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Natsukashii!!! I love Thailand and really enjoyed this post. What a wonderful experience for Shuma!
Toggle Commented Apr 19, 2012 on Thailand Day One at A Fish Out of Water
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I know this isn't particularly constructive while your approach certainly was, but if it were me, I probably would have taken my child and left, glaring at them and audibly cursing them out, which I happen to have the fluency to do just as well in Japanese as in English. Not that it would have changed the outcome, but might perhaps have gotten the point across that such behavior is obnoxious and annoying. The blatant pointing out and remarking on anything different from the homogeneous mass was so prevalent when I lived in Japan, recently for quite a few years in Tokyo, and earlier in Fukuoka and Yokohama, that I had always assumed it was considered perfectly socially acceptable there. In fact, I was taken aback more than once at being introduced to someone who without even so much as greeting me, opened with the statement (in Japanese or broken English): "You have long legs!" or "You have a tall nose!" My response was a polite, wan smile and "Hajimemashite" through gritted teeth, but after reading your post I realize that feigning shock, touching my nose and answering with "Ah, sou nan desu ka! Shiranakatta...." might have been more effective for educating the etiquette-challenged. And it wasn't limited to children, which I never much cared for having to interact with for that very reason. One time my (Japanese) husband (boyfriend at that time) and I were seated in a cozy bar in in Shin-Koenji (W. Tokyo) we were considering buying when an older couple came in and upon rolling back the door, the man pointed at me and bellowed, "Ah! Gainin da!" "Hallo!" Chi was mortified and I was of course disgusted, and then they sat down beside us and started asking Chi questions about me to which he replied, "Ask her. She speaks Japanese." That shut them up, and they actually had the grace to apologize when Chi and I got up to leave. Your remark about getting more sensitive the longer you live in Japan makes perfect sense, as that stuff keeps building up over time. It sure got fatiguing being made to feel like a walking zoo exhibit whenever I left my home, and it really hurts me when I think about the constant living hell that children are routinely subjected to, and not only the "foreign" ones, but even the 100% ethnic locals when they don't happen to precisely fit their peers' definition of "normal". It's easier to cope with as an adult. On the other side of this coin, I am at my wits' end trying to communicate to my husband (who doesn't speak much English and while well-mannered, is not "foreign-savvy") how extremely offensive and incendiary the word "nigger" is, which he sometimes uses to identify people of colour in the same way that the Japanese (benignly) use the word "gaijin" or "gaikokujin" to identify "foreigners". Even here in L.A. Even in SOUTH CENTRAL L.A. where we used to live! He just doesn't get it that there is absolutely no case in which use of the "N-word" is ever acceptable. Final thoughts: I have found the Japanese in general to be every bit as ethnocentric and xenophobic as Americans are. That said, I have of course met plenty of exquisitely lovely Japanese people too. Not sure that was helpful, but it's my thoughts and experience with that touchy topic, and sorry this comment ended up almost as long as your original post! Very best wishes to you and your lovely family! Shuma obviously has a super-awesome mom on his side! P.S. About the term "hafu", while on a trip with Chi's family to an onsen, I was mistakenly identified by a nearsighted elderly woman as a "nyuu hafu" (new half). That was so hysterically funny that it wasn't even annoying. It had everyone at our table rolling on the floor during dinner after the baths ;)
Toggle Commented Mar 3, 2012 on Gaijin at A Fish Out of Water
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This post reminds me of that rant by some industry douchebag a few months ago asserting that all independent artists are creating is crap that clogs up the marketplace for his proteges on his label, the genre of which my thoughts about it should not be put into print. As a former professional instrumentalist, I have a living memory of being able to support a reasonable-sized family at a decent standard of living as a freelance musician in the second largest city in southern California. Unfortunately the pay scale for those jobs has not kept pace with the ever increasing cost of living while the number of available jobs has decreased, making that no longer viable except under exceptional conditions. Now I live in the first largest city in SoCal and am doing original music, which is a major game changer. If I still wanted to do the stuff that traditionally is financially compensated, I am sufficiently qualified to, and could quit my day job. However, my husband/music partner and I are committed to our original project, and while the startup curve has been precipitous and impoverished, and I still have a day job at this point, even here in L.A. (one of the most jaded, over-saturated music listening populations on earth), where for the past year that we have been working hard to gain a foothold, people have consistently shown their willingness to pay a price that is 2 to 4x the standard market price for our CDs (i.e., "hard copy" music - not digital downloads), which indicates to me that there are still a lot of people willing to part with negotiable currency for something they consider to be of high quality. Nevertheless, if one wants a sustainable, humanly worthwhile standard of living and developed country niceties like health insurance, a well-maintained vehicle, etc., that seems to require diverse, independent streams of income. Oh, and our overhead is probably fairly modest compared to other two-adult households in this part of the world.
Toggle Commented Mar 5, 2011 on Will Music Be A Hobby in 5-10 Years? at hypebot
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Great post as usual! and “natsukashii...well, not really....That reminded me of my angst-filled experience trying to get access to contraception in Japan and having to go to thee different countries to accomplish that. I may yet one day get around to publishing that debacle if I can rescue it from the near-extinct floppy diskettes the original drafts are stored on, or if I still have the hard copy around somewhere. Oh, the frustration of trying to get information about stuff there (and here when we’re trying to find out about something there)! And the cutsey/cartooniness of practically everything.....
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“Get it right for ten people before you rush around scaling up to a thousand” That's the best news I've heard in awhile! Good to be able to proceed at a pace that traffic will bear.
Toggle Commented Jul 27, 2010 on Seth Godin: Get It Right For 10 People at hypebot
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How timely! We have loads of biwa here in Chinatown, Los Angeles, so if I get treated for a bag of them in exchange for some guavas from our tree, now I'll have a great recipe for them - thanks! Just came across your blog while looking for a Japanese recipe for chige-nabe stock that I could easily understand and find ingredients for (we're making that tonight) and your blog is so "natsukashii"! I moved to Tokyo in 1997 and my souvenir from seven years of voluntary exile and I have since relocated to L.A. Looking forward to trying more of your recipes!
Toggle Commented Jun 30, 2010 on Biwa Jam at A Fish Out of Water
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