I love Japan!

in reality, all of this has been a total load of old bollocks
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Jimbo
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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Jimbo » 30 Jan 2018, 12:22

Matty Red Sox wrote:I never had that experience... the DJ's did take a lot of requests though. I remember every Saturday around 11:00 or 12:00 they'd play Sweet Jane from the Lou Reed Live LP and the DJ would chat over the intro for the whole time, explaining the bar rules... Jan would be there the whole night, wandering in and out all evening. There used to be a lot of Tom Waits, Ramones, Sex Pistols, Hanoi Rocks, Aerosmith, Guns & Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, forty five minutes of Stones, Kinks, Stone Roses, blur, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, and a host of other bands played on those enormous speakers. The request slips tucked in the old tea tins on the tables, the bathroom under the stairs with a poster of the Dictators in it... his daughter sent me a photo of when Jan first opened the place, it looked the same except clean... such a great bar.


You're bringing back wonderful memories. The pay telephone had a big flashing light because no way could a bell be heard over the din pumped out from those JBLs.

Songs I got sick of thanks to overplay at the RS

Start Me Up
Brown Sugar
The Passenger
Park Life
and many many more!

It is still a fantasy of mine to open up a similar type of bar. There are plenty of rock bars in Tokyo but the volume is just too damn low.
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Minnie the Minx
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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Minnie the Minx » 30 Jan 2018, 13:22

Jimbo wrote:
PS Just read your bit above, Matty. I forgot you have a daughter. I'd be worried too about chikan. No offense meant.


For a minute there Jimbo it looked like you were saying that as you didn't have a daughter you were not worried about it.
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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Goat Boy » 30 Jan 2018, 13:33

It's interesting to read Matts perspective.

I think for many westerners Japan is seen as some kind of country where things just work. Of course superficially, and to western eyes it does. Things run on time. Cities are clean. People are polite and so on. It's like some kind of technological utopia or summat.

It can be quite dazzling in this respect. Like our countries but in 200 years time.

I know that underneath the shiny surface there is a lot of dysfunction too but it's something that as a visitor you might never come across. Some lass at a cat cafe did call us gaijin which the lass picked up on (she speaks basic Japanese) but I never took it as offensive. To me it seemed kinda quaint to be on the receiving end. Of course I understand that if you live there this sorta thing can very different.

I would absolutely go back. In a heartbeat in fact. There's a lot to recommend it as a tourist destination but I'm under no illusions that it's some kind of futuristic paradise. It's a weird country.
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Re: I love Japan!

Postby trans-chigley express » 30 Jan 2018, 14:12

Goat Boy wrote: Some lass at a cat cafe did call us gaijin which the lass picked up on (she speaks basic Japanese) but I never took it as offensive. To me it seemed kinda quaint to be on the receiving end. Of course I understand that if you live there this sorta thing can very different.


The equivalent term in Hong Kong is gweilo but it's long lost its original offensive meaning and is used frequently simply as a term for white foreigners - there's even a local brand of beer called Gweilo. The Japanese term is still used in an offensive way though I have never once heard anyone direct it at me even though I listen out for it. I agree that you really need to live in a place to recognise it's darker and unseemly side. Superficially Japan seems like a place that other countries in Asia should aspire to Matt's posts suggest that maybe not all is good.

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Jimbo
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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Jimbo » 30 Jan 2018, 15:13

This is an interesting and entertaining video site which discusses frankly and humorously how Japanese feel about foreigners and visa versa. . https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcIsxu ... Y5f9buahCQ

Here is one about half-Japanese and how they are treated.

Gadfly

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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Quaco » 30 Jan 2018, 17:13

quix wrote:My daughter was vegetarian (now a vegan) but we found quite a few options and THE very best vege/vegan ramen place down in Tokyo station just near the Shinkansen gates.

We went there too!
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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Snarfyguy » 30 Jan 2018, 17:54

Matty Red Sox wrote: We encourage our daughter to travel, see the world, visit other countries, and expect that she will not want to live in Japan as an adult, because there will be just too many issues, from the collapse of the population (aging and low birthrate), terrible conditions for females (in the workplace and society), and the endless racism (the term "hafu", or "half" is incredibly demeaning, and my daughter does face racist bullshit on a nearly daily basis, we insulate her as best as possible, mainly by taking her out of the public school system, but because we still have to be here, we teach her to respond to it, as it's the other person's issue, not hers).

