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HerlockSholmes

Female Sherlock!

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52 minutes ago, Hikari said:

In which part of the country does your friend live?  

Their experiences with bureaucracy doesn't surprise me a bit. 


They're in a small town north of Tokyo, far enough away that it's by no means a suburb.  I'm guessing that small-town bureaucracy is small-town bureaucracy in any language!

 

1 hour ago, Hikari said:

She will have a Japanese surname, which will help, but if she displays any Western features in her appearance . . or if she's raised to be bilingual and speak perfect English. .she will always be regarded as 'less than' full Japanese.


Although she speaks English well, she's not really fluent -- but I doubt that most Japanese people would be able to make that distinction.  She now has a Japanese husband, though.

I have another American friend who's one-quarter Japanese, and has a Japanese surname (let's say it's Yamaha, because it isn't).  His employer (a large US corporation) sent him to Japan to manage their Tokyo branch for a few years.  (Maybe he just happened to be the best person for the job, but I can't help wondering if they thought his Japanese ancestry would help him fit in.)  The people there had been told merely that Yamaha-san was coming to visit, and he told me that when he was introduced as Yamaha-san, their jaws literally dropped.  (I've heard enough other stories from various sources to know that this was a fairly normal reaction -- Japanese people tend to stare openly at foreigners, and little kids may even run screaming from them.)

In any case, my friend's escort soon started introducing him as "gaijin-no Yamaha-san" (the foreign Mr. Yamaha), and that seemed to help, which he thought was pretty funny.  However when I told that story to my aforementioned friend in Japan, she was horrified.

 

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2 hours ago, Carol the Dabbler said:

he told me that when he was introduced as Yamaha-san, their jaws literally dropped.  (I've heard enough other stories from various sources to know that this was a fairly normal reaction -- Japanese people tend to stare openly at foreigners, and little kids may even run screaming from them.)

In any case, my friend's escort soon started introducing him as "gaijin-no Yamaha-san" (the foreign Mr. Yamaha), and that seemed to help, which he thought was pretty funny.  However when I told that story to my aforementioned friend in Japan, she was horrified.

I'm surprised that your Japan-based American friend would have been horrified since she's living there.  As a gaijin, it helps somewhat to have obviously foreign features and accent.  As a white American (hakujin Amerikajin!) I was a bit of an exotic oddity . . I had a commodity they wanted (English) and I wasn't particularly threatening.  Foreigners who are not white or Western face openly hostile discrimination sometimes.  I knew of a black American English teacher based in Tokyo who was banned from her neighborhood 'sento' (public bath) on the grounds that all black people are infected with AIDS.  When a gaijin presents with an Asian appearance, this tends to stump them.  Just as many Japanese people have it so ingrained in their minds that there's no way a foreigner can master Japanese language (leading to the comical scenario of a Westerner asking a question in flawless nihongo, only to get the reply back--"I can't understand you--no English!' . . the reverse also holds:  Someone who looks Japanese must therefore must speak Japanese.  While I was there, I met some teens visiting from Brazil, which has a large Japanese expatriate community.  Their young people grow up speaking Portuguese but maybe not Japanese.  A person with a Japanese face who does not speak Japanese is often treated then as a mental deficient with a childlike mind, for not knowing something which their features say they should know.  

People of other races besides Caucasian are generally not treated well at all.  Lots of African-American servicemen have either taken Japanese brides or have left biracial children behind when they returned to the States and these children encounter additional prejudice.  Not only are they hanbun, but they are half-black.

America has shown itself to be no better, really, so I'm not saying Japan is utterly unique in being a racist county, but they are.  Compared to us, they've made a lot more progress in a rapid time considering how briefly in the scheme of things their country has been open to the West.  Even in 30 or 40 years, they've come a long way.  But 'The nail that sticks up gets hammered down' is just as true today.  

