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Thursday, September 13, 2018

What Osaka's victory mean for Japan?

While I was working at my Saturday job at the premium seating at the LSU football stadium, one of my co-workers told me that Naomi Osaka beat Serena. I was honestly half surprised and half not really surprised. I was surprised because I mostly heard from many critics that Serena will win it because of her experience in those kinds of situations, but I wasn't really surprised because Serena would lose to someone one day. While Serena's outburst overshadowed Naomi's victory, her [Osaka] victory did make a tremendous mark on Japan as a country.

Like Osaka, there are a lot of half-Japanese people that had a really hard time trying to fit in Japan despite having some Japanese descent. I read a couple of articles about the harsh lives of half-Japanese people when they were in Japan, and it was really shocking to me. There were kids that don't play with them, constantly bullying them because they don't look like them. It had gotten bad up to the point that one half-Japanese person had been peed on, struck by cigarette butts, and being called an "eyesore". There was a small video about a half-Japanese/half-black boy that was going to his first day of school. At first, the Japanese schoolkids avoided him, mocked him, and think he has HIV (because apparently, all blacks have HIV or something). However, he did make a friend during the video and that touched my heart. Despite that, I realized they had a super tough time compared to the average Japanese person.

For the biggest and obvious reason, Osaka's victory and her interviews shown that having a Japanese nationality doesn't only mean by the color of the skin. It was basically the same thing with Ariana Miyamoto and other half-Japanese people. Osaka had a Haitian father and a Japanese mother and spoken broken Japanese. Despite all that, many Japanese people still know her name and have high hopes of her legacy in the future.

Congrats Osaka-san,
Jay Nakamura

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Mental Health in Japan

Mental health has become a more serious conversation topic for Americans. The main reason for it is because of the school shootings and other kinds of domestic terrorism happening in the past couple of years, most notably Sandy Hook Elementary, Columbine High School, and the recent Stoneman Douglas High School. After those events occurred, many Americans (such as myself) suggest the country should focus on improving mental health and support so those events wouldn't happen in the future. The reason for that is mental health is one of the common traits of mass murderers and school shooters.

Basically, for Americans, mental health is still a big problem in society today. However, what about Japan? How can Japan combat mental health? In all honesty, they don't really talk about mental health at all. In Japan, mental illness is a sign of weakness because it was seen as an excuse to not work hard.

Many Japanese foreigners told their stories of being mentally ill in Japan, and most of them said it's really bad. They were looked down upon other people because, in their perspective, they believe they're being lazy. Also, society has been pressuring them to not ask for help and to toughen up. With the saying "The nail that sticks up gets hammered down," people that have a mental illness tends to draw attention to others that don't deal with the same things.

With the tatemae and honne in hand, many Japanese people don't really talk about their mental health. They lock it in a small box, hides it from plain sight, and pretends it's not there. However, it'll drastically become worse when the sounds of screams and cries coming from within that small box. For people with mental illness, it's like they're constantly fighting their dark side or an invisible monster they can only see it and not many can.

The notable incidents that made Japan become more focused on mental health were the couple at Neyagawa, Osaka (January 2018) locked their daughter in a tiny room for 15 years because she was mentally ill. The daughter later died at age 33 because she was frozen, and the couple was arrested. Another incident was a Japanese male arrested (July 2016) for the murder of 19 people that have mental disabilities because he "doesn't like people that are disabled."

The biggest reason for Japan not handling mental health correctly is by their isolation and lack of information from sources outside of their country. The country's complacency is the main reason as to why many Japanese people are silently suffering from their mental health. Like Japan, American people tend to also look down on people that have mental illness because they believe it's their excuse to get out of trouble.

While the mental health awareness improves in Japan, it still has the stigma as mentally ill people are weak-minded and lazy. It will take a matter of time before Japan fully understand mental health.

Stay happy,
Jay Nakamura

Thursday, August 9, 2018

3 Considerations Before Going To Japan

I went to Japan for the first time in January 2018 with my father. I did have a great time, and I get to spend quality time with my father in a country I want to go to since elementary school. For the entire six days (used to be seven but missed the flight), there are a lot of cool things I get to finally see when I was in Yokohama and Minatomirai. However, while I did had a great time, there were some things I saw that made me realize how to improve my experience the next time I go.

