Yep, it’s about that time again!
First a little mood music from the maestros De La Soul w/ Q-Tip!
So, the word is out, and it’s official: J Skool rocks!
J Skool’s content creator, a lovely lady who goes by the alias, Verity, holds a distinction that in this age of virtual social networking has become disturbingly uncommon:
We have actually met face to face!
In my experience, meeting people you know from online in an offline setting can be…special. For example, sometimes there are elements to the person’s character that don’t come across well or had been played down in their virtual identity. Such was the case with Ms.Verity. Not only is she gorgeous but her beauty is complimented by an irresistible earthiness and a sharp questioning mind thirsty for knowledge and experience. Qualities that come through in her writing. The impression she gave me was of one of those people that, when you meet them, you just know they are destined for something extraordinary.
Her virtual identity was milquetoast (IMHO) compared to the woman I met. At least that was the case in comparison with her previous blogging identity. However, with her relatively new blogging venture, J Skool, she’s gotten much more in touch with the woman I had the pleasure of meeting. The current blog is aptly named and is anything but ineffectual.
So, without further ado, Ms.Verity? Loco in Yokohama is all yours!
1-What’s the Loco-est thing you’ve ever seen in Japan?
I think the fashion of Japanese women is pretty Loco. And I don’t mean “oh, their outfits are so colorful and crazy and kawaii!” I mean for some women there seems to be no concept of dressing for the weather at all. Come rain or shine or hail or snow they’re gonna wear their little short-shorts and heels or else, by God. One day on the way home from work I was standing at a stop light, shivering in my full length dress pants and winter coat, and up walks a gyaru in thigh high boots and a short skirt with her skinny little legs bare and just the perfect target for the grasping fingers of old man winter. As we were waiting I could see her adjusting her boots, trying to pull them as high up the thigh as they could go. At first I felt a pang of pity for her, but then I thought, “Wait a minute… she brought this on herself what am I feeling sorry for her for?” And yeah I know some of you will be angry with me for hating on the short-shorts year-round trend, but come on you have to at least admit it makes no logical sense! Although you have to admire that kind of dedication I suppose.
2- Why do you blog about life in Japan?
A better question is why do I blog about life, period. I recently realized (consciously, though it’s a thought that’s been keeping the base in my head for a while now) that despite the default response I give everyone who asks, I didn’t come to Japan to “experience Japan”. I came to Japan to experience myself. I have two main objectives in writing J Skool:
a) I want to document the experiment. I moved myself halfway across the world and somewhat disconnected myself from everyone who knew me because I had no idea who I was, only what everyone around me told me I was. I wanted to see my reactions. I wanted to see if I was more than what was mirrored to me, or less. I wanted to see if I would freak out and fail, or thrive. That’s why I write what I learn and what I feel – for the sake of analysis.
b) I have a real yearning to be accepted. It’s a psychological thrill to write my fears and the intimate details on the workings of my mind online, and have people write back and say “yes, I understand. I feel the same as you.” It’s solidarity couched in anonymity. It’s a test, where I take off my mask in a somewhat safe environment. If no one is pointing and laughing at the face underneath, then maybe I can do the same thing offline too.
3) What has been your experience as a foreigner in Japan?
For the most part it’s been surprisingly mundane. Not knowing how to speak Japanese hasn’t been a problem, and I haven’t had even a fraction of the “experience” that Loco’s had. Before moving, I read Loco’s blog a lot, and I was steeling myself for the sight of empty train seats to my right and left and people crossing the street to get away from me. I was dreading children running and screaming at the sight of me. No such thing has happened, in fact sometimes salarymen get a little too close on the train, if you know what I’m sayin’. Maybe it’s because I’m small and non-threatening. Or because I’m a woman. Or, maybe it’s because I’m oblivious — I can’t understand much Japanese and for all I know people are talking about me right in front of me and I have no idea. Although…
One incident that stands out is when I went to a well-known hip-hop club in central Tokyo one night. The music was good, but the atmosphere was…strange. I was definitely drawing more stares than usual, so much so that even with my incredible powers of ignorance I couldn’t maintain my usual bubble of obliviousness. Strangely, I was one of only — I kid you not –two black people…in a hip hop-club. I mean I don’t like to generalize but really, can we all suppress our PC reflexes for a moment because, many black people like hip-hop OK? So yeah, I was a little, shall we say, confused because there weren’t more of us there.
Back to the staring, this was the only time it really bothered me. Were the Japanese hip-hop crowd impressed with me? Threatened? Did they expect me to bust some moves worthy of Usher or Beyonce? That reminds me: Since coming here I’ve been told more than once I look like Rihanna. I look nothing like Rihanna, but I’ll take the compliment because she is hot. Anyway, that night I even had some drunken guys point at me and say God-knows-what in Japanese as they came out of the bathroom. That night I felt like…I dunno, an accessory; some gaijin décor for the club, perhaps. To be fair, I don’t get this reaction in the hip-hop room of another club I like to go to. Maybe this club just has a weird crowd?
Other than that, my three months here have been relatively drama-free, socially speaking. But I was expecting adversity, and I was expecting to be able to use that adversity as fuel for self- transformation. But I won’t lie and say I’m not glad I don’t have to put up with the daily social abrasions that Loco faces. For me, the adversity came in the form of the Tohoku earthquake. In the weeks that followed, even though I wasn’t directly affected by the quake, I spent a lot of time worrying about myself and feeling sorry for myself, and long story short it showed me how sheltered a life I’ve led, and how selfish I can be. It showed me that I’m not nearly as enlightened as I thought I was. It showed me that I need to grow up some more, and hopefully that’s what will happen while I’m here.
@Verity: Thank you so much for blessing my blog . I can’t wait to see the questions / comments you’re gonna get!
@Readers: Show Verity some much deserved love and treat yourselves to her stories. Her blog is growing into something special and you’ll want to get it now before it becomes as ubiquitous as Sumo, shrines, sakura trees, and sake!
And…tell her Loco sent ya!
And, please don’t forget to keep Praying for Japan! People are still struggling and suffering!
If you haven’t gotten your copy of Quakebook 2:46 yet, well, it ain’t just gonna materialize on your Kindle! See that big ass link on my sidebar? Use it! And spread the word. A paper version, as well as a Japanese version, are coming soon!
This party WILL continue…
Who is this Cat, Loco, anyway? Click here!
PS: And, click on the links below to catch the previous guest DJs!