A few weeks ago, my good friend and I decided to do a joint writing project about Japanese culture and society. After all, such a complex, deep and stratified social framework can’t be understood from any single vantage point — especially not that of white guy who’s only been here a few years.

The first topic we agreed to write about is dating. Specifically, dating Japanese people in Japan. Kayo wrote her piece from the perspective of an outgoing, independent, and overall awesome Japanese lady. Be sure to check it out here. As for my piece, well, I did my…

Petulant Pedantry

And a bunch of other things I don’t have time to get into

My life as summarized by a neon sign. Photo by Belinda Fewings on Unsplash

You just don’t understand. I see things in a way that you can’t. But don’t worry, it’s not your fault. You’re still sleeping. People like me, we can get you woke.

When you look around at society, what do you see?

Shush, don’t answer, that was rhetorical. I am the one who answers.

You see a complex interweaving of diverse individuals thinking deep thoughts, living their lives, holding their own values, interacting with one another to form a rich, layered, majestic social tapestry that would take years to unravel, let alone comprehend.

In other words, you see nothing. Amateur.


Polyglottic Pet Peeves

Stop shoving your number in my face

Photo by Michelle Phillips on Unsplash

As a society, we’ve come to equate linguistic ability with intelligence. We hear it all the time, from documentaries about famous historical figures to your friend describing their smartest acquaintance.

A genius who speaks 7 languages!

Few other skills solicit the same degree of reverence. IQ is notoriously unreliable. Academic performance only measures your ability to study for tests. Even professional accomplishments in complex fields like brain surgery don’t guarantee you’ll be recognized as smart.

But languages are somehow different.

Our societal admiration for polyglots strikes me as overblown for multiple reasons. …

Losing inspiration

Parting wisdom for an uninspired writer

Photo by Ava Sol on Unsplash

I’ve had it, I’m done.

When I took this job, I knew it wouldn’t be easy. All work, no reward. But as a figment of your imagination, I was expecting as much. I don’t mind occasionally taking form in the foggy muddle of your mind, coming to rest upon your shoulder, and whispering ideas into your ear.

I’m a muse. It’s what we do.

What I can’t stand is what you’ve done with me. We muses have inspired the greatest male artists and thinkers in human history. …

Protected Expression

A gentle reminder for all those complaining about censorship

Photo by Wynand van Poortvliet on Unsplash

Full disclosure, when I was studying for my degree in human rights law, free speech — and its broader cousin, freedom of expression — isn’t something I spent that much time on. The whole thing seemed pretty straightforward. It could be summarized as:

You can’t be punished for your thoughts and how you express them; terms and conditions apply.

To keep things simple, here’s how those terms and conditions are defined under international law (ICCPR article 19 paragraph 3, for the nerds):

[…]It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by…

Uniqueness Fetish

Your guide to a unique and unforgettable trip to Japan

Photo by Tom Chen on Unsplash

Tokyo is notorious for its massive crowds and oppressive population density. In addition, with over 30 million tourists per year, any attraction worth seeing is guaranteed to get overrun.

That’s why, in order to get ahead of everyone else and collect a truly unique set of pictures to show off on Instagram — because let’s face it, that’s why you’re looking for tourist-free attractions in the first place — you have to think outside of the box.

Further out of the box than the tens of millions of people also striving for internet validation.

Consider yourself lucky to have found…

Not the brightest star

Failure to comply will result in us knocking your puny planet out of orbit

Grand Ambassador of Mert Louie Goh vicariously prefacing his remarks with the words “I understand”

Insignificant Earthlings,

The Intergalactic Pan-Dimensional Empire of Mert would like to express its profound outrage at your relentless mocking of Grand Ambassador Louie Goh.

Representative Goh was sent to your planet in an attempt to civilize your species and find among your primitive medicine a cure for the epidemic of chromatic dome disease that plagues our kin.

He has so far failed on both counts, in no small part due to your so-called “sense of humor.”

Sending His Excellence Goh to Earth was no small undertaking. We had to teach him how to smile without revealing his extraterrestrial origin, communicate…

Golden Eggs of Wisdom

How to succeed as a talentless rich white gander who hates identity politics

Photo by Amit Talwar on Unsplash

Welcome to this beginner class on exploiting mainstream media as a wealthy white conservative goose. Help yourself to complimentary lettuce and cabbage, courtesy of our sponsors, a secret gaggle of elite business billionaires.

Don’t worry, it’s not the gaggle with all the tech bros. It’s the other one, with all the agricultural, petrochemical and pharmaceutical tycoons. You know, the good geese.

My name is Ted Goose. I’ll be teaching you how to get on TV and rake in ridiculous amounts of cash while assuming your true nature as a loud, aggressive, and easily frightened animal.

Note that this course is…

Life Abroad

Things to consider before you pack your bags and move to Japan

Photo by Louie Martinez on Unsplash

So far, I’ve lived for at least a year in half a dozen cities and traveled to many more. There is no place I love quite as much as Tokyo. I couldn’t see myself living anywhere else.

That being said, the Tokyo lifestyle isn’t for everyone. There are some pretty big cons that those thinking of moving here should keep in mind.

While you can experience many of the upsides for yourself by coming over as a tourist, Tokyo’s downsides get you over time. I’m in my sixth year of living here and I’m sure there are many issues I…

Modern Day Propaganda

A masterclass in shooting the made up messenger

Photo by Shelley Pauls on Unsplash

A tidal wave of ink has washed over the so-called woke movement. These haughty know-it-all Gen Z social justice warriors are said to have a profound — yet never well defined — influence over the cultural conversation. Everything from cancel culture to political radicalization has been blamed on the woke.

But how influential are these people, exactly?

I’ve seen both left-leaning comedy and right-wing media criticize the woke for taking hardline stances on topics about which they know next to nothing. …

Alex Steullet

Travel | Humor | Language | Society. Writing out of passion. Tokyo-based polyglot with a degree in human rights. Find me on Twitter and Instagram @alexstwrites.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store