I found so much to admire, but as time wore on, I found Japanese attitudes and social dynamics harder and harder to take.  I wasn't even that persecuted.  I'm 5'4" and have dark hair, dark eyes, am soft-spoken anyway . .I blended in better for a gaijin than most.  I got some curious stares, but nobody ran from me screaming.  Little kids and the very old were the most natural with me; they had no expectation that I wouldn't understand them, or that they should know English.  It was the middle-aged people, the ones who were children during the war, who'd been exposed to English at school, who were more awkward with me.  When I taught in Junior high schools, I was treated like a celebrity and often asked for my autograph.  I missed that a bit when I came back home and was just another unemployed nobody.  😛

There were quite a few times when T.E. Lawrence's line to Prince Faisel in Lawrence of Arabia came to mind . . 'They are a little people; a silly people'.  Some of their prevailing attitudes about the inherent inferiority of anyone and everything which is not Japanese is going to make it tough to impossible for Japan to become the player on the world stage that it wants to be.

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1 hour ago, Hikari said:

I'm surprised that your Japan-based American friend would have been horrified since she's living there.

 

1 hour ago, Hikari said:

... as time wore on, I found Japanese attitudes and social dynamics harder and harder to take. 


My friend has too, I suspect.  A degree in Japanese Studies does not necessarily prepare one for actually living there.  She's irritated by the way Japanese people have to belittle themselves in order to be considered polite, for one thing.  Regarding my other friend's introduction as "gaijin-no Yamaha-san," she exclaimed, "That's like introducing someone as "the black Mr. Smith!"  She herself has blue eyes and blond hair, so there's absolutely no mistaking her for a Japanese, even from the back.  I believe she's a few inches taller than you, as well.

 

1 hour ago, Hikari said:

America has shown itself to be no better, really, so I'm not saying Japan is utterly unique in being a racist county, but they are.  Compared to us, they've made a lot more progress in a rapid time considering how briefly in the scheme of things their country has been open to the West.  Even in 30 or 40 years, they've come a long way.


Both countries have come a really long way if you look back 150 years..  As long as progress continues, rather than reversing, that's good, but we've already come so amazingly far that it may be unrealistic to expect future progress to continue at the same rate.

 

1 hour ago, Hikari said:

'The nail that sticks up gets hammered down' is just as true today.  


That's a Japanese saying?  Interesting.  My first husband used to quote his second-generation Chinese-American parents as saying exactly the same thing.

 

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12 hours ago, Carol the Dabbler said:

That's a Japanese saying?  Interesting.

It is indeed known as being a Japanese proverb, as far as I'm aware.

I'm liking this discussion because people can be frustratingly ignorant of other cultures.  I've recounted the dark side of Japanese culture to various people before, and for whatever reason, most of them simply refuse to believe it.  It's nice to hear someone else say it, lol.

 

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16 hours ago, Carol the Dabbler said:

My friend has too, I suspect.  A degree in Japanese Studies does not necessarily prepare one for actually living there.  She's irritated by the way Japanese people have to belittle themselves in order to be considered polite, for one thing.  Regarding my other friend's introduction as "gaijin-no Yamaha-san," she exclaimed, "That's like introducing someone as "the black Mr. Smith!"  She herself has blue eyes and blond hair, so there's absolutely no mistaking her for a Japanese, even from the back.  I believe she's a few inches taller than you, as well.

 

I worked with a young lady who was a recent graduate from U of M with a four-year degree in Japanese Studies.  She was newly married and the couple was working together at our language school, which was church-based.  For two years, she barely left her apartment except to teach unless her husband was with her.  She was literally afraid to go to the grocery store or order so much as a cup of coffee on her own, despite having a diploma in Japanese.  After she'd lived in town for two years, she knew less of the city than I discovered on my own after two weeks just by riding the buses around.  I came to Japan with no partner and knowing about 6 words of the language. Couldn't even feed myself, so my first lunch in a ramen restaurant was interesting; I wore as much as I managed to get in my mouth.  But this couple was the reason that married couples were no longer hired for the positions because they made it so difficult by demanding the same days off.  In a three-person school, that was a hardship.  So perhaps she could hold forth at length about the history of kabuki theatre but she couldn't/wouldn't actually use much Japanese language at all.  It was so odd.

Re. 'gaijin no Yamaha-san'

Definitely not PC according to our standards, but getting into the Japanese mindset, I will conjecture that Yamaha-san's hosts viewed it as sparing Yamaha-san some embarrassment in not having the people he was being introduced to mistake him for a native Japanese speaker based on his name.    And, since it's such a homogeneous country, with everyone having basically similar physical characteristics, anything that different about someone automatically jumps out.  I was on occasion referred to as "Kimpatsu no"  (the blond one), even though my hair is not blonde.  It is medium brown but compared to jet black Japanese hair, it was lighter.

