Monday, July 02, 2007

On being Japanese (American)

I mentioned before that for Chinese people, it doesn't seem to matter where you were born, if you're Chinese you're Chinese.

And I can't really say that's the reaction I got in Japan. To be honest, I wasn't expecting it. If I had gotten that reaction I would have been kind of shocked I think. I've met Japanese people in America, and I never felt that they thought I was one of them even once.

I met some Japanese students in Shanghai, who pretty much had no reaction whatsoever when I said my great-grandfather, (and everyone else in my family) was from Japan. It's not like being cold shouldered, exactly, so I try not to take it to heart. It's just like in their way of thinking there's no 關係 between us.

In Kyoto, I hung out with this Japanese guy. He'd lived in Tasmania for 4 years, going to college. and we talked really briefly about Australian racism, or xenophobia, I guess is how he classified it. And he related it to how Japanese Brazilians had come over to Japan to work, and Japanese people had an easier time accepting them, because they looked like Japanese people.

I asked him, according to most Japanese people, if these ethnically Japanese Brazilian people were Japanese or Brazilian, and he replied “Brazilian."

Perhaps any of the Chinese people who read this blog can contradict me on this, but I think it's rather at odds with my experience with Chinese people and their views on 華裔.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

i think so... I never heard of Japanese exclusion of overseas Japanese before, so I couldnt say for sure.

Usually when Chinese people hate me for being ABC, its because I'm not Chinese enough for them. As if, being Chinese, I should always present myself as very Chinese, no matter where I'm from. Which is probably why there are more "perpetual FOB's" in Chinese Americans...

-Michelle (who is Chinese but has a French name. but is still Chinese.)

nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez said...

Fascinating.

I exist in a place of no place...Totally American, but Mexican blood and Spanish name. Mexican nationals would probably think of me as a Gringo, as they often mean it in terms of americanization (US, that is), whereas in the USA we use the term for "White." But I'm brown in the USA so people like to know "Where you're from" or "What is your nationality," or they just know from my name or look. I dont think there's any place to be fully embraced, I'm a hybrid mutant! Except maybe in LA or parts like that, where the Mexican American, the Chicano/Xicano or Pocho (whitewashed Mexican American) is expected to be.

I love reading about similar angles in other experiences.

lovelesscynic said...

Thanks for your comments Nezua. I think, like you, I've finally accepted the fact that I don't necessarily "fit" in any physical location. And I think that that's ok.