1. Broken Japanese is better than No Japanese

During our trip, I have to translate what my father want to say in Japanese since he doesn't know any Japanese. He needed me to translate a lot of things during our stay. While my Japanese was super broken (my grammar sucks so bad), a lot of them were super pleased that I can "somewhat" speak Japanese. Even though I heard a lot of people said "You can survive a vacation in Japan without knowing any Japanese," it will limit the experience because you don't know the language and can't communicate with the civilians. As I recall, the Japanese people were not very good at conversation English because they was not taught how to communicate in English at their junior high/senior high schools.  While someone with broken Japanese can have a better experience in their vacation since they learned how to communicate in a given situation. It may not be fluent Japanese like everyone else, but they were happy and grateful for foreigners trying to speak in their mother tongue.

It wasn't much of a drag because at least I can test how well my Japanese is after all the self-studying I had done in America.



2. YOU WILL GET STARED AT!!

Once my father and I got out of our hotel room and into the streets of Minatomirai, we did get some stares from some Japanese people. My father was kinda intimidated while I wasn't. The reason my father was intimidated is that he believes that Japanese people are kinda racist to blacks since we saw a couple of black people in Japan being loud and obnoxious. The reason I wasn't is that many Japanese people have not seen a black person in their very eyes and I can understand if they were curious about us.

I do get stares when I was with my best friend for her birthday because they think we were an interracial couple, and it's super rare to see a Japanese woman-black male being together I believe.



3. Try No American Food For the Entire Time

On our first day (or second day) in Japan, we made a small agreement to not eat any American fast-food places. Places such as McDonald's, Burger King, Popeyes, KFC, etc. We restricted ourselves to only Japanese food. We ate beef with rice, noodles, tempura, and raw meat (if my memory is correct). With those foods and a lot of walking, my father lost about three pounds when we returned to America, and he had more energy than he usually has when we were in America. 

^^' Sadly, we went back to American food when we returned to our hometown. Well, at least we did better than we expected.


Overall, have fun, be careful, and try not to do anything stupid. You are unintentionally representing your home country whenever you go overseas.

Have fun,
Jay Nakamura

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Kazuyoshi Miura

Miura was one of those athletes that can play well even after their primetime years. He's like the Japanese Tom Brady, but the difference is: Miura plays football (soccer), he's 10 years older than Brady, and he had a longer playing career than Brady.

Image result for kazuyoshi miuraIf you don't know who Miura is, Kazuyoshi Miura (or King Kaz) is a professional soccer player that plays for Yokohama FC (a Division 2 team in the J League) in his entire professional career. He was first known as arguably the very first superstar the J League had when they were developed in 1993. He played for notable teams such as Juventus (Italy), Santos (Brazil), and Palmeiras (Brazil). He quitted school at age 15 and traveled to Brazil in order to pursue his football dream. He represented the Japan national team during their time in the qualifying rounds of the 1998 World Cup, but controversially, he didn't make the team for the World Cup finals.

However, the most notable achievement he made is becoming not just being the oldest player in a professional match but also the oldest player to score a goal (50 years old). Beating the previous record of both by Stanley Matthews.

Miura still plays for Yokohama FC and will stay for the team until he jokingly says "until the day I die".

You know a country is super healthy when a 50-year old still plays professional soccer. But hey! As long as Miura doesn't have a bad injury, I wish him the best of luck!

Good Luck,
Jay Nakamura

Monday, July 30, 2018

Suicide Club: Most Disturbing Movie I've Watched

I don't really have the opportunity to watch many movies because either I don't have the time or the movie was not really interesting from my point of view. If I actually do watch movies, the majority of the time I would really like because it's either funny, unusual than the average stories many people heard, and/or inspirational. Not really into the Uncle Drew movie when I finally get the chance to watch it because it was a somewhat cliche underdog story, but I was interested in a basketball battle between old school and new school.

However, the small percentage of the movies I don't really like fall into the reasons of it's not really funny, somewhat biased about a topic, or disturbing on many levels. A couple of years ago, there was a Japanese movie called Suicide Club (自殺クラブ). At first, I didn't want to really watch it because by the title itself, I know I can be easily intimidated. As time goes by, I started to get more and more curious about the movie and finally decided to watch it. 

Before starting the movie, I idiotically thought The movie can't be that disturbing. Spoiler alert: It was super disturbing. The movie had a lot of unexpected suicides from high school and it was hard to see and try to not be intimidated by how the high school kids were committing suicides like it was nothing. Also, suicide is one of the few sensitive topics I would rather not talk about because it always left a bad feeling in my chest whenever that topic brings up intentionally or unintentionally. 