Wow, sorry to hear about that.
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Toby
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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Toby » 30 Jan 2018, 18:12

Matt's comments surely show that as tourists we really know nothing about a place until we live there.

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Re: I love Japan!

Postby LeBaron » 30 Jan 2018, 18:37

Toby wrote:Matt's comments surely show that as tourists we really know nothing about a place until we live there.


Well of course! You still know vastly more than those who haven’t been at all.
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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Insouciant Western People » 30 Jan 2018, 19:02

trans-chigley express wrote:
Goat Boy wrote: Some lass at a cat cafe did call us gaijin which the lass picked up on (she speaks basic Japanese) but I never took it as offensive. To me it seemed kinda quaint to be on the receiving end. Of course I understand that if you live there this sorta thing can very different.


The equivalent term in Hong Kong is gweilo but it's long lost its original offensive meaning and is used frequently simply as a term for white foreigners.


Yeah, when I was working in Hong Kong in 2006 a Cantonese colleague used it in passing, and explained it to me. It means something like 'ghost' doesn't it, a reference to our pale skins?
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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Toby » 30 Jan 2018, 19:11

Very Stable Baron wrote:
Toby wrote:Matt's comments surely show that as tourists we really know nothing about a place until we live there.


Well of course! You still know vastly more than those who haven’t been at all.


I don't think you know a great deal though. I lived in Japan for six months and I certainly saw through the charm of it after a while - the racism, whilst not overt, was there for example. But other than that, I barely touched the surface.

Perhaps in countries that don't have such a different culture, like for example, going somewhere in Europe compared to Asia, you might get a small taste of what a place is like, but not much else.

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Re: I love Japan!

Postby quix » 30 Jan 2018, 21:38

Quaco wrote:
quix wrote:My daughter was vegetarian (now a vegan) but we found quite a few options and THE very best vege/vegan ramen place down in Tokyo station just near the Shinkansen gates.

We went there too!


I’d go back to Tokyo just for that place :D

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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Jimbo » 31 Jan 2018, 03:36

Miles more prevalent than racism against white people, against me, certainly, is an obsequiousness, a bending over backwards to demonstrate a level of respect which, of course, beyond normal courtesy, I don't deserve. Watch some of videos above loaded with person on the street interviews about how Japanese feel about foreigners. I can't speak for Matty's or his daughter's experience but my son, too, suffered some bullying, some jibes in school for his differently configured facial features, nonetheless he still had plenty of friends, played on a little league team, made a load of cash as a fashion model (half-Japanese models are very popular), is bilingual and came through his youth pretty well, I'd say. Maybe he'd say something else. And nowadays I see more and more mixed couples with half-Japanese kids so that by now half-Japanese kids are surely seen as normal. As for how migrants from poor countries are treated I also can't say but how well are they treated anywhere? I've met Bengali and Brazilian college students here on scholarships. Whatever, if you think that average Japanese, like average people anywhere, don't like you because of your skin color you'd be wrong.
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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Matty Red Sox » 31 Jan 2018, 08:55

I hate to burst your bubble, but a lot of that obsequiousness is a bit of racism, Jimbo. If they thought that you "got it" they wouldn't do it, it's kind of a signal towards others that they think you're clueless. You might get it, but they aren't letting you into the group. They are "othering" you.It's the same with the "Hafu kawaii!" ("Mixed kid, so cute!") cry, which is a single towards others that someone's different. Japanese "other" those that don't belong, and trust me "belonging" is huge in Japan. Being different or standing out is the absolute worts for the average Japanese... they hate it. "The nail that sticks out gets pounded down." The folks that I interact with, and the bars and restaurants that I frequent treat me as they would another (Japanese) customer or a Japanese friend.

If they start the weird shit (eg treat me differently than they would my Japanese friends or family), I realize that they are not comfortable with my presence. It's pretty simple, because they don't like acting "formal", it keeps distance, if they wanted you closer, they would drop the formality.

