Welcome to AikiWeb Aikido Information
AikiWeb: The Source for Aikido Information
AikiWeb's principal purpose is to serve the Internet community as a repository and dissemination point for aikido information.

Sections
home
aikido articles
columns

Discussions
forums
aikiblogs

Databases
dojo search
seminars
image gallery
supplies
links directory

Reviews
book reviews
video reviews
dvd reviews
equip. reviews

News
submit
archive

Miscellaneous
newsletter
rss feeds
polls
about

Follow us on



Home > AikiWeb Aikido Forums
Go Back   AikiWeb Aikido Forums > Open Discussions

Hello and thank you for visiting AikiWeb, the world's most active online Aikido community! This site is home to over 22,000 aikido practitioners from around the world and covers a wide range of aikido topics including techniques, philosophy, history, humor, beginner issues, the marketplace, and more.

If you wish to join in the discussions or use the other advanced features available, you will need to register first. Registration is absolutely free and takes only a few minutes to complete so sign up today!

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 08-31-2011, 12:03 AM   #51
robin_jet_alt
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 622
Australia
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

That site is useful, but take everything he says with a grain of salt. He brings up some good points, but he is tends to be a bit extreme.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 12:30 AM   #52
Chris Li
 
Chris Li's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Sangenkai
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 3,237
United_States
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

Quote:
Robin Boyd wrote: View Post
That site is useful, but take everything he says with a grain of salt. He brings up some good points, but he is tends to be a bit extreme.
Of course, but the problems do exist.

Little kids pointing and shouting "It's a foreigner" are sort of cute, but it got kind of old after a few years.

Just last year I was standing in line in Japan and I happened to say something in Japanese to a high school girl. She didn't answer me - she laughed and turned to her friend saying "He speaks Japanese!".

Neither of them meant anything by it, but as I said, it gets old after a few years and you have to consider whether or not you want to deal with that for the rest of your life.

Best,

Chris

  Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 01:23 AM   #53
robin_jet_alt
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 622
Australia
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Of course, but the problems do exist.

Little kids pointing and shouting "It's a foreigner" are sort of cute, but it got kind of old after a few years.

Just last year I was standing in line in Japan and I happened to say something in Japanese to a high school girl. She didn't answer me - she laughed and turned to her friend saying "He speaks Japanese!".

Neither of them meant anything by it, but as I said, it gets old after a few years and you have to consider whether or not you want to deal with that for the rest of your life.

Best,

Chris
Oh, I agree. It definitely gets old. These days there is less pointing and shouting than there used to be, but it's still annoying. I think they are making progress though.

Here is a gratifying story. I was at a shop the other day, and i asked whether I could get the curry to take away. The girl instantly got the 'rabbit in the headlights' look that I'm sure you are familiar with, but she said "yes". So I said, "okay, I'll have that then." to which she replied, "I'm sorry, what is it that you want?" to which her coworker said, "he wants the curry, what are you stupid or something?". The first girl is annoying, but 10 years ago, you wouldn't have had the 2nd. It made my day.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 01:54 AM   #54
kewms
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,316
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Yes, you can become a citizen (although it's relatively difficult, and not really encouraged by the Japanese government). But you never become Japanese - it's not like the US, where becoming a citizen means that you're an American. You're either born Japanese or you aren't. Most people are nice about it though...

Even Japanese who stay abroad too long are looked at differently. It's more than just standing out - it's a country where 98% of the population is the same and you're one tiny fraction of the rest.
A Japanese friend of mine went back to get married (to an American). He actually got suspicious responses from people because he *wasn't* wearing a suit in the middle of a work day: clearly up to no good!

(This is part of why my friend loves the US and has no plans to ever live in Japan again...)

Katherine
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 08:39 AM   #55
HL1978
Dojo: Aunkai
Location: Fairfax, VA
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 429
United_States
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

Getting spat on, having bottles thrown at you, getting stopped for "bicycling while white" or otherwise having your ID "randomly" asked for is pretty awesome too.

Of course other things offset that like being asked to rap in a train station, being interviewed for TV........

I've had the above all happen while I lived and visited japan.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 10:28 AM   #56
Lorel Latorilla
Location: Osaka
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 311
Japan
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

LOL wow. A thread about racism in Japan. I can write an essay on this (I actually did) but I'll save y'all the grief of reading.