Suicide ClubThe infamous part of the movie was actually the beginning of the movie. There were 54 high school girls that were chatting and gossiping like any other high school girl in the world. So, it did make me calm and relaxed because there are rare chances that anything bad happens in the first 10 minutes of the movie. When the train (bell?) rang, all 54 girls made one vertical line near the train tracks and jumped in the tracks just to be run over. The moment I didn't forget was the constant blood that was spewing around tracks, the outside of the train, to some of the people, and (if I remember) I did remember there was a head being squished like a watermelon. I paused and tried to water my eyes and to think to myself what I am getting into.

Shockingly, I did finish the whole movie. After I saw the credits, I immediately closed the page to never see it again. It's not that I am sensitive to blood and gore, it's just the context of that is what made me feel uncomfortable. 54 high schools girls just randomly jumped onto the tracks to kill themselves, and that just happened unexpectedly. One minute they were gossiping about boys and other girls, then the next minute I saw blood everywhere.

In conclusion, I just want to say one thing. I will probably not going to see that movie again anytime soon. It was an OK movie I am not going to lie, but the majority of the context is really discouraging. 

If you want to watch the movie, here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_nNSgnKUzs
Just don't eat anything before you watch it. You'll thank me later!

Good luck,
Jay Nakamura

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Perfectionism in Japan

While I do love and adore Japan, this topic is one of those topics that I am really concerned about. The topic is trying to be perfect in Japan, or another title is perfectionism in Japan. What I mean by that is Japanese people tries to have a life that doesn't have any hardships, not struggling with anything (financially, academics, romance, etc.), and for everyone to like them.

I am not saying that every Japanese person has that mentality. However, it's somewhat of a pattern I sometimes hear in the Japanese society. A Japanese person has to go to a good preschool, a good primary school, a good secondary school, a good college/university, a good job... Overall, just being in the best in their childhood would predict their destiny in life. For example, it's like those anime and drama series that always have that one character that is super intelligent, never failed an exam, the club president, and is mostly really popular with the opposite gender and hated by the same gender (basically my definition of a "golden student"). It's one of those reasons as to why I am not a big fan of child prodigies because they had really big expectations for their future and they're being called a disappointment if they didn't succeed. On top of that, I do get kinda skeptical and judgmental about "golden students" because their mindset of being perfect at everything is suspicious. Also (if this is a decent example) girls that have "Pretty Girl Syndrome" are one of the very few types of people I don't like because they're a bunch of guys wanting to be with that chick (either romantically or sexually or both). As a result of those guys constantly chasing her, she deemed herself as "perfect" and the world revolves around her. I did meet some girls that had the syndrome and would do/say whatever they want just to get the guys' attention. It always bugs me whenever they do that...

When in reality, life doesn't work like that at all. I've seen and heard a lot of intelligent people and child prodigies that done really well in school but does really poorly during and after their college years. Also, I've seen and heard a lot of people that had been struggling with school but do really well in college and have great lives in the future. So, everything and anything is possible.

The biggest reason for that is how the people react to making mistakes and how to use those mistakes to make themselves better. However, Japanese people were constantly told to never make mistakes in order to succeed. As a result, perfectionism is one of the overlooked reasons as to why Japan (and other countries) had extremely high suicide rates compared to other countries. Seeing when they either made their first mistake or constantly comparing themselves to other people, it hurts them morally and loses their overall willpower and motivation.

The most common example of Japanese people dealing with perfectionism is learning English. When it comes to business English and English grammar, they know every single rule and can easily master it. Yet, when it comes to having a normal conversation and expressing themselves in English, most of them froze up because they are scared of making mistakes and embarrassing themselves. Additionally, I realized whenever a Japanese person is speaking English, others compared their English to other people or to the English they learned. It's really hurtful whenever I heard those kinds of stories from everyone because they were taught it's completely unacceptable to make mistakes.

The perfectionism mindset is a blessing and a curse. It does teach the Japanese to work hard to be in the top, however, some people won't like that mindset of being at the top of everything and doing whatever they can to be in the top in order to have a good life. If they worked hard at something and failed it, they would think no matter how much they worked hard, they can't get anything right. If they felt left out of the crowd because they cannot find something they are passionate and good at or they can't find someone that fits their needs and wants, they would feel worthless. I heard that from a lot of Japanese people the society wants them to be perfect at everything and be the same as everyone else. It had gotten so bad up to the point they even hated their own home country.

