: part maze, museum, landscape experiment, and sculpture garden. Or rather: a case study in what happens when you give a poet and a writer a ton of money and let them go wild. A two and a half hour drive from southern Nagano, the Site of Reversible Destiny sits at the edge of the sleepy town of Yoro, Gifu. You can tell that the park is the area’s main attraction – the second we pull into Yoro from the IC, signs literally start pointing us towards our day’s destiny.
After a 20-minute drive through town, we pull into the parking lot. It’s not as packed as we’d expected, given the silver week holidays. The kogen itself is sprawling. In addition to the
main attraction, there’s a children’s amusement park, a pool, food stalls, and a spacious green field of actual grass. It’s the grass that our group finds particularly remarkable. In the schools we’re all employed at, grass is actively considered a weed. I’ve spent hours with my students digging into the dirt and gravel to pluck out anything green that may be growing underneath. Our group looks to each other for a moment, before running full tilt towards the field and rolling around in neatly manicured grass. Perhaps this is the best way to start our day – our perceptions are already altering. Take six adults, give them a field to run around in, and you’re left with six children. The Site of Reversible Destiny was created by partners Shusaku Arakawa
We make our way back outside, to the “Insect Mountain Range,” a pile of boulders with a well on top that holds absolutely no water or insects. From here, we can go to either the “Gate of Non-Dying” or lose ourselves in the “Critical Resemblance House.” I unintentionally do the latter. With rooms running between whole pieces of furniture, broken up refrigerators hidden under Plexiglas floors, living and dining [What IS this?] room sets on the ceiling, the “Critical Resemand Madeline Gins in 1995. Arakawa was a blance House” naturally calls upon comparisons Nagoya-born contemporary artist while Gins to Alice in Wonderland. I lean back against is a New York based poet. The pair met in the walls that lean with me, trying to get purchase early 60’s and formed the Architectural Body enough for one good picture. I peer into tunnels Research Foundation. Their lifetime of work to- too shrunken to fit even the smallest tourists gether was dedicated to challenging how human and am greeted with ovens and bathtubs. I try beings relate to and perceive the space around to leave the house five times and fail, taking an them. According to the website, “[The Site exit onto a dead end street, trying to open those of Reversible Destiny] is an experience park, non-doors, and getting distracted by new, conceived on the theme of encountering the hidden pieces of furniture; like when you’re unexpected. By guiding a kid, wandering through visitors through various The park is meant not to someone else’s basement unexpected experiences with the vague sense that distort our perceptions as they walk through its you’re not supposed to be component areas, the Site necessarily, but question there. By the end of it, I am offers them opportunities to disoriented in the truest, how it is we perceive rethink their physical and most exhilarating sense of spiritual orientation to the the word. world.” The park is meant not to distort our perceptions necessarily, but question how it is we perceive. If a door’s welded shut, it’s no longer a door. To that end, the Site is organized in such a way that visitors are taken on a sensory experience, starting with the park’s office itself: a half-maze, the floor of which is molded in such a way that it’s entirely possible to walk three feet off of the ground in a single step. Children in hard-hats run around us screaming, and I have to walk away from the center of the maze to avoid getting dizzy.
When I leave the house, it’s been nearly half an hour. I’ve got three missed calls on my phone and my friends have given up on this low-grade Alice and moved onto new parts of the park.
Completely worth it. This trip had been taken at my initiative. Sitting in the teacher’s room through another meeting I didn’t fully understand, I emailed my friends, in desperate need of a road trip. In the days leading up to Silver Week, I found myself more complacent in my routines than I usually allow. On the verge of my third year in Japan, I felt that things around me were stagnant in a way
When you find yourself thrown off balance in the Critical Resemblance House, as I was, Arakawa and Gins advise you to “call out your name or, if you prefer, someone else's.”
[On the left: lies!
On the right: liberty.]
that was unavoidable. Not just work, but areas that I have complete agency over as well. I’d let my perception of the world go unchallenged. I needed a distortion, a breakage. I needed that house. Everything inside it was disordered, and that made it whole. It was broken in that way we all need to be, sometimes.
The most pressing advice that the artists offer, one that I find permeating the park – hidden in the mazes that don’t go anywhere (everywhere), the ground that drops around you with no notice, the streets of Berlin and Thanon Tanon running perpendicular to each other – is this: “Always question where you are in relation to the visible and invisible chains of islands known as Japan.”
That’s what the site of reversible destiny is – a breakage. The aim of the park, when you look past the kids running around screaming in helmets, the ovens hidden in walls, the mazes that would be pitch-black if travelers were willing to turn their phones off – is to break off your perceptions of space completely. It’s violent, it’s exhilarating. It’s sitting on a fiberglass sofa with Sarah, completely perpendicular to the ground. It’s walking to the top of a man-made mountain as the walls imperceptibly close in around you. It’s “The Zone of Clearest Confusion”, where the website’s directions, written by the artists themselves, advise us to “be more body and less person.” Or the “Landing Site Depot,” where visitors are encouraged to observe the area “as though you were an extra- terrestrial.”
