Archive for April, 2010

10
Apr
10

Hanami in Yokohama

Took a little stroll around Yokohama last week, to an area not too far from Ishikawacho station.

There ‘s a lovely historical district, and a quiet park there with Sakura (cherry blossoms) galore. Here are the pics:

Ah, Spring!

Loco

07
Apr
10

Live from Locohama S1/E23 Season Finale: Good conversation is hard to come by

Got a call from The Silky One, today:

Tony: Loco, my Man, how’s your vacation going?

Me: Pretty good, actually. Getting a lot done. To what do I owe the pleasure?

Tony: Really? What you working on?

Me: Huh? Me? Uhhh, nothing really…just this and that.

Tony: I see…none of my business. No problem. Well, the reason I…

Me: I didn’t mean it like that, Tony. I’m just not prepared to talk about it just yet.

Tony: Nah, it’s cool, Loco. I know you and I didn’t get off on the right foot way back when. And it’s been shaky ever since. I’m not sure why, but I guess that’s how it goes. First impressions are lasting ones, ne. How the Japanese say it? Syouganai (nothing can be done).

Me: Well, you’re right about that. We definitely got off on the wrong foot. But, to be honest, I don’t even remember exactly what went down. That was years ago.

Tony: I remember exactly what happened. You tried to squeeze the company for a raise.

Me: What?

Tony: Haha…You don’t remember? You worked at that Elementary school out in Fujisawa or somewhere for a few months while we were looking for a school closer to home for you. We wanted you to stay there because the teachers were raving about you, sending us letters and what not!  But the 90 minute commute made it a no-brainer for you. Two trains and a bus, if I remember correctly. Can’t blame you. But, you told us you’d stay if you were to get a raise. I still have the email you wrote. I read it occasionally, just for kicks. It was the best piece of manipulation I’ve ever gotten from a teacher! haha!

Me: Always happy to entertain you, Tony.

Tony: Seriously, Loco, you got some skills, my man! You should be a writer!

Me: That’s a thought.

Tony: I guess you blamed me when your request was denied?

Me: Nah. Nothing of the sort. Hell, it was a win-win for me. More money or more sleep. Why should I get uptight? Besides I know you’re not the decision-maker over there when it comes to money. Why would I blame you?

Tony: I’m relieved to hear that. So, what’s the deal?

Me: What deal?

Tony: Well, you never hang out with us. We usually go get drinks and shoot the shit at least once a month. Most of the other teachers have come out, but in three years you haven’t come out, not even once. What are you? Anti-social?

Me: Not really. I guess I’m shy of foreigners.

Tony: Haha, you’ve been here too long.

Me: You think?

Tony: Well, listen, this friday, we’re going out for drinks and I’d really like it if you’d join us. I want to see what Loco is like after a couple of rounds. I’m sure some of the other teachers and staff would, too. They always ask about you. At the Christmas and Halloween parties, and what-not. You are missed, you know.

Me: Lay it on thick, why don’t you?

Tony: Ok, well anyway, that was my pitch. It’s your move. Hope you can make it.

Me: I’ll seriously consider it. Seriously. Only because I appreciate your effort and I can feel the sincerity. But, I gotta tell you, I’m really not into hanging out with a bunch of drunk college grads. Most of the teachers are too young for me. I used to do that shit quite a bit back in my early days here but nowadays, rarely.

Tony: I feel you on that! But, not all the teachers are kids. There are some in our age group.  And who knows? You might make some new friends…good conversation is hard to come by in these parts.

Me: Good conversation is hard to come by everywhere. Damn, Tone. I can see how you’ve gotten where you are.

Tony: I’m not sure how to take that.

Me: Cuz you’re a smart man.

Tony: You’re a funny guy, Loco.

Me: I have my moments. Anyway, what’d you call about?

Tony: Actually, that’s what I called about. To let you know about Friday. A personal invitation, since you never reply to the emails, anyway.

Me: Damn, I’m honored! How can I say no to that?

Tony: Good! You’re in?

Me: Maybe. I got a question, though.

Tony: Shoot.

Me: Why couldn’t I tell the teachers at school A I wouldn’t be back in April? That forced lack of disclosure placed me under quite a bit of duress. I had friends there, you know.

Tony: That came straight from the Board of Education. They have their reasons, and I’m afraid I’m not privy.

