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Between dreams and discrimination, Japanese build new lives in the City by the Bay

Harboring heady hopes or just hedging their bets, recent Japanese U.S. arrivals defy categorization

by Nicolas Gattig

Another country is another self, said the poet Alastair Reid. To grow roots on a foreign soil means to wager on possibility — the heady hope for a new lease on life, a magical stab at self-reinvention. For a little over a century, dreams of starting anew overseas have also beckoned the Japanese, inspiring sojourns and fortune-seeking to mixed ends and degrees of success.

Since the first generation of immigrants (issei), one dream destination has been the United States. As this Saturday marks the anniversary of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s attack on Pearl Harbor — the day that provoked the Pacific War and the internment in camps of all people of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast — how are modern-day Japanese immigrants experiencing life in America? What are their dreams, their struggles and rewards? And how do they handle the need to belong, the ceaseless negotiation between assimilation and roots?

I searched for answers in San Francisco, a colorful zoo for the young and adventurous, finding a new first generation of immigrants, the so-called shin issei. Defying the stereotype of the “insular Japanese,” their lives unfold as a multi-layered narrative — as complex, resourceful and daring as many others in the annals of world immigration.

“For me, San Francisco works,” says Takeshi Ebato on a sunny day in the Mission, a rare Asian presence in the vibrant Latino district. “I like Japanese culture, but I’m not going back anytime soon.”

Dressed in a hoodie and NOFX band shirt, the Tokyo native in his mid-30s has found the right place for his punk altruism. He arrived six years ago to study English and is now getting a master’s in psychology as part of preparations for a career as a communication counselor. Supporting himself through elderly care and cleaning services, Ebato credits the trials of immigrant life with giving focus to his ambitions.

“Living here, I feel that I am growing,” he says. “I’m excited about what is going to happen to me, and I am confident to make it happen. In Japan I had money, but I couldn’t see the future. Then when I came to America and didn’t have money, I had to be positive in order to survive.

“In Japan I could blame other people, but here I became independent, more responsible for myself.”

When I mention a certain kind of expat — the sad snarksters expounding in bars on how the host culture has been conniving to foil their lives — Ebato laughs.

“Of course, some Japanese here are blaming America,” he says. “They don’t like Japan, the social expectations, and they think here they can be free. But in a foreign country, you must take initiative. You need communication skills, which many Japanese lack. They don’t learn the language, they don’t want to learn anything from other people. They don’t understand that freedom means taking responsibility.”

Ebato has initiative galore, along with a curious mind. Besides practicing English listening for several hours a day, he has studied American history and wants to re-read some parts of the Bible, to view his adopted home from a native perspective. Ninety percent of his interactions are with Americans or people from other cultures, and while he admits to having developed two selves (“in a good way!”), Takeshi doesn’t fret about turning American.

“I’m not making efforts to stay Japanese. To me, just taking care of the people around me is a part of Japanese identity. Then again” — he looks up with his large, warm eyes, laughing again — “everybody should be kind to others. It’s not just a Japanese concept!”


For Dai Yoshida, a former business analyst now working as a lawyer with a global IT team, the move to America five years ago was effectively a matter of hedging his bets.

“Japan is sitting on a time bomb,” he tells me in confident, eloquent English as we meet in a cafe in Japantown. “Everybody in asset management knows the grotesque state of debt. If young people care about their future, they should look outside of Japan. It’ll actually be easier to learn a foreign language than to compete domestically.”

Working in Tokyo, Yoshida was sponsored through an intra-company visa, which was upgraded into a green card. The San Francisco assignment kicked off in 2008, just in time for the financial crisis.

“My whole team evaporated,” he recounts with a wry smile. “I almost got laid off — lots of drama!”

Despite a general sense of malaise across the U.S., many immigrants still extol chances unique to America. A fan of adult education, Yoshida went to night school to study law — a bootstrap effort that changed him.

“I actually work harder here than in Japan. If some kids tell me how tough law school is, I say, look, if an immigrant with a child and a full-time job can pass on the first try, don’t complain!”

Unlike most arrivals from Japan — so-called weak-tie immigrants who don’t seek help from their fellow countrymen — Yoshida reached out to the Japanese community, which has helped him to get established. His son attends the bilingual preschool Nihonmachi Little Friends, and besides being a board member there, Dai helps organize seminars on Japanese-American history.

As a lawyer and parent, he studied the rich yet ambivalent role San Francisco has played for Japanese-Americans, pointing out that the Little Friends school is in the same building where, just after Pearl Harbor, lines of anxious issei and their families had to report to be sent into camps. Still, as Yoshida explains, being honest about discrimination doesn’t eclipse the America he values.