We could all do with a little more questioning. If it sounds like your life could use some breakage, check the full Site out here: http://www.yoro-park.com/e/rev/
by Nick Mckay
o the theme of this Yomoyama issue is deception, huh? Hopefully I can deceive you along with everyone else who has too much free time! Just kidding...I actually want to "lift the veil" about some financial lies you may have been deceived into believing! I personally think many of us haven't been lied to, so much as ignorantly led to believe some things that I don't regard as truth. We've been led this way because we don't know any better. I am finding this unintended deception to be a recurring point in my writing. People want to help you financially, they just don't know how to do it on a personal level. My mission is to help you understand money in a way that personally applies to your needs. If you find this article to be educational, easy-to-understand, and entertaining then I will consider it a success. There are many financial lies out there. These are more to me than simple lies: they are roadblocks to success. I am choosing to focus on
three of them. These lies affect us daily and the solutions to them are principles we can start applying right now. So your three lying brides to be are...Save Money, Live Below Your Means, and Get Out of Debt. Underneath those pretty veils are some ugly faces indeed. One mantra commonly thrown at us is to Save Money. My parents have been pitching this idea at me my entire life, along with many other adults and friends I've meet along the way. This sounds like good advice. Saving money is wise…or is it? Like many financial tenants in real life, there are subtleties making this issue more complex than merely Save Money. I would argue saving money is good...up to a point. Begin passing that point and you start wasting money instead of saving it. I believe in saving enough money to be reasonably secure. How do you measure security? Security to me means having enough money saved aside for small emergencies and then to survive for x number of months. I have four milestones to shoot for. Mile-
stone #1 is having an emergency fund in place. are spending that money, like For example, I need $2,000 as an emergency buying cheaper foods because the price of the fund to fly home or go to the hospital for an groceries we really want makes us squirm. We illness. Milestones 2-4 deal with how many grow accustomed to this lesser-than style over months you can survive being unemployed. time and try to make it the trendy way to live. I am aiming for 3 months, 6 months and 12 I, for one, am finding my taste in things evolvmonths in savings. This is to help me survive ing from a lower-end lifestyle to something if I lose my job and still maintain my current considerably more luxurious. The government standard of living. That last bit is important and people in the financial industry advobut it's an article for another day. cate living without luxury in part, I suspect, because they themselves don't know Save more than how to attain it. A small clarification Instead of focusing this, and the laws of money is in order here. Instead of focuson living below your ing on living below your means, live begin to work against you. means, live within You start to lose wealth within your means and then find ways your means and then to expand your means. “Means” through inflation. Prices go up and your money find ways to expand here refers to ways you make or earn buys less than it did last money. If you want a luxury, a new your means. year. Money is no car for example, find a way to expand longer "money" so to your means so you can afford that speak. US dollars used new luxury. Don't say to yourself, "I to have value, but now it's debt. Money can't afford that." Instead ask, "How can I afhas become a currency, not a thing that is ford that?" I personally am trying this method tied to something truly valuable, like gold or with something I want to buy for someone silver. Saving debt doesn't seem like a very else. smart idea. Lastly, the interest that you make When initially thinking about means, on savings in a bank is taxed at the individual many people think about cutting expenses, rate, the highest one possible. So even the which can be good if you got into some bad money you make with savings is taxed by the habits earlier. However, cutting expenses government. still doesn't address the issue of expanding your means. The only way most people know Ok, that's enough about saving monhow to expand their means is to increase the ey, time to move on to bride number two: Live amount of time they spend working, or work Below Your Means. Ack, who the hell wants in a higher-paying position. But you only to do that? Scrimping and scrounging and have a finite amount of time and energy that saving, shopping sales and garage sales, clipcan be spent working this way. Instead, focus ping coupons, buying used cars and clothes, on investments that provide you with some sipping konbini coffee and not kissaten coffee, sort of cash flow. This can be dividends from living in a cheap “bohemian” apartment. I stock, income from real estate or businesses could go on and on and on but I think you get you own a piece or part of, and royalties from the idea. To me, that doesn't sound like a good things you create out of your mind. I personway to live. Life has so much more to offer ally am going the real estate route for my than the bare minimum. But this is how we “secret” thing. have come to live. Striking out on our own and having limited financial resources cer I want to talk some more about cuttainly doesn't help. We have to watch how we ting your personal expenses in order to live
within your means so you can do more with your means in order to expand your means. I personally am actively doing this right now, along with some other people who read my previous article. This also dovetails with the last financial lie I want to address...Get Out of Debt. This last piece of financial advice is good for those who have no desire to become rich or to afford some more expensive luxuries throughout their life. And getting out of debt is indeed good for everyone, to an extent. Debt is not just universally bad: there is good debt and bad debt. What is the difference between the two, and how do you tell which is good, and which is bad? Simply put, bad debt is something you must pay for out of your own pocket while good debt is something other people pay for. Explaining a little more, you have bad debt when you require a liability, like a car or house loan. You have to make monthly payments on this loan, and that is bad debt. You have good debt when you acquire an asset, someone else pays you to use that asset, the money is enough to make payments on the loan and lastly have money left over for yourself. You might also notice having good debt requires more financial intelligence because so many more steps are required in order to maintain good debt. But let's talk briefly about getting rid of bad debt, since this is something most of us can apply to our financial situations immediately. Bad debt, I may remind you, are the monthly payments we must make on loans we took on. For us JETs this is most likely in the form of credit card debt, car loans and school loans. These bad debts force us to live below our means instead of living within our means. Right now I am paying a large...very large monthly payment on my credit card, $842 a month. That is huge! I have been using a few other methods to get out of bad debt very quickly, but again that is a different article. You can read about it in a previous issue of Yomoyama [http://yomoyama.ajet.net/2011/05/yomoyamaspring-2011/].
