Monday, January 08, 2007

The Four White People You Meet In Japan

I had an interesting day today but before I go into that I must explain to you the four white people you will meet in Japan so you can better understand the day's adventure.

As stated above, there are only four white people that live in Japan. While you may see slight changes in their daily appearance and you might swear to yourself there are many white people in Japan, you are wrong. There are only four and I know all of them.

First, there is a guy named, Sean. On most days, Sean is a medium to tall guy and is usually skinny. Sometimes, Sean is from Canada but he prefers to be from Australia or England. Sean likes Japan because for the first time in his existence he is a unique snowflake. He is different(better)looking than most Japanese guys or anyone else for that matter, and if you ask him, he knows more about Japan and fashion than pretty much everyone else. How did he get all of this knowledge? He traveled the world and ended up in Japan on "holiday" but stayed because he found a girlfriend that was cute enough to put up with the high maintenance she demanded of him. Sean has a severe disdain for other white people and he lets you know it in every way. Sean especially hates Americans and George W. Bush and as soon as he realizes you are American, he lets you know all of these facts in one huge vomit of verbiage. Sometimes, though it can be hard to tell between the two because Sean is a metro sexual, his sister named Alice will come to visit him. Alice is like Sean in every way except she likes to come to Japan because here the men don't mind her average to sub-par looks because she is blonde. Both siblings love to lord their whiteness over the Japanese and take it upon themselves to tutor the Japanese on style and culture. Out of all four people you meet in Japan, I dislike Sean and Alice the most. They try to make Japan inaccessible for other Westerners just so they can make themselves feel more validated and exclusive. What they don't realize is they are still the same snowflake that almost everyone else is, white and cold.

The second guy you meet is named, Allen. Allen is almost always unshaven, long-haired, and poorly groomed. He can be fat or skinny but it’s usually the prior and he is normally spotted wearing some t-shirt and raggedy jeans. Allen also likes black socks with a comfy pair of sandals while roaming about the Japanese landscape. In normal parts of Planet Earth, Allen would be a nobody that most people would not associate with and most of his friends would come from World of Warcraft or a Star Trek fan site. But in Japan, Allen is special; he is an "otaku". What benefits are derived from being a mysterious otaku, none, but at least now he has a title and that is one thing more than he had in whatever Western cave he crawled out of. Here, Allen and his sister Ellen can satisfy all of their wildest and looniest desires. On the weekends, they can both dress up like their favorite anime characters and rehash forgotten plots of the original Gundam Wing series. Allen likes to play a character he calls Seth Starburner, a tall, blonde mech pilot that has fought in five wars and three minor conflicts in the outer galaxies and has lived to tell the tale but is haunted by a ghastly scar across his left eye that he picked up while battling a ferocious moss creature that ambushed him in the bathtub on his star cruiser. Though he may sound normal to you, Allen is a pretty special guy. On the rare occasions when Allen tires of being Seth Starburner, he will don a heavy backpack and walk around like a ridiculous Euro-tourist who thinks that the world has ended and insists on carrying everything they own with them everywhere they go in a gargantuan brightly colored thing that was a backpack before someone put it in the Enlargomax 5000. Sometimes Allen just likes to let his hippy side show too much.

The next person you meet is Mr. Happenchance. Mr. Happenchance is just passing through Japan. He can sometimes act quite lost and confused or you may find him drunk in a bar. Sometimes Mr. Happenchance is wearing a US military uniform, as are some of his friends, sometimes he has a monolithic hiking pack that he is strapped to. Regardless of the location, you will not talk to Mr. Happenchance for longer than several minutes unless you find him in a bar, in that case, you may have to listen to him for several hours but he will probably buy you shots the second he finds that he has something in common with you. For Mr. Happenchance, he is a stranger in a strange land and any connection with another white person will hang in his memory for a long time to come. Usually, Mr. Happenchance is a pretty nice guy but he just needs a little guidance or some words of encouragement. For Mr. Happenchance, Japan is a scary and lonely place and he is most definitely, "just visiting".

The fourth person you meet is named, Norm. As his name implies, Norm is a pretty average guy. His girlfriend, Norma is the same way. He can come in all shapes and sizes and if you were to ask him, he would tell you that he is the way he is just because. Norm and Norma are extremely hard to find in Japan. Norm is an easy guy to talk to and doesn't mind conversations. At the same time, he has no problem telling someone to get lost or being alone just for the sake of solitude. The other three people will all tell you about a mystical force that drove them to Japan, Norm doesn't really have much of a dramatic story to share. He came because he felt like it or had business or thought the country was interesting. Norm is Norm and that is that.

