Being “different”

3 occurrences this week: 

✔️Japanese people tell me I look like Elizabeth Taylor (obviously just the hair but probably just cuz being white) 

✔️And an American (over the phone) tells me I “sound Japanese” now. 

Lessons in perspectives??

✔️Also, an American scoffed (practically) about how half-race people (is there a better way to put that) are more accepted in America. Of course, race issues are not to be minimalized anywhere, but it’s nearly impossible for the white majority of Americans to conceive the lack of diversity in Japan — until you experience it.

I want to share this: in terms of sheer numbers, there are about 1,000 kids at my school. About 4 kids are “hafu,” or in reality, they are noticeably not fully Asian. 

As an Americans, we’re going, what the … ? Half? What ? Make no mistake, these kids are Japanese. They speak Japanese, most of them grew up here and were born here. I feel strange even having to explain that, but because of such obvious hegemony as well as other factors I don’t care to delve into for the sake of brevity, these  are details which cannot be ignored. It’s also assumed they are better at English, another factor in making them “different.”

What I’m saying is that, that physical factors are ridiculously apparent at an age where every kid just wants to fit in already. I cannot speak from experience but I am sure some minority children in the USA experience this at school, too. So, maybe, some Americans can relate. But as a white American, it’s very difficult until it’s experienced. 

Everyone has Black hair, brown eyes. 

No blue eyes. No green eyes.  No curly hair. No blonde. No light brown or any other nuance. Seriously, we, as Americans, cannot fathom walking into a room with others whose basic features are so similar to ours. Of course, they all look different in their beautiful faces!! But just those simple features like hair and eye color, we see so much diversity in each day we don’t even think about it, do we?

Imagine, one pair of blue eyes out of 1000 brown. 

That is, in its most simple form, what it’s like to be different in Japan. 

But still, these kids are Japanese !! They are a part of the culture, though they do receive ugly bullying at times. It’s something japan knows , or at least should know it desperately needs to work on. 

In my own experience, as a white foreigner, people stare at you, usually not in a racist way or with malice, but quite literally, with wonder and puzzlement. I can see it on their faces: they wonder why I am here, what I’m doing and of course if I can use chopsticks. Sometimes I think about getting a shirt printed saying “yes, I live in Japan, yes I teach your kids English, and yes I can use chopsticks and sometimes, I even prefer it. ” I’m not asking anyone to feel bad for me. I just want to point out an interesting aspect of this culture which I couldn’t gain first-person perspective on in where I grew up in the usa. 

But some days, it gets quite tiring. Even with my brown eyes, that’s not enough to blend in. For the first time since middle school, I sometimes just want to be like everyone else. 

But the good news is this type of widened perspective allows a better detection system to find people who make you feel like you could be anywhere in the world and it would make no difference, because the  magic of the moment is cageless. 🌟

{{{{{{{please keep in mind this is a snap shot view from one person. I don’t speak for all of America or all of japan. I speak from the experience I’ve had with both, Which is different than other people.}}}}}


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