My first interview on a magazine was updated on the latest Hiragana Times.
Titled “A ‘Foreigner’ in his own Land “, it is a summary about my experience as a Kikoku-Shijo (Japanese child returing from overseas). The interview was done entirely in English, but for the nature of this magazine (completely bilingual), the original text was translated into Japanese by other editors. It feels odd, but looks nicer than my own translation, which will anyway never will be the same as the English version..
I won’t talk in detail about the contents, but here’s the list of what I have learned over the years and also the messages I want to send to me as a kid trying to cope with life in Japan.
* People don’t accept differences unless they feel they have to, and it apply to you as well
* You don’t have to try too much to become a “group member”
* You cannot help being yourself, and there is nothing wrong with it
* Everything will be all right in the end
Well, how convincing they might become depends completely on WHO tells them, not so much the quality of the message itself…. Although I have learned and accepted some bright side of my life (for this three years, “now” is always the best time in my life), I still am not sure I can face the initimidated small kid who just returned from Malta and let him truly cheer up, not just making him obligated to nod (I have always been smart enough to do this).
There were always some intellectual “wise” people trying to educate me, try to make me a better person, by telling me the stories of brave people, by telling me some lessons he learned. But the people who influenced me in a positive way were those who always looked (and acted) confident, down on earth, and forward-looking. I watched their back, wanted to be like them, and when they said something to me, for that moment I could forget all the miserable things I was carrying. I seldom remember what they said, and it probably never mattered. (Although if they had told me a lesson, I would have digested it deeply).
At my previous workplace, almost every male Japanese were worrying about what they can teach to their kids. They were obsessed with the “contents” – methodology to let their kid prepare for the severe life they are going to face(study English or IT, adopt a firm discipline, such things). I told them it would be best if you stop worring too much about education and start enjoying your own life, and your job. It means to show, not telling, your kid that life is wonderful, job is exciting, and you are happy having a family. No matter how small, kids understands whether his/her father is full of energy(trustable) or burned-out(dubious), regardless of what he talks. Ironically, all of those “worried about education” daddy were showing the sign of burning-out. And my words didn’t seem to reach them (well, I haven’t even being married so I shouldn’t expect to be listened…).
Last, this interview helped me letting “go” off my memories of childhood experience, which have been biased toward negative feeling. I know I frequently used my “kikoku-shijo” experience as an excuse for my weird behaviour, even when that was a simple rudeness or ignorance of other’s feelings. And treating myself as a “special” person also justified victimising myself, constantly under attack from locals…
Probably this “victimization” is one of the reason why I kept staying in Japan despite all those whinings about traditional Japanese society, culture, and companies(you can still see plenty of them here in this blog ;-). Let’s face it, after all, Japan has always been the “confort zone” for me. I got a job at a foreign company because my English skill was relatively better than other Japanese workers, not because I had some skills which could be ported to any other countries.
So it might be that the interview served as a turning point for me – a kind of ritual, to cope with my “past” and to move on toward the future.