Huh? Do I Look Half-Japanese?

Not too long ago, I was on a long bus ride home from a gig*, having a fun conversation with some new friends . I don’t know why, but for some reason the conversation just switched from being all English to being all Japanese (it definitely wasn’t my doing). I fought that urge to stop talking, because I figured it would make for a really cool day: a fun gig, some new friends and some Japanese practice…HOORAY! So I persevered. It ended up being the first time in a while where I actually felt like I could hold my own in a Japanese conversation…it was invigorating! I’m used to misinterpreting something everyday and feeling like a dunce because I work at a school where I’m the only non-native speaker. These friends had better Japanese than I did of course(one was Japanese), but I was able to get involved and communicate more comfortably which means that maybe…just maybe…I’m progressing.
*It was only a movie extra gig…no speaking I’m afraid :)

I was talking with one African-American woman from California and a Japanese man from Osaka. We were having some small talk about how long we’d been here, what brought us to Japan, hometowns, and the like. It was the kind of small talk you use when you’re trying to get to know people better. While we were talking, the man from Osaka asked me if I was half-Japanese. He seemed really surprised when I told him that I wasn’t. He told me that I looked part Japanese because of my eyes. “Really?” I said. The l woman nodded in agreement and told me my eyes were very nice (I didn’t mind, a compliment from a good-looking woman never hurt anybody, right? :) ). I asked her if she was part Japanese because of her name, Toshiko. Oddly enough, though, her Japanese name was purely coincidental. Both of her parents were 100% Grade A, American, both living in the United States.

I remember hearing that question a bit when I was younger…not often, but a little bit. Kids would sometimes ask me if I was mixed. My mother would sometimes joke and say that I was the Asian mailman’s son. I haven’t heard it in a very long time, though. I don’t really see it, but what do you think?

Hmm…who knows? Maybe I’ve been in Japan so long that, like the song,…“I’m Turning Japanese.” Hehehe…Wait a minute! Wasn’t that song about…? Okay, maybe not like the song.

Donald Ash

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  • -laughs- I think you look like a charming southern gentleman

    • Donald Ash

      Nanami…you’re doing it again…the blushage. Wait, “blushage” isn’t a word is it?

      • -laughs- Sure it is! I mean.. Jabberwocky is!

  • Sean Patton

    There’s a bit of a mild slant to your eyes, but otherwise I wouldn’t suspect you of being half Japanese. I sometimes wonder if everyone carries a recessive gene that can occasionally produce features typically exclusive to a particular ethnic group? My best friend is a good example. He is a mix of Spanish and Italian, but is frequently mistaken for a Chinese guy. He has even had Asian people here in Canada ask him if he is Chinese, although when he spent some time living in Tokyo he didn’t have anyone make that observation. The only similarities I can see are that he has black hair, a thin build and the same mild eye slant (somewhat exaggerated by glasses). Not enough to convince me, but I’ve known him for ages.

  • Maybe this wiki article will clear your apprehension to the song. :P


    “The song was believed to refer euphemistically to the face someone makes during the act of masturbation. In a VH1 True Spin special the band denied this. Songwriter David Fenton explained: “Turning Japanese is all the clichés about angst and youth and turning into something you didn’t expect to.””

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