7.13.2010

Braids, red dots, blasians and aliens (#1)

I excel at procrastination ...

I decided to write Braids, Red Dots, Blasians and Gaijins in hopes that my extremely limited understanding of Japan will be of some use to any Africa-American woman who might get involved with a Japanese man from Japan. Even if your man loves you and wishes to marry you, chances are he'll "assume" that you'll learn how to navigate this society on your own. As he would be male and extremely privileged, he will mostly be likely unsympathetic when you come home crying in frustration
every day. Don't worry. This won't mean that his love is insincere. Instead it's a sure bet that he doesn't know what it's like to be a foreigner and a woman in Japan even if he's been a foreigner elsewhere. The experiences will never be parallel.

Let's start simple because I don't know how to make the "cut" in this blog. First, a majority of the 127 million (and declining) people in this nation has never ever laid eyes on a foreigner (gaijin/gaikokujin) of any kind. Bonus. This means they'll notice that you're a foreigner first and black second. Feel secure in this knowledge. For them, a gaijin is a gaijin. In this country, there are only two kinds of people: Japanese and gaijin. There is no in-between. Don't be distressed. This knowledge can save you.

Don't be upset if a handful of people take one look at you and flee. They're usually bumpkins from the countryside. Most though will acknowledge that you exist and move on because they're polite. Unfortunately, there are rude ill-mannered people who deserved to be smacked. Due to a lack of home training they will gawk at you and some will even touch you, especially your hair. Feel free to grab the offending hand and thrust it away from you. No one has a right to touch you without your permission. Blessedly, these people are few and far between. My husband had this same experience in Selma, Alabama. Not too many Japanese wander around there.

At worst, people will talk about you. Ignore them. Chances are, they are only attempting to ascertain that you are indeed a gaijin. If you speak Japanese, answer their questions. Great shock value here. There are two possible outcomes: 1) They'll run away - always a plus if they're twits; or 2) They'll brave it, talk to you and give you a chance to make a buddy (the older the person the better your chances here).

In the next post, I'll explain how both black and Japanese perceptions of one another have been screwed over by Hollywood movies and US News and how you can overcome this... person by person... until you have a group of your own. In Japan, anyone who thinks that he/she is an island is usually a candidate for suicide.

23 comments:

  1. Diggin' the intro so far. Look forward to the rest of the series and more insight from you.

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  2. This is great. I'm hopefully going to live in Japan for 1-3 years, and I love Asian men, so this is definitely relevant to my interests.

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  3. I'm getting a lot of gawking looks in Korea which is kinda annoying but I never assume it's racism. This is a very interesting piece. Can't wait to read more

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  4. Very interesting start, Hateya, thanks!

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  5. I live in South Korea too and I get the looks, especially from the older woman and children. A majority of the kids say hello. Especially if they hear my kids (students) yelling "TEACHER! TEACHER CHARISE! TEACHER REESE! HELLO! HI!" from across the street, down the road, or in the library.

    The older people stare too, but smile at me and are very mice once I say hello to them in Korean. (My level of Korean is preschool level seriously. Actually it may be below that.) I can read a little, but I am learning.

    I am going to see a Rain concert dammit or something.

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  6. I meant to post that I liked your article so far Ankh. (Is it okay if I call you that? If not I apologize.) I've only been in Japan for 2 weeks for a visit. I was stared at but mostly checked out by the guys. I never thought my chest was much till I made a waiter trip into a group of businessmen and when they noticed where he was looking they were like Oh,OK then.

    BTW I am not white, so this isn't one of those I am white entitled boasting sort of post things, I have seen a lot of on forums and blogs. I am black as you can probably tel from my avatar. I love your blog and also since I am in Korea I was able to join the Rain Cloud list (full membership is not up yet) when it is I may be able to provide you with more cookies.

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  7. @DZ ooh you're in Korea too. I'm thinking of hitting up a 2PM concert with some of my girlfriends July 31st.

    The stares are alright but it's really gawking if you ask me and mostly from the elderly. I should definitely try to wave back, because staring contests are kinda grating :D

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  8. Thank you for this post. I've been wanting to visit Japan since 2002 when my Religious studies professor talked about his positive experiences visiting there. Of course he is a white male so I wasn't sure how the black female experience would compare.

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  9. @MG

    I feel you. I too have wanted to visit Japan since my cousin told me how beautiful it is (she was stationed there while in the Air Force). But of course being a black person, I always wondered first and foremost about how I would be received. We don't have the luxury of thinking otherwise...

    I also wouldn't mind visiting Korea now that I know more about the country. From pics that I've seen, Seoul is gorgeous and I love how off-the-hook they are about R&B/rap/hip-hop.

    *sigh* Maybe one day...

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  10. @Hateya (or anyone)

    Which Asian language should one learn first? I'm currently studying Spanish, but I also wanted to get into another language (I'm determined to become multi-lingual). I was thinking Japanese, but everyone says Chinese is the Asian language to learn first because of their rising economic power.

    Opinions? Suggestions? Thanks!

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  11. @ cinnamon
    http://www.going-places-blog.com/
    This blog is by an American living in Daegu, South Korea which is a city of under 3 million. She is a white woman but she has a black sister (adopted). And it seems we have several guest posts coming from Black women currently in S. Korea.

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  12. @ DN

    Welcome! Thanks for stopping in!

    So...you get checked out a lot in Japan?

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  13. @Bcbgrl33

    I'm getting a lot of gawking looks in Korea which is kinda annoying but I never assume it's racism.

    From what my Korean colleague told me, it's more of a curiosity thing, and not usually a racist thing. She said that while there are certainly racist folks in Korea, Koreans aren't used to seeing black people in person, so when they do, they gawk and usually have no perception that it's rude.

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  14. @BCBgrl33 - *envious*I wanna go...It is on my day off too. How much does it cost. I usually send most of my paycheck to my mother to help her out.

    @Ankh - yes I did get checked out in Japan.

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  15. @DN
    Yeah I talked to some Korean peers and they say it really is just curiosity and they are very unaware how rude it is but it's alright. I kinda like the attention

    And I haven't bought the tickets yet but my friend said about 88,000,000 won or about 88 dollars. I might as well splurge because it's K-Pop...in Korea...Why not :D

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  16. @BCBgrl33

    You mean 88,000 right. The number you put equals $88,000 in US money.
    I may be able to go. I am done with summer camp then. Where are you in SK. I live in Osan City.

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  17. @ Bcbgirl33

    When you go see 2PM, remember to blow kisses at Hwang for me.

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  18. BCB, have fun at the concert and tell us all about it.

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  19. @DN
    Sorry I still have to remember 3 decimal places lol. I am currently in Seoul studying at the University of Seoul

    @AM
    Don't worry girl, I will be blowing tons of kisses and winks, love winking at men here. It totally throws them off

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  20. @ everybody

    Thank you for reading and I hope something positive comes out of this. I'm afraid much of my commentary will be random because I'm not good at linear thinking. ;)

    @cinnamon

    Japan is an extraordinarily beautiful country, especially the hidden scenic spots (you'll need a Japanese companion to take you far beyond the tourist traps though). It's a gorgeous place and the mountains are mind-boggling. My favorite hobby is volcano-visits. It's a stinky venture, but great fun.

    As for language... I'd recommend you choose the language of the country you wish to visit the most. Learning Chinese for economic reasons is unhelpful as they do not intend to share their wealth with us. In the past, I would have recommended this language (I studied it first), but it's kinda useless now that they simplified the characters to the point that they no longer look like the originals (which the Koreans gave up although the Japanese still use them as proper nouns).

    Chinese though is easier as the main dialect, Mandarin, is in the same language class as English. They share a similar grammar and structure. The tones are difficult at first, but that's not too hard to overcome.

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  21. @Ankh - yes I did get checked out in Japan.


    Often?

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  22. @Ankh - yes I did get checked out in Japan.

    Often?

    Yes. Often enough for me to notice, considering I am pretty oblivious to that sort of thing.

    Ex. I went out to eat at the Japanese Denny's (food there was delicious and I can find my way without getting lost beyond all reason.) Th prtty mch knew me there in the two weeks I was visiting. Well, one day I was wearing a tank t-shirt (you know the other name for it) and my tattoo (still sort of fresh) itched a bit so I scratched it. My dragon tattoo is on the upper left side of my chest, a little below my shoulder. I had noticed the waiter looking at me, but I thought he was looking at my paper.

    Yeah... no.

    When I scratched my tattoo he tripped into a group of business men. He sort of gestured where he was looking and they looked over at me and their faces where like. "Oh, all right then." They didn't give him any trouble at all.

    My friend Jerrell still teases me about it. He calls it the "Flashing Titties Incident" I didn't flash anyone I just moved my strap over to scratch an itch for a sec.

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  23. LMAO @ epic flashing titties incident

    men are men

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