I do like whenever someone works really hard at something they love and passionate about, but at the same time, it always pains me to hear them overwork themselves to have a good life by being at the top at everything. There's no such thing as a perfect human being. Never has been and never will be.

I can relate to a lot of Japanese people that struggles with the perfectionist mentality. I was constantly comparing myself to the people that are making better grades, had more talent, good with girls, and it was painful for me to constantly compare myself to them and tried whatever I can to have those kinds of rewards. Also, whenever I made any kind of mistake I tend to get heavily criticized more than the average person, and it makes me feel powerless and worthless to others. So, I can totally relate to the people that are comparing themselves and they need to be perfect to have a good life.

I'll admit. I made a TON of mistakes in my life (some big and some small). I've lied, broken some trusts, gotten into trouble (not by the law), and lost a lot of good friendships for stupid reasons. All the mistakes I made I did regret and feel bad, but there's one big lesson I learned. It's OK to make mistakes. I do take responsibility for the actions I made (even some of the mistakes that are not entirely my fault or I just got unlucky). I'm not going to lie. I'll make a lot more mistake in the future, but I will learn from it and use the mistakes to make myself a better person. Like me, people tell others when you made a mistake it's not the end of the world. When you make a mistake, own up to it and keep pushing. Don't let one mistake determine the quality of your life.


References:
Perfectionism's Dark Side (Japan)

Yours Truly,
Jay Nakamura

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Samurai's Heinous Tests on Swords

In the Western world, they know samurais as cool assassins that plot to kill their enemies in a straight-forward fashion. Westerners glorify them as heroes and protectors of medieval Japan from pop culture. However, most don't realize that samurais are kinda messed up in the head...

While for Westerners calling them heroes, the Japanese called them jerks because of the many heinous things they did in medieval Japan. From shooting dogs as a sport (inuoumono) to assassinating a lower-class for an insult (kiri-sute gomen).

However, to me, the heinous things they've ever done is the way they tested swords in the past. During the Sengoku period (from 1467-1600), samurais used a method called Tsujigiri (つじぎり、辻斬り/辻斬) which translates to crossroads killing. Samurais that either bought a new sword or learned a new skill try to test them out by going into the night and test it out on the very first person they meet. It could be almost anything and everything, and almost all of them are merely innocent. While it was "technically" illegal, very few samurais are actually charged because they killed the only witness and fled off. Their reason for killing the innocent people was they felt "insulted"...

While that one was bad, the other is somewhat worse. Tameshigiri (ためしぎり、試し切り/試し斬り), which translated to test cutting, was a practice for samurais to test out the sharpness of a sword in a straw mat. Most of the swords samurais purchased were from either wealthy people or people that are in the upper-middle class of the social standing. However, the majority of the time it was tested by often screaming, condemned criminals that are being held with chains on their arms and legs. The criminal could either lose a limb of your body or be completely cut in half, depending on how bad the crime was.

Thankfully, both of those heinous practices ended in the same era it begins. With tsujigiri, it was banned in 1602 (despite some notable killings after that). While tameshigiri keeps going on but the practice changes drastically. In modern Japan, rather than using it to torture criminals, samurais now focuses on their abilities and talent rather than the sword itself. They use objects and tries to cut it in specific directions and patterns in order for the test to be successful.

Moral of the story: While samurais look cool in the movies and TV shows, they weren't really nice people in the past...

References:
A look at a dark past: forensic analysis of tameshigiri remains | Tameshigiri.ca
10 Crazy Historic Facts About Japan - Listverse
Tameshigiri - Wikipedia
Tsujigiri - Wikipedia
10 Horrifying Facts You Didn't Know About Samurai - Toptenz.net

