Thursday, December 30, 2010

Exotic Gaijin Effect

What is the exotic gaijin effect? Basically it has to do with being a unique looking minority in a country of mundane homogeneity. It's partly sticking out and being noticed wherever you go for the color of your skin and the way you look, it's a little bit of adhering to a stereotype that you don't know your way around the culture, and it has a lot to do with people genuinely being curious.

But every now and again you'll get someone that is ga-ga for gaijin--which means they find you irresistible to approach--like a groupie they come up to you nervous of what to say, or sometimes they don't say anything, but their only goal is to say they've spoken with and met a foreigner. Others go further--and these are the ones that have been seduced by the exotic gaijin effect.

My friend once said "We're all minorities in Japan dude--there's the Japanese and then the handful of gaijin." And he's right. Japan have very few foreigners living in it for a multicultural global superpower. The nice thing is though, the Japanese are generally inviting. There are biases, sure, I have even been the victim of profiling when the police arrested me for no apparent reason other than my foreign looks and I have been punched at random by some drunken Japanese salary man who didn't like the thought of a foreigner being in his country.

Even so, there is definitely an ora of appeal which foreigners have. Take tonight for example. I headed down to the video rental store called Tsutaya at around 10 pm to check out some videos. As I sat alone in the empty coffee shop (which had recently closed) without a soul around me a young couple came in. The young man saw some friends and let go of his gals hand and walked over to shoot the breeze with the guys. She seemed a bit perturbed, as if he ought to be doting on her, and then she turned and our eyes met. What happened next could only be described in terms of the exotic gaijin effect.

Pretending to looks at some CDs she shuffled over, closer, and closer. Admittedly she was stunning. She was wearing a navy blue skirt way too short for fending of the snow fall outside. I thought to myself, she's out to get attention, because nobody wears a mini-skirt on a night like this. Yet here she was, inching toward me. Her boyfriend off in the distance laughing audibly--a few decimals too loud--as young people so often do when they want the whole world to pay heed of how special they are.

And she kept getting closer until she's right next to me. Granted I was staring a little bit, but in my defense, no regular girl would wear a mini-skirt in a snowstorm. She had a v-cut blouse with a knit shawl thrown over her shoulders, but the design allowed for her ample cleavage to poke through.

Then she was beside me. Resting my arm on my chair I went back to reading my receipt, trying to act casual, and then she stepped back, bent down to rub her stockings (which is the only inference I can make since she was wearing strapless heels and had dropped nothing) and as she rubbed her legs her firm buttocks pressed into my arm.

Her posture looked sort of like this:

The skirt is about the right length I'd say (the same length as the girl I bumped into--literally). I thought to myself, either she's about to dance for me or she's mad at her boyfriend. I looked around to spy several empty chairs, a ten foot radius all around, and I laughed to myself thinking it funny that she had all the space in the world to bend over yet she chose to brush my arm.

After straightening our her stockings, or whatever it was she was doing, she walked confidently forward and grabbed her boyfriend by the arm, linked elbows, and then looked back over her shoulder and smiled at me.

Random things like this happen to me quite regularly in Japan. My wife says it's because I'm good looking and some people really are seduced by the exotic gaijin effect.

Then they left.

I stopped pretending to read my receipt and watched her hips as she walked away. What else could I do, she just touched me with her ass--so I watched it go. The final glance with that wry smile was offsetting though, like she might turn out to be a hot stalker or something. Or become obsessive like Knives from the movie Scott Pilgrim. Not that I'm complaining or anything. Hey, if a hot young Asian woman wants to rub up against me then I'm all for it. It just strikes me as peculiar when things like this happen to me.

At any rate I just had to write about this incident--as it seemed entertaining enough to share.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

A not so Christmassy X'Mas!

Here's the breakdown of my Christmas in Japan. It's more or less the same secular, non-Christian, holiday I've been celebrating for the last five years.

