Tokyo Damage Report

getting deported

THURS 27 —

Flight back from America to Japan was amazing. I got stopped by no less than four flight attendants for not wearing shoes. I was told “That is so unsafe ? there is sharp objects on the floor that have not been cleaned up. Broken glass and everything”! Which I think would be a good new slogan for NorthWest Airlines. “fly NWA! THERE’S BROKEN GLASS AND EVERYTHING!” the most disturbing part of this, of course is the “everything.” Also I was told, “ Put some shoes on, sir! You might get an infection. . . The bathroom floors are filthy!” again, I think these stewardesses might have missed their real calling, advertising: “FLY THE FRIENDLY SKIES! THE BATHROOM FLOORS ARE FILTHY!”

I ordered the vegetarian meal, which for breakfast was: banana and grapes. And a thumb-sized carton of something slimy, but mostly banana and grapes. seeing as how the other passengers were all getting buckwheat noodles (soba), I asked the stewardess if they had a spare soba lying around, and was told, “you ordered the veggie meal. Vegetarians don’t eat wheat.” What? Vegetarians do not eat wheat.” You mean, the wheat that grows, um, in the ground? “Do vegetarians eat wheat? Well anyway you got more than most people.” I got a banana and some grapes. “Well anyway, we are out of it.”

Then, at the airport, I was detained by the cops for 3 hours. Even though I have been coming into and leaving japan for a year, on a tourist visa, with no problem, suddenly, it is illegal. Huh? I tried to use my phone to call my japanese friend for advice but all I got was some guy going “moshi moshi.” Which is odd, since my friend is not a guy. So here I am, in my Mountain Hiking Clothes (which are totally muddy and have not been washed in a week), trying to convince these immigration people that I am a respectable citizen. Even though I never overstayed my 90 day visa, and I have no criminal record in Japan. But I am still illegal, because I have used the visa too many times. I say, “I am not totally naiive. I know what I am doing is unusual, so I consulted a lawyer in Tokyo. He said if I showed you these documents, that I could continue to stay indefinitely on a toursit visa.” I show him the documents, and he just looks at me in that way that means, “Your lawyer was Lionel Hutts.”

He says he will let me in one more time, but only so that I can sell my apartment and move all my stuff back to america. This is unamusing. I mean, I have nowhere to live in america. So, where exactly do I ship all my stuff to? I thank the guy and apologize for making him work over time, and then leave the airport. Of course, thanks to the 3 hour interrogation, I missed the last train so I have to take a taxi all the way, which costs about the same price as front row tickets to a KISS reunion concert, and I fucking hate KISS.

MON OCT 31

Spend another 3 hours at the Tokyo Immigration Bureau, trying to find out what the deal is with me suddenly being illegal. It is hard because, I can’t exactly ask them, “So, how can I get around your laws on a technicality? Any loopholes you would like to share with me?” but here is a sampling of what I learned :

They have a special visa for studying japanese culture, which seems to be natural for me because that IS why i came here. but it only applies to flower arranging, karate, and traditional stuff.- everything except catfights, gothic dragqueens, robots, dental hentai, hardcore punk, and sanrio. also amusing –teachers of flower arranging etc. have to apply to the immigration department for a licence to grant cultural visas to their students. and yet the immigration claims not to have a list of such teachers. i was like, um . . . but aren’t you guys the ones that certify them?

They have a college visa, but even if I got in, the next semester starts in April. I am getting kicked out in January.

And as for the marriage visa ?I am single. talk about adding insult to injury. Never thought I would be NOSTALGIC for the days when rejection mereley meant lonliness, and a phone that does not ring. From now on, rejection means I get La Migra after me with clubs and tasers! “reason for deporation?” “the ladies weren’t feeling him.” “oh, jesus, get that guy out of here. We can’t have nobody in this country that is not a stone cold player.”

Then I asked them, what if my friend gives me a job at her clothing store? I could help buy used clothes from english-speaking countries. They said, “No, you can’t get a visa for working at a small shop. Only a big company.”

But here is the thing ;;; Even if I were to get a Respectable White-Collar Job AND marry a Japanese, AND get admitted to the most prestigious university in Japan on a special Being Awesome Scholarship. . . I STILL would get kicked out of the country! Because I am only allowed to be here for 3 months, and it takes longer than that simply for the beuraucracy to process the applications for a visa. So I am looking at a future of getting kicked out of the apartment, (basically losing all the “bribe to the landlord” and “the bribe to the real estate agent” money that all japanese people pay to just even get an apartment), box up all my stuff and ship it to america, move into an american apartment for like ONE MONTH, then get my visa, and move back again to tokyo, find a new apartment in tokyo, and pay more money in bribes again. This is what they are asking me to do.