No cuts,
Jay Nakamura

Monday, July 23, 2018

Passion for Football: Japan vs. Louisiana

As a footballer (or a soccer player in America), I was interested in all kinds of football. Men's football, women's football, youth football, futsal, beach football, etc. For the world, football is one of the few hobbies the world can touch together with no matter their backgrounds or where they come from. At any given moment, the world stops just to watch a football match in action. I was 13 years old when I first got interested in football (or soccer) after the 2010 FIFA World Cup when Landon Donovan scored a great goal for the United States. When I was learning Japanese in high school, I started to combine two passions: Japanese culture and football. So, I began to pay attention to the J League more often. The first Japanese footballer I was interested in (besides Keisuke Honda of course) was Masashi Wada. The reason he was the first Japanese footballer I was interested in was that he was invited to Manchester City for a training regime, and he played for his hometown: Yokohama F. Marinos (my favorite soccer team). The one fact I was really surprised was that his birthday was three days before mines, and it made me interested in him even more. Plus, his favorite player was David Silva because he was a very technical footballer despite being physically smaller than most players. Side note, I honestly didn't know that Silva was part Japanese, and that was a semi-huge shock for me because him being part Japanese was the last thing I thought of. However, when I check his stats and found out he didn't play any matching with the first team because of his age and inexperience, I was disappointed. In the video of him in Manchester City, he was pretty good and his playing style as a forward was nice to see. So for him to not be a starter for one game is shocking. While yeah he did get invited to a trial in the Premier League, getting a trial in Manchester City is pretty rare.

As I kept my eye on Yokohama F Marinos and Wada, I learned more about the league itself. Mostly the first division but I did search for the second division, but at that time, I was more into the first division. Suddenly, I realized something. Japanese footballer and Japanese football, in general, was very interesting to me. Not because since it's Japanese that means I would automatically like it because there are a few things I don't like about Japan. It's mainly the Japanese footballers are more technical players and they had many tricks up their sleeve against opponents that are physically bigger, faster, and quicker than they are. For example, when I was watching the 2018 FIFA World Cup (Japan v. Senegal), the Japanese defense did an offside trap (a tactic in which defenders move upward in order to put one or more attackers into an offside position) to one of the players and it actually works. I was astonished because one of my coaches in the past told me it's extremely risky to use the tactic because there can be a time the referees might not call it offsides and it might backfire big time and could lead the team in danger of losing a point. So, for them to pull it off in a somewhat easy fashion was an impressive sight to see. It was one of the many reasons why I am interested in Japanese soccer.  Later on, football became the number one reason I wanted to go to Japan.

There was an article (that I might put on this blog before) explaining the whole football society in Japan. It explains what the Japanese people do with football from when they were small kids to be close to adults. Japanese kids play football in dirt fields so they can learn how to control the ball from different speeds and learn how to appreciate the sport more often. Japanese youth tends to play soccer year-round (like most countries), so it was another reason why they're more skilled and creative with the ball better than Americans. Even the professional leagues were impressive to see because like the Japanese national team, the league players are skillful with the ball since they had more touches, however; they tend to shoot less and make careless passes because they want to be smart with the ball and understand to not take risks that could cost them not just the possession of the ball, but maybe a vital goal that could determine their fate in the game. Plus, Japanese people are SUPER passionate about football. Majority of the teams' attendance is packed with fans, and they had loud chants even before the game starts.

While yes it does sound really appealing for me to watch the league (and the sport itself), there was one thing in Japanese soccer that rubs me the wrong way: perfectionism. Like the culture itself, Japanese soccer coaches told youth players that it's not okay to make mistakes whatsoever so it can be a reason why some of them even yell at the kids. They even give out exhausting punishments for the smallest things such as dropping the ball when juggling or shooting way out of the target. Their punishments are mostly running around the field. The whole method of perfectionism were the biggest reasons why Japanese footballers tend to take fewer risks so they can make fewer mistakes. As a result, Japan produces fewer superstars that move to Europe but the whole league can challenge even the best leagues in the world. While it doesn't sound so bad at first, it can be controlling because humans tend to learn more when they make mistakes or take risks. To limit taking risks, that means when a player does make a mistake, their reactions are almost always bad. To me, if I coach Japanese youth players, I want to teach them that it's OK to take risks and make mistakes because it can teach them to learn from their mistakes to become better players.

Overall, it does make me want to play soccer in Japan because I do want to see how they become exceptionally technical players in my own eyes. A couple of weeks ago, there was a documentary about soccer in my home state (Louisiana). At first, I was so excited because they showed an indoor soccer center I used to play in the summer. Suddenly, the interviewers asked the interviewees in Baton Rouge to compare the popularity of soccer to American football, and that's when things went south (no pun intended). Many people said that soccer will never be popular in Louisiana or in the South because college football took over the place for decades, and it will never change. The comments from that part said that Atlanta FC had about 75,000 fans in almost every game, so the stereotype of soccer can't be popular in the South was a myth. Ever since the United States failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, there were articles and YouTube videos talking about why soccer sucks in America and things they need to do to get back on track. Whenever I told people that I played soccer (almost all are black), the black community got kind of confused because it was strange to hear any African-American male playing soccer but not basketball nor football. It's mainly a Southern tradition: church, football, and basketball.