It starts with a light show in Shobara, where the illuminations dazzles our weary eyes with twinkle lights. The frigid air nips at our cheeks and we retreat to a 400 year old Japanese styled tavern where we sit in a warm kotatsu (obviously a recent renovation from 400 years ago) although the actual pit fire rages on by the entrance. We eat a lovely zenzai (mochi rice dumplings in red sweet bean soup) which is a traditional winter food in Japan (i.e., think of hot chocolate).

Christmas day we head to Amakusa (famous for the Christian revolt lead by Shiro Amakusa in 1638). There's your Christian part in my Christmas. While in Amakusa we stop off for lunch at a new seafood restaurant. It was about $15 dollars for an amazing Japanese style platter. Then we head to the boat, which has been sitting in the bay with a rundown battery. After putting around the bay for a while, the white caps getting to high for a local trawler, we head back into shore. 

Returning home we get ready to head out to the Ringer Hut, a champon fast food franchise where I eat one of my favorite Japanese styled food, a Nagasaki dish called sara-udon (but it's not udon). It's basically champon styled sauce mixed with a cabbage stir-fry and pored over crunchy fried noodles. It's delectable! 

After dinner, still a little hungry, we stop by a yaki-tori vendor and buy some grilled chicken out of the back of a van. I know what you're thinking... sounds a little dodgy... but they're everywhere in Japan and it's well worth it. Standing in the cold eating hot chicken styled kabobs. I wash mine down with a cold Coke I retrieved from the vending machine. A Santa Claus adorns my cola, reminding me what I had almost forgot, today was Christmas.

(P.S. Christmas is not a holiday in Japan--so normally everyone is at work. But this year Christmas fell on the weekend.)

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Caught up in Yudachi

This evening on my way home from school, I got caught in the infamous 夕立 yudachi... or evening downpour. As I walked through a torrent of fat warm raindrops a high school girl peddling her bike, umbrella in hand, suddenly hit her breaks and skidded to a halt in front of me. Peering out from under her umbrella she asked me, "傘が持てないですか?" [trns. 'You don't have an umbrella?'] I responded with a humble, " 持てないです" [trnsl. 'None to speak of'].

However, being drenched I probably appeared more pathetic than humble. She then extended her arm, her cow patterned umbrella hovering between us, her white school uniform blouse top becoming soaked through, and apparently see through as well--a black bra glowing through the transparency, and me... already standing their like a soggy dog who just got out of the bath. Both of us dripping wet, I had to argue ever so politely to decline her genuinely kind offer.

"It's no bother," she insisted, "I just live up the road."

"No, no," I pleaded, "You need it more than I do. Also, I'm already wet."

She smiled hesitantly, then offered one more time... again I politely rescinded her offer.

Amazingly enough, she was never a student of mine. She is a 3rd year high schooler, which I deduced from the fact that I had not taught her and she lived on my side of town. Therefore I know she would have been a student on my side of town if she were a freshman or sophomore. Being offered a girl's umbrella, by a kind and generous young lady such as herself, really made my day. Two people conversing in the rain.

Lovely is the only way I can describe experiencing such random kindness from a perfect stranger, let alone one brimming with a schoolgirl charm and the beauty of youth. Indeed, the whole engagement was a nuanced moment caught between the spaces of falling raindrops. It's times like these that make my time in Japan worthwhile.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Flower Power Precious!

My precious little one.

Mom is so funny!

Mommy is the best!

Zoo Debut!

Almost saw a lion! But was asleep.

Almost saw an elephant but was asleep (again).

Almost saw some zebras but was still asleep.

Some tigers!

Red Japanese Raccoons (araiguma). Very cute!

The Queen of the castle.

Giraffes! My favorite! A mamma with her baby.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

100th Day Photos!

For Girls' Day we took pics with our lovely new baby Solara! She's such a cutie! 

Adorable smile. Big almonds shaped eyes. Long eye-lashes. Perfectly sculpted eye-brows. She's an angel!

 I'm so in love with my baby girl. She's so wonderful, fun, and I'm having such a great time spending time with her. She's a dream come true.

A cute little bumble-bee Solara!