Targeted (Week C)

This nan is so big!


Thursday, September 28

I met my old friend Hamish for ramen (ラメーン), dumplings (餃子), and beer (ビール). We caught up and swapped stories. I’ve been an expat long enough to connect with Hamish all over again. It was a nice break from the routine. And if my clock is working correctly I’ll see him again in January.


Tuesday, October 2

Cool biz is over and we’re back to full professional wear at the office. I call this look, “Hot Biz.” Spread it around.


Wednesday, October 3

Wednesday was an adventure!

I visited the US Embassy in Tokyo. I took the FSOT (Foreign Service Officer Test). The test was grueling. 60 questions about history, culture, current events, economics & leadership. 75 questions about my personality. 60 questions about the English language and a 30 minute essay. It was tough.

I’m sure I didn’t pass it this time. But it was a really good experience. After the test I felt motivated. For the first time since November 2010, I had a direction.

I’ve decided that I want to start a career with the government. My interests, my education, my strengths, my experiences; they’ve all led me here. I want to be involved with United States policy and help make the world a better place.

I cannot take the test for another year, which is fine. I can spend the next year studying, learning and improving myself to be more competitive. And now that I’ve got my eyes set on something, I’m going to work like mad to get it.

More to come.

Officially temporary.


-Japanese Maps-

Some things the Japanese do well. Some things the Japanese have borrowed from other countries and made better. Some things the Japanese do great.

One thing the Japanese fail at is maps. I cannot underscore this enough. I’ve seen and (attempted) to use dozens of maps here. And they all have failings to varying degrees:

-No compass rose

-No sense of scale

-No orientating factors

-No consistency

I once read a book about the differences between men and women. The book explained how to give directions to a man, “Go north for one mile, turn right and continue for a half mile. Turn north again and after two miles you’ll see my address, 123 Fake St.”

How to give directions to women, “Go straight past the McDonalds, past the Starbucks, and turn right at the grocery store. Turn left at the big radio tower. If you see the lake you’ve gone too far. After the tower keeping driving for 10 minutes. You’ll see a big statue and my house is next to it.”

Of course this is an exaggeration and a generalization. But it’s pretty accurate.

Anyways the latter directions are how Japanese maps are usually printed.

“Exit the station on the right side and walk along the big road. Turn left at the first big road, walk past the convenience store and look for the business with a green roof. That’s us.”

I’ve boarded on conniption fits when trying to read Japanese maps. I’ll try to calm myself by showing the map to a (Japanese) friend. They just shrug like it’s normal. Soon my rage returns.

I used to use my smartphone for the GPS and map. But recently Apple created a debacle and changed their maps. The new maps are totally unusable.

Just like always, I make the best of it. I’ll shove the map and phone in my pocket and feel out where to go with instinct. At least I’ve still got that.

A quality Japanese map, but still subpar to my standards.


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About japanesealex

Alexander lived in Japan from 2010 to 2013. He is now pursuing a career in public service in Honolulu, Hawaii.

8 responses to “Targeted (Week C)”

  1. alokeefe says :

    Too bad about the test, but Im so glad to hear you’re feeling motivated toward something! We all need a kick in the pants every once in a while.

  2. Japanesemiscellany says :

    Somone call for a professional cartography skills? May be I should consider a move to Japan …For the good of humanity lol.

  3. Hamish Downie says :

    So many things Apple are sucking at now. They completely stuffed up their pro editing suit Final Cut Pro, as well as the home edition iMovie. I’ve heard they’ve done the same thing with their music suite Logic Board.

    LOL! at you saying that you’ve entered my expat club. I think we all have someone that we look up to in that way. For me it’s Matt, he’s been in Japan about 5 years longer than me, and was my first roommate here. You do seem to be a slightly different Alex each time I’ve met you recently. For the better, mate, for the better!

    Actually, the Japanese/Woman’s way of directions is the way I best understand them as well. I think for your way to work in Japan, they would actually have to NAME THE STREETS and GIVE THEM SIGNPOSTS for it to work. As you can see, that’s never really been something that I’ve appreciated about Japan. The fact that only major roads are given names, and only very rarely are they marked!

    Good luck with the Government Job. I’m sure you aced the test, given all of your knowledge on the subject! Must be time for raman again soon!

    • japanesealex says :

      Now that was a thorough comment! Thanks!

      Apple is so yesterday. The hipster company made me a hipster too cool for their own company. Next up: Android!

      You and my friend Lauren have always been my leaders. You will mention something about Japan that’s over my head. Six months pass by and I find out first hand about your comment. It’s like you’re seeing the future!

      Excellent point about the roads, Hamish. Also we can’t forget the Japanese inability to plan and pave a straight road. Let alone a road that runs north-south or east-west.

      Indeed, ramen soon! We’ll need to find a new joint soon. Next time let’s do Tokyo!

      • Hamish Downie says :

        You should definitely come out to Tokyo next time! I wasn’t planning to post a blog to your blog, but it just turned out that I’ve never had more to say about one of your blogs before! Man, I miss working with you 🙂

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