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Life in Auckland

月曜日, 6月 12, 2006

Offering Booze to a Deity in Kowloon: Protecting Human Rights is Dangerous!?

This is an interesting examination of a racist Japanese comic. Almost the equivalent of Chick tract. As westerner who spent many years learning to speak Japanese and finally studying at Waseda University in Tokyo I understand the frustration of trying to live in Japan and being discriminated against.

There's already huge hurdles for foreigners trying to get housing in Tokyo, you need a Japanese person to co-sign on most apartments. This is something that most Japanese are very hesitant to do, even for close friends. Also there's the issue of "Key Money" which raises the price of entry into new housing even further. Some places will secretly, or even openly, reject foreigner's applications for apartments. The problem many times worse if you're black, Chinese, or any other non-white foreigner.

Many foreigners will speak of the "gaijin bubble" when on trains or in restaurants, the space that surrounds you even on full crowded trains. Most of my friends explain this as being a consequence of Japanese people being embarrassed of their English skills. Even if this is the case it's incredibly alienating for someone trying to live in a new country.

Bars (izakaya), restaurants and hot springs are notorious for foreigner discrimination and the further you get from Tokyo or Osaka the worse it gets.

Newspapers frequently play up the threat of foreign crime when the in fact statistics show that most crime is caused by Japanese and the percentages mostly follow the population percentages. Fortunately the newspapers Asahi and Mainichi have gotten better over the last couple of years.

The last thing to remember is that Japan doesn't offer the same services many other nations provide for the poor. Homelessness and mental health aren't supported in the same way they are in other nations. Anyone who has been to either Yoyogi or Ueno park in Tokyo have seen the results of this in the blue tarps and homeless communities without any formalized shelter or mental health services.


That said many Westerners come into Japan with notoriously insulting attitudes and it's important to stand up to them and tell them how stupid they're acting. The attitudes of "Otaku" that come to Japan only equipped with knowledge of out of date manga and anime who speak Japanese gleamed from these sources often come off purposefully sounding gangster like. Many gaikokujin men's attitudes about Japanese women are appalling.

日曜日, 1月 22, 2006

pocari sweat

I've got a job with working on a commercial for Pocari Sweat here in Auckland. I'm pretty excited having a chance to work on something that reminds me of Japan. I'll be doing some translating and driving. Making a list.

Things I need to do today:
find a way to get a form notarized
mail drivers license info request back to utah
seriously, clean the apartment

土曜日, 1月 22, 2005


火曜日, 12月 28, 2004

tokyo gothy fashion show

originally uploaded by yuutamichael.
The other day Lisa was in a, well... er... lolita fashion show. The term is used a bit different in the Tokyo cosplay circle than it is in the west. It really has nothing to do with Nabokovian lust but is something more akin to goth culture in the states. Floofy skirts do make an important contribution to all of it though.

Well, here are the pictures of the event, it was odd. There was a duo that performed some vaguely Eastern European sounding sounds with Japanese lyrics sung in an operatic voice. There was a lot of time wasted in the set up of things. Also, the audience, by far, had the better costumes.


Yesterday, I was walking around Nakano taking pictures for a manga that I'm working on. When I made my way towards the train station I was accosted by a man in a suit who began shaking my hand really hard. I was momentarily stunned, my brain not capable of thinking what to do in such a situation having lost it's street based cynicism in the cushy safety of Tokyo. The man looked me in the eye and said "I love you, my favorite star!" I stumbled for something to say but all that came out was "arigato" at this point a small crowd of maybe twenty people began to form around me. I tried to pull my arm away and leave, but he was holding on very tightly. When I made a break for it a I heard some girls scream "Honto?!" (Really?!) and hands were suddenly reaching out and pawing at me. Someone's finger nail scratched my cheek a bit and I managed to stumble away muttering in Japanes something about being in a hurry to meet someone.

It was bizzarre. I still have no idea who these people thought I was. I was tempted to think that it was some sort of weird performance art piece where people find a foreigner and make fun of them but the variety of age of my adoring fans seemed to great.

Any ideas on who I might be?

火曜日, 12月 21, 2004

japanese santa

japanese santa
japanese santa,
originally uploaded by yuutamichael.
The holidays are upon us and I thought you guys might appreciate this picture of a Japanese santa I saw in Shinkjuku yesterday. Note that the Japanese santa suffers from elephantitis.

This holiday season is particularly hard for me because it's the first time I'm away from my family. I hope everyone's doing okay and that you get cool presents.

japanese santa suits
japanese santa suits,
originally uploaded by yuutamichael.
The random suits that you see laying around Japanese department stores are yet another example of something that I can't tell if it's weird or not. People are always asking me to send home pictures of "crazy Japanese stuff" but I have a hard time telling if something is unique to Japan or would be just as likely to be found in an American costume shop.

creepy ad for christ
creepy ad for christ,
originally uploaded by yuutamichael.
This is an ad I saw in the subway station at Takadanobaba. It seems like an odd parrallel between the process of Christmas gift shopping and the cross that Christ supposedly had to carry. I'm assuming an ad like this wouldn't fly in the states.

金曜日, 12月 17, 2004



土曜日, 12月 11, 2004


最近忙しかった、ごめんなさい。早稲田大学が好きです。僕の日本語のクラスはたくさん面白くて、親切な人がいます。授業の友達はソフィはフランスから来ました。昨日、新しいフランスの音楽をくれました。今、MC Solaarというミュウジシャンを聞いているところです。いいですよ。