I read the room and see how others are being treated... and more so, how they are treating my child. If they treat my child differently that other children, that's not a good sign, they are "telling" her that she is "different", which is not right. Random grannies and old men have no right to walk up and pet my child as if she's a pet, and likewise they have not right to single her out in public. There's a difference between a kindly person who wants to stop and chat because we are on the train together and someone who is testing the waters and trying ascertain "why are you in Japan, just visiting or living here", and it takes experience to figure which is which.

I'm lucky that I lived here when I was young, that I have several friends who grew up here and share their insights with me, several of my best and oldest friends are Japanese, I know how they treat me, and how I should expect to be treated.

I know a British guy in town, in his mid/late fifties, has lived in Hiroshima for about twenty years now, has two daughters, both in university now. He honestly thinks that there's no racism or discrimination in Japan, and that everything is lovely all the time. He also thought that his kids had never had any problems... it didn't take me too long to understand that this guy who first came here around age thirty or so, doesn't speak or understand Japanese. He's got some phrases and can buy a bus ticket, but he can't hang in most conversations unless they are specifically about him personally - superficial stuff like where he's from and what his job is, and then they compliment him on his Japanese, the obsequiousness shows up, because nobody actually thinks his Japanese is very good and they fear that gaijin that are upset might do crazy shit, so placate him. I met his daughters when they were visiting, mostly because I would get some idea of what my kid is in for in the future. Both expressed that they had been through quite a bit of othering and similar bullshit, including bullying (until they made it clear that they weren't victims), but that there was still weirdness - Japanese guys who only wanted to speak English with them to impress them some how for dating and other creepy ass shit.

I asked them how much their dad knew about this, and it was a bit awkward, but later one of them wrote me a really nice note about it, explaining that their dad gave up a lot to live in Japan, and that their mother really bent over backwards to make his life here easier... and that mom handled the tough stuff, and knew about her problems (especially in middle school), and that at that time her father really couldn't do much to help out. He just didn't understand the context, and girls, and would want to solve the problems "British style" not in the Japanese way (which she - and her mom - felt would potentially make things worse). Basically, he was unaware of many of the problems. She also lovingly put it that "he's happy in his bubble, and so why bother pointing out the things that might make him sad". It was an interesting way of looking at it, but it wouldn't work for us.

I'm the primary point of contact for adults (Japanese or otherwise) with my daughter - my wife works full time, is out of the country or in Tokyo about half of the year, often in war zones and meeting with diplomats and ranking government folks - mom just can't get involved with the day to day as much as she'd like to be. As a dad I've spent countless hours in playgrounds with my daughter, watching her playing with others, and then watching how other parents treated her... and the range goes from treating her normally, to overpraising her compared to the other kids, to being an outright asshole towards her. She tends to remain friends with the parents who just treated her like a normal kid, she doesn't need/deserve special treatment and she certainly won't be treated poorly. I deal with her school... we used the local public nursery for a while. She hated one class because the teacher treated her differently - as if she was a guest star or something. I also realized that the teacher talked to her differently - kindly, but like she was "slow" or incapable of understanding the things that other child could. She was "othering" the fuck out of my kid, and at two, my daughter already picked up on it. She was placed into another class, with a much better teacher, but I already knew, it'd be better if she wasn't the only mixed kid in her school. Her current school is about 40% Japanese, 20% none Western foreign (Chinese, Korean, Pilipino), 15% Western foreign (Australian, European, North American), and the rest, like her, mixed. It's a complete bubble, the kids (from age three to eighteen), are comfortable in a bilingual (and often multilingual) setting, with lots of kids who all have different backgrounds. Most families are at least middle class, and some are quite wealthy, the vast majority of the families travel internationally, and all have chosen the school because it celebrates and enhances these differences. The average Japanese school would have shock waves if two kids were speaking in a language other than Japanese - I taught Brazilian kids who refused to talk publicly at school because of the attention it attracted.

