Friday, January 27, 2012

Day 12 - Describe a fail!gaijin moment/gaijin!smash moment.

Describe a fail!gaijin moment (where you did something wrong or completely misunderstood because you couldn’t ~read the air~ or just plain had no idea what you were supposed to do because you weren’t born and raised here). Describe a gaijin!smash moment (where your foreignness was to your benefit).

While I have friends who like nothing more than to yell out, "Gaijin smash!" and proceed in committing some sort of social faux-pas, I try my hardest to blend in, follow the "rules," and not increase the amount of stares I already get on a day-to-day basis here in the countryside. With that said, like anyone else who isn't a native to Japan, I do have my moments where I let my foreign-ness aid me in slipping away from awkward/complex situations. We all know that feigning ignorance can be much better than having to deal with life sometimes, right? ;P

However, above all of the subway-ticket-mishaps and awkward-lunch-time-incidents in bigger cities, there is one thing about being a foreigner in my particular region that has finally shown me more of an advantage than not. I am a novelty. This is nothing new, of course. Many foreigners are seen as novelty items and get special treatment/tolerance because of their "exoticism." The reason random people go out of their way to talk to us and/or buy us drinks/dinner is because some people seem to think talking to a non-Japanese is novel enough to allow such behavior. Okay, great! Free dinner and drinks!

This type of treatment, however, is not what I'm referring to. Surprising to even myself, as a member of a half Japanese band (two members of LeeWay are American and two are Japanese) who can speak Japanese, we have rendered ourselves enough of a novelty in order to get some pretty special treatment, considering even the punk scene here in Japan is heavily reliant on the sempai-kohai caste system that perpetuates through everything in this country.

A photo a friend took of our show~<3
Anywhere me and my friend Matto go, we are invited everywhere by nearly anyone we meet. As soon as people find out we're in a band, they invite us to play a show with them, go along to a show with them, go drinking with them, crash at their house... the list goes on. To top it all off, this subculture of amazing people doesn't look at us like we're alien monsters (for the most part). When people notice we speak Japanese, we are 9 out of 10 times immediately accepted into the discussion (of course, it helps that by now, we know a good portion of the people involved in this subculture in a variety of cities around Japan...).

Looking vicious
While most of these people are genuinely amazing individuals with interesting things to say, and more often than not experience with traveling abroad (for band tours and such), I think that they also realize we are not permanent fixtures in this country. They realize that our home is called America, not Kochi or even Japan, and before we escape back to that country, they want to hang out and have a good time. Whether or not Japan is the place I'm going to stay forever, I appreciate the fact that people will drop the rigid social structures (like the sempai-kohai system) and make some sacrifices in order to get to know us in the short amount of time we're here.

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