Let me put it this way. If you are a white guy, especially a white guy with blonde hair and blue eyes, you are good here. You will get the occasional "whoa a foreigner!" comments, but life here for you will be pretty good. If you are applying for, say, an English teaching job, you will probably get the job before an Asiatic like me. Language companies need a face, and the most marketable one is a white face.

Secondly, if you are working under a Japanese boss, prepare to make serious changes on your personality. You simply cannot be "yourself" in a professional setting. If you are working in an English school, you will be expected to be the stupid, smiley, guitar-playing, ball-juggling, bouncing off the wall gaijin that keeps the kids entertained and doesn't ask too many questions. LOL, I've been kicked out of a school and had other Japanese teachers conspire to kick me out of the school because I refused to "not be myself". If you daze off, and think about the weekend at the gaijin bar, and not take your job seriously...you'd be fine. But if you do, like me, you'll get kicked out of the school. If you can take this, good luck.

Unless stated otherwise, all wisdom, follies, harshness, malice that may spring up from my writing are attributable only to me.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 11:55 AM   #57
Cliff Judge
Location: Kawasaki, Kanagawa
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,267
Japan
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

Well, would any of your folks who live / lived in Japan, and understand these issues first-hand, have chosen to not live there if you could go back and do things differently?
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 12:38 PM   #58
Peter Goldsbury
  AikiWeb Forums Contributing Member
 
Peter Goldsbury's Avatar
Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,087
Japan
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Well, would any of your folks who live / lived in Japan, and understand these issues first-hand, have chosen to not live there if you could go back and do things differently?
No. I understand where Lorel is coming from, but my experience has been quite different.

PAG

P A Goldsbury
_______________________
Hiroshima, Japan
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 01:11 PM   #59
Chris Li
 
Chris Li's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Sangenkai
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 3,237
United_States
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Well, would any of your folks who live / lived in Japan, and understand these issues first-hand, have chosen to not live there if you could go back and do things differently?
No, I definitely enjoyed living there - but I still don't think that I would live there on a permanent basis, especially considering that doing so would mean subjecting children to the same stuff.

Best,

Chris

  Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 01:37 PM   #60
Lorel Latorilla
Location: Osaka
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 311
Japan
Offline
Thumbs up Re: Moving to Japan

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Well, would any of your folks who live / lived in Japan, and understand these issues first-hand, have chosen to not live there if you could go back and do things differently?
Seriously, I like living in Japan (although I would move back to Canada because there are more training opportunities that side of the world). While there is racism towards Asiatics from Japanese people, there are some conveniences that can be gained from this. For instance, they do not have any expectations from you, and if you act up or act yourself and violate Japanese social etiquette, it doesn't matter because I'm a kawaisou Asiatic gaijin that doesn't know any better. They put me outside the boundaries of Japanese tradition? Fine with me, I have my own little world where I can study bodyskill, philosophy, Japanese and other languages, and make music.

I realized that I won't fare well in the Japanese system (for reasons that have to do with racism and also with the fact that I am too independent for me to lapse into group think). So what do I do? I make my own business . It feels reallllllly good to be free from the bullshit that is the Japanese educaton system, really. I do what I want, set up the business in such a way so that only sincere learners come to me, and get to help Japanese people escape and transcend the oppressive mechanism that is called the Japanese system. It's great.

Like I said, love living here

Unless stated otherwise, all wisdom, follies, harshness, malice that may spring up from my writing are attributable only to me.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 05:40 PM   #61
oisin bourke
 
oisin bourke's Avatar
Dojo: Muden Juku, Ireland
Location: Kilkenny
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 333
Ireland
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
No, I definitely enjoyed living there - but I still don't think that I would live there on a permanent basis, especially considering that doing so would mean subjecting children to the same stuff.

Best,

Chris
Plus a million. I've had a great experience here, but I'm leaving mainly because I don't want to put my daughter through the school system. A lot of the issues raised on this thread stem from the schooling IMO. If you are a foreigner, especially English speaking and white, you can kind of live here and avoid having to engage with the culture. For instance, you can get away with not speaking the language. However, when you have kids, you have to confront the system here full on.

