Before I came to Japan, I thought I knew pretty much what kinds of people I’d find here: lots of Japanese salaryman types riding the train to work, overstressed students struggling to get into university, and so on. This was 1991, when there were no blogs to provide “slice of life” information about Japan, and it seemed that every book on the subject was written by old-timers who came here after World War II and never left. I was naturally surprised to encounter Japanese people of every imaginable type here, which makes sense of course since I only had stereotypes to work from before. For example, I met a normal Japanese businessman who was an “airport otaku,” able to discuss the features and history of just about every major airport in the world in great detail. Then there was the time some very average high school students I’d been teaching asked me to come and watch them dance. They were in a “rockabilly circle” (club) that dressed in extravagant 1950’s era outfits and put on impromptu street performances — it was really cool. Even the seemingly mild-mannered Jun, the J-List staff member who keeps our site stocked with interesting snacks and toys, surprised me: in his younger days, he traveled along the Silk Road through China, India, and Iran, and had perfected the art of eating with his fingers without making a big mess.
All things considered, I did not expect to meet Rockabilly fans when I came to Japan.