So as I mentioned a post or two ago, we don`t have internet in the international house at the moment. They had promised us that it would be ready by the end of last month, but of course that counted for nothing. We`ve tried opening individual contracts with internet companies but were told that we couldn`t (goodness knows why). Not only is it a total bummer that you can`t check your mail whenever you want to, but its a real disappointment－ I mean you come to freakin Japan, and you go to its best business school and voila no internet.
All this being said, its definitely been entertaining watching the administration squirm as we complain (we are not japanese, we are obnoxious gaijin, we`ll let people know when we`re pissed). The first instance was at the i-house welcome party which was mysteriously held a month after school started. We had a nice relaxing evening – they brought in two koto players which was neat and gave a few speeches; nothing too exciting. But then, one not-so-bright administrator brought up the subject of the internet and it just so happened that he was unlucky enough to have Ben, a guy from australia who is especially pissed off about the whole thing, sitting right smack in front of him.
It was pure entertainment. The administrator goes “we are working as hard as can to close a contact as fast as possible” and Ben interrupts him “when?”
The poor guy wasn`t expecting this of course:
Administrator: as soon as we possibly can.
Administrator: I can`t possibly tell you exactly…
Ben: what day? when?
This went on for a few minutes and is a good example of a feature of Japanese culture that can frustrate you to no end – you can never get a straight answer, especially when you want it the most (Ben never did find out when).
Next there was a welcome party held for all then incoming exchange students, not just the people at i-house. This was hosted by all the big shots at the university: the pres, the vice-pres etc. As it was sponsored by Toyota, there were many big shots from over there too.
Tangent – After we had a group kanpai (toast) and everyone was mingling, I had the singularly unpleasant experience of meeting the ex-president of toyota u.s.a.. I was standing with a guy from germany and a girl from taiwan. He comes over and brings with him a little man who I suppose is his sidekick. Pres. introduces himself to me and tells me that he lived in the states in English. His sidekick then adds “he was president of toyota usa you know”. Good for him. Pres. then introduces himself to the german guy. Brownnoser san then adds “he created the lexus brand”. I must add here that the big boss actually beamed (yes, beamed) with every word that came out of the shrimp`s mouth. This continued for a few minutes and in all this he didn`t see it necessary to introduce himself to the taiwanese girl – a glaringly obvious slight. In the end I introduced her myself and she was bestowed with a slight incline of the head and a grunt. Charming. End of Tangent.
Of course in a bureaucratic system sending the message straight to the top is always more effective than a bottom-up strategy. Since all the big shots of the university were there having a good time on toyota`s budget, we thought it would be a good idea to let them know that we were surprised, that unlike our universities back home and contrary to our expectations, hitotsubashi`s international house is not hooked to the internet.
Needless to say, it did the trick.