Tag Archives: Tokyo

Hunting for Valentines: Interview with Kiyomi

 

Kiyomi is talented... and hot.

Kiyomi is talented… and hot.

 

I broke my interviewing cherry with Kiyomi McCloskey from Hunter Valentine. Now, don’t worry. I already know that I am not a journalist (surprise!), nor do I write for Rolling Stone, so I decided to just talk to Kiyomi — and, of course, ask questions that I thought people who read my blog would be interested in: things about beer, fashion, travel, dating, and being butch. If you want more of the “who’s your musical influence”-type questions, go check out Hunter Valentine’s website. Oh, and Google them, as many journalists do. Read the rest of this interview on the Huffington Post:

Hunting for Valentines: Interview with Kiyomi.

Let the Huffington Post know you like ButchOnTap

Let the Huffington Post know you like ButchOnTap

While you are there, would you please hit the “like” button next to my name at the top of the page? This is to like me as an author, rather than liking the particular article. Of course, you can do that too. ;o) Thank you!


Nothing is Lost In Translation

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Look! Charcuterie to Go.

So, I’m here in Tokyo. I tell anyone who asks me that I have two favorite cities. One is Barcelona – for the weather, food (amazing charcuterie), people, architecture, you name it. It is a warm, inviting and beautiful city filled with gorgeous buildings, parks, and women. Plus, I speak the language – mostly. The other is Tokyo. Why? It’s not the weather. Each of the three times I have been there, it has been cold (late October, early December, and late February). I’ve yet to make it during the coveted Cherry Blossom season. Then, what? Food? Not as much as Barcelona, recall that I despise sushi. Two things. The people and just how foreign it is.

THE PEOPLE

To a one, the people in Tokyo are absolutely ridiculous. Indeed, the people I have met there, the strangers who have gone out of their way (repeatedly) to help me, make me dislike Americans. We aren’t so friendly in comparison. The people are just so kind, considerate, and interested in what you have to say. And service is king. The women are lovely, and the men all seem gay to me – the younger ones at least – and that makes me feel super comfortable. “Gay or European?” really should be “Gay or Japanese?” Oh, and I love the sense of style. Color! Patterns. A Scarf! Socks that are crazy patterns. Bring it. Love it. Plus, any country that is absolutely head over heels in love with Hello Kitty, or Kitty Chan, as she is affectionately called, is more than alright with me.

JUST HOW FOREIGN IT IS

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Signs everywhere, but what do they say?

This is kind of hard to explain. The thing about Tokyo is that it is so, so, so NOT America. I mean, it’s not the US, Canada, England, or Scotland. Duh, Butch. It’s in Asia. No, I get that. What I mean is that it is the one place that I have been where I felt totally and absolutely out of my element. What do I mean by that? You can’t read the signs. In Italy, France, Portugal, Mexico, and many other countries I can decrypt most words enough to figure out “police” versus “pub.” Not so here in Tokyo. If the picture next to the Hiragana word for Shinkansen didn’t let you know it was a train, you would be still searching – and you would miss your train that will absolutely be leaving on time without you.

Most people do not speak English (or they might not let on that they do). Money from an ATM? Good luck. Want to use your cell phone? I don’t think so. It is an entire city that is homogeneous. Everyone looks very similar – and no one looks like me. By this, I do not mean to discount the amazing differences between Japanese people. No, not at all. What I mean is that much more than in the US or England, the people have similar coloring.

Now, that is not to say that there aren’t similar minded people there. That there aren’t Butches, lesbians, mothers, democrats, atheists, English speaking people, bow-tie wearing lovers of musicals, operas and craft beers. Of course there are. But more than any other place I have been, the people look similar to each other and they don’t look like me. I am still taller than most, blonder, bigger, and let’s face it whiter, more awkward and more rude. Try as I might not to be any of those last three.

Want me to prove it? When I travel there, with two different companies, I have been given a “handler.” It is so different, so much harder to get around and find your way, that companies assign someone to help you get from point A to point B. And, thank goodness.

So, it is indeed foreign. It is like being in a sea of beautiful Koi – all of whom it seems understand me and are unbelievable kind – and I am a flounder. Also, I am pretty much in love with the culture of respect. There may be other countries, other cultures, that value each other and respect each other the way the Japanese do, but I haven’t found them yet. Evidence the bow. I love this. It is not subservient or menial. It is a strong, self-possessed person giving way by bowing to another. It says, thank you. It says, I am sorry. I says, hello. How about this? When you leave your office at night, you stand near the door and bow to your colleagues saying Osakini shitsureshimasu. Translation? “I am sorry that I am leaving before you.” How great is that? Even the ground crew for my plane leaving Tokyo bowed to the plane/pilot as we rolled away from the gate. It is a way to honor the other person. I freaking love the bow. How weird would it be if I just incorporated this into my everyday life back home in SoCal? I think I just might. Hello, bow. I am sorry that you had a bad day, bow. Thank you for serving me, bow. Sigh. The respect that this imparts is really ridiculous. I had a protracted conversation on my last evening with the younger colleagues about the bow, the significance, the depth of the bow. It was fascinating.

