On the Debate of Discrimination / Racism in Japan

Let me first get out of the way that I’m a Caucasian woman.  I don’t pretend to understand all of the complexities of race, racial identity,  discrimination, prejudice, or racism.  I also don’t overlook the fact that despite being female, I still have vast amount of privilege that a large number of people don’t and may not ever have.

That being said, no matter what race, ethnicity, or nationality you are this is an issue you might find yourself butting heads against in good ol’ Nippon, most recently in the form of the new ANA airline commercial that got taken off the air due to bad press.  The story itself has already been beaten to death (read here if interested), but I think the outrage and misunderstanding on Japan’s part touches on issues that any foreigner here might eventually find themselves faced with at some point.

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Helpful Clicks

© 2014 Wallpapers

Japan makes for a wide range of breathtaking photos and interesting topics to blog about.
© 2014 Wallpapers

I’d go out on a limb and say out of all the countries in the world, Japan is one of those countries people just feel compelled to blog about, myself no exception. 😉  In fact you could say by making my own I’ve added to the dredge of subpar results that show up when you Google blogs on Japan.  Hopefully this blog will take off and that’ll change in the future!

On numerous occasions people have asked me my recommendations on my top Japan-centered blogs/website picks.  It’s pretty monotonous to have to type up the same thing every time, so I figured it was about time I list up my recommended clicks below.

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The State of English Language Learning in Japan

Last year it was announced that Tokyo would be the host of the 2020 Olympics.  With a string of recent hardships, mainly the 2011 earthquake/tsunami and the fall out it caused in Fukushima, the announcement gave Japanese something to take pride in.  And since then, the government and news outlets have been playing the Tokyo candidate city victory clip over and over again to distract everyone from the very real problems the country would rather sweep under the rug.

I admit I felt disappointment when Tokyo made the cut.  In my opinion it seems irresponsible to host such a costly event with Fukushima still in dire condition and an impending rise in sales tax due to debt incurred by previous inept government spending.  Even looking beyond those major issues, I don’t believe Japan is ready to accept the amount of foreigners that will arrive at its shores in either attitude, disability/elderly citizen assistance (most public places, even in Tokyo, only offer squat toilets or stairs as options for getting around), nor adequate English language skills.

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Coming of Age Day

Coming up this Monday is Coming of Age Day, called Seijin no Hi in Japanese.  This is a day celebrated by young men and women who have turned 20 years of age over the course of the previous year, now legally considered adults.  In the past, coming of age years for boys and girls were 15 and 13.  It wasn’t until 1876 that the age of adulthood was raised to 20.

Men and women celebrating this transition into adulthood usually attend a local Coming of Age Day ceremony with their families in their hometown, dressed up in suits or a kimono with hakama (men) or wearing furisode (women).  It’s also common for ceremony attendees to go out to drinking after parties with friends, as 20 is the legal age for alcohol consumption here.

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New Years Resolutions & Some Personal Enlightenment

It’s that time of year when people make resolutions to start over and become a new and improved versions of themselves, usually with a side of encouragement from the advertising and media world, so they can sell you a ton of things that are about as guaranteed to help you reach those resolutions as you’re guaranteed to still be keeping them two weeks or a month later.

The New Years Resolution tradition is alive and well in Japan, too.  In Japanese they’re called shinnen hōfu. I suppose everyone has resolutions.  Or more specifically, everyone has things they’d like to change about themselves to become whatever perfect ideal of themselves they’ve conjured up that only exists inside of their heads.  With New Years Resolutions, I often find myself straddling a fine line between that ideal and reality, or between self-improvement and not being able to accept and love myself the way I am.

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