Still, it's a totally different place from anywhere "in the west" and living here for a few years will challenge the way you think and your beliefs and assumptions about a lot of things, not just Budo.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 07:15 PM   #62
robin_jet_alt
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 622
Australia
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

Lorel raises a good point. It is definitely much harder for for Asians. If you are white, you can get away with all sorts of stuff, but people seem to think Asians should know better for some reason.
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 07:26 PM   #63
HL1978
Dojo: Aunkai
Location: Fairfax, VA
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 429
United_States
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Well, would any of your folks who live / lived in Japan, and understand these issues first-hand, have chosen to not live there if you could go back and do things differently?
No, I wouldnt do anything differently and have gone back plenty of times despite the issues. It is just a bit disconcerting if you have never experienced it before. What is more amusing is when you come back to the USA and white folks who have never spent time in japan tell you how you need to conform. When you have had it shoved in your face that you aren't part in the group and won't ever be, when another white guy is telling you to behave in that way you can have a laugh or get angry.

As Lorel said, if you are a caucasian, you may have an easier time than other races.

The gaijin card!

In fact there may be circumstances where it may be benefical (for example discounts on admission to certain places) or in which you can take advantage of it (if you choose, I'm not saying you should).


I don't really want to give a full account of the positives and negatives, but promise that you can have experiences that you will not be able to have at home. Whatever conceptions you may have of Japan will be challenged soon after you step off the plane. For me, I never intended to seek out some of the situations I have described, but I tend to have unusual experiences wherever I go.

You can't ignore the ingroup/outgroup stuff as it happens to the japanese as well. A Japanese friend of mine is not ethnically korean, but consistantly runs into issues because people think he is. That is why he only works for foreign companies while in Japan, or works in the USA. Chris's comments regarding Japanese who stay abroad isn't limited to Japan, the same seems to be happening in china too, but thats another subject. Japan isn't quite as blatant as some of the things in China I have seen, but those are far more inline with perceptions of foreigners being wealthy than racism.

Like others have said, it is totally possible to live entirely in an english speaking world. I'm not sure why you would want to do so, unless you were a short term expat working for a US based firm. I will agree with Lorel that if you stay long term and start to improve your language skills, you will have more expectations in terms of how you are "supposed" to behave (seems like some people want it to work both ways).

here is my hint for the day

Don't stay or live near the hombu if you aren't practicing there. You can hear ukemi in the buildings nearby at 6:30 in the morning. I spent 3 weeks nearby and that was my unwelcome alarmclock.

Last edited by HL1978 : 08-31-2011 at 07:29 PM. Reason: hombu stuff
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 09:08 PM   #64
Carl Thompson
 
Carl Thompson's Avatar
Location: Kasama
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 473
Japan
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

Thanks to Chris for your reply. A few more thoughts:

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Of course, you have to fit in with the rules anywhere - but in Japan there are more social rules applied more strictly than almost anyplace you're likely to live in the United States.
I don't think you should pitch this as an absolute, even from a purely American viewpoint. Sure there's a relatively bigger difference between these two societies but it isn't a big deal for everyone. It will depend on the nature of the rule and one's experience whether rules are regarded as "strictly applied" (and whether "strictly" is a bad thing). We're all different in our capacity to cope with these things.

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
yes, you can become a citizen (although it's relatively difficult, and not really encouraged by the Japanese government).
This is true of pretty much all first world countries and their governments.

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Take a look at http://www.debito.org/otarulawsuit.html for a recent example.
David is a case in point: he became a Japanese citizen despite his angry obsession with everything he thinks is wrong with Japan.

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
But you never become Japanese - it's not like the US, where becoming a citizen means that you're an American.
What other way do you mean "American" rather than just a citizen of the US? A member of society? Also what do you mean by "Japanese" apart from as a nationality? Japanese and other nationalities like Korean, Turkish etc have the interesting situation in which nationality, language and the most populous ethnic group are addressed using the same terms.

Acceptance as an in-group member in any society that differs considerably from one's own depends on a lot of factors.

As I pointed out earlier in this thread, there are many conflicting accounts here from experienced people regarding what Japan is like. My own cumulative six years in Japan strongly contradict a lot of the previous claims. For that reason I'd agree with Robyn's suggestion of taking things with a grain of salt. For example the education system was mentioned as a reason for leaving but there are some families who stay for exactly that same reason. Hunter told us of his racist attack, but there are others who claim never to have experienced anything other than positive discrimination.

