Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Racism in Japan

I have a fever right now, so I apologize if any of this sounds delirious. More delirious than usual. Can something sound delirious? Anyway.

This blog is about my experience as an American in Japan, so I thought I ought to write about this event even though most stories you're getting out of this country have a different feel right now. On Monday Motto [Japanese] and I [American] went looking for apartments in Hiroshima. It's a weird system here. You have to find a real estate company and you tell them what you're looking for, and then they try to sell you something they want to get rid of.

We looked at a bunch of places that were either too far from downtown, old, dirty, expensive, had the bathroom sink in the kitchen, or had the laundry machine in the kitchen. You know, things I'm not ready to settle for.

We found a place that was cheap for the size (3DK) and downtown. In our tired state we decided to take it despite the non-refundable 340,000¥ key money [$4,000 USD deposit]. Motto signed the contract and wrote my name down as his co-inhabiting fiance (he tried to hide the "fiance" part from me, when pressed said it looks better than writing "laundry folder).

racism in Japan

Begin Rant.
So today we got a call from the real estate agent saying the landlord doesnt want to rent to us because I'm a foreigner. Apparently he had Filipino tenants before and they ruined the apartment.

Wow. They may know how to queue in line but this is a backwards country. Can you imagine an American refusing to rent to a Japanese? Or refusing to rent to any non-American? That stuff just doesnt go on in most of the civilized world, yet in Japan the real estate agent didnt even seem too shocked. If I were him I'd be like, You call them and say that, bigot.

You hear stories like this all the time in Japan. I was used to the constant stares, being asked if I "want to pa-ti" buy gross men, having to use a credit card to get a cell phone, and people doing black face on TV but this is a new hurtle I wasnt ready for.

It makes me more and more upset when I think about the fact I've been here 3 years, absorbing the culture and trying not to always be the nail that sticks out.

My first American thoughts about this were lawyer! newspaper! we should own that building!

And as far as the fear of me destroying the apartment with Motto, I thought that's why we give him the $4,000. It goes to cleaning the apartment and replacing all the tatami floors when we leave.

This shouldnt be acceptable behavior in Hiroshima, the city of peace, or anywhere. I assure you no Americans living there were Tweeting #PearlHarbor last week.

If anyone is itching to defend Japanese xenophobia and racism in the comments section have fun.

You can reTweet this link to let the word out that things like this are still being allowed to happen in 2011.
End rant.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I'm OK, thanks for askin.

I was asleep when the earthquake hit. I didnt check the internet or TV before work so when I saw I had three missed calls on my cell after work I panicked. No one ever calls me, especially from overseas. It was my grandma seeing if I was OK. She called again and filled me in on what happened. Then slowly as my east coast friends started to wake up (noon their time) and my family in Texas heard what happened (FOX news must have picked up the story) more and more tweets and Facebook messages came in. I'm not trying to call out other members of my family about the fact that only my grandma in Boston picked up the phone and paid long distance fees to check that I was alive. *ahem*

Anyway, I let everyone know I was fine, and even posted the previous blog post before I found out how bad the earthquake and subsiquent tsunamis had been.

Then the western 24 hour news media really sunk it's teeth into the story. A man was found 9 miles out to sea, a nuclear power plant had an explosion, the cast of Twilight had to evacuate Vancouver.

I could hardly go online without seeing some misinformed person on the other side of the world saying, "Cancel your travel plans to Japan, it's not safe over there!" Jon is coming to visit me next month and someone wrote to him that Narita airport is a mess and he should rethink his vacation.

Other people worry about nuclear fallout traveling to California. Someone on Facebook said that Japan refused to accept help from the US (FALSE). #PEARLHARBOR started trending on Twitter.

My dad is not convinced I'm safe as he sees the press cover the devistation more and more.

Ok, folks. Japan is big. Some plant workers have gotten radiation poisoning. That's really terrible. I think it was 10 to 100 workers. The nuclear power plant was designed to withstand earthquakes and has systems in place to deal with a meltdown. Even if the thing blew up I'd be fine in Yamaguchi. You'd be fine in your home across the ocean. The poor people of Fukushima would have to deal with some shit, though.

A lot of people are missing. They dont even know how many thousands died. It's devastating to the country and will take a long time to bounce back from.

No one should cancel travel plans to Japan. The last thing this country needs is to lose tourism dollars right before cherry blossom season.

EDIT: As I wrote this a 6.0 earthquake hit Shizukoa, south-west of Tokyo. The news anchors have put their helmets back on.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Love, Dad

So my dad sent me an email that read "I'm getting operated on tomorrow It probably will be on you tube if you want to watch it." I found out it was only a operation on his thumb, nothing life threatening. This is his update for me:
This surgery isn't going so well no food or drink from midnight and be at the hospital at 1120 now they expect me to sit in a chair for 2 hours and wait. I haven't even seen anybody yet. I just told the lady at the desk " they better be saving somebody's life if you expect me to sit and wait for hours." I'm not sure they know who I am and what I'm capable of. Everybody should be glad I'm alone esp if somebody says something stupid and who knows what I might say.

The best part:
So in closing if anything happens to me there are 4 jars of change in the cabinet next to my refrigerator make sure everybody gets one. Don't worry nothing will happen during the surgery. It's the before the surgery that could be a problem.

Then a follow up:
Everything went fine. I guess I asked one of the nurses if she was hitting on me and then I fired everybody .They said it was just going under talk but I was serious.

The weirdest part of this for me is his improved grammar! It's like he thought these may be his last words to me so he hit spell check and everything.

Then a bonus email after today's earthquake in Japan:
Are you ok earthquakes craters in highways tidal waves? Japan is looking scary stay safe. Let me know if we need to send Will Smith and Bruce Willis to save everybody.

Dont you wish you were reading his blog instead of mine?

Monday, March 7, 2011 is Live!

Online Japanese Lessons LearnNihongo
Finally finished a project I've been working on for a while, It's a website for Motto's online Japanese lesson business. I've been studying CSS feverishly for months trying to make a site that looks professional and can serve as a portfolio piece to get me more jobs as a web designer.

The site has come a long way from this:

learn Japanese

You can tweet this link to help spread the word about the site, and follow @learnnihongo for a new Japanese vocab word everyday.