“There’s still open racism, like a guy on the street calling me ‘f—-ing Chink,’ ” he says. “But I’m careful not to say ‘America is like this or that.’ The racist guy is an American experience, but then for example, Chief Judge [Alex] Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court — a friend of mine and an immigrant from Romania who speaks with an accent and has had an amazing career here — that, too, is an American experience. Myself, I focus on the latter.”

In the end, the immigrant’s dream is also a dream for the next generation. Yoshida has no plans to return to Japan, but he wants his son to know both cultures and languages. This gift of a mixed identity, he reminds, was foregone by Japanese-Americans following the war, when the need to assimilate outweighed the fostering of roots.

“I don’t think nationality determines character,” says Yoshida, “but we have to accept the fact that our children become Americanized. They are not Japanese, they are American-Japanese. What exactly that means depends on the individual, but this fact changed my attitude toward America. This is no longer a foreign country; it is the home country of my son.”


Some people wear their foreignness like a badge. Petite yet striking in appearance, Yukina Matsuo, 33, has spent seven years in America, though she still looks distinctly Japanese. With a thoughtful reserve in her demeanor, she projects an inner depth that feels exotic these days in San Francisco, a playground for techies and hipsters, where the talking is fast and opinions loud in a constant give-me-everything-now-or-I’ll-scream kind of way.

“I don’t really experience America,” says Matsuo, noting that most of her contacts are with Asians and other immigrants. “I don’t feel like this is Japan, but I don’t feel like this is America. It’s San Francisco, and I like it. It’s different from the rest of the country, just crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. I couldn’t live in an environment that’s more American.”

Since the first “picture brides” joined their husbands in the 1900s, it has been a special kind of Japanese woman that braves the great ocean-crossing experiment. Footloose and resolute, Matsuo was working as a beautician in Kyoto when she decided to quit and explore other countries. A travel agent recommended San Francisco, and so she set out to “the city that knows how” without being especially interested in America.

Her student visa became a green card when Matsuo got married, allowing residence in America and a job at a hair salon. A dream come true for people worldwide — but then foreigners, it is said, are curable romantics.

Matsuo has started to miss Japan, and staying forever in an expat bubble, no matter how picturesque, appears rather a bittersweet vista. Still, going back to Kyoto is difficult: Not young enough anymore to get hired as a beautician, she would have to open up her own salon. In addition, she thinks her husband is more comfortable in America — the sacrifice impasse arrived at by many binational couples.

“I often blame culture for all kinds of trouble,” Matsuo allows with refreshing candor. “Sometimes I complain to my husband, ‘It’s because you are American!’ even if I don’t really think that.” She gives an indulgent laugh, but then her voice turns serious again. “Actually, Americans keep surprising me by how nice they are, and then I feel bad about having a negative image” of them.

Matsuo concedes that more effort at assimilation might make her new life more comfortable, yet she doesn’t want to be any less Japanese. As we are saying goodbye, some passersby turning heads to glimpse at the Asian woman, her thoughts return to Kyoto.

“I miss the rivers,” she says wistfully, “the color of the sky and the clouds. You know, in the summer, the humidity changes the color of the clouds!”

Perhaps such nostalgia, I muse, watching Matsuo disappear into the subway, circles back to what lies at the heart of all immigrant journeys: our unending desire to be someone else in another place, in another life.

Send all your comments and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp.

  • Steve Novosel

    Funny how you could flip this article to say the exact same things about a whole lot of expats in Japan. Like this quotation:

    “Of course, some Japanese here are blaming America,” he says. “They don’t like Japan, the social expectations, and they think here they can be free. But in a foreign country, you must take initiative. You need communication skills, which many Japanese lack. They don’t learn the language, they don’t want to learn anything from other people. They don’t understand that freedom means taking responsibility.”

    Write that as

    “Of course, some foreigners here are blaming Japan,” he says. “They
    don’t like their home countries, the social expectations, and they think here they can be free. But living in a foreign country, you must take initiative. You need communication skills, which many expats lack. They don’t learn the language, they don’t want to learn anything from other people. They don’t understand that freedom means taking responsibility.”

    And it sure sounds like quite a few people who like to complain about life in Japan, doesn’t it? The grass is always greener, etc…

    • Toolonggone

      These are the quotes by interviewees–not author’s.

      • Steve Novosel

        That’s irrelevant to what I said (and I am aware of that) – I wasn’t criticizing the author, I was pointing out the similarities of expat attitudes in Japan and expat Japanese attitudes in the US.

