I went to Japan in 1991, happy to finally put all the Japanese I’d studied at SDSU to some use and sure I’d be there “about a year or so” (ha-ha). While running J-List since 1996 has been an amazing experience, I also enjoyed the years before that when I was a simple ESL teacher. One good thing about teaching English is, you tend to meet a lot of different people each year, and I taught everyone, from children who were learning how to introduce themselves in English (and moreover, how to not fear the language) to a few outstanding high school age students who I was able to steer to more serious study in university, and even some interesting elderly students, like the wife of the former president of the Sapporo Ramen Company, who lived in a house nicer than a temple in Kyoto. Then there was this cool old barber who used to cut my hair. He was 85 years old, and liked to tell me stories of the “old days” during the Allied Occupation of Japan, when kids would run up to GIs and ask for chocolate and chewing gum. He loved talking to me, no doubt because no one else wanted to hear about life back then.
I had a cool old guy as my barber who told me about the old days.