10 May 2011 ~ 17 Comments

Back to Life Blog Party #4: J Skool rocks!

Yep, it’s about that time again!

First a little mood music from the maestros De La Soul w/ Q-Tip!

So, like, yeah, it’s your boy, Loco, back spinnin’ the platters that matter. I’m so pumped that you guys are digging my little blog party so far, and we ain’t about to let up.

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.

After you’ve peeped this post I’m sure you’ll agree and want to go see more for yourself!

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!

Blog Party #1: DJ Saboten Girl

Blog Party #2: DJ Wakarahen

Blog Party #3: DJ Bad Boy!




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17 Responses to “Back to Life Blog Party #4: J Skool rocks!”

  1. Caroline Josephine 10 May 2011 at 10:22 pm Permalink

    I wore shorts all winter long… with nylons, thigh-high socks, and insulated boots. lol. I actually don't like pants (yeah… idek) but some of those girls that just bare leg it… I'm like HOW?! My friend once told me that Japanese girls don't sweat in the summer because their pores are all frostbitten from walking around outside like that all winter long.

    It's kinda refreshing to hear that you're experience as 'gaijin' has been mundane. I always hear ridic stories that sometimes make me think 'really? that REALLY happened?' and others that make me thing 'omfg that's SO HORRIBLE that that happened!'

    Gonna keep on following your blog to see where you end up 🙂 Good luck lady.

    • Verity Veritas 10 May 2011 at 11:09 pm Permalink

      Thanks Caroline!

      Yeah, I believe that thing about the pores being frostbitten lol. Actually I think it's just mind over matter — dedication as I said. I remember when I was a teenager in catholic high-school I wanted to wear my kilt and knee highs in winter but my Ma wouldn't let me :P. Now that I'm older and theoretically wiser I'm like "hell no! What's the temperature? Below 0? Pants it is."

      Being a foreigner in Japan has been…less scary than I thought it would be. Make no mistake I get a ton of stares and I'm sure people are talking about me sometimes but I just can't be *sure*, cause I can't understand and they maybe cleverly keep from using the word "gaijin" or "gaikokujin". I have suspicion that the longer I stay the more I will see/hear. At the moment when I see something I think might be something I ignore it, brush it off because I don't want to deal with it. Not yet. And there have been few things so far that I couldn't easily brush off. Also I'm in the heart of Tokyo where there's probably the highest foreigner concentration right?

  2. FuKnWitU 10 May 2011 at 11:20 pm Permalink

    I'm hoping JSKOOL ups her post per month count. Love the writing!!

    "I don’t have to put up with the daily social abrasions that Loco faces"

    You mean you DO put up with it. You mentioned your protective bubble being unable to reflect the odd atmosphere (racism,idolization,fear) at that club. I bet you have a thicker skin than you imagine. I'm white and live in the suburbs but I could find a reason to hammer someone everyday if i wanted. I choose to act when I can get away with it but nothing has gone away.

    I hope you get down more on your site. Pop the bubble
    …let the bad shit in and let your hate fly out in words instead of fists. Your down to your emotional underwear…..take those panties off girl!!!! 😉

    • Verity Veritas 11 May 2011 at 12:13 am Permalink

      LOL! You know what you are quite right: I do "put up with it". I've been told I'm very good at putting up with things. I can "shogannai" with the best of em'. I used to think that was a strength but lately I see how it can be a weakness too.

      Emotional underwear…love it. Maybe it IS panty dropping time…

  3. ありちゃん 11 May 2011 at 12:18 am Permalink

    Thanks for sharing Loco! I'll definitely be checking her out =]

    It's always nice to find other black people living in Japan and read how our experiences vary.

    I had a similar thing happen at a club, but it was reggae nite. And it didn't help that people weren't dancing.. at a club. Lol

    Anyway! Enough rambling, I'm going to visit her blog now lol

    • Verity Veritas 11 May 2011 at 12:42 am Permalink

      Hi Ari-chan,

      Yes! It was the same at this hip-hop club. One room was less crowded and most people were just lining the walls while me and my room mates were out on the floor. The other room was really crowded and a couple of guys tried to grind on me. It was nostalgic actually reminded me of back home haha.

      The music was bangin' though.

      A couple of the other "experiences" I had were:

      — Teaching colours in a kids class. When learning brown the "bad boy" of the class points to me and goes "brown brown ahahaha". Didn't bug me that much tho 'cause he's just a kid and at least he's learning to identify colours.

      — Two old men on a train across from me. One looks at me and then starts whispering to his friend beside him, then they laugh. What was he saying…What was he saying?! Could have made a scene, but that would be just what they wanted maybe. I'm not too keen on confirming the "bitchy, angry black woman" stereotype, and that's not my nature anyway so I just gave them a look.

      — ALWAYS catching people on the train who were asleep one second awake and staring at me the next second, and then magically asleep again the next moment. I am beginning to fear for the Japanese people, It looks like many of them have that sleeping disorder where you spontaneously fall asleep, from what I can tell anyway. Must be a bitch.

      • ありちゃん 11 May 2011 at 1:55 am Permalink

        Damn wallflowers Lol I do love acting up on the dance floor though~~

        Oh nooo, not naughty students. DD= I've never had students do that, but they have made comments about my color (like "why are you so dark?" is it a problem??? lol) or facials features, and sometimes I wish I could just give them a drop kick… But I have to remember they're kids.. meh. OHH, another funny thing, some of them don't believe black people live in America. Sometimes, I just don't know..

        Also, I had an older student (well.. not really, she was only 10 or so) say that I couldn't be married to a Japanese person. Really makes me wonder what children are being taught about foreigners DD=

        LOL Angry black woman stereotype~ It's so hard though, fighting the urge to just cut lose on someone. If I get pissed enough, I'll throw some errant comment in English while passing by (especially if I'm on a bike…), but I usually try to keep it cool~

        I just took a photo of a woman reclined on the train ride back home. Head back, mouth open, totally out. She almost missed her stop and lost her phone, Good thing her spidey-senses were functioning~

        Anyway, thanks for the reply! I read through some other posts on your blog. Great stuff! Looking forward to more 😉

      • RKat 12 May 2011 at 12:14 pm Permalink

        "I'm not too bothered because he's a kid and at least he's learning colors." Hahaha! That made me laugh so much. I get the pointing and identifying, but what's with the laughing about it? kids are funny.

        • Verity Veritas 12 May 2011 at 11:36 pm Permalink

          I guess he thought he was pretty clever. Actually I'm amazed more kids don't do it. They have pretty good manners — or they're afraid of me but that can't be it. In one of my classes with toddlers they run up and hug me it's so cute!

        • Billy 15 May 2011 at 2:36 pm Permalink

          If guys like Taro Aso go around saying things like, "Japan is doing what the Americans can't do. It would probably be no good to have blue eyes and blond hair. Luckily, we Japanese have yellow faces," and just draw minor criticizm, it's not likely Japanese people will ever understand sensitivity about statements concerning people and color. Japan is doing what the Americans can't do. It would probably be no good to have blue eyes and blond hair. Luckily, we Japanese have yellow faces," and just draw minor criticizm, it's not likely Japanese people will ever understand sensitivity about statements concerning people and color. 

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