As American as Fireworks


So, here I am…celebrating America’s birthday in Japan. That’s right, my dear country turns 231 years old today and if you measure freedom by pints of ice cream consumed, dozens of donuts eaten, kegs of beer guzzled and number of TV channels available, it is safe to say that we are freer than ever.

Of course, this 4th of July is a little bit different for me. No barbecue, no hot-dogs or hamburgers on the grill, just me, myself, and I holding a sparkler in my left hand, a can of beer in my right hand and an American class A cigarette pursed between my lips, sitting on my porch, looking out over a parking lot in suburban Japan.

Sound exciting? Believe me, it’s not.

It cost me 320yen for the can of Budweiser and 320 yen for the pack of class A cigarettes. Which means that, in Japan, 350ml of beer costs the same as a pack of cigs.

Fireworks, are sold at 7-11. In fact, convenience stores are pretty damn convenient, here. You can buy most of the same items as in American stores, but there is a larger variety of instant noodles, and there are a few extra services.

For instance, bathrooms are available to non-paying customers, you can park your car over night without getting towed, and you can pay electric and other utility bills at the counter…pretty damn convenient, huh?

But, before I really get into it and give you all of my observations and opinions about Japan, I want to know what you want to know about Japan.

Send me your questions and your stereotypes. Tell me what you want to know, and I will be happy to reply with pictures, words…whatever.

But I have to keep this first article short and reign in the beast, because, I feel the urge to go out and start a revolution.

Happy Birthday America.

-D.W. Patton