Nice Guys Get Asked A Lot

Our oldest is in Kyoto which means she’s going to be harassing foreigners soon.

One of the few universal school traditions all Japanese experience is a trip to Kyoto during their second year of junior high school. The preparation for this trip involves dad repeatedly saying “pack your crap or you won’t have any crap with you on the trip” and She Who Must Be Obeyed secretly helping our oldest pack her crap.

Once there, the students do some traditional activities (fan making, tea ceremony) and they visit lots of famous places like Kinkaku-ji (which is overrated) and Kyomizu-dera (which is not).

One of the requirements, though, is that sometime during the trip, whilst they are at one of the famous sites, they approach foreigners and interview them in English. The questions are pretty basic “What is your name?” “Where are you from?” “What is your hobby?” “Your money or your life?” etc. In fact, almost every foreign person I know who’s ever visited Kyoto has, at some point, been accosted by a teenager carrying a notebook.

The problem is that most of the kids are shy and most of the rest are lazy. Once someone gets the courage to interview a foreigner, a couple things happen. First, if the foreigner is friendly, he or she will be surrounded by droves of junior high kids, including the shy ones, faster than you can say “blood in the water”. Basically, if you’re a foreigner, if you’re willing to speak to one kid, you’d better be ready to speak to them all. (Been there, done that, by the way.)

After the feeding frenzy dies down, the brave kids and the shy kids go back and let the lazy kids copy their answers.

That’s actually okay, because the lazy ones are probably not the ones worth talking to anyway.

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