January 29, 2007

I still don't get it

I have lived in Japan for sixteen years. When I first got here; the city I ended up in had very few Gajin so just walking down the street made me feel like a superstar. People would stare and kids would actually point at you and yell out "America" I never thought about how the Canuks or Kiwis felt about that and to tell the truth I didn't really care.
There is a nasty side to me that abused that superstar status for a while. I used it to get girls and free booze and invites to events that I might never have seen had I been an upstanding human being.
It was fun for a while, but it quickly wore off. Getting asked the twenty stupid questions (I'll save those for a later post) that every visitor to this country gets asked over and over again; as well as the constant confusion about how things are done here that left me shaking my head and asking myself "Why do they do it that way?" Well after a couple of years and a couple of hundred bumps on the head (literally) I have come to accept the way of life here and with the increase of foreigners, it is a lot easier to get around. Hey we even got a bookstore now with an extensive English section. I went there today for the first time since the place opened about three weeks ago and I almost cried! Real books!!(fyi- I bought Paul Auster's- the Brooklyn follies)
So I'm walkin down the street with my wife and are holding hands and enjoying the fact that this winter isn't really winter after all. And as I'm heading toward a favorite coffee shop I spot a group of foreigners holding tourist guides and who are pointing at me and I thought I overheard the word, American. Will wonders never cease....


The Grunt said...

Stranger in a strange land no more, until more strangers point you out. LOL!

Izzy said...

Sixteen years in Japan! What a journey! Do you ever think that you'll return to America?

NYD said...

One never knows where the future will take them. I'm living proof of that. I don't think I'll spend all my days here in the land of Lillipyt but I don' plan on nreturning to America. I don't like the way things are flowing over there

Hale McKay said...

Although under different circumstances, I have known that feeling you describe when you are a stranger in a strange land.

Of course, I was a sailor. The uniform is quite distinctive and recognizable 500 yards away.

But half the time during my tour of duty, we were allowed to wear civilian clothes off the ship. Not much of disguise, let me tell you.

Back in the late 60s you were still recognized as an American, Yankee, and even Joe.

Of course our visits (all over the Mediterranean, Caribbean and Scandanavia) were short term.

Great post for a former stranger in strange lands to read.