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First Mama.  Then Writer.  Though, of late, the latter has consumed a great deal of time as I work to get things in order to potentially be ...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday Soliloquy #10

Japan Continues

(I'm sorry to have missed last week.  I've been having some personal life difficulties and haven't felt able to write about my life.  I'm one of those lame writers.)

Most gaijin (foreigners/cave people) stand out in some way or another.  Often, it is obvious by the foreigner’s appearance.  This was certainly the case for me.  At the time that I went to Japan, I was 5’3” tall, wearing about a size 18 pants, white blond hair, blue eyes, and slightly tan skin (which was super pale next to most Nihonjin: Japanese).  Given my appearance, I definitely wasn’t able to blend into any crowd.  I did stand out like a sore thumb.  Thankfully, Japanese are very polite and didn’t stare overtly.  I know that stalkers choose their focal obsession for many reasons.  I’m pretty sure my stalker in Japan chose me simply because I was so different looking.  My friends didn’t believe me when I first told them I had a stalker.  I felt a little bit like maybe I was imagining the whole situation.  But then he staled me when we (my friends and I) were together.  They were blown away and asked all kinds of questions about the situation and my seeming lack of concern over it.  It was very strange, I’ll freely admit, to see the same guy at numerous train stations who was obviously watching me in a very polite, Japanese, way.  But I was never actually afraid of him because I didn’t feel any alarms go off concerning him.  Now, one of my girlfriends was actually harassed by a Japanese man… he managed to mess with her skirt as she was riding home one day.  She was, rightfully, freaked out and I had the opportunity to feel extremely thankful that “my stalker” hadn’t come near me as far as I was able to tell.

Among my friends was a nice looking fella.  Danny is 6’ or so, thin, blue eyes, and at the time had waist length blond wavy hair.  Once, when he and I were out and about with our other friends during the afternoon or day time I observed that Japanese seemed really comfortable with him.  I even saw a number of different Japanese reach out and touch his hair.  I had never experienced anything like that – at least, nothing that was purposefully done in that sort of intentional way I observed them do with him.  This was puzzling to me at the time, but I’ve come to understand it as a clear demonstration of what protects me.  People just did not feel able to reach out to me.  This is generally true as well, I think.

I conducted at least one social experiment while I was in Japan, but I honestly do not remember any details!  I keep hoping to find/get my hands on a copy of the newsletter series I wrote while there, but haven’t just yet.  If I do, I’ll definitely share about that!
As a foreigner, there are certain things I was not expected to either know, know about, or like.  I’m grateful for this list, really, because it enabled me to coast a bit more given that I didn’t know a lot and I did NOT know ABOUT a lot!  Among the things I was expected not to know about or like were many food items.  Taco, nato, cow’s tongue were a few of the food items I was expected not to know about or like.  There were others, but I just don’t remember them.  As for taco… that’s octopus, I love/loved it!  My host family considered me baka da gaijin for this strangeness… that’s “silly foreigner” to be nice.  I did not previously know about nato and I did not like it.  I think, in a way, this was a relief to my host family.  Nato is fermented soy beans.  It has a horrid smell and amazingly snotty texture and… well, I just didn’t like it one bit.  As for cow’s tongue… that was a sneak attack!
My family took me to a Korean BBQ restaurant.  It was a really cool experience!  In the table of our booth there was an actual little BBQ.  My Host Father did the cooking honors (for as long as he wanted them, at least) and we enjoyed quite a bit of BBQ.  My family was always amazed at how much I ate and could eat.  They purchased numerous plates of meat and some veggies and we ate them all up.  There were numerous types of meat offered and served.  One of them they prepared and served me with, as I could see in hind-sight, special attention on me and my reactions.  I loved it!  It was “oishiidesu” and I told them so (delicious).  It took a little while for the question from them to me to come together in a way I could understand completely.  They were asking if I knew what it was.  Nope.  Then they told me, “It is cow’s tongue.”  They were, all four of them, paying close attention to my reaction.  I thought about it for a second and told them, “Okay, well, it’s still delicious!!”  They were shocked!  Then they asked if I wanted more and I told them that if there was more I would love it.  Again: shocked!  But it WAS delicious and learning which of the many muscles I’d eaten didn’t change that.  Anyway… it was pretty funny all around.  Much laughter about this at the table that evening… and I’m sure they told their friends what a strange foreigner I was and referenced my many odd behaviors with special emphasis on the foods I loved that were not meant to be well-favored by gaijin.

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