A friend of mine who is still in Japan once told me a few years ago that he found aikido particularly useful as a "cultural entry-point" for adjusting to Japan. Rather than arriving with a prejudice (whether positive or negative) a beginner's mind will set one up for a better experience IMO.

Carl
  Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 09:22 PM   #65
Chris Li
 
Chris Li's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Sangenkai
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 3,237
United_States
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

Quote:
Carl Thompson wrote: View Post
Thanks to Chris for your reply. A few more thoughts:

I don't think you should pitch this as an absolute, even from a purely American viewpoint. Sure there's a relatively bigger difference between these two societies but it isn't a big deal for everyone. It will depend on the nature of the rule and one's experience whether rules are regarded as "strictly applied" (and whether "strictly" is a bad thing). We're all different in our capacity to cope with these things.
Well, everything is always relative, so I don't get your point. I never said that it was necessarily a big deal - I said that it is an added layer of stress to consider.

Quote:
Carl Thompson wrote: View Post

This is true of pretty much all first world countries and their governments.
Japan is one of the few first world countries with negative immigration - more people leaving than entering. All it takes is a comparison of the laws and immigration procedures to see that there is a substantive difference.

Quote:
Carl Thompson wrote: View Post
What other way do you mean "American" rather than just a citizen of the US? A member of society? Also what do you mean by "Japanese" apart from as a nationality? Japanese and other nationalities like Korean, Turkish etc have the interesting situation in which nationality, language and the most populous ethnic group are addressed using the same terms.
America is generally a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society - Japan generally is not. A foreigner who gains Japanese citizenship is always going to be considered, by most Japanese, as a foreigner, paperwork notwithstanding.

http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2...igration-door/

Quote:
Carl Thompson wrote: View Post
Rather than arriving with a prejudice (whether positive or negative) a beginner's mind will set one up for a better experience IMO.

Carl
I never suggested otherwise - that wasn't the question. I was talking about things to consider when thinking about living in Japan on a permanent basis.

If you go too far down the "everything is relative" path than you can never really state an opinion about anything.

Best,

Chris

  Reply With Quote
Old 08-31-2011, 09:40 PM   #66
graham christian
Dojo: golden center aikido-highgate
Location: london
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 2,697
England
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

Hi, thought I'd contribute an interesting tale.

My friend studied to be a psychiatric nurse. In his third year of training I believe it was they were shown a film of an experiment that went like this:

A teacher was set up to point something out to a class of young students. I believe they were about 9 or 10 years old. The teacher was just to drop this comment in whilst teaching an altogether different subject. The comment was that it has been found by scientists that all blue eyed people were more intelligent than brown eyed ones.

The behaviour of the children was then monitored and filmed over the next three weeks.

It led to the blue eyed ones forming a closer bond with each other and looking down on the brown eyed ones who in turn seemed to turn against them.

Much discord followed.

Food for thought.

Regards.G.
  Reply With Quote
Old 09-01-2011, 01:54 AM   #67
kewms
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,316
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

Quote:
Graham Christian wrote: View Post
A teacher was set up to point something out to a class of young students. I believe they were about 9 or 10 years old. The teacher was just to drop this comment in whilst teaching an altogether different subject. The comment was that it has been found by scientists that all blue eyed people were more intelligent than brown eyed ones.

The behaviour of the children was then monitored and filmed over the next three weeks.

It led to the blue eyed ones forming a closer bond with each other and looking down on the brown eyed ones who in turn seemed to turn against them.

Much discord followed.
In a similar experiment, teachers were told that students in Group A had scored particularly well on an aptitude test, while students in Group B had scored poorly. In actuality, the students had been assigned to groups randomly, regardless of test scores.

By the end of the year, however, Group A did indeed perform better than Group B.

Katherine
  Reply With Quote
Old 09-01-2011, 01:56 AM   #68
Carl Thompson
 
Carl Thompson's Avatar
Location: Kasama
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 473
Japan
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Quote:
Carl Thompson wrote: View Post
Rather than arriving with a prejudice (whether positive or negative) a beginner's mind will set one up for a better experience IMO.
I never suggested otherwise - that wasn't the question. I was talking about things to consider when thinking about living in Japan on a permanent basis.
Sorry I did not make it clear that my last statement was a general opinion that I wanted to contribute to the thread and was not specifically aimed in response to you.