Out of these four people, I am definitely a Norm with a dash, just a dash, of Allen in me. Reid and Karie are Norms and Terri is a Norm with some Ellen in her. Most of the guys I work with also hover around being Norms with an occasional outburst of Sean here and there. As I said though, Norms are rare and I have been lucky to find the ones I have.

My little adventure to Osaka today, paired Terri and I up with a full-blown 17 year old, Allen. This kid is unfortunately from America and goes to a high school here in Japan. After spending the time with him that I did today, I wish I could go to that school and apologize for Allen and his goofy behavior. I want to reassure all of the troubled Japanese youths that Americans are not all like Allen. I feel bad that he is the one that exposed them to my culture.

Brief description of today's Allen: Tall, pale, unshaven, bad smelling, worn out trench coat, a way too big cross dangling down the front of his boney ribcage, anime obsessed, video game obsessed, no common sense, paranoid, and just flat out weird. I may dislike him more than I should because I can see brief streaks of me as a teenager in him and I feel bad for him and for what I was. Though I will say it right now, I was NEVER as goofy as this kid. Ever.

Allen's biggest problem is that he came to Japan expecting something in the way of robotically enhanced super geeks, riding through the countryside on mechanical horses and battling evil ninjas with katanas and various other martial arts paraphernalia. I think it came as quite a shock to him when his plane landed in a country of normal acting, dark haired people, armed with cell phones and battling their lame boss in traditional Japanese garb such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci. Since his arrival seven months ago, Allen pretty much stays inside and plays video games most of the day. Japan is not the world he envisioned and he retreats to one that comes closer to fulfilling his expectations. I feel bad for him because he is in such a cool place but seldom leaves his town which is maybe more in the sticks than mine.

By the way, I met him because he is staying with a Japanese teacher that Terri works with and she told him we would take him along for the day and show him Osaka and Den Den Town. I think he had a fun day but I find it hard to think that he is 17 and that he knows more Japanese than me, which I know for a fact he does. Looking at the kid and how he behaved today, you would not believe either of those facts. He will not speak Japanese because he is either afraid of getting his grammar wrong or afraid of talking to strangers. It may have been a bit of both. I think he is a smart kid when it comes to books and studying but he has absolutely no common sense. Somehow I think Japan overwhelmed and underwelmed him at the same time and he never figured out how to cope with it. He was also home-schooled in the US and I partly blame that as well. Either way, had it not been for Terri and I, our Allen would have been hopelessly lost in the tides of people and trains. I have had to play tour guide for people before but today, I felt more like I was his dad. It was very strange and mildly disturbing that a person like my Allen is floating around Japan. He needs to be at home in the US where he can grow up a tad and then come here when he has better coping skills and more common sense. I am not kidding when I say this though I wish I was, he could not find his way off the train when we got to his stop tonight. I kid you not. I feel for him but at the same time, I only have so much patience for his type of person. Once I was alone and free of my Allen, I was relieved and almost drained from the experience.

I was so burnt out, I lost my cell phone temporarily and then recovered it half an hour later from a train station employee who was very good looking and spoke excellent English with a cute English accent. She also remembered me from my comings and goings through the station. I may have to talk to her again.

Anywho, its both bedtime and dinnertime and I have time for neither. If you have visited Japan, tell me what you think of my four people, I am interested to see if you view people the same way.

5 Comments:

At 6:33 PM, Anonymous Tony said...

"Though I will say it right now, I was NEVER as goofy as this kid. Ever."

Sounds like a fun game to play around the ol' Yearbook.

 
At 11:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait, wait! Hold up! You mean ther are not robotically enhanced super geeks riding through the countryside on mechanical horses battling evil ninjas with katanas and various other martial arts paraphernalia?

That's it, I'm out of here!

 
At 1:25 AM, Anonymous HardPooh said...

Mon and I were Norm....right? Hope nihongo life is rocking and rolling for you mate. Gambatte! Ja mata legend. See you in the land of oz sometime.

 
At 5:19 AM, Blogger Mogwai said...

Yes, you were both Norms. How was Christmas for you? Nice and warm?

 
At 8:57 PM, Anonymous hardpooh said...

Alot of beer and barbeques. No shrimp on the barbie though. That's a stereotype.

 

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