Tuesday, April 16, 2013

We, The Japanese.... Are Totally Not Racist.

I'd like to preface this post with a statement about how much I truly love and treasure this country. Japan is amazing, and it's brought me a considerable amount of joy and insight during the past 2 years I've been here. That being said...

Man, you guys are SUPER RACIST.

I'm not going to sugar-coat it. As a Canadian, I grew up surrounded by all kinds of people. Heck, as a Torontonian, I was exposed to one of the most multicultural societies in the world. And I loved it. Being surrounded by people of every shade of beige was simply normal. In my home city, there was no real concept of the 'foreigner.' We were all immigrants, in some way or another. The racist stereotypes associated with different cultures existed, but were always acknowledged as something that could be overlooked, since we were all 'in the same boat.' Toronto is considered something of a 'melting pot.'

See, Canada is a very young country. We've only been around (officially) for about 160 years. So technically, we're all immigrants. Anyone who says otherwise is either a self-entitled douche, or simply ignorant. Neither of which is a particularly admirable quality. So I never felt like an outsider. Granted, I'm a super-white girl who's family has been in Canada for at least 6 generations, so I suppose I had a certain socioeconomic advantage. I never felt like a true minority. Although, TECHNICALLY I WAS. White people in Toronto are certainly not a majority, despite the financial hold they seem to have over that great city. The vast majority of the people in my life were of mixed backgrounds. A Sea of Beige, if you will. As teenagers, we used to shrug our shoulders and say 'we'll all be beige in 100 years,' when comparing our heritage on the playground. It turns out, qu'elle surprise, I was naive.

Enter Japan.

'Homogenous' was the word they first used. At least, that's the first word I heard that really rang true. You have to see it to believe it. In downtown Tokyo, the millions of black-suited business men on trains, all dressed the same, and all with a seemingly same purpose. All headed to a job in an office where they'll work for the better part of their life. All with the same strong genetic material that make their hair jet-black, and their skin the same colour. Japan is truly an island. An island of one. Honestly, they look like penguins.

If you watch NHK, the local news broadcasting agency, you'll hear a lot of sentences starting with  'Nihongin wa...' or, 'We, the Japanese...' This kind of sentence structure, however simple, further ingrains the idea that the Japanese are a secluded and "special" people. It subconsciously negates any inclusion of other cultures or integration of any kind. And it makes us "outsiders" feel inherently unwelcome. Well, not unwelcome, just not really part of the team. And Japanese people are really keen on being part of a team.

Now I'm starting to sound bitter, which was not my intention. I'm simply trying to point out that a 'homogenous' society can feel pretty unwelcoming to someone who is not part of that genetic strain. And although I do occasionally enjoy being treated like a rare-and-delicate flower, it can get kind of tiresome. One of the greatest parts of being Canadian is that we're all different. We cannot simply be identified by our skin colour. This is one Canadian-ism that I am genuinely homesick for.

But, Japan, let's get real for a second. If you're gonna be racist, at least OWN UP TO IT. Let's review;

Not sitting next to a guy on the subway simply because he's black? THAT'S RACIST.

Immediately assuming that someone is going to steal your shit because they're Chinese? THAT'S RACIST.

Thinking a guy wants to sleep with your girlfriend because he's from some Hispanic background? THAT'S RACIST.

Automatically assuming a fat guy is from America? Well, that's statistically probable. But still, THAT'S RACIST!

One of the double-edged aspects of living in Japan is being a "foreigner." And despite all the benefits of being treated like I'm special, sometimes it's just tiresome.

But enough of this thought-provoking crap. I haven't posted in over a month, and I have a backlog of pictures to share. Let's get on with it.

Cherry blossoms in Yoyogi Park

A beautiful day

Kyari... What are you doing?

More beautiful Sakura

Good friends in the park

Beyonce? Really??

Let's go to Korea for a couple days. Because we can.

Hey look, Korea has spring too!

Well, I'll be damned. Korea also has terrible English.

Pretty things.

In Korea, the temples are prettier. Because it's Korea.

Still in Korea.

Ok, we get it Korea, you're awesome.

Do these shoes match my suit?

Insert Asian knock-off joke here.

My, that's a lot of head on your beer...

Keep the cleanliness of the toilet.

Caution: Rapey Raccoons.

Sakura in Tokyo

This is literally my walk to work.

Aw, look at the tiny cars!

Chardonnay in a box? Sadly, this was just 'wine-flavoured.' Worst. Idea. Ever. Way to get a girl's hopes up.

This is just the perfect example of how safe the streets of Tokyo are. A high-end Bianchi bicycle. Unlocked and unattended. And no one will touch it. Because, Japan.

"Sexy Zone."

Updated! A bien tot!