Quote:
Christopher Li wrote: View Post
Well, everything is always relative, so I don't get your point. I never said that it was necessarily a big deal - I said that it is an added layer of stress to consider.
Actually I disagree. Everything is not always relative . There are absolute facts which can be proven true or false. The problem with relative statements is when they get dressed up as absolute provable facts. It creates an opening for argument by some bugger like me.

My point and original objection was to the idea that an ethnic /cultural group (the Japanese) never accepts someone as one of their own ("Even if you live in Japan forever, you never become Japanese."). Please correct me if I misunderstood what you meant by what you wrote. I want to clarify it, not twist it. Some long-term residents in Japan do feel accepted in society and feel no stress. Some some of them don't. It is not a single case of true or false but rather a sliding scale of opinions that can be applied to life as an expat in any country.

Regarding your other related point, I totally agree that America is generally a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society and Japan generally is not. This is a fact and most serious studies support it. I would also agree that because of this fact, visibly appearing as a non-ethnic Japanese will generally create an immediate assumption that one is a foreigner, to the local Japanese and foreigners alike.

Carl
  Reply With Quote
Old 09-01-2011, 02:57 AM   #69
Chris Li
 
Chris Li's Avatar
Dojo: Aikido Sangenkai
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Join Date: Dec 2000
Posts: 3,237
United_States
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

Quote:
Carl Thompson wrote: View Post

My point and original objection was to the idea that an ethnic /cultural group (the Japanese) never accepts someone as one of their own ("Even if you live in Japan forever, you never become Japanese."). Please correct me if I misunderstood what you meant by what you wrote. I want to clarify it, not twist it. Some long-term residents in Japan do feel accepted in society and feel no stress. Some some of them don't. It is not a single case of true or false but rather a sliding scale of opinions that can be applied to life as an expat in any country.
First of all, I don't think I really stated it that extremely. However, just because some people feel accepted in the society doesn't mean that the problem doesn't exist as a whole. There are many members of minorities that never feel discrimination - that doesn't mean that the problem doesn't exist.

Best,

Chris

  Reply With Quote
Old 09-01-2011, 08:23 AM   #70
Cliff Judge
Location: Kawasaki, Kanagawa
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,267
Japan
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

Since it hasn't been brought up yet, it is probably worth mentioning that Japanese themselves often feel a stigma when they move to another region or interact with people from another region. It isn't so much a homogenous culture as it is a cultural system that tends towards homogeneity.

My wife is of working-class Kanto stock, her best friend married a man from Kyoto. His family came up to Yokohama for something and they spread out food, with plastic wrap draped lightly over it to keep the flying critters off of it. The Kyoto people barely touched the food because it was covered in plastic wrap. Everybody went home hating the other family, leaving my wife's poor friend in the middle. However this made an opportunity for my wife's friend to bond with her mother-in-law, who had actually moved to Kyoto from Tokyo when she married into the Kyoto family. She was never and has never been fully accepted into the village society. They have a yearly festival and other events and they just don't invite her to the planning meetings.
  Reply With Quote
Old 09-01-2011, 08:43 AM   #71
oisin bourke
 
oisin bourke's Avatar
Dojo: Muden Juku, Ireland
Location: Kilkenny
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 333
Ireland
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

Quote:
Cliff Judge wrote: View Post
Since it hasn't been brought up yet, it is probably worth mentioning that Japanese themselves often feel a stigma when they move to another region or interact with people from another region. It isn't so much a homogenous culture as it is a cultural system that tends towards homogeneity.

My wife is of working-class Kanto stock, her best friend married a man from Kyoto. His family came up to Yokohama for something and they spread out food, with plastic wrap draped lightly over it to keep the flying critters off of it. The Kyoto people barely touched the food because it was covered in plastic wrap. Everybody went home hating the other family, leaving my wife's poor friend in the middle. However this made an opportunity for my wife's friend to bond with her mother-in-law, who had actually moved to Kyoto from Tokyo when she married into the Kyoto family. She was never and has never been fully accepted into the village society. They have a yearly festival and other events and they just don't invite her to the planning meetings.
Lovely people

That's actually one thing that people up in Hokkaido don't really have to put up with. They're all rejects up here!

