Gordon Hutchingson

Gordon HutchingsonOccupation:
Time in Japan:
22 years

Like many other lifers I' met here, I had no intention of making a career out of Japan when I stepped off of the figurative boat back in 1975. A year in Sapporo, on to Korea or wherever, take ten years and see the world. That was the plan.

It was only after inadvertently making a coffee shop waitress cry and wreaking similar gaijin havoc my first week due to my total lack of Japanese that I took up the language. It began as a casual affair, but I soon discovered that, for the first time in my life, I had found something -- besides travel -- that consumed me. In winter, 1976, I left Sapporo for a Zen temple in a small town in the Fukui Prefecture where I thought I could study both Zen and Japanese.

I was wrong. There was no time for Japanese in the temple, so after six months I moved into the city limits. Living in a rural Kansai burg of 35,000 imbued me with a curiosity value on par with, say, the Loch Ness Monster. This curiosity was at work -- along with some of my own -- as I became friends with the local yakuza chieftain and proceeded to scandalize the town with our association. Among the highlights from that period was a two-month stint at a major cabaret in Nagoya -- his intro, of course -- where I worked as a doorman and English teacher to the hostesses. Seeing those three quintessentially Japanese worlds -- religion, organized crime and the water trade -- from the inside taught me more about this country in less time than any alternative imaginable. The way I see it, in most cases, is that the ideal approach to things here lies about halfway in between the Japanese and Amereican ways.

Life returned to some semblance of normality upon arriving in Tokyo in 1980. I went to graduate school at Sophia University, worked as a copywriter at Dentsu until 1988, then started my own mini-agency in 1991. What has Japan meant for me? One, having begun to work at the age of 31 -- not the career move of the century -- it has given me a second chance at a profession. And two, it has afforded me a more objective perspective on my own culture.

Back in 1989, as a measure of comic releif for the many frusterations that foreigners are bound to expeience over here, I got the idea for "T-shirst for gaijin"-- something they can relate to or just chuckle at. In late 1994, I chose my four favorite captions -- "This country should come with instructions ( a smash hit at the Immigration office), "Gaijin make better aijin,'" "It's a deal! You practice your English, I'll practice my sex", " and "Yellow cab driving Instructor" and began production.

I interupted this activity after the Kobe earthquake in 1995 to create a charity with an American designer to aid the victims of that disaster. we donated JY1,250,000, which I personally delivered to physically handicapped and other deserving groups in the region.

Like Tokyo Classifided and other English language publications, my T-shirts are an attempt to reach for foreign/English speaking community inTokyo and Japan. As an "expat" veteran and inveterate fun lover, I'd love to see more products along these lines. If anybody out there feels the same way, don't hesitate to email me.

INFO email:

Do you know an interesting person in Tokyo? E-mail us at

199: Diane Morris
Media & Advertising
198: Ross Mihara
NHK Sumo Announcer
196: Corky Alexander
Tokyo Weekender
195: Edward Obaidey
194: Merry Angel
Managing Director
193: Alison Pockett
Managing Partner
192: Zack Konno
Car Export Representive
191: Pamela S. Caudill
Assistant U.S. Customs
190: Caroline Power
Being a Broad
189: Geoffrey Tudor
P.R. Section Chief JAL
188: Ryuko Ishikawa M.D.
Family Psychiatrist
187: Georges Hassam
Arabic Dance Instructor
186: Larry London
DJ at InterFM
185: Richard James
Photographer & Writer
184: Alan Kidd
Rock Musician & Editor
183: Adam Hitchens
Mobile Hairdresser/Masseur
182: Lylian de la Vega
181: Annie Chang
Computer Training
180: Mike Jacobs
179: Jimmy Angel
Rock'n'Roll Singer
178: Dante
177: Elizabeth Spencer
Tokyo Classified Intern
175: Paul E. Ainlay
Proprietor of D.B. Cooper's
174: Steve Bindon
173: Nanae Nagata & Naji Rahman
Proprietors of Heart Cocktail
172: Tom Holiday
171: Gordon Hutchingson
170: Barry Cardinal
Renshi Aikido Instructor
169: Tammy
168: Steve Feldman
Computer Dealer
167: Eve Suter
Flower Designer
166: Paul Goldsmith
Computer/H.R. Consultant
165: Avry Gottesman
Auto Dealer
164: Russell Pollard
Financial Advisor
163: Sa'dia
Belly Dancer
162: Marcel L'Esperance
Choral Director
161: Gregg Alan
Used Motorcycle/Car Dealer
160: Dr. Greg Sapplers OMD
Oriental Medical Doctor
159: Ute Ikuta
Cat Lover
158: Pam Adkins
Shaw College
157: Cloudy Bong Water
156: Melissa
Internet Company Director
155: Paul Gibson
Proprietor, The Fiddler Pub
154: Ann Spiers
153: Evans M. Asare
152: Sandy Weiss
Acting Teacher
150: Kike

Issues 300-360

Issues 250-299
Issues 200-249
Issues 138-149