Monday, November 21, 2005

No Place Like Home

My parents may be sort of distressed to hear this, but when I first got here, a friend of mine (Nien) said something to the effect of, "Don't worry. Even if you aren't Chinese, you will be." I didn't really believe him at the time but over time I've started to feel like eventually it might come true.

At the end of the day, I don't really feel much connection to Japanese culture. I mean, I like Haruki Murakami, as much as the next person. And there's some stuff I really like, manju, chirashi rice, miso soup, and as the Boondocks once put it, "their really really cool cartoons." However at the same time, possibly due to the fact that I once had many Korean American friends, I also don't feel much connection towards Japanese people. Certainly other Japanese people don't welcome you as one of their own. Japanese Americans are another story. Also I don't speak the language, which also sort of seperates me from this. I haven't really found it true here. Honestly, it probably helps that I look Asian.

And I find that there are some things that I understand because I came from a (vaguely) Asian family. And so I find that many people characterize me as "half a foreigner" or tell me things like, "You work hard because you are Asian." or 你很東方. Honestly when I was in America, I was always considered a foreigner anyway, so it was hard for me to think of it as really my country. I don't really belong here either, but sometimes it feels like I could.


Laurel said...

I just found out that there's a Boondocks TV show on Cartoon Network.

I think my Sunday evenings are now officially booked forever.

disreputable bird said...

After 4 generations in the US and no contact with Japan, it's not surprising that you don't feel a connection to Japanese people or culture. (Japanese Americans are another story, as you said.)

Knowing the language must have a lot to do with your feeling like you belong in Taiwan. In the US, you speak the language and know the culture but don't look the part. In Japan, it would be only one out of the three. But in Taiwan, you've got language and appearance going for you, and appearance is what people notice first and most. I say enjoy it - it doesn't happen often.

Actually, sometimes I felt that way in Hawaii...until I started talking.