Turning Japanese is difficult. Even if you think that you are, you probably are not. Even if you really think so, you most likely won't. Other than the obvious reasons, Japan is a notoriously homogenous society. So attempting to 'turn Japanese' is as fruitless as the activity the Vapors' 1980's hit really describes. Though no one said you won't get off trying.

For example, there was a period in my life, when along with Madonna and everyone else who could grip a straightening iron, I wanted to be a geisha. That was of course until I found out you had to be good dancer as well as somewhat sexually promiscuous. (Both of which I only admit to after several rounds of sake.)

Though I'd shrugged off my kimono back in '98, I spent this past July in Japan aspiring to be a different muse. I traipsed through Tokyo with my lippiest pout; pretending to be Scarlett Johansson pretending to be Sofia Coppola pretending to be gorgeously bored.

I glided through the shopping district Ginza with the pings of Air tapping ennui at my eardrums. I bled from listening to My Bloody Valentine on repeat. I visited Shinto shrines. I haphazardly arranged flowers. I walked around hotel rooms in my underwear. I sighed. I poked at raw fish. I sighed again. All of this however proved to be endlessly entertaining. Even the splinter I got from vigorous chopstick use couldn't get me down.

Apathy apparently takes a lot more effort than they make it seem in the movies. Maybe it was the transition from reel to real life, or French to Japanese, but I had lost my ennui in translation, and I wanted it back.

So when our tour guide Mekiko (or Mekiko Mouse as she preferred to be called) suggested we attend a Japanese baseball game, I was game. Aside from the usual excitement of a potential choking-on-a -Cracker-Jack-prize Heimlich situation, I batted for boredom. Unfortunately, in Japan, the great American pastime is a far less tedious way to pass time. You really haven't been taken out to the ball game until someone has bought you some edamame and aganashi tofu there. Young Japanese people bounced up and down the isles of the stadium in fully equipped neon uniforms, spraying Kirin and a sports drink called 'Pocari Sweat' from the numerous taps of their head to toe concession stands.

The Yakult Swallows battled it out with the Yokohama Baystars and, though I was not the pained muse I hope to be, I found myself endlessly amused by this strange translation of the old ball game. I laughed, I cried and furthermore, I finally reconciled my identity. Because whether you are American or Japanese, a movie star or Baystar fan, in the stands all that matters is who you root for. Even if my beloved Baystars fall out of favor or the Swallows suck less than their name suggests, I was remade in Japan.


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