Jennifer Neal
ladygodiva83
Jennifer is a writer, journalist, stand-up comedian and social critic who writes about politics, culture, gender, race and travel. She lives in Berlin where she is writing her first novel.

12/22/17
6:39 AM
1

Thanks for elaborating. Clearly, I agree with you. I think it says a lot when people consciously go up against racism in search of a better life. Better opportunities, better social benefits, potential for love and expanding the scope of experiences for personal growth. Or sometimes, it goes the opposite way and Read more

12/21/17
3:29 AM
2

Hi Mark, that’s an interesting comment. Actually, most of these people are in relationships - it’s one of the reasons why they’re so settled in these places. Reggie is married. A black woman I interviewed in New Zealand is also in a relationship with a local. Clarence in Melbourne was married to an Australian woman Read more

10/18/17
8:30 AM
1

Gee. As someone who lived there, I didn’t know that. Thanks for explaining.

10/18/17
6:48 AM
1

These are all good points. And many of those points did annoy me when I was there i.e. “You know how to use hashi (chopsticks)? Wow!” As someone who’s been pretty rootless her entire life, integration has been elusive and isn’t the most important aspect of how I choose a new home. Security, safety, diversity, art Read more

10/18/17
4:39 AM
2

I agree. That compounds even further if you are queer, disabled or transgender.

10/18/17
4:38 AM
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I agree. There are only a few places I feel like I could live in as an adult. But I haven’t yet found a utopia in which to raise children. The US (or maybe Canada) would be the best option if I could get them into a good school. Read more

10/18/17
4:32 AM
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I think so, though it was two train stops over from a relatively big city, Tokuyama. Yamaguchi as a whole is pretty inaka, so a world a part from places like Tokyo. I expected the opposite as well. Smaller towns, smaller minds and all that - but I was pleasantly surprised.

10/18/17
4:26 AM
2

Though comparing New York to any city in Japan isn’t exactly apples to apples, can’t hold that against you. Happy travels!

10/18/17
3:55 AM
1

They certainly aren’t telling you what they’re thinking. Japanese communication is like verbal chess. Read between the lines to survive.

10/18/17
3:54 AM
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I agree with you both. Ignorance is a big part of how the Japanese will interact with foreigners, especially if they’ve never met someone who is black before. They’re nervous, they don’t want to appear stupid (in a country where saving face is crucial). At the same time, because they’ve never had interactions with Read more

10/18/17
3:50 AM
1

True. I didn’t even get into all the counter cultures of people who just want to feel like individuals. Conformity is seen as the highest Japanese value one can possess, and if you deviate from that even a little bit (as a Japanese person) you will be shunned.

10/18/17
3:44 AM
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I went with the JET program! It was a great experience over all, and I highly recommend it. I agree that Westernization has helped a lot with this strict social caste system. At the work parties with my colleagues, it was always agreed that no one fills their own cup. So I would serve my colleagues, and they would Read more

10/17/17
2:22 PM
8

I never felt that way there. There are a lot of unspoken rules about class in Japan, but they only apply to other Japanese folk. There is an inherent widespread feeling like “oh, you’re an outsider. You won’t understand. But let me make you feel completely at home in my country, because it’s the right thing to do.” Read more

10/17/17
2:14 PM
3

Not sure what your occupation is, but engineering is in high demand as well. And as someone who did learn the language (and has promptly forgotten it) it’s not as bad as you might think. Mandarin and Cantonese are much harder. Given that people mostly use Hiragana and Katakana these days, it’s more accessible to learn Read more