The Narrator Hates The Old Man Who Lived With Him Kojima Nobuo’s The American School – A Review

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Kojima Nobuo’s The American School – A Review

The short story, “The American School” by Kojima Nobuo offers a humorous take on the fictional (yet possible) story of a couple of Japanese English teachers who are forced to attend an American school that was established in Japan just after World War II. II. The plot revolves around four characters- Isa is the protagonist who is forced to teach English because she knows a few words and sentences but hates the language because she can’t pronounce it well. Shibamoto is the leader of a Japanese school visiting group (although we don’t know much about him as the narrator usually gives us his opinion). Yamada is an over-absorbed person who speaks English well enough to keep up with the American military and thus considers himself better than Isa (putting her in the enemy’s position), and Michiko is the only woman in the group, which is interestingly enough. he speaks English better than Yamada. When their journey goes to the American school, the reader has the opportunity to see both Japanese and American culture; and the interaction between the United States soldiers driving their cars and the people of their country walking, and the behavior of American children in school.

One example of this would be how Americans seem to be bold and impatient in contrast to the Japanese and their ways. For example, Yamada met an American soldier in a jeep who, when he found out that Yamada’s leader was being delayed by the US authorities, threw his hands up and drove away mockingly saying, “I’m very happy. I’m sorry I kept you waiting”. This rushed, “must-be-at-the-time” attitude, many passages easy to go Japanese culture seems to epitomize, if you want, the cultural difference between the West and the East.

Another example of cultural differences occurs later. Isa and Michiko are inside the school waiting for a field trip when Michiko sees two students holding hands in “mutual infatuation”. Michiko says, “Look at those two over there—how ugly!” which suggests that either Michiko had never seen two people in love holding hands, or holding hands in public was not acceptable in Japanese culture at the time. Kojima Nobuo often focuses on such cultures and rarely comes across clearly to fit any culture. In this way, he shows wisdom by assuming that the reader is intelligent enough to form his own opinions and judgments. When Michiko falls on her high heels and Principle sees what has happened, we know that she is the epitome of American smug, proud as she says, “Ah yes. The ghost of the old kamikaze.”

Finally, “The American School” is a well-written, sometimes funny short story that helps one think a little about the cultural differences between Japan and the United States at the end of World War II.

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