When I moved to Japan in 1984 for what I realize was my ‘rite of passage’ into adulthood, I wanted to be in a situation where I had no fallback. No parent to bail me out. To create a life all on my own.. just doing it in a foreign country, learning a foreign language as well as a foreign culture.
Back in the 1980s, gaijin literally ‘outside person’, were fairly rare in Japan. Even in Tokyo, it wasn’t uncommon to go a few hours without seeing another foreign face (unless you were just outside one of the ubiquitous English language schools that popped up at the drop of a pair of chopsticks). Hence the little comic I came up with–Shadow of the Gaijin, which would ultimately morph some dozen and a half years later into Tokyo Days, the series of three short comic tales that illustrated my first several days living in Japan.
‘Shadow of the Gaijin’ was occasionally replaced titularly (that word cracks me up) with the simpler ‘Sensei’ which most anyone, even non-native Japanese will know means ‘teacher’, and yes, that’s how I spent most of my working hours while in Japan.
Here are a couple of one-pagers chronicling the nameless gaijin as he wrestles with the nefarious ‘Tee-Hee Club’ of rampaging Japanese schoolgirls. Parts 1 and 2, the complete story!