NOTHING IS LOST IN TRANSLATION

Even though I do not speak Japanese, I have learned enough to impress almost everyone I meet. I think this is more of a sign of how difficult (translation, foreign) the Japanese language is for Americans, rather than the strength of what I’ve learned. I would love to learn more. It is a beautiful language. When I listen to my colleagues and friends speak, I catch a word here and there (thank you, I’m sorry, we, I understand, no, yes, beer, please, woman), but it is nothing like when I hear any one speak a Romance language. I catch lots of those words. Again, foreign. Am I getting this across? And, yet, I feel welcome. Comfortable here.

Perhaps it is because I am at a point where I am trying to find difference. Searching for adventure. Seeking out places where I feel uncomfortable. I love it when English is the second language, or even better, not even on the sign. I think this is why I love Tokyo (and the other parts of Japan that I have visited). Maybe I just like being out of my own element. Way, way outside my comfort zone.

Whatever the reason, I don’t feel like anything is lost in the translation even when I do not understand a single word of what is being said. It’s butch to be out of your element. Be Butch.


I Don’t Like Sushi

I don’t like sushi. There, I said it. I love veggie rolls, and anything that is cooked, but not raw fish. It’s a problem. For real. And something I will either have to hide while in Japan or be prepared to deal with.

My Japanese colleagues will want to take me to excellent sushi. After all, what do most Americans want to experience in Japan? Sushi. So, I will go and eat sushi and I will drink lots of sake and it will be fine. I also cannot stand shellfish. Any kind of shellfish. Lobster, crab, scallops, mussels, abalone, clams, oysters – disgusting. The lot of them. Again, I realize that this makes me a bit of a freak. Whenever I am at a high-end event and all of my friends and colleagues are freaking out about the “amazing crab legs” or the “ridiculous oyster bar” I just shake my head. It’s really a texture thing for me. The flavor is ok really, but I can’t stomach the texture of these sea creatures.

On top of that, they are sea creatures, very small animals. When served, they frequently are still the whole animal. I have trouble eating a life. A piece of pork under cellophane in the market, or a lovely piece of steak on my plate, totally distanced from its source, is one thing. And both pigs and cows are indeed delicious. But a lobster, in tact, sitting on my plate? No, it’s too much for me. A friend said it really well recently. She is a marine biologist and she shares my distaste for all of these sea creatures, which she explains are her friends. How can she eat her friends? I note that she is a very attractive femme, and I would try anything she asked me to, so it’s a good thing she doesn’t care for shellfish. To my friends reading this, if you didn’t know that about me, take note. It can easily be a new sport for you – a form of hazing Butch.

And, before you say, “Butch, you need to try it,” let me assure you that I have. My ex wife is a lobster freak (I assume this is still the case), and my ex GF loved all manner of sushi and shellfish. Each of them at various points in our relationships encouraged me to try all of these items over and over again in case my tastes had changed. And, of course, I always try things that I am asked to try. Each time, I would say, “Of course, honey” and try what I was offered. My tastes had not changed, much to their chagrin. Even last weekend at dinner with a bunch of friends at an amazing place, a friend was over the moon with her scallops – my least favorite of all shellfish – and she asked me to try them. She’s a pretty femme, and well, what can I say? Of course I did as she asked and tried a bite – washing it down with the Chimay I was drinking as politely as I could. Blech.

So, I am an American business woman in Japan (sounds like a tag line for a show) and a lesbian at that. And, I don’t like sushi. I refuse to make that joke – you know the one – because I think it’s gross and very, very far from the truth, but I’d be a fool if I didn’t acknowledge that at least some of you are thinkng it. For shame.

Dear Japanese people and sushi fans the world over: I am sorry.

Dear PETA and fish friends: you are welcome.

Well, what can I say? It’s butch (or at least good business) to eat things you don’t want to in order to not offend your hosts? Ok. Be Butch.


A Spotless Bowtie

Can you spot the bow tie?

Can you spot the bow tie?

When I was in Tokyo last month I had the privilege of visiting one of our factories. This is where my company makes some ridiculously sophisticated stuff. I mean, seriously. I could not possibly explain it. So, I was delighted to fly to a distant island in Japan and zip on into a special place where no lawyer has been able to go before. One small step for Butch Jaxon, One giant step for Butches everywhere.

This is one of those places where you cannot leave dirt, hair, sweat, or DNA. I had to wear a special suit to visit this “clean room” environment. This means that two women helped me into a hair net (which is bad for the hawk), face mask, special suit (with double cuffs at the arms and ankles), a ski mask like hood, and special booties. Oh so sexy. After getting into my E.T. or Monsters Inc. like outfit, I walked down a corridor filled with air hoses to blow off any remaining filth and into an air-locked chamber before entering the clean room. Wow. What a neat experience.

After the visit (I could tell you what I saw and learned but I’d have to kill you), as the same women were helping us out of our special sterile gear, our guide offered to take our picture. I knew I had to do it. I donned the gear again, and of course, added my special touch. Can you see it?

It’s butch to accessorize, even in the toughest environments, and with the ugliest outfits imaginable. Be Butch.


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