    • disqus_Gvs3G32z1K

      Attaining citizenship in Japan won’t grant you as many privileges as it does in America. You’re entitled to every right that an American has except for the ability to become president or vice-president. In Japan you can’t even vote after attaining citizenship(although you apparently can become an elected official which is baffling to me because your core demographic can’t vote for you).

      • http://www.turning-japanese.info/ Eido INOUE

        In Japan you can’t even vote after attaining citizenship.

        Hogwash.

        Source: me (and hundreds of thousands of other naturalized Japanese). I have voted four times (didn’t even need to register to vote; they send you a polling place entrance ticket, a map, and instructions in the mail) for various local and national elections, including both the upper and lower house.

  • phu

    It’s easy to be negative about this and to compare it to expat life in Japan, but while that comparison is not without merit, that’s not what the article is about.

    I think this is a refreshing look at Japanese perspectives about living abroad. Up until the last, I really enjoyed the accounts of personal growth and success; as for the grim finale, the admission is still there that a failure to even attempt assimilation is likely at or near the root of admittedly poor generalizations about the host country.

    I’d call this a nice feel-good cross-culture piece. Not everything has to attack the big issues or center on Japan’s poor attitude towards outsiders; it’s important to address those things, but it’s also important to step back and understand that there’s a world outside of Japan and myriad people having different — even positive! — experiences out there.

    Why not take a break once in a while and smile at someone else’s happiness?

    • disqus_Gvs3G32z1K

      I agree. It’s nice to see people having such success in my home country.

  • AlanZulch

    This was a very well written and interesting article. My wife came to the Bay Area from Japan nearly thirty years ago to attend college and we met in grad school here over 22 years ago. I’ve always admired her strength in being the first in her Kyushu family to live overseas. And, I’ve seen her – and our many Nihonjin friends – struggle over the years with so many of the issues raised by this piece. Of course, her struggles have been mine in reverse, too. And there is where our bi-cultural marriage and childrearing was destined to either fail or become strong, and it’s fortunately been the latter. What a rich life we’ve had! May it continue for many more years. Many thanks for the opportunity to reflect.

  • Rosemary Chen

    My American friend often has an empty seat next to him when we go out together. Because he has VERY obvious “Gaijin” appearance, but I do not. He tries not to let it bother him but when they walk over to the seat, notice him, and then back away or change course or even just stand right in front of it, it really irritates him.
    And whenever he opens his mouth and asking things in JAPANESE, people here do not respond to him directly, not even looking at him, but turned over and talking to me. I am Gaijin too!!

    • Gordon Graham

      I wish I could get these empty seats around me! I’ve been here 20 years, have blonde hair and green eyes…Where are these empty seats I so often hear of? All, I get is elbows from little old ladies and snoring from the drunken salarymen sleeping on my shoulder…

  • Rosemary Chen

    “At least in America you’ve a shot, and if you’re holding an American passport 99% of people would never tell you you weren’t American; try doing that in Japan and see how long it takes someone to laugh in your face when you tell them you’re Japanese!” ← soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo TRUE!!! My family moved to Australia long time ago, that is the same there as the US.

    • disqus_Gvs3G32z1K

      In Japan’s case, if you look Asian enough and can speak Japanese the people around you will probably assume that you’re not a foreigner. One of my instructors in college once told me about a Korean school in Japan that had it’s students wear Japanese uniforms whenever tensions between the two countries were high. They were able to seamlessly blend in with the people around them.

      • Gordon Graham

        Was that the same instructor who told you that you can’t vote if you become a Japanese citizen?

      • 3ddie

        You have no idea how messed up that sounds, even as you try to make it sound nice.

  • Steve Novosel

    “how we’re not really welcome anywhere, and never allowed to assimilate”

    Speak for yourself, mate! I’ve integrated very well within my Japanese workplace and my community. I’ve never met anyone who’s actually TRIED to assimilate who complains about not being able to do so. Speaking the language, talking to neighbors, getting involved with local activities outside the foreigner bubble.

    “try doing that in Japan and see how long it takes someone to laugh in your face when you tell them you’re Japanese!”

    This is a theoretical exercise for you isn’t it, Ron? You’re not a Japanese citizen and haven’t tried it, have you? Why don’t you ask the many people who have taken citizenship what they say about that?

    Don’t assume.

    • disqus_Gvs3G32z1K

      I’d say it’s not particularly fair to dismiss his opinion simply because you supposedly have never dealt with discrimination personally. This is a common argument people in your position use(X has never happened to me so you’re talking nonsense). It’s naive to assume all communities are so accommodating. I’ve been all over this country and experienced racist quips frequently.

