Friday, January 27, 2012

Accepting Japan before Japan Accepts Me

Howdy Yall! Before coming to Japan I really did not know much of anything about this island nation. All I knew was that they make damn good TV's, cars, porn and have a thing for hyper fast pop music. Now that I have been in Japan for several years, I know a whole lot more about this semi-closed society. In fact, I know more than I ever wished to know about Japan. I could write about a lot of different things about Japanese culture. I could spend my time writing about some of the crap I used to write about; temples food and stuff like that. I cannot do that anymore. It is much better for me to be real with all of yall. Being real has made this blog much more interesting and true to my experience in Japan.

With that said, one of the hardest things I have never had to do is accept Japan as it is in it's current form. As anyone who has lived here for a few years can tell you, Japanese don't accept outsiders very easily. Of course, they have gotten much more accepting since the end of WW2 but they still struggle with the realities of a growing multi-ethnic society. To say that a lot of Japanese are filled with Xenophobic fear is an understatement.  Many Japanese go far beyond any Xenophobic or racist tendencies. Sadly, there are many J-folk who will go to great lengths to marginalize you simply because you are not Japanese. So many people have attempted to explain, or make reason, of Japan's unique form of exclusion. My take on it is just as unique as Japan itself.

It seems clear to me that Japanese are trained from a very young age to exclude people from their daily life. They don't just do it to gaijin; they even do it to each other. Yeah, I have met my fair share of outgoing, half crazy, fun loving Japanese. Yet, on the other hand I have met even more Japanese who would prefer to jump in front of a fucking JR train at rush hour then deal with others head on. One of the great failures of Japanese culture is to develop proper social skills to be able to at least handle social situations on their own terms as an individual. Some of them have been able to learn social skills in order to at least handle themselves as an individual. Although, this is not normal and you should not expect it at all. So, the big challenge is how to accept an ethnic group which is unable to even accept themselves. Well, for an outgoing southern guy from American who says crazy shit when he drinks too much accepting Japanese culture has very funny results.

I use humor daily in order to accept Japan before Japan accepts me. I have leaned to laugh at the out of hand things a lot of Japanese do to marginalize damn near everyone around them. Most of the insane things a lot of them do to avoid standing on their own as an individual deserves a poke from me from time to time. I just cannot help myself at times yall. If I don't rattle their cage at the right moment, I will seriously loose my shit. Let me give you a few funny examples of how I have learned to accept Japan.

The salary man who burns a whole though my head on the train.

This guy is epic. He clearly has something to say to me. It might be because he wants to make a new friend or he wants to get some shit started. I don't know why he is staring me down but it is not okay to stare at someone like that without saying something. He must be thinking he can get away with it because he is surrounded by other Japanese. Usually I just let it go because I don't want any trouble on the damn train. Yet, from time to time I decide to play a little game. I call it the 'motherfucker do I look funny to you game.' What I do is start making funny faces at the guy. The same kind of funny faces that little kids make at each other. Throws the guy off his game every time.  The funny part comes when he starts looking around trying to make eye contact with another Japanese so he can get them to look at me. His goal is to get them to look at me so he can create the image that I am a crazy gaijin and he did nothing wrong. I win this game every time because if he does get another Japanese to stare at me I make funny faces at them too.

Howdy! Let's be friends you racist bastard

From time to time I get a wild one of my hands. He has the support of a given group because he has gotten control over the group's thinking. I am just trying to be an open friendly American. He don't like that because he fears losing control over the group; as if I give a fuck about who controls what. So, he starts talking shit about English teachers and how fucked up and useless gaijin are to Japan. I know he is full of fear simply because I am not Japanese and he wants to maintain his ego trip. I say the same thing almost every time, 'You are a fucking racist buddy. I will go back to my native nation and tell everyone what a gang of fucked up backward racist Japanese people are.' That fucks with his head big time. The group usually laughs their ass off at him because the one thing that crushes most Japanese is to be laughed at by the group over something a gaijin said about them. Usually the guy gets a look on his face like he wants to kill me; but of course he doesn't do shit but turn his back on me and pretend I am a ghost(which partly explains the title of this blog).

Let's get to the point already!

Okay. I must admit this one is a bit brutal. I only reserve it as a last resort. One of my Japanese brothers and sisters deems it fit to attack me because they feel it will further their agenda. My non-Japanese status makes me look like an easy target. So, with the support of a group of course, they attempt to lay into me. Sadly, because they are so full of fear they are unable to attack me directly they speak in such a round about way that they are unable to really go after me. So, I simply ask the most direct question I can think of at the moment. Man, it really throws them for a loop. After that they usually back off a bit and start to deal with me on a more human level. I don't like doing that to them but sometimes I simply have to in order to snap them out of their trip.

So yeah, I have learned to use humor to accept Japan before Japan accepts me. One day I am sure Japan will be okay with me and we will not have to have these odd funny run ins with each other. Hell, Japan has already given me permanent residence. It is only a matter of time before Japan learns to love me just the way I am.