Me: I see.

Tony: I know how you…

Me: Do you? Have you worked with the same people for three years, painstakingly etching out friendships, only to be told you have to skip town without even a fuck you?

Tony: No, I don’t mean I’ve been in your position. I just mean…

Me: Well, listen…School A is having a Goodbye Party next week for the Japanese teachers who are transferring the old-fashioned way…you know, with hugs and handshakes and drinks and karaoke and all that conventional jazz…you think I’d be allowed to attend and pay my respects?

Tony: Man, it really upset you, didn’t it? I’m so sorry…it’s not my fault you know?

Me: I know, Tony. It’s just, you represent The Man…that’s why you make the big bucks, and that’s why you’re catching it. Like you said, syouganai.

Tony: Syouganai, indeed. Well, let me check on that and I’ll let you know.

Me: You do that. And let me know by Friday…over a couple uh cold ones. First rounds on me. I’ll wear my party mask!

Tony: Really? You gonna come out?? Excellent!

Me: Yeah…you turned me around. Maybe you can convince me to be a writer, too.

The End

Well, that ends season 1 of Live from Locohama, the first reality show via a blog. (That I know of, anyway) I hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Unlike television series, you don’t have to wait through a summer of re-runs for some new episodes here. Season 2 begins next week. I hope my new school will be as rich an experience as the one I left. And, being a reality show, and virtually Live, I have no idea what I’m going to be writing about. But, as always, I will endeavour to make it as entertaining, provocative and poignant as possible.

I’m on spring vacation now, yet working harder than I did before it began. I have a number of projects underway, and they’ll be launched before you know it. So, be sure to stay tuned to Loco in Yokohama.

In the meantime, tell a friend why don’t you? Blast your address book, your Facebook peeps, your fellow Tweeters, whoever, wherever. Suggest, recommend, tell, insist, push, harass, stalk, threaten, blackmail, bribe (-: Whatever you gotta do. Hell, I do all the above!

(Sorry, but I’m in promotional mode now. I’ve worked hard to work this hard…)

Help me put Loco in Yokohama on the map! Here’s my logic: If I get on the map, then I can get money and teach less and have more time for writing. And they’ll be more posts more often with more variety, and… You get the picture.

It’s a win-win.

Loco

07
Apr
10

Unintentional Preview

The day before yesterday, writing until the wee hours, I unintentionally pressed “Publish” instead of “Save draft.” I immediately unpublished the draft, but pressing publish sets in motion a whole number of things that couldn’t be undone.

Consequently, those of you who have a subscription to my RSS feed, or follow my blog via NetworkedBlogs, and even those of you who are Fans of Loco in Yokohama on my Facebook page have seen what amounts to a preview of my upcoming project; a trailer, if you will.

I’m sorry for any confusion this might have caused, finding yourself in the middle of a project still in pre-production.

But, being that the cat is out of the bag, feel free to fill me in on your thoughts.

I’d be much obliged.

Loco

04
Apr
10

Ambassador Extraordinaire

I was reading through my post from a year ago and came across a comment I wrote in response to a reader’s comment.  I had written the post in response to a Japanese reader’s advice as to how I should respond to Japanese people who avoid me out of fear of me. My response was about Shame. The shame I would feel pleading for common decency and the shame they should feel for not extending it in the first place.

Thought I’d share it with my readers just in case you missed it.

Here it is:

Living in Japan you come to learn that, in the Japanese world, there are two countries, two cultures, two types of people: Japanese and others. This perspective taints and paints all dialogues with nihonjin. When you arrive here you’ll see what I mean. As far as opening a dialogue with nihonjin is concerned, my WHOLE life is a dialogue with nihonjin. On a daily basis I am interacting with the people and the culture, at home and outdoors. Depending on my relationship with a particular person, like a nihonjin, they may see my hon’ne (real intent) or tatamae (public face). Most people see the latter, the Loco that goes about smiling and ignoring, pretending not to see, responding appropriately to incessant questioning about what Americans think and do and feel and what black people think and do and feel, etc…trust me, I am a model foreign citizen, an Ambassador extraordinaire. The handful that see my hon’ne have either entered my “circle of trust” (LOL- that’s from Meet the Parents) and thus I share my feelings with them, or have provoked me with some unacceptable assault on my good nature.