Last edited by oisin bourke : 09-01-2011 at 08:46 AM.
  Reply With Quote
Old 09-01-2011, 11:07 AM   #72
Cliff Judge
Location: Kawasaki, Kanagawa
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,267
Japan
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

Quote:
Carl Thompson wrote: View Post
A friend of mine who is still in Japan once told me a few years ago that he found aikido particularly useful as a "cultural entry-point" for adjusting to Japan. Rather than arriving with a prejudice (whether positive or negative) a beginner's mind will set one up for a better experience IMO.
Going to Japan "as an Aikido person" gives you a role, a group, and a way for Japanese people to understand who you are that is more comfortable for them than directly trying to figure you out. This will help with some people and situations.
  Reply With Quote
Old 09-01-2011, 12:18 PM   #73
Lorel Latorilla
Location: Osaka
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 311
Japan
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

Quote:
Carl Thompson wrote: View Post
Thanks to Chris for your reply. A few more thoughts:

I don't think you should pitch this as an absolute, even from a purely American viewpoint. Sure there's a relatively bigger difference between these two societies but it isn't a big deal for everyone. It will depend on the nature of the rule and one's experience whether rules are regarded as "strictly applied" (and whether "strictly" is a bad thing). We're all different in our capacity to cope with these things.

This is true of pretty much all first world countries and their governments.

David is a case in point: he became a Japanese citizen despite his angry obsession with everything he thinks is wrong with Japan.

What other way do you mean "American" rather than just a citizen of the US? A member of society? Also what do you mean by "Japanese" apart from as a nationality? Japanese and other nationalities like Korean, Turkish etc have the interesting situation in which nationality, language and the most populous ethnic group are addressed using the same terms.

Acceptance as an in-group member in any society that differs considerably from one's own depends on a lot of factors.

As I pointed out earlier in this thread, there are many conflicting accounts here from experienced people regarding what Japan is like. My own cumulative six years in Japan strongly contradict a lot of the previous claims. For that reason I'd agree with Robyn's suggestion of taking things with a grain of salt. For example the education system was mentioned as a reason for leaving but there are some families who stay for exactly that same reason. Hunter told us of his racist attack, but there are others who claim never to have experienced anything other than positive discrimination.

A friend of mine who is still in Japan once told me a few years ago that he found aikido particularly useful as a "cultural entry-point" for adjusting to Japan. Rather than arriving with a prejudice (whether positive or negative) a beginner's mind will set one up for a better experience IMO.

Carl
1) I was born in the Philippines, grew up in Canada, and now live in Japan. There is definitely MORE rules here that are strictly applied, albeit they are unspoken rules. Secondly, they have set of different rules to manage behaviour among Japanese, and they have another set of rules to manage gaijins here in Japan. I know they exist because I got in trouble in a lot of my schools. And it wasn't like I was being revolutionary or anything.

2) David is cool in my books. These issues are real. I am tired of people saying "blah blah blah, it's how you COPE with the problems with the country--you are making an ocean out of a drop--at least racism is not as bad here than it is in America". I think David is a breath of fresh air in the sea of nutlicking (pardon my Japanese) that I see with so many gaijins here. "Dude it's so safe here!". "There's no crime here!" "OMG samurais ninjas and anime--Japan iz so k3wl!" "wow! Japaneze gurlzzzz, so pr3tty, aw3some!". No crime, but 30 000 suicides happen here every year, and that includes little school children killing themselves. Safe? How? Physically? Emotionally and psychologically that doesn't seem to be the case. There are more than 1 000 000 hikkikomoris (social recluses) here in Japan. I appreciate guys like David for breaking the mystique that Japan orientalists create for this country. I came to this country with these same pristine images--you know, sakura, delicious sushi, and cute frolicking Japanese girls. Boy did I have a rude awakening.

