living covertly in Japan

So I’ve been asked to talk about what it’s like being Asian in Japan. I don’t really know how to answer that so well, because I’ve always been Asian in Japan. I can’t really compare it first hand to being something else in Japan…

I guess the biggest advantage is that I can blend in. As long as I’m quiet no one pays attention to me and as my Japanese improves I can even keep my cover through simple conversations. When I’m with my more ethnically diverse friends, and in Japan that means whites, blacks, Hispanics, middle-easterners, Indians, and everything else, I do notice that people tend to stare. Now maybe they’re staring because they’re not used to seeing someone tall. Or a lot of foreigners are very muscular, or at least more muscular than your average Japanese person, big muscles are very interesting in Japan. Maybe you dress funny, or your shirt’s tucked into your underwear or you wear your cell phone on a belt clip. I don’t know, but if you’re different you’ll draw some stares for sure. Not from everyone… but probably most people, at least a glance. Maybe a stare or an ogle. I do get stared at sometimes, but usually it’s from groups of Japanese girls… no clue why…

this happens way too often…

I don’t know how difficult it is to do things in Japan, because most things, like legal things are taken care of by either Yuuki or one of her family members.

I have no proof but I felt like, when I was applying for teaching jobs in America, that applicants that looked more gaijin were given some preference, but I have not proof of that, its just how I felt at one of my interviews.

One thing, I can’t break into TV roles. All the TV roles that go to Asian looking people go to Japanese people, and the gaijin roles in commercials and TV shows go to more gaijin looking people, but I’m not really interested in that stuff.

I auditioned for both roles…

I have the luxury of taking my Japanese name and slipping into Japanese society without anyone batting an eye, and I kind of like that.

I’m the second one on the left…

I do have one funny story. I was doing an interview for a Japanese news program. They have a spot in their show where they introduce a foreigner living in Fukuoka. They ask questions like, What food do you like here? Where do you like to go? What do you like to do?

When I showed up to the interview, they looked at my name and looked at me and of course my American name didn’t really match what I look like. So they asked me where I was from and I told them “America.” They looked confused, so I quickly followed up with, “But I was born in Korea.” They looked relieved or something, they smiled and said “Ahhh, sodesu ne.” and then wrote, “KOREAN” next to my name in their notes…

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