It’s Not About Races, Just Places, Faces

As an Australian living in Japan I want to fit in to this society. As an Asian I feel like I can blend in, that is, until I open my mouth. I have been told, however, that my face is that of a Chinese and one can tell I am not Japanese, even without looking at my current wardrobe, which is somewhat limited as a backpacker and quite Australian at that.

So I want to pass as a Japanese but would I change my face for it? Hell no. On the one hand I want to fit in. I want to be Japanese. On the other hand my pride as a Chinese perks up at this seeming betrayal. Cultural pride was not something that was strong in me when I was growing up, the only Chinese boy in my grade. Even my self image was that of a westerner. But it has been growing stronger as I’ve gotten older and been more surrounded by Asians and Asian culture. Perhaps it is clear to you that what I really want is not to be Japanese but to be accepted.

It’s funny, back in high school we used to study books in English class, books with themes such as racism and cultural identity, books such as Huckleberry Finn and To Kill A Mockingbird. Back then it all seemed so contrived, writing essays on what the author was trying to convey with this point of view or how that metaphor achieved something or other else. Boring. Now, however, it seems to me that those are the some of the really meaty, worthwhile issues to ponder and discourse. Of course, one doesn’t want to be too ham-handed when writing creative fiction and delivering a sermon dressed up as a story. I think you really need to start with a story of real interest and let any themes naturally flow through rather than the other way around. That’s the plan anyway!

So I think I must accept that I shan’t be taken for a Japanese person. Which is fine and as it should be. To the discerning eye I will remain a gaijin just like any blond-haired beach-going Aussie.

BTW, I think I should put Huck Finn and To Kill A Mockingbird on my list of books to read, or reread in this case.