Confessions of a Japanophile

Here are some things I thought would be a good idea to clarify about me and this blog.

1. Firstly, although I will sometimes refer to myself as a ‘Japanophile’, it’s doesn’t mean that I wear cherry-blossom tinted glasses about everything in and about Japan. I do realize they did some terrible things in the past and I know that today Japan isn’t a fantasy land of rainbows where unicorns gallop across the streets with geisha on their backs. In most ways, it’s just like any other country, it has its positive side as well as its misgivings.

2. On that note, I do like a lot of Japanese things. Most notably, I am a bit of an anime freak buff and I my brother does own a small collection of manga volumes and collectable DVD’s. Other things I love about Japan is its literature and culture. I’ve read quite a few books and watched as many hours of documentaries set in Japan, about people from Japan, about people going to Japan and about Japanese life and culture. All of these things ended up contributing to the list of things I want to experience for myself instead of just observing from the outside.

3. Lastly, the reason why I don’t really use the word gaijin to humorously mock myself is because I don’t look like one. I’m actually of Vietnamese/Chinese descent which means that apart from possessing the language skills of a 6 year old, I could pass for a Japanese person.

I was actually born in London, UK, and then moved to the south east cost of Kent when I was 10. So I have been living in England since I was born (my parents have been here for about 30 years), I went to English schools, had English-speaking friends and was blind-sighted enough by my love for English Lit to do it at A-Level. Since starting to learn Japanese, my already-rudimentary Chinese abilities have basically gone down the drain, but hopefully my English won’t follow suit.

gaijin camouflage

So I’m hoping that my non-gaijin-like appearance will actually help me get away with a few things that some foreigners can’t – like being stared at in an onsen or being able to enter places with a (rather innocently racist) ‘no foreigners’ sign on the door.

However, I have a suspicion that people will be less forgiving of my Japanese since there aren’t any obvious visual prompts (apart from my intense staring and lip biting) that I have no idea what they are saying to me. In shops, I know they will ask me things that I will be scared to say no to… and end up paying for it.

If it’s any consolation, at least people won’t be scared to sit next to me on the train.


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rosa
    May 11, 2013 @ 03:20:57

    I’m Chinese American and is also interested in Japan too.. >.<


  2. Shreya
    Feb 02, 2013 @ 06:58:10

    I agree with you, I know Japan has a dark past as well like some other countries , however there are so many reasons to like Japan.. I love watching dramas and I study the language. It is so interesting, like an addiction.


  3. Taiga
    Aug 01, 2012 @ 21:09:07

    Heh, I wish I could be Japanese as well, and experience its culture. Unfortunately, I am Vietnamese (whose culture pales in comparison), but Asian is Asian.
    Anyways, I hope I am able to experience what you’ve experienced, but I truly have no clue whether or not I look like a gaijin.


  4. cuem
    Oct 14, 2010 @ 15:08:07

    Hey, kata, あなたは英語が上手ですね。


  5. kata
    Oct 13, 2010 @ 12:10:38

    Hi. I’m learning English currently. Only thing I do is just reading English articles as much as possible on the net though :p

    “I have a suspicion that people will be less forgiving of my Japanese since there aren’t any obvious visual prompts”

    As a Japanese, I can tell who is Chinese/Japanese/Korean from their appearance. You don’t have to be worried much.

    wish you have a great year!! 😀

    日本のおいしいものをたくさん食べて滞在を楽しんでくださいねヽ( ´ー`)ノ
    あ、あと勉強もがんばってくださいε=ε=ε=ε=┏(; ̄▽ ̄)┛


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