In the games I've played in Louisiana, it made me realize that the J League and Japan football itself was completely different from American soccer. Unlike Japanese football, American soccer (preferably Louisiana soccer) deals with aggressive plays such as harder tackles, straight-forward tactics, long passes, and more shots (even though most will be off-target). So yeah... two completely opposite styles of play...

Soccer in America was seasonal because it was like a time slot for sports in America with baseball and soccer in the spring and summer, then football and basketball in the fall and winter. So, whenever there was an American football game on, it's automatically packed with fans every Saturday and Sunday. It was almost impossible to grab a seat when football season comes. However, in soccer... there were a handful of cities that actually take the sport seriously and the rest just brush it off to the side and wait for LeBron and Curry fighting for the NBA Finals for the hundredth time. In Louisiana, you can't really have a decent conversation with soccer. You have some here and there, but not overall. If it was basketball or football,  the conversation will take hours.

American youth (in my perspective) are not really interested in soccer because of the stereotypical excuses such as soccer's boring or the game takes too long or stuff like that. I could understand that soccer can be boring at times, but the game usually takes about two hours at most compared to American football or basketball which takes about two and a half or three hours. While there are some articles that believed to say soccer will take over America or it'll be one of the most popular sports in America, it will take a while for it to grow or a huge event that could make the sport become popular in America.

Overall, despite all of that, I am still happy I get to play soccer in Louisiana. I met a lot of people and connected with them with just one soccer ball. At the same time, soccer is still foreign to Louisiana and it will take some time for it to grow. For now, I do want to begin to focus more on Japanese football because they are more passionate about the sport and I do want to try to broaden my horizons as a footballer.


References:
https://soccermommanual.com/japanese-youth-soccer-how-it-differs-from-us/




Kikku ofu (Kick-Off),
Jay Nakamura

Friday, July 20, 2018

Top 3 Lessons I Learned from Learning Japanese in High School

Learning a different language can become overwhelming for many people because it's a new thing that can become stressful when it's not going in your direction like it wanted to be. That's why many people sometimes stress future parents they should let their children learn a different language when they're still young so they can get an upper hand in almost everything. Adults, like me, wanted to learn a different language for various of reasons: going to study abroad to a different country, confidently read a book in a foreign language, watch a show without having to deal with English subtitles, impressing a cute girl with a foreign language she knows, etc.

To me, learning a language wasn't really that much of a hassle when I was in high school because besides Japanese, I was also learning Spanish. However, Spanish was more of a high school class I have to learn in order for me to graduate from high school. It was a somewhat boring class because Spanish was straight-forward like English. So, I quickly got bored of it because it was easy for me to understand and was not really much of a challenge.

When I started teaching myself Japanese, it was super complex than I expected. The sentence structure, the grammar (which I still struggle to this day), and the strokes that I had to write. Those were three of the many reasons why it was really cool for me to learn the Japanese language. However, I had to deal with a lot of challenges during my Japanese studies, but it did teach me a lot that can benefit me in the future.

1. Some People Can Test Your Knowledge

When I started to learn Japanese, I learned it from a half Japanese girl. I was writing a self-introduction in hiragana, and she taught me some tips on not just hiragana, but the whole language itself. It did get me motivated at the time because, in all honesty, I was surprised when she told me she was half-Japanese because, in Louisiana, the majority of Asians were Vietnamese. So, meeting an actual Japanese person was shell-shock. However, the enthusiasm went dry when a couple of people (especially the girl) was testing to see if I can actually understand Japanese. I completely froze because at that time I didn't know what they were saying, and I didn't know how to respond. They laughed and thought "He's not going to survive the country for a second." There were other times people were asking me random questions about Japan, and only want me to say the dirty words in Japanese.

While it was a confidence breaker, it was also a confidence booster because the negative taunts were a fuel of energy and willpower of me to study harder so I can prove them wrong. I can prove to them that I can survive in Japan if I can teach myself the best way I can. 


