The following conversation took place between myself and a private student in a café in Yokohama. She’d just come back from a holiday in Shanghai
Me: You’re glowing!
(Student turns beet red)
Student: Really?? Two of my co-workers said the same…
Me: It’s true! It’s very becoming…
Student: Well, I kinda did eat a lot in Shanghai…
Me: Huh??? What? Chinese food makes you glow?
Student: Yes, if you eat a lot you will grow…futotta deshou? (I got fat!)
Me: Huh? No, I mean GLOW! Like the moon at night.
Student: Ohhhhh glow! lol
Me: I would never tell a woman she got fat… marriages have ended over less in the States. I’ve lost girlfriends over even insinuating that. Two co-workers told you that??? Isn’t that a little rude? I hope they were female, at least…
Student: Yes, I think it’s rude too, but Japanese people do it just the same…syougannai.
Me: Well, anyway, how was Shanghai?
(I braced myself for yet another chapter on how horrible the Chinese are…)
Student: It was great!
Me: I’m sorry to…huh? It was great? Really?
Student: Yes! I had a wonderful time! The food was so-so, but the people were very kind and peaceful.
Me: That’s great! What about all this nonsense over that island? Weren’t there a lot of demonstrations and anti-Japanese foolishness?
Student: There’s an area near where the Japanese embassy is and near some of the big Japanese companies. But, otherwise, no problem.
Me: Did you meet any Chinese people?
Student: Yes! I spoke English, of course. I was a little scared with all the news and whatnot. And, they’d always ask me where was I from.
Me: And you’d tell them the truth?
Student: Of course. I told them I am Japanese and they didn’t get angry or anything. They were very nice and curious about Japan.
Me: Wow! Watch the news here and you’d think there were roving lynch mobs looking for any adults with Hello Kitty cell phones…dead give away.
Student: Haha! Actually, Rillakkuma is really popular there! People were taking pictures with him!
Me: Unbelievable! How about the staff at your hotel? How were they?
Student: Very friendly and helpful! I went to a park near my hotel and people were dancing and singing there every day. It was so relaxing and beautiful.
Me: No wonder you’re glowing! You know what? You should write about this!
Me: Seriously! Don’t be shy. Write a letter about your experience, and send it with some pictures and stuff to the newspapers or the TV stations. Japanese people need to hear about this.
Student: You think so?
Me: Certainly. All they’re getting from the media these days is a giant helping of bad news and negativity. They need to know there are multiple angles to this story…and they need to hear it from a Japanese person. If the media is even remotely interested in being balanced in their reporting during this crisis, they’ll at least think about running your story.
Student: That’s true…I’ll think about it!