Western women who are blonde tend to get propositioned regularly on the street and are assumed to be prostitutes or club hostesses (= easy).  I didn't tend to get those kinds of comments, but some drunk middle-aged businessman attempted to kiss my lighter-haired friend when we were just minding our own business looking at the ocean.

Self-effacement is a Japanese virtue.  It is considered the height of bad form to seem to be bragging about yourself, your children, your money, etc.  One can gauge the true internal level of pride of the speaker by how strenuously they debase themselves out loud.  It's common for a mother to introduce her child as, "Here's the stupid child of my house".  Japanese people can have very healthy self-esteem underneath, but it's a game to hide it.  You'd need a resilient self-esteem to make it in that pressure cooker.  One of my young ladies who I taught at junior college became a friend; she was very bubbly and outgoing and we went out to movies a few times.  She related doing the interview gauntlet, trying to get a job after graduation.  In that culture it is perfectly acceptable for a 'boss' or a hiring manager to basically say whatever they want to to a candidate.  There's no ADA, no #MeToo, what have you.  It was routine for these old men who were doing the hiring to say things like, "You look like a difficult girl.  Are you difficult or are you stupid?  My friend toned her natural ebullience way down for these interviews but was probably deemed still too sparky for the office environment.  Women are supposed to be like flowers--beautiful, decorative . . and quiet.  In fact 'office flowers' is an actual nickname for the women who work pouring the tea and making the copies.  Women are almost never given more challenging work. I hoped that the office grind wouldn't grind down such a bright spirit as she had.  Japanese culture prefers the Stepford wife model for their young ladies--perfectly coiffed, groomed and dressed; unfailingly polite and subservient and amenable.  Personality and opinion are dangerous things.

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5 hours ago, Hikari said:

For two years, she barely left her apartment except to teach unless her husband was with her.  She was literally afraid to go to the grocery store or order so much as a cup of coffee on her own, despite having a diploma in Japanese.  [....]  So perhaps she could hold forth at length about the history of kabuki theatre but she couldn't/wouldn't actually use much Japanese language at all.

I take it that she could at least read Japanese?  Not having that knowledge is what might hold me back if I were alone in Japan.  I wouldn't be able to read the menus and store signs -- other than the ones written in English, which I have the impression are often considered merely decorative, and therefore not necessarily informative.  And I know only a few words of the spoken language (having forgotten most of what little  I learned in that brief class).  And even if I could read the street signs, I've heard that there generally aren't any, so I'd be concerned about getting lost.  France and Germany were WAY easier!
 

5 hours ago, Hikari said:

Couldn't even feed myself, so my first lunch in a ramen restaurant was interesting; I wore as much as I managed to get in my mouth.

I assume you developed some skill with chopsticks pretty quickly, in self defense!  Oddly enough, I've known how to use them since I was maybe eight years old.  There was a page in Jack and Jill kiddie magazine showing how, which I thought looked pretty cool.  Having no actual chopsticks to practice with, I used pencils or soda straws, and by the time I encountered my first real chopsticks (in my twenties), I was able to handle them reasonably well.

I mentioned that my first husband was from a Chinese family.  When he and I were visiting San Francisco, his brother took us to his favorite Chinese restaurant and, being familiar with their cuisine, said he'd order for us.  He also asked the waiter for "two pairs of chopsticks and a fork."  After the waiter left, I turned to the brother with a wry smile and said "Bigot."  So of course he asked for another pair of chopsticks, and later said that I "use chopsticks very well...."  I took the way his sentence trailed off to mean "for a round-eye."  Which was presumably justified.
 

5 hours ago, Hikari said:

Re. 'gaijin no Yamaha-san'

Definitely not PC according to our standards, but getting into the Japanese mindset, I will conjecture that Yamaha-san's hosts viewed it as sparing Yamaha-san some embarrassment in not having the people he was being introduced to mistake him for a native Japanese speaker based on his name.

Yes, I believe that's how Yamaha-san himself took it.  But my other friend took it like an American, despite having lived most of her life in Japan, and knowing her way around in that society.  I would guess that it simply took her by surprise.
 