3) You can never become Japanese. It's as simple as that. 日本人論 is a theory that is entrenched in all sectors of Japanese society. You ever wonder why you ask your students they can't speak english? Most probably will expect "nah, I don't study too much", or "I'm interested". Most of my students said "nihonjin dakara" (meaning, because I'm Japanese). Ever wonder why people say "nihongo jyozu desu ne!" ("your Japanese is so good!) or "uwaaa, o-hashi meccha jyozu yann!" ("wow you got some serious skills with the chopsticks!"), it's because they adopted the belief that Japanese are truly different from foreigners. That is, to speak fluent Japanese, for example, you need a Japanese brain, and so they are shocked that you can say "konnichiwa" and you get the obligatory "nihongo meccha o-jyozu desu ne". Whether they really believe that or not, I don't know--they have just adopted this from somewhere, and this is why I say the theory of the Japanese self (日本人論) is prevalent in all sectors of Japanese society. Thankfully, there are Japanese who are open enough to realize that Japanese are just humans like everyone else and that a foreigner can speak Japanese as good as a Japanese person can. But even if you can't speak Japanese, they will always assume you do not get the full nuances of Japanese culture. Personally, I lost my capacity to give a shit about becoming Japanese and fitting into the culture and started helping other Japanese people see beyond the nonsense that is nihonjinron.

As far as the education system goes...if I were to live here, I would rather have my kids be homeschooled. I know many expats who make their kids do this. I see what goes on in elementary school, junior high school, and high school (having worked in all levels) and gat damn do some of these kids know how to gaman.

Last edited by Lorel Latorilla : 09-01-2011 at 12:20 PM.

Unless stated otherwise, all wisdom, follies, harshness, malice that may spring up from my writing are attributable only to me.
  Reply With Quote
Old 09-01-2011, 02:09 PM   #74
Richard Stevens
Location: Indianapolis
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 165
United_States
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

My experience living in Japan is a bit different than most, so maybe I can make a useful contribution to the discussion. I originally lived in Japan from 1985-1998 and throughout my elementary/middle school years I was completely immersed in Japanese culture. I was the only Caucasian foreigner at a public school and was thrown into the deep end with no Japanese language skills or cultural awareness.

My year was difficult (language related), but I don't recall dealing with any animosity directed towards me due to being a foreigner. I was readily accepted by my classmates and teachers and did "fairly" well in school.

In fact, it wasn't until my father decided to enroll me in a DOD school for the dependent children of members of the US military that I had problems. I was quickly rejected socially and faced constant bullying. I was an American in a school full of Americans, but I felt completely out of place and awkward. Where I had no problem fitting in with my Japanese classmates, I couldn't manage to navigate the "social waters" of the DOD school.

By the time I graduated I had learned how to fit in, but I always felt out of place. When I was 19 I returned to the US to go to college and eventually moved back with my wife, with every intention of staying. Unfortunately, where I felt at home, she felt completely out of place and we returned to the US after a few years.

In all my time in Japan from elementary school to adulthood I was keenly aware that I would never be fully "accepted" as Japanese, and I accepted that. I've experienced some of the issues related to non-acceptance and the social complexity inherent to life in Japan. However, it never created a sense of resentment like it has in some (like Debito). It was just part of life, shoganai...
  Reply With Quote
Old 09-01-2011, 06:02 PM   #75
oisin bourke
 
oisin bourke's Avatar
Dojo: Muden Juku, Ireland
Location: Kilkenny
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 333
Ireland
Offline
Re: Moving to Japan

Quote:
Lorel Latorilla wrote: View Post
I see what goes on in elementary school, junior high school, and high school (having worked in all levels) and gat damn do some of these kids know how to gaman.
That's part of the of "the floggings will continue until morale improves!" mentality that runs through this country IMO.

The interesting thing about Debito, to me, is that, although he is outspoken, brash etc, he is a Japanese citizen and as such, is a model of Japanese behaviour.
  Reply With Quote

Please visit our sponsor:

AikiWeb Sponsored Links - Place your Aikido link here for only $10!



Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 17 Peter Goldsbury Columns 41 06-03-2010 10:46 PM
Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 14 Peter Goldsbury Columns 38 08-01-2009 12:19 AM
Moving To Japan! Dom_Shodan General 7 04-02-2009 05:10 PM
Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 6 Peter Goldsbury Columns 35 03-13-2009 07:16 PM
Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10 Peter Goldsbury Columns 200 02-04-2009 07:45 AM


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 08:42 AM.



vBulletin Copyright © 2000-2016 Jelsoft Enterprises Limited
----------
Copyright 1997-2016 AikiWeb and its Authors, All Rights Reserved.
----------
For questions and comments about this website:
Send E-mail
plainlaid-picaresque outchasing-protistan explicantia-altarage seaford-stellionate