So no, there's rarely any actually violent bullying that my daughter will encounter... but I'm also aware of the other more insidious "bullying" that can happen to her. She doesn't model (we've been asked) or do entertainment or TV (she's been on, once with me, when I was interviewed by a friend - who knew to leave her alone). My wife is fairly high profile in town, and on TV several times a month, they've asked to follow our lives (and particularly our daughter). We've declined, we don't want our daughter to be an object of attention, at least for just her looks and factors that she has no control over. We expect her to aspire to art, science, ballet, music, or something that she doesn't know about yet. We know others who feel differently, but we feel this is the best course for her. We also know that we are not likely to live in Japan permanently and don't want her to have a rude awakening of becoming "un-special" if we move elsewhere, where hopefully her looks won't be her most prominent attribute.
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Matty Red Sox
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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Matty Red Sox » 31 Jan 2018, 09:08

Very Stable Baron wrote:
Toby wrote:Matt's comments surely show that as tourists we really know nothing about a place until we live there.


Well of course! You still know vastly more than those who haven’t been at all.

Exactly.... and my ideas on Japan have really evolved from when I first came here. On the other hand folks who've never been here really can ask some bizarro stuff, that folks who've been here one or twice never would.
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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Matty Red Sox » 31 Jan 2018, 09:09

Snarfyguy wrote:
Matty Red Sox wrote: We encourage our daughter to travel, see the world, visit other countries, and expect that she will not want to live in Japan as an adult, because there will be just too many issues, from the collapse of the population (aging and low birthrate), terrible conditions for females (in the workplace and society), and the endless racism (the term "hafu", or "half" is incredibly demeaning, and my daughter does face racist bullshit on a nearly daily basis, we insulate her as best as possible, mainly by taking her out of the public school system, but because we still have to be here, we teach her to respond to it, as it's the other person's issue, not hers).

Wow, sorry to hear about that.

Not your fault... and remember we still have the choice of living in the US, but choose Japan...
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Re: I love Japan!

Postby take5_d_shorterer » 31 Jan 2018, 14:36

Matty Red Sox wrote:
Snarfyguy wrote:
Matty Red Sox wrote: We encourage our daughter to travel, see the world, visit other countries, and expect that she will not want to live in Japan as an adult, because there will be just too many issues, from the collapse of the population (aging and low birthrate), terrible conditions for females (in the workplace and society), and the endless racism (the term "hafu", or "half" is incredibly demeaning, and my daughter does face racist bullshit on a nearly daily basis, we insulate her as best as possible, mainly by taking her out of the public school system, but because we still have to be here, we teach her to respond to it, as it's the other person's issue, not hers).

Wow, sorry to hear about that.

Not your fault... and remember we still have the choice of living in the US, but choose Japan...


Not to intrude, but this does raise the question why you've decided to live there, especially since there are other options.

I'm asking because the portrait you've given is pretty much 100% negative.

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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Matty Red Sox » 31 Jan 2018, 15:35

take5_d_shorterer wrote:
Matty Red Sox wrote:
Snarfyguy wrote:Wow, sorry to hear about that.

Not your fault... and remember we still have the choice of living in the US, but choose Japan...


Not to intrude, but this does raise the question why you've decided to live there, especially since there are other options.

I'm asking because the portrait you've given is pretty much 100% negative.


We live here due to my wife's work. Japan is not 100% negative, I actually like it very much for raising a child, especially compared to where we were in Indonesia. What Japan is not, is a wonderland. It has many problems, problems that are often conveniently ignored. I'm an educated, fairly well off, white male, I'm going to be fine more or less anywhere. On the other hand, I've got to take care of my kid in every and anyway possible and at the same time teach her how to take care of herself.

We could live in the US, but then, the healthcare is a problem, the guns are a huge problem, the education system is a mess, and violent and overt racist acts are on the increase... so unless something in Western or Northern Europe come up soon, we'll be here, but knowing a country's shortcomings is part of the deal. My kid is partially Japanese, but she is luckier than most Japanese kids, we are doing our best to give her more options than most.
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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Jimbo » 01 Feb 2018, 03:44

Gadfly

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Re: I love Japan!

Postby Jimbo » 01 Feb 2018, 15:31

Gadfly