Thursday, August 25, 2011
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
First off, I'd like to thank everyone for all the kind messages and e-mails I've received. Although this blog only reaches a limited audience within my circle of friends and family, I'd still like to express my gratitude and appreciation for everyone's concerns.
Many restaurants and stores were closed or empty for the first several weeks. Many of the train lines were completely stopped. Previously bustling towns were empty ghost-towns. Friends and family fled from their homes to other areas of Japan or even as far as other countries. Japan was in a state of repressed fear and panic for the first several weeks, especially with the news of radioactive leaks in the air/water and continuing aftershocks. The Japanese news reports tried not to overexaggerate the chaos, but the imagery and the video footage taken by residents and bystanders were enough to shake the entire nation. News overseas, on the otherhand, overexaggerated this news far more than what our own public broadcasts were reporting. Despite being well-prepared for strong earthquakes, Japan was not ready to face the power of the underestimated Tsunami. The earthquake did relatively little damage by comparison.
Its been about one month since the great Kanto quake. Many train lines have restarted again, shops have now re-opened, and many big businesses have resumed their head operations in Tokyo. Most Japanese people are trying to re-adjust themselves to the normal rhythm of their everyday lives again, but were taken by surprise from a Magnitude 7.1 aftershock at 8 AM this past Monday. The strong aftershocks still continue and the epicenters of these quakes are slowly traveling down south. People now fear that the next big quake will eventually hit the Tokyo area. It is a constant and eerie reminder of the damage and the many lives lost in the Tohoku area.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
While there are many difficulties dealing with both the Japanese and American societies, there is one common virtual-society that people of all races can run away to when there seems to be no escape: the Internet.
The Internet has been a blessing of sorts, bringing people hundreds of miles away from each other together in real-time. Businesses now run together, despite time zone differences. Services such as Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, and Mixi (Japan's facebook) transmit information within the very second you submit it, broadcasting your thoughts instantaneously to millions of viewers. Real-time news invalidates the need for newspapers, magazines and pamphlets. Chat programs such as Skype connect with other people real-time with live-streaming video. Global societies, once separated by time zones and oceans, now move together simultaneously with the Internet. Unfortunately, like any useful tool, it has also been used for malicious activity such as hacking, spying, stalking, and hostile action.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to meet a new American friend residing here in Japan. She is a half-Japanese/half-Caucasian woman and is currently on her 2nd month of living here as a member of society. In an earlier post I made this year, I briefly discussed the differences in treatment between Japanese and non-Japanese people. After hearing her experiences from the last several months, I decided to write a follow-up on this subject.
At the time I had written my blog, I highlighted several things that factored into my hardships living here in Japan. I was convinced that people who did not have a "full-blooded Japanese" look would be treated quite differently.
When I asked her about how she is perceived here, she stated:
"People in Japan sometimes look at me and think 'something isn't quite right' (they are unable to discern her from being Japanese or American),' but other times, I feel that being racially ambiguous helps me."
She continued by explaining her inner-conflicts in the US and Japan:
" When I'm in the States, people can clearly see that I'm not just "white," but a mix of something else. I would check the 'Asian/Pacific Islander' box on ballots and applications, because that's my heritage... but when I think about my culture and how I live my life, I'm through-and-through an American girl (that just happens to own a rice cooker and loves me some raw fish now and again). It segregated me from others in the US and being here in Japan is no different. Even if I look more Japanese, I'm not walking-the-walk or talking-the-talk. I try to respect the culture and learn the language, but because of the fact that I'm a foreigner in this country, I will never quite be up to par."
She added her upbringing and background and how it conflicts with her everyday living:
"I was young when I started speaking Japanese, so my accent is pretty good. I try to practice Japanese in everyday conversation as much as possible but I get to a point where I'm just not picking up what locals are throwing down. I can't understand what they are saying, nor do I know how to communicate what I need to say... but that's when they realize that I'm not one of them. Even though I'm used to saying: "I'm sorry, I don't understand" or "Do you understand English?" its always a little bruising when they give you that puzzled-look because they can't speak English... or they are confused because you are clearly Asian and don't speak the language."
It is clear that this type of judgement is not just reserved for Japanese-looking people, as it now extends to anyone who looks Asian. Although I felt the expectations held of me were high, she is also going through a very similar hardship. Perhaps this is a sign that times have changed? Perhaps Japan is now opening its eyes to the rest of the world?
International marriages and foreign spouses have become more common in Japan, which likely makes it harder to discern whether one is of Japanese-descent or not; however, it makes assimilating into the culture and society that much more difficult for those who aspire to come here with an Asian background.