Back by popular demand after a couple weeks off  "The Japanese Show" is in full force...whether you like it or  not. Okay, things to cover---Let's get "Nihoned" and Why I  changed emails (hopefully everyone realizes that by now) with other money  things, the Japanese mafia, and some class room news. --------->First let me say  thank you to all of you (you know who you are) who took the time to write and  say that you are reading what I am sending. I understand how life is  pretty busy so I am very grateful that ya'll (Southern twang) take some time  out. Okay, why the email change? One word--Money. My  email/phone bill (email costs money everytime you use the phone...all calls  local and long distance cost money in Japan) was over $150...add that to the  $140 Compuserve charges and you have a very upset American in Japanland.  See, Compuserve neglected to tell me about all the other charges that would be  attached when using their server here...plus I had to call Tokyo to support my  56k modem (ask a computer wiz or my brother, who often bails out my family and  me with computer info, about what that means). So it was high time I got  something else that only will cost me $30 a month...cheap by Japanese  standards...eventhough Americans believe everyone in Japan has email and it  shouldn't be a problem...of course you are wrong...I know only a handful of  people who have it...Technology---something that is an export of Japan and not  kept here...outside of the cellphones.  Now to get a new email  account was like everything here...a process..such a process that I won't go  into all of it. Let's just say I had to fill out a "contract"  and send it by mail (nothing is done over the phone here...all paper work) and  after the email company gets it they decide it's okay and mail you back...this  process takes a week...nothing done quickly here. Oh and another thing.  When I wanted to find out how much certain calls were, for instance to Tokyo, I  couldn't quickly. You ask why would I have to find out since it is on the  phonebill? Well you assume it is on the phonebill, but once again you are  wrong. The bill comes with a bunch of charges...for instance monthly base  prices (for renting the phone line, for the general fee...for breathing) and in  the middle of that list is a lump sum of all your calls...so you have no idea  what a call costs or if someone made some type of mistake...a mistake in Japan?  ...impossible. No wonder why no one had a clue in my office or anywhere  else when I asked how much it was to call Tokyo...no one knows...I did however  get lots of looks as if I were from another planet for asking. Well, to  get a detailed bill again you have to fill out the paper work...give over your  rights to your firstborn...and swear away your soul...after a couple weeks you  might get it...I haven't yet though.  I have a new word for this  kind of culture shock...when things don't make any sense whatsoever to me...I  like to call it being "Nihoned" (Nihon being the name of Japan to all  of Asia but not to the Western world...I will get into that some other  time). Another case of being "Nihoned" are the ATMs here.  In America it is very rare an ATM is closed...they are meant to be open when the  bank is closed...hence why they exist. Here ATMs are closed when the bank  closes...which is pretty often with all the festival holidays...so if you  are..say out of money because you went to Tokyo and had no idea that EVERYTHING  would cost an arm, leg, and an eyeball...and it happens to be a national  festival day, or after 6pm...you will be broke until a bank opens. Not  that it has happened to me or anything. I went to an ATM that said opened  24hrs...well it wasn't opened. I even went to an "American"  ATM...it wouldn't take either my Japanese or American cash cards...or my credit  cards...pretty strange. Chalk it up to the "Nihonization" of  Americans. ------->Last weekend (that  would be the one before this past weekend) a couple friends of mine (I still  manage to pay them...Kristin and Rafi..they are in the crowd tonight) went to  one of the bigger cities in my Gunma Prefecture...Tagasaki. I know this  town to be where I had to get my re-entry visa pass so I could come back here  after leaving, and also the place that has the 2 nude statues of a Western  female and male right outside the train station...don't ask because I have no  idea. Well, on this happy occasion we walked out of the station and  noticed a ring of 100 or so young Japanese men and women surrounding the  statues. Most were dressed in some sort of "gang" uniform...on the  back of one we could read "Blood"...where were the Crypts? (that would  be another gang in the US like the Bloods if you don't know...I am all knowing  about US gang relations afterall) Okay, what was this all about?  Each person had to take a couple steps inside the big ring and yell something at  the top of his/ her (there were a handful of young "ladies"...notice  the quotes around ladies? I use the term very loosly) lungs. If they  were into it then the rest of the crowd would respond with something in Japanese  that I couldn't understand. Still I was waiting for the Western virgin  sacrifice for that is what it seemed like was going on...we were the only  Westerns in the area...not a good thing...luckily we were on top of a balcony  looking down on this so there was some distance separating us.   Finally a man came up to  us...an Iranian actually and in broken English and mostly Japanese, which Rafi  and Kristen understood...told us that this was an induction ceremony for the  Japanese mafia. How lovely. I heard stories about the JM...they had  tatooes all over their bodies, missing fingers from ceremonies, and an  assortment of other shady things I won't go into. Well the Iranian guy,  who said he was a rocket scientist who worked for NASA though he could barely  speak English (should we believe him after that statement?), said the mafia has  changed its policy now. They try to put these little tykes in different  jobs to be plants and they figured out that they couldn't be secretaries or  gofers if they were missing fingers (hard to type that way) and had tatooes  everywhere. I guess it was a "kinder, gentler" mafia...how  nice...but we weren't going to sing "Kumbaya" with them just the same  so we left with our new found knowledge and a feeling we had just witnessed  something of history...or so we told ourselves.  -------------->Well some  classroom news. At one of my Jr Highs it is common to go around and ask  how each person is doing as you know from an email a little while ago.  Well, we (the Carpenters loving teacher and I) decided to change it a bit...we  decided to ask each student what they liked doing. Again, the basic  answers...listen to music, sleep, play video games, make cakes...well again I  was shocked when a student who looked like the quiet, studious type said "I  am drug dealer"...I don't know if he was kidding or if he was part of the  new happy mafia image.  At my  other Jr High I was presently surprised when I received some letters in my  little shoebox-mailbox. For the week I had 16 letters..how nice...what is  even better is the fact they were folded quite nicely...mostly in the shape of  hearts...however I have yet to master how to fold them back...I try to follow  the folds but get so frustrated that I fold it my way...kinda my attitude  sometimes with being Nihoned...Franky Sinatra would be happy "I did it my  way"