Bascially you can’t do it unless you have a big institution vouching for you. A school or corporation, something that is similar to the beauracracy of the immigration ministry. Even though I have not done any crimes here, I am going to get kicked out just because I do not fit into a category neatly. When, oh when will they invent a Kicking Ass Visa?

I went to three different departments, and pestered them all with questions. They were really patient with me, and more than happy to give me the application forms, but absolutely would not tell me what the right answers are.

I was like, ok, so the guy downstairs said that small businesses are not allowed to issue work visas. so what is the criteria for getting a job visa approved? What kind of company? What kind of job?

“well there are no qualifications. We look at it case by case.”

Ok, so I CAN work for my friend’s clothes store?

“Oh, of course not.”

So what is the rule here?

“There are no rules. It is case by case.”

Aw, C’mon! so I just have to guess what you might want to hear, then wait 4 months, and see if I read your mind? this is my future here. don’t play games!

“No really sir, there are no specific right answers to the 1,001 questions on this form. We are just asking those questions as a prank. A bit of a laugh. We’re wacky.”

My brain started to go sideways and the immigration office started spinning. “if. . . there . . .are . . . no . . . criteria . . .then . . . how. . . do . . . you . . DECIDE?????!”

"MMMMaggic!! Woooooooo!!!!"

Byt the time she was waving her fingers in my face and chanting Masonic incantations, I had to just say “Thanksalotbuhbyeiamgoingoutsidenowbeforemyheadexplodeshaveaniceday.”

And of course, the punchline is, the immigration building is in one of the few parts of central tokyo where the trains do NOT run, so all the immigrants pretty much have to pay over 15 bucks just to go there and back.

 

 

TUES NOV 1 –

Went to the american embassy for help with La Migra. They had a security checkpoint across the street! I had to show my passport to even walk into the intersection. After that there are no less than 4 checkpoints, 2 metal detectors, and a small box where you have to leave your water bottle and fruits. I guess some terrorist had like a banana sculpted out of nitro and an orange sculpted out of glycerine and maybe threatened to smash them together and blow up the embassy somewhere? Or something? All this, just to talk to some minor official through a prison-style centimeter thick bullet-proof plexiglass window. Jesus, man. And this is in one of our friendly, buddy countries! There is nothing like a visit to the USA embassy to illustrate just how hated and despised we are throughout the world.

Anyway, despite the building being 7 stories tall and housing a hundred people, I could not find even one who would help me. “That is a matter between you and the japanese government,” is all they would say. Keep in mind that I am in trouble because I followed the adivce of some Lionel Hutts attourney. . . that was reccomended on the embassy’s own website! I got to talk eventually to some roly-poly guy looking like a Log Cabin Chris Farley. He not only said they wouldn’t help me, but gleefully told me that he used to work for immigration in america and would kick out japanese guys “all the time” for doing pretty much what I did. “all they wanted to do was come to US and . . surf,” he said, pronouncing “surf” as if it was something a satanist did with a dead baby. "Yeah, they’d get turned around at the airport. All their stuff was in America too, their apartment. happens all the time."

So instead of helping me, he gave me a lecture about what a sneaky pete I was and how lucky I am that I did not go directly to jail, and how I had to be taken down a peg because I was a loose cannon. He actually said “take you down.” I was like, “nice effort, kid. I really like how you are trying, but I think you are on the wrong side here. see, the japanese are trying to mess with me. You work for america. Your job is to help me.” At no point did the question of “what actual harm am I doing by living in japan?” come into it. It was more like, beuracracy is the same everywhere on the globe.

It was one of those things where a dude is trying to start some shit, and what do you do? If you respond, you just sound defensive, but if you do nothing, he will just keep on berating. Eventually I just said, look, I was not “sneaking.” I obeyed all the laws I knew about. The really irritating thing is that this little Gaelic butterball has like five layers of police protection, paid for with my tax money, and I don’t even get one little cordon of security guards to protect me from deportation. C’mon chris farley, can’t you spare a brother just one layer of security guards? Or better yet, get me a work visa. I mean, I think I am qualified to stand behind a plexiglass window and berate total strangers without doing anything useful. I can start tomorrow!