After I get rid of this debt, which should be in March at the latest, I can focus more on expanding my means. As I've mentioned earlier, I want to invest in real estate back home. I don't have enough cash to buy a house outright, so in order to do so I will need to take on a home loan. As long as the money a tenant will pay me exceeds the cost of maintaining the property and covers the monthly payment I will have acquired good debt, and I want as much of that as humanly possible! A side note, having more of your income free of bad debt will make banks and other financiers more likely to loan you money to try to convert to good debt. So don't just get out of debt, get out of bad debt while at the same time (or after) getting into as much debt as possible. Good debt, that is! So these are just three financial lies, or half-truths if you will, that the majority of people subscribe to. The problem is these lies keep us living as poor people and are so tightly held onto that when you question them people get highly emotional and defensive. Instead of opening their minds and attempting to see the other side of the coin they never question the root of their convictions. We need a strong financial education in order to survive in today's world. And I don't mean â€œfinancial educationâ€? in the go-to-college sense, I mean it in the "how does this affect me" sense. We need insurance against these lies and many others we encounter. Personal insurance, I believe, is insurance against ignorance. A good financial education, mentors and advisors, and a plan are the best way to protect yourself in the uncertain times ahead. Let's be aware of what our options are and be prepared for what lies ahead. The lie that everything will be okay, in the end, is the worst lie of all. If you would like to comment or constructively criticize my piece feel free to drop an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. I would appreciate it!
by Megan Whalen Turner Reviewed by Sabbi Topal
he Thief is one of those books with a shiny, silver Newbury Honor Award medals on its front cover, but don’t let that fool you into assuming anything about it. Though billed as ‘Young Adult Fantasy’, it’s a book of intrigue that twists, turns, and climbs through three Byzantine-esque countries in a way that makes it a perfect reading adventure on a long train, plane, or car ride for any adult, young or not. The story begins with Gen, a thief who claims he can steal anything. His latest exploit, stealing the king of Sounis’s
seal and bragging about it, has landed him in jail, and it’s the king’s jail that the reader is first made familiar with Gen’s charismatic way of describing places. Several months’ incarceration has turned the once well-off thief into a pitiable, injured, and unrecognizable protagonist who is hard not to take a liking to immediately. It helps that the story is presented in first-person; you are Gen even as you learn more about him. Thankfully, it isn’t long until the jail is left behind. Sounis’s Magus, the king’s most trusted advisor, has something he needs stealing, and he plans on dragging Gen, his apprentices, and a king’s guard across Sounis and its two neighboring, mountainous countries to steal it. Along the way we watch as Gen lets others assume things about him, encouraging some appearances and denying others when he forgets his reputed self. With each well-woven tidbit Turner weaves into the story, we learn a bit more about who the thief and his traveling companions really are. Which appearances are all that they seem and which are ones we selectively choose to present to others? In The Thief, Gen’s deceit takes the reader on a trip through how we choose to look at others and how we invite others to look at us while pulling off the heist of a generation.
Check it out in paperback or e-book form, and see how many lies you can see through on your next free afternoon.
FINAL THOUGHTS What’s the Worst Lie You’ve Ever Told? Lying by omission. I never mentioned the one I was with. I lied to my husband when I switched our coffee to decaf, and the hamburger meat to TVP (textured vegetable protein). I was trying to look after his health and make healthier choices for him. I said the real meat was Boca burger. He’d only become a vegetarian to impress a girl and making two meals was too much work. My Japanese is way better than I let people think. I don’t want to be the guy always stuck making big group dinner reservations or being called in to help my drunk friends hit on Japanese girls. I didn't tell my best friend that I was having an affair with the man we were having a threesome with. When my friend told me, “I don't know why he won't have sex with me,” I didn't tell her that it was because he was too busy fucking me. I didn't inhale. No officer, there aren't any narcotics in the car. I told him that I didn’t see our break up coming, because I wanted him to feel as bad as possible. Truthfully, it was past time for us to end things and he was being the decent person for acknowledging it. We had the same group of friends and I didn’t want to be responsible for shifting the group dynamic. I’m not leaving Japan next year. I told him there was no one else. While I was screaming at you for cheating on me, I forgot to tell you that I had cheated on you six months earlier. Twice.