2. School is a MAJOR obstacle

Learning Japanese was a great feeling whenever I had the free time inside of the school, but there was a problem... I still have to handle the stuff that's going on in school. Because of that, balancing learning Japanese and getting my work done was a huge hassle. It was super hard because I had exams in classes I was failing and homework that I had to procrastinate because I was learning Japanese. Juggling both of them was super hard and stressful...

However, I told myself that I need to balance it out the right way: I deal with school first, and whenever I had the time of no studying or exams coming up, I'll get to study some Japanese. When I started that tactic out, it was hard at first because I thought I started to forget the Japanese lessons. Then, as time goes by, it actually works. My schoolwork was done faster, I started to get (somewhat) better grades in my exams and my Japanese increased gradually.

3. Some People Are Fascinated 

Despite there were some people that were insulting and no so happy with me learning Japanese and wanting to go to Japan, there were some that were actually fascinated. I guess the reason was not many people in Louisiana could have the chance to go to Japan, especially black people because they either not have enough money to go there or not really keen to going there. One of my classmates was super happy when I told her I am studying Japanese. She became super supportive of me learning Japanese and she sometimes asked me how were my studies going. It was super cool that I had someone that can give me positive thinking to keep going and to be passionate about it. The ironic part was that she's half (or part) Korean and half black. So we can both relate to the problems of learning a different language.


While it was a scary and fun moment of learning Japanese in high school, it did make me become a better learner of not just the Japanese language but the culture and the country itself because my admiration of the language made me open about other things that I didn't know about Japan. After finally going to Japan in January 2018, the Japanese girl that was my first Japanese teacher was shocked and impressed because I proved her wrong by actually going to Japan.

It was a decent moment for me, and it was a good building block for my future with Japan.

Good Luck,
Jay Nakamura

Monday, July 9, 2018

Asian Boss: Foreigner's Perspective on Japan

Asian Boss is a Youtube channel that talks about topics in Asian cultures, most notably Japan, South Korea, and China. They talk about all kinds of topics, even sensitive ones such as current events. Their recent video talks about how foreigners felt when they are discriminated against when they are in Japan. One part of me is really happy about it because they can describe their events and how they reacted to it. Another part of me is kinda annoyed by the comment section of the video, and how there are those few people that would say Japanese people don't discriminate against white foreigners and things like that.

I watched the video and it was really nice. Foreigners from different parts of the world talk about their stories. The Indian dude was really informative on his stories, and it was really impressive for me that he was super knowledgeable about the culture. After watching the video, I do want to talk about Japanese people and foreigners, and how they should know about each other's perspective when it comes to discrimination.

To the foreigners: Think about it from a Japanese perspective. You've always seen every single person that has the same nationality you had, but seeing someone from a different country, race, ethnicity, and/or skin color is really new and scary. Or, you had a bad incident with a particular country, race, ethnicity, and/or skin color, and you thought everyone with those same requirements would do bad things or something like that. Because of that, many Japanese people are quite scared and super defensive when seeing foreigners. Majority of the times, they're not really racist. They either haven't seen a particular foreigner (or foreigners in general) before or they had a bad experience with one.

For example, one of my Japanese lady friends had a bad experience with an Indian male because he was stalking her online. So, after that incident, she doesn't want to talk to any Indian males. It's not that she's racist, she doesn't want to have that same incident to happen again.

While yes, being a foreigner does has it good props sometimes, but it doesn't mean everything in Japan will be good. There will be some bad in Japan, but it's mainly how for the Japanese people they are either not really used to seeing foreigners or they had bad experiences with foreigners.

To the Japanese: Think about it from a foreigner's perspective. You're going to a foreign country that you always dreamed of going for almost your entire life, but you've been discriminated because of the color of your skin, the nationality,... just anything that is not "normal" in Japan. Sometimes you felt lonely and abandoned because of your nationality and the color of your skin. No matter if you followed the rules, speak Japanese, or even change your home nationality to Japanese,... In Japan's eyes, you're always a foreigner.

It's one of those situations when there's no such thing as who's right or who's wrong. It's all about compromise and coming together. To both Japanese and foreigners, I do wish that the problems dealing with discrimination will end soon.

One more thing I want to say about not the lesson, but the video itself. Africa is a continent, not a country! If you said South Africa, then it'll make more sense. It's the middle of 2018 and people still say that Africa is a country...

Kampai,
Jay Nakamura


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnZv0a-UcfE&t=0s