 

i think i am getting a handle on how these beauracrats think. see, normal police are pretty straightforward — "here is the law, follow it or else." but immigration guys DON’T like it if you try to follow the rules- they see it as you trying to "work the system." That’s why they don’t tell people useful information. They are like a huge-breasted woman who is all like, "Oh, you are just telling me what you think i want to hear. How can i know if you like me for ME? (sob!)"

 

 

november 10 — — still looks like it is happening. the job exporting crush videos to america fell through, and apparently i can’t get a "Pre-college" visa (AKA a coming-to-japan-to-study-japanese visa) because, get this, you can only use such a visa for 2 years EVEN IF YOU LIVE TO BE A HUNDRED. and i already was here for 1.5 years on that visa. i tried protesting that the japanese school i went to was not so much a school as a testing lab for bad teachers, but apparently all that matters was the kind of visa i had. my next stop is trying to get a "real college" visa, and study being a reporter.

 

Turns out that i can’t get into college EITHER, since i didn’t go to japanese school LONG ENOUGH to pass the entrance exams.

 

ha ha!

 

too much j-school for the pre-college visa, and not enough for the college visa.

 

21/1

3 things!

1 –

my homey said "Oh, you are a lucky man. my company is hiring right now the teachers of english!"

so i went to apply and found out that they won’t even interview me for a job becuase i don’t have a visa already. . i wanted to scream MOTHERFUCKER, IF I HAD A VISA, DO YOU THINK I WOULD BE APPLYING FOR A DAMN JOB??? if had a work visa already, I WOULD ALREADY HAVE A JOB, WOULD I NOT??? they said, "well we DO give visas for jobs. . . . but only to newbies that we interview and hire overseas." what the hell?? So if i was in America right now i could get a visa to come to japan, but since i am already in japan i can’t get a visa? And they said, "well this is normal. most of the big companies do it like this." That is when the LSD kicked in.

2-

on the good side, though, i finally learned how to ride a bike with no hands. i have been practising it for a month now but making almost no progress. thankfully i learned the 2 major tricks to doing it —

2) you have to be pretty fucking drunk. oh, so THAT was the problem. i had not been DRINKING ENOUGH. (forgot #1)so there i was, at 3 am, riding back and forth listening to a white rapper sing about ghonnorea, whilst sipping wino beverages, and trying to ride the 1000 meters from the 7/11 to the intersection. when i finally made it, i tried to emit a victory yell but what came out was a michael jackson "whoot." curiouser and curiouser. anyway i was feeling pretty fine about that so i kept on riding, through the intersection, ran a red light and basically came within 3 feet of running over 2 uniformed cops who were standing on the sidewalk.

whoot.

 

3-

if anyone in tokyo wants to come on all-night drunken bike rides in nakano ku or shinjuku ku, this could be the last month that i am in japan, so let me know.

2 nights ago, i was riding from 3 am until 10 am, weaving like some kind of circus act, clutching a small businessman’s hand-held voice-recorder and saying things like "memo to self: invest in biotech" and "memo to self : i am so fresh." no, seriously, i was doing hella freestyles. normally i freestyle once i get a certain amount in me, so i thought it would be a good idea to buy a little recorder and document it. however, i forgot that , to an inebrated fellow, a recorder in "off" mode looks very similar to one in "on" mode, so half my raps are lost to the sands of time. the other half i have on my computer but am scared to listen to. WHAT IF I BLOW MY OWN MIND?

12/10 – job interview

Go for an interview at English Village, an ESL school. The interview is kind of odd for two reasons. .

1) the boss asked me no questions, instead talking about his business plan the whole time. As if I were a venture capitalist wanting to invest?

2) Instead of being set up like a high-school (i.e. teacher, bunch of students, class, etc), English Village is a one-to-one lesson, where the student can pick their favorite teacher out of a lineup. And the teachers get paid on commission. In other words, it is run JUST like a hostess / host club! Interesting.

12/15 — finally, i found something that avoids the various catch-22s and pointless beuracratic obstacles: an English-language university run by Catholics in the heart ot tokyo, SOFIA DAIGAKU. They offer a 2 year MA course of japanese studies! Of course I have to get letters of reccomendation and transcript from my 15-years-ago UCSANTA CRUZ professors. The bad point is, it took me so long to actually find the Sofia Daigaku, that by the time i apply, it is already Christmas Break in UCSC!

CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP.

 

EPILOGUE:

I did have to leave the country, and move out of my apartment – leaving behind all my furniture. But I was able to put all my small stuff in storage. And eventually I got a job (after failing  interviews with Nova AND Geos!) and was able to come back in.

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