I wouldn’t give a damn about fueling flames at those times.

And I’m sure that some Japanese person has witnessed my hon’ne and said “Yappari” (just as I thought) and labeled me and anybody that looks even vaguely like me a bad person worthy of dehumanization. Sorry! A huge step back for gaijin / nihonjin relations I guess. But for every mile of good will I pave I might lose a step and to me, considering what I have to deal with, that’s an acceptable ratio.

I honestly don’t feel that people from the East should feel hard-pressed to acknowledge another race’s humanity. I’m not trying to shove “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union…” up their asses. I’m really not! I’m just saying let’s start the conversation from the foundation that we are both members of races capable of great wonders and great atrocities and everything in-between…you know, EQUALS.

Sora-san’s perspective is not so unique, JahC san. Most every thing most Japanese do is from a Japanese perspective. Most know no other (which is true of most countries.) which is the typical excuse for their behavior. Every other perspective has a…the Japanese call it Iwakan (違和感) Basically it’s a feeling of wrongness, incompatibility, not belonging, etc…This is the reason (I want to say excuse) given for their behavior. If a foreigner is in the vicinity then iwakan ensues like an instinct and they start acting all creepy uncontrollably.

Throughout my blog I have chronicled this behavior and my feelings about it, but I have arrived at a point where I see it for what it is. And it is something that no dialogue can really address. The only cure for Iwakan is probably experience. Japanese people need to talk with or interact with foreigners (and of course emerge unscathed) and maybe next time their iwakan will be diminished a bit.
ALL of my Japanese friends have had such experiences and thus that Iwakan Wall between us has been torn down, as it has with my kids at my job and some of the teachers and I suspect it has with Sora-san, as well.

But with the VAST majority of nihonjin it hasn’t and probably never will. And I think perhaps because of the contrast in colors or because of the image many Japanese have of people of color, that Iwakan is a bit more intense for darker hued people. That’s a fact of life in Japan. Is Iwakan racism? No. Not really but kinda. Is it Xenophobia? No, not really but kinda. Is it prejudice? No, not really, but kinda… I mean, I’m provoked by willfulness…but Iwakan has an air of helplessness. Like how a deer might respond as you approach it in the woods, with or without a gun. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hunter or PETA, that deer is going to flee. Would you say that deer is prejudiced against people? Hell, he wouldn’t run if another deer was approaching, now would he? And, is his response to humans the same as when his nostrils encounter the scent of a lion or a hyena? Anyway, I won’t drag out that metaphor. I’m sure you get where I’m coming from…

Also, the necessity, for most nihonjin, to confront and deal with these feeling does not exist. Most will never come in contact with foreigners, so why be bothered about such things? Understanding this has made my experience here much easier to endure, and my understanding of Japanese people and culture more substantial.

I don’t know if Buddhism or Shintoism are related. Maybe they are. However I don’t believe humility is an exclusively Eastern thing no more than civic-mindedness or consciousness of equality are American or Western. I don’t even think they are second nature to us. These are things that are learned through one’s experience and education. Yes, reading a few books was a gross understatement but my point was that the information is available if you care to learn it. Just as you’re taking the time to study about the Japanese mindset and the language before you come here. Are you saying the desire to understand other cultures is a western thing? Perhaps. But why? Is that connected to Shinto / Buddhism too?

Man, this is turning into a post. Sorry. You caught me on vacation and I have time to kill (so to speak) (-;
I’m not done. This response is sort of scattered, I know. I’ll probably highlight your response in an upcoming post…
Thanks for taking the time, energy and effort to do so!
Loco

What do y’all think?

Loco

If you read / follow my blog, why don’t you go to my networkedblogs page here and click “follow.” (and rate me…I like 5 stars but I’ll take what you got) It’ll help me build up my readership and whatnot. Also you can catch my tweets at Locohama.




Copyright © 2010 Loco in Yokohama / All Rights Reserved

Please know that this blog is my original writing and may not be reproduced in any way without the expressed written permission of the author (that's me!) Thanks!

Words I love…

Everybody is a star
I can feel it when you shine on me
I love you for who you are
Not the one you feel you need to be
Ever catch a falling star
Ain't no stopping 'til it's in the ground
Everybody is a star
One big circle going round and round

Words by: Sly Stone

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