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Japan Times On Sunday contributors select the responses that made them laugh loudest this year.


What book brought you to Japan? A book by (Australian-born novelist) James Clavell called “Gai-Jin” (1993). After reading that book and arriving in Japan 15 years later, I discovered it has no relation to Japan whatsoever.
Nick Ward, owner of Infinity Books, Asakusa, Tokyo, Aug. 24

What’s keeping you in Tokyo? No chance of parole — although who needs parole when you’re fortunate enough to be living in the world’s best city?
Richard Dawson, owner of The Devil in the Grape wine company and wine bar Parabola, Nishi-Azabu, Tokyo, Jan. 22

What’s the most exciting/outrageous thing you have ever done? Taking a half-naked Masai warrior with spear in hand to dinner at the New York Grill on top of the Park Hyatt Tokyo.
Joni Waka, art director, Tokyo, Feb. 23

What’s the strangest request you’ve ever been asked in your line of work? When I first came to Tokai University, the captain ran everything and the head coach had to follow everything the captain said.
Eddie Jones, head coach of the Japanese rugby team, March 23

What’s the strangest request you’ve ever been asked in your line of work? When I show up to an event in Japan, people sometimes ask me if they can be photographed with me but they often don’t know my name or even who I am.
Jun Nakayama, TV entertainer, party icon, plus-size model, aroma/beauty therapist, April 13

What’s the strangest request you’ve ever been asked in your line of work? The pub was packed recently with people, and everyone was drinking and having a good time. Out of nowhere, one of my long-term customers ordered a chamomile tea. This is a particularly irritating order for a beer pub owner to receive.
Bernd Haag, owner of Bernd’s Bar, Roppongi, Tokyo, Oct. 12

What’s your favorite Japanese word or phrase? 根性 (konjō, or guts/courage). The world can learn from the Japanese about how to get up and start over again despite unimaginable tragedy.
Lucy Birmingham, journalist, president of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, April 27

What’s your favorite phrase in any language? Hair of the dog. It tells a good story.
Matthew Crabbe, chef and co-owner of Two Rooms, R2 and Ruby Jack’s, May 25

What’s your favorite phrase in any language? You’ll never find a rainbow if you’re looking down (but you will occasionally find cash).
Kazu Kuzuwata, IT engineer, Aug. 31

What message/experience would you like festival-goers to take away with them at the end of Fuji Rock Festival? I’d like everyone to see that life is worth living.
Koichi Hanafusa, music journalist; editor-in-chief of Fujirockers.org, July 13

What do you think that the rest of the world can learn from Japanese food culture? Restaurants (in Japan) focus on a few things and use the best of what’s available on the day. If people around the world would do that, we’d eat better everywhere.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten, chef, restaurant owner, Sept. 28

If you could drink any cocktail in history, what would it be? The Monkey Gland. It was created by Harry MacElhone at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris during Prohibition and named after the pioneering work of Serge Voronoff, who tried to rejuvenate male humans by transplanting monkey testicles. Interestingly, the Monkey Gland is popular with female customers in our bar, but I don’t think many of them know the history behind it.
Rogerio Igarashi Vaz, co-owner of Bar Trench & Bar Tram, Tokyo, Nov. 9

What do you think about while standing on the train? No thinking required; I listen to the sounds around me, and eat the odd chocolate.
Morgan Fisher, light/sound painter, May 11

If you could go forward in time or back, which would you prefer? Sometimes I would like to go forward just to find out that everything is going to be OK. I guess I’m still learning to accept the unknown.
Bryerly Long, actress, Aug. 10

Tell us a quick joke. Ninja wa nan-ninja?
Kazu Kuzuwata, IT engineer, Aug. 31

If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be? “By the Seat of his Pants.”
Baye McNeil, author/freelance writer/ teacher, Jan. 26

Name three uses of a stapler without staples. Castanet, nunchaku, Morse code practice thingy.
Todd Stevens, director of Beer Cats, Nov.23

How would you find a needle in a haystack? Why bother looking! Just go to the ¥100 store and buy a whole sewing kit.
Milton Miltiadous, University lecturer, life coach, Nov. 30

What do you want to be when you grow up? Ryan Hemsworth.
Yuichi Yoshii, owner of The Contemporary Fix clothing store and Pariya restaurant, designer for Mr.Gentleman, Oct. 26

Do you have any words of advice for young people? Learn to be happy with only one rice ball.
Joni Waka, art director, Feb. 23

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