I have a friend who helps me sometimes put my life into perspective. That is, he’s a crazy, crazy guy, and that helps me to remember that I maybe am not as crazy as I sometimes fear. Sometimes, I’m more crazy, but not usually. ^_^ This guy, by the way, is going to get murdered when he goes back to America, because he says a lot of things based around the fact that, if you speak fast, slur your speech, or use incredibly formal/informal English, nobody around you actually understands what you’re saying. And he gets rather vocally frustrated at various things from time to time. And sometime after returning to America, we just KNOW he’s going to let lose with one of these vocal tirades, and, well, see, in America, most everyone DOES understand English, which is going to get him into trouble. A lot of trouble.
I present this anecdote not to berate him, because the things he says are often funny beyond belief, but rather as an example of one of the things that Japan does to you. ^_^;;
You see, when in a country where nobody REALLY understands your native language unless you use simple, common words and speak extra-clearly, you sometimes get into bad habits. You have the liberty of saying things whenever you want, which is refreshing in a culture which limits the things you are allowed to DO, but sometimes a little disturbing when you realize that you’ve been swearing like a sailor in front of a mom and her 5-year-old at a crosswalk, and then a little refreshing again when you realize, Oh, right, they didn’t understand me.
Among some of the stranger things, I have always known dance instructors to be rather touchy-feely about instruction, and necessarily so in order that you can feel where your hips SHOULD be. But in Japan, well, it’s worse than I could have imagined. The other day at practice, they decided that everyone needed to stand up straighter, and in order to accomplish this, they deemed it necessary to stab each of the lower-classmen in the ass with their pointer fingers. Now, I’m well aware of ‘kancho,’ but I’m also aware that this sort of thing is supposed to be limited to elementary and younger middle school students! Not college seniors! >.<
And then, just to top off the whole, This is f*cking weird theme, at the NEXT practice, they took down one of the senpai, removed his shoes and pants and unbuttoned his shirt (forcefully, I might add) and then tossed him up into an overhead lamp a few times before dropping him back down to the ground.
One of the girls tried to be kind and stick her hand up, as if to touch the lamp, indicating that that was the lamp he was destined to hit. I dunno, MAYBE she was trying to keep him from hitting it or something, but since girls can’t touch boys in this country (unless you’re dancing with them or teaching them to dance, in which case shoving your fingers up their patootie is totally fine), it’s a little hard to tell which was her true goal.
Seriously, Japan, what the crap?
Something that bugs me a lot here is the idea of “kimeta”, literally, “it’s been decided.” This is one of the prime reasons for being a jerk-off in Japan. Well, let me rephrase that. If anyone is forced to do something stupid or is not allowed to do something intelligent and you ask those in charge “Why?” the answer will more often than not come back, “Kimeta kara.” “Because it’s been decided.” There need be no reason other than that. I gotta say, I pretty much hated (with the firey passion of a thousand suns and all that) the reason “because I said so,” and this whole “kimeta” bullcrap is nothing more than the grown-up version of the same, perhaps with a little “my grand-pappy did it this way, and my father did it this way, and I did it this way, so you’re gonna’ do it this way, too” thrown in. Y’know, for flavor. ~_^
I used to try to be a “good little gaijin,” when I first came here. You know, I used to try to learn all of the customs, and to execute them all to the best of my ability, but now that I have been here for somewhat longer, I’ve learned that the Japanese people don’t really notice or care if you try hard to execute things the same way that they do. In fact, I think it kind of throws them off their A-game to see a foreigner doing things as well as they do. There’s this ‘sense’ here that Japanese people are “different” or “special” compared to the other nationals of the world, that they’re more naturally… “in tune” to some sense of Japanese… sensibilities. While I believe this (and have OBSERVED this) not to be the case, you can’t really convince the average-Kenji on the street of this. And so I have, partially out of increasing laze, partly out of rebellion, and partly because it makes me feel more like I’m filling in my rightful place in this society, I have begun to not care so much about some of the little details. Things like eating food while walking someplace? Whatever, I want to do it, I’m in an hurry, and besides, I’m a GAIJIN, so they expect me to do it wrong. Talking on the train to friends? Whatever, GAIJIN are always loud and obnoxious. I think they are less thrown off when I ACT like a foreigner than when I don’t. I think they prefer to have to struggle themselves and try to speak my VERY hard English for me than to have to endure the shame of my speaking their Japanese to them as fluently as the next guy.
…And sometimes I think I even start to believe that. Just a little bit.
Oh, Japan, what have you done to me? ^_^;;;