Like a Rolling Stone

Apr 03,2013

I'd been ill for quite some time and missed a bit of time here that I'd ordinarily spend, and so I never quite got around to delivering any blog content to my active reader and possibly two or three other people who might be reading and are interested, but not interested enough to comment or attempt to provoke, propel, or otherwise inspire me to add a page to my august mass of erstwhile coherent ramblings.


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■ Time Received
2013/03/19 23:50:09

■ Name
kim

■ E-mail
(fill)

■ Content
You wrote another blog! Way to go!

The book you mentioned looks interesting though I did not want to ruin all the fun by reading the entire thing on the computer. Maybe I can order it from A##azon??? I agree... you may be able to change your nationality to Japanese, but you will never be anything besides GAIJIN. (One reason I never even consider changing my nationality!)

Keep up the good work, and I will check back for more entries!

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Well.

I've been in this country for ten years and my reaction to peoples' reactions to me has undergone several changes. Initially I found it rather absurd that people meeting me and hearing my broken Japanese consistently went overboard telling me how jouzu I was. 'Can they really not think of anything else to say?' I wondered. This is the standard reaction if you're not Asian; Asian people, no matter how little they resemble the average Japanese physically, are rarely praised for their language ability, as it's somewhat expected that, being Asian, they should speak Japanese to some extent. One thing we should keep in mind is that historically there has been a great pressure in both the US and the UK to remain monolingual, and it's part of what contributes to a racial stereotype. Another thing, for some perspective, is that when I went to Italy, I found that, while my Japanese wife was always greeted with surprise and undue flattery for saying a few things in Italian, the reaction to me was generally, although my ability was no worse than my wife's, 'How come your Italian sucks?'

Now, if she were to spend years living in Italy, speaking the language fluently and getting along fine in society, would she always be an exotic curiousity? Possibly, but perhaps less so as Italians are no longer having children and Rome at least is home to lots of immigrants from Pakistan. The point of all this is that, plainly, I do and shall continue to stick out like a sore thumb so long as mine remains an exiguous minority, so people who are less than cosmopolitan are often going to find themselves at a loss when presented with me. The media have convinced people that caucasians are basically a different species (the myths about longer tongues and intestines persist, though the one about different gestation periods is thankfully on the way out) and that if we do know the language well enough to communicate, it's probably because of some deviant interest in 'Japanese culture' and not because we happen to live here and want to survive without having to depend on anyone else.

I believe things are changing. It may not be in my or your lifetime that the whole of society here accepts us as merely human, but it's bound to happen. Now that I can't think of anything else to say on the subject, I'll stop here.

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