      • Steve Novosel

        When did I say I haven’t faced discrimination in Japan? I have, in housing and in getting a car loan. It’s disgusting that housing discrimination is allowed in 2013 in any advanced society.

        But what does that have to do with being “not really welcome anywhere”? Or not being allowed to assimilate? I can assure you that if you feel “not really welcome ANYWHERE” then the problem is you. Because that is just nonsense.

        And assimilation? I can point you to hundreds of foreign residents of Japan who participate in every aspect of Japanese life that a Japanese person does. What is that if not assimilation?

      • Gordon Graham

        What criterion are we supposed to use then, G? Internet babble based on 3rd hand accounts?

    • http://www.turning-japanese.info/ Eido INOUE

      “This is a theoretical exercise for you isn’t it, Ron? You’re not a Japanese citizen and haven’t tried it, have you? Why don’t you ask the many people who have taken citizenship what they say about that?”

      I am a Japanese citizen and I have tried it. I can comfortably say that absolutely ZERO (yes, ZERO) Japanese have “laughed in my face” when I’ve told them I’m a Japanese national. Now, they obviously ask followup questions as to how I got it, as white Americans naturalizing are statistically unusual and thus interesting. That’s the only drawback really; everybody (Japanese and non-Japanese) wants to know your story, which can become a permanent addition to your introduction repertoire. I understand the curiosity though; I myself find it interesting meeting other naturalized Japanese as they’re rare.

      You know what reaction I have received a lot from Japanese? Respect/admiration; Japanese are pleasantly pleased that a foreigner liked their country so much that they legally commit themselves to it.

      You know who are the only people I’ve encountered that laugh or say things like “you’ll never be accepted as a Japanese” etc? Non-Japanese like @ronnj:disqus . Fortunately, these people are mere pseudonyms on the comment boards. They don’t affect my real life.

      As the only people I’ve met who laugh or imply that “you’ll never be one of them” are non-Japanese like Ron, I sometimes wonder, “who are the real racists again?”

  • Gordon Graham

    Oh the horror!

  • Gordon Graham

    Not “information”…misinformation

  • Gordon Graham

    I’m guessing the same article would include the phrase “sad snarkers expounding in bars how the host culture has been conniving to foil their lives”….

  • Steve Novosel

    I wasn’t making a parody of the quote, I was saying that many foreigners in Japan have the same issues as expats in other countries, including Japanese expats. The commonality is the divorce from one’s original culture – the experiences are largely the same.

    “most western NJ who get bashed by J-media”

    Don’t go making things up now, Toolonggone. You’ve been spending too much time in the foreigner bubble in Japan if you think there’s any systematic bashing of bilingual foreigners. You know very well that in Japan efforts to speak the language are generally VERY well appreciated.

    “And who is saying that the cited quote reflects the vast majority of opinions by Japanese?”

    …You? I don’t know? I don’t see anyone in these comments who said that until you just did.

  • Toolonggone

    I think it depends on the place you live in the states. Unfortunately, in some places like AZ, FL, LA, MS, TX, NY, GA, NC, SC, KY, there’s pretty nasty racism perpetrated by crazy right wingers and Zimmerman-like fanatics. But, this doesn’t give us any justification for tolerating similar practice in Japan or elsewhere, you know. Sadly, there are always some sort of ignorant folks who refuse to engage and instead shout down at the people who try to address the issues. They are elsewhere in any country.

  • Toolonggone

    “A naturalized citizen could even become PM,”

    Not unless h/she is a certified national “civilian.” You need to take the national exam. Less than 10% of Japanese native speakers are able to pass the test. Speaking of PM candidacy, forget it. It’s the party that selects a PM–not citizens. Be realistic. There’s no naturalized Japanese who took the PM Office in national history. And it won’t happen unless the central government is willing to make drastic change on electoral system.

    • http://www.turning-japanese.info/ Eido INOUE

      Not unless h/she is a certified national “civilian.” You need to take the national exam. Less than 10% of Japanese native speakers are able to pass the test.

      There is no “national exam” for being a “certified national civilian” that is a requirement for being elected into the national Diet. Where are you getting this nonsense?

      And there have been a few (Western and Asian) naturalized Japanese who have entered national politics. Despite the “electoral system.” You have a point about Japan being a parliament and thus the majority party, not the populace, chooses the Prime Minister from within its ranks. But this is the same thing that natural-born Japanese must go through.

      Lot of misinformation in the comments for this post.

    • Steve Novosel

      What kind of backtracking is this, Toolