To Japan and Back

Last week I had lunch with a friend whose ideas got me thinking. It has been over six years since I have been in Japan, and there has hardly been a week (if not day) that has gone by without me thinking about someone I met, an experience I had, or a feeling I felt while in Japan. I came back determined to go back some day in the near future. I could not have guessed that six years later I would still be scheming on how to get back there.

Lucklily enough, however, I have been fortunate to live in places in the U.S. that have large Japanese populations – Hawaii and New York. Consequently, I have been able to make friends and have kept up my Japanese language skills to some degree. In Hawaii, I actually improved my Japanese.

Yet, why do I want to go back? Is it because being from the U.S.  provides me with some type of “rock-star” status in Japan? Or is it because I enjoy large cities, something Japan has plenty of? Or is it because I enjoy being emersed in a homogenous society where I am a minority? Regardless of how well I ever learn to speak Japanese or how long I were to live there, I will never be fully accepted as Japanese. I will always be a gaijin, or outside person. There was a time that I thought my whole life had prepared me to marry a Japanese girl from Japan, but the time came for me to get married and I chose to marry someone else. 

It’s possible I could go back to visit Japan and wonder why I ever wanted to live there in the first place. But I doubt it. I like Japan. I like the people, not to mention the food, culture, and living standards. I find that I get along well with people from Japan, sometimes more so than with people from my own country. But I can no longer think about me anymore. Were I alone, I would have gone there by now – perhaps several times already. But I’m not. I am part of a team, with another member on the way. And so I go on, thinking often about how my interests can be utilized or intertwined with what I am doing now. I have ideas, but so far, they are only ideas . . . . 

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One Response

  1. Assume that one day a westerner gets a Japanese body and can only speak Japanese but his/her mind is still of the west. The person has to stay this for many months. What do you think will happen?

    I know some Japanese people have a difficult life after they spent many years in the U.S. or in an international school in Japan.

    It is difficult to believe two truths which are against each other.

    Westerners are happy in Japan because they are guests in Japan.

    Oh, I do not intend to offend you… Say hello to your sweet kitty.

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