5 hours ago, Hikari said:

Western women who are blonde tend to get propositioned regularly on the street and are assumed to be prostitutes or club hostesses (= easy).

I guess I could understand that assumption being made if a Japanese woman had blond hair, seeing as how it would of course be bleached and/or dyed.  But don't Japanese men understand that many women (and men) of European ancestry have hair that just naturally grows that way?  :huh:  Or are drunks the same the world over?
 

5 hours ago, Hikari said:

It is considered the height of bad form to seem to be bragging about yourself, your children, your money, etc.  One can gauge the true internal level of pride of the speaker by how strenuously they debase themselves out loud.

Americans do the same thing, of course ("Oh, it's nothing!"), we just don't raise it to an art form.

And by the way, the Chinese (i.e., from China) people I've met seem to be more like Americans in that regard.

 

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18 hours ago, Carol the Dabbler said:

But don't Japanese men understand that many women (and men) of European ancestry have hair that just naturally grows that way?  :huh:  Or are drunks the same the world over?

They are the same world over.  But Western women are often regarded as sexually easy and available.  Many of them do come to Japan for sex work, especially from the former Soviet Republics.  If one's English is not good enough to get a teaching job, but she's reasonably pretty, the hostess bars are always looking for foreign hostesses.  That's a big yakuza-run outfit.  I struck up an acquaintance with a Western bar hostess at our shared gym.  This one was American.  Her management was paying her gym fees because it was a job requirement for her to keep fit.  They gave her money for clothes, too, and took her shopping and told her what to buy for her 'work clothes'.  She was incredibly candid.  I just hope she didn't get in over her head.  Hostessing is not 'legally' supposed to involve sleeping with customers, but in reality it usually does.

19 hours ago, Carol the Dabbler said:

I take it that she could at least read Japanese?  Not having that knowledge is what might hold me back if I were alone in Japan.  I wouldn't be able to read the menus and store signs -- other than the ones written in English,

I couldn't read most of the print in my world, but I couldn't let that hold me back, either . .I didn't have that luxury.  Usually my best guesses were somewhat close to the mark, but sometimes I got interesting surprises when I opened my groceries and realized that what I brought home was not what I thought I was buying.  I did have some English speaking friends and job support, but it was nearly complete immersion.  That's a painful, but seriously effective way to learn, and it really becomes yours if you have to live through it.  Like with the chopsticks . . I had practiced plenty of times before hitting Japanese soil.  Let's just say that I was properly motivated for the first time to learn tout suite when I was in a mom and pop noodle shop that didn't offer forks.  It was master o-hashi quick or starve.  Once I had, it was hard to remember that I'd  ever thought it difficult.  

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I just heard the news: the actress who plays Sherlock passed away, there is suspicion that it was suicide.

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2 hours ago, Fantasy Lover said:

I just heard the news: the actress who plays Sherlock passed away, there is suspicion that it was suicide. emoji853.png

I read that news early yesterday.  How devastating.  She leaves behind her husband and two children--her youngest is an 8-month old baby.  Post-partum depression?  Who knows.  When I see a young, beautiful person, with a successful career & kids who are depending on them take their own life, it brings home that nobody can really ever know what another person is feeling, even their nearest and dearest.

At last check, Japan has the highest rate of suicide in the world, followed closely by other Asian countries.  Having lived there, I saw at first hand what a pressure cooker that society is.  I don't know if anyone has noticed, but it seems like since the pandemic has hit, there have been a rash of high-profile celebrity suicides, many of them among Asian stars.  I don't know if the pandemic is the catalyst here, but the uncertainty of not having any work or knowing how long this will go on must be insurmountable for some.  Arts and entertainment are going to be suffering for years to come.

Yuko Takeuchi was a fantastic female Sherlock.  My thoughts go out to her family.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-54314962

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5 hours ago, Hikari said:

When I see a young, beautiful person, with a successful career & kids who are depending on them take their own life, it brings home that nobody can really ever know what another person is feeling, even their nearest and dearest.

She may have been feeling starting to feel over the hill at 40.  If Japanese actresses are (like American actresses) expected to remain eternally youthful or risk being replaced, then she might have seen her first wrinkle or her first gray hair as the impending end of her career.

 

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