Hi everybody, we have a special guest by the name of Illya Anderson. I met Illya very early on during my stay in Japan. My sister, Erica, introduced me to Illya via email, and said that he’d be a cool guy to talk to if I had Japan questions. She was right. Illya is really knowledgeable about what life is like as a foreigner in Japan, and consider him a good friend. I wanted to interview Illya because his path is a little different than the teacher route that many foreigners opt to take. I wanted to do this interview to show that there are foreigners doing other noteworthy things besides teaching. If living Japan is really what you want to do, and you keep an open mind, there are lots of options. I hope you enjoy it!
1. Where are you from, Illya?
As my Father would constantly remind me: “You came from outer space. That’s why you nearly killed your Mother on entry through her”. However, I was born in Fairfield county California. You could say I’m from quite a few places: Belgium, Haiti, and Japan because it is in those places that my major growth & development occurred.
2. Why did you come to Japan?
Two reasons: My karate instructor’s influence and the woman I was engaged to at that time.
3. How long have you been here?
I keep saying ten years when asked this question but I’m certain it is more than ten years.
4. What do you do?
Breath, eat, sleep, read, exercise, dance, stretch, meditate, and imagine to say the least. But, if you meant for a living I would answer DANCE, model, and teach mind, body, and spirit-connected, movement modalities (aptly called Handstand training).
5. Whoa! Sounds complex, lol 🙂 . How did you get into that?
I’ve been training myself, dancing and doing martial arts as a form of rehabilitation since I could stand. Let me back up. I came out of the womb feet first. Consequently, both my ankles were broken on delivery so I grew up intent on being better… I also had a Mother who allowed me to take ballet, martial arts, gymnastics or anything that would help my overall mind/body strength.
6. Were you teaching, dancing, and modeling when you lived in the U.S.?
I taught gymnastics at a gymnastics camp while in university. I danced at parties and took lessons to further my gymnastics. I modeled non-professionally for a suit company while in university and as a child; but my Mother forbade any professional activity until after I was formally educated, and able to take responsibility for all my decisions.
8. One reader asked this question a while back and I really didn’t want to skip it. As an African-American, how do women respond to you?
(Actually, I’m Cherokee Indian/African-American. Have gone through tribal manhood ceremony as well as completed a vision quest, so I consider myself predominantly Cherokee). I believe I’m an object of attention for women around me but being that the admirer is Japanese it doesn’t go beyond watching me. I suppose women treat me as they would a semi-wild tiger: would love to get close up and personal, possibly feel the fur, so to speak, but afraid of what might occur.Are they more attracted to you? Than say the next guy? Probably. They are more physically attracted to me, but for the reasons given above, less likely to act on said attraction.
9. Is there any major difference between dating in the U.S. and dating here?
Oh! Without a doubt. Dating a Japanese woman while stateside is a beautiful thing because you get the best of both worlds. The same can be said about dating a non-Japanese woman in Japan. In my experience those relationships are more clean cut while also being deeper. On the other hand, dating a Japanese woman in Japan or an American in America is a hard deal because you don’t just date the woman you date her entire living circle.
10. What is your favorite thing about Japanese culture?
Besides Japanese martial arts, it’s the almost telepathic sense that pervades Japanese society, allowing them the ability to sense what is going on without words.
12. How has Japan changed since you first arrived?
It’s busier. The trust factor which was evident then has really plummeted. More people killing themselves. More unhappy relationships. Less camaraderie. Less working together for the common good.
13. How is it better?
The Working economy. The recognition as a world power. The ability to pool resources and work together effectively in time of crisis.
14.How is it worse?
Importing ineffective life style strategies from abroad. Children being brought up by TV, computers instead of world outside. Lack of community communication.
15. For people thinking of coming to Japan (or who are new to Japan), what advice would you give them?
Come with an ‘open book’ mentality, while also keeping true to the one and only you.
16. What do you think Japan will be like in ten years?
If people aren’t careful, Japan will be a lot more of what it didn’t want to become in ten years. Keep a hold what’s useful, while doing away with the useless. This might be a good by-word for [Japan’s] intentional forward progress.
Illya what dance projects are you working on right now?
I Enjoy dancing abroad. 1) Presently, I was picked up by the WINGS TO FLY DANCE COMPANY to do stage later on this year and next. 2) I dance for a company called QUEST
A HUGE thank you Illya, for taking the time to share with us!
And a HUGE thank you to the Japan Guy readers for checking out this interview. If you have any other questions for Illya about life in Japan, any at all (seriously), please post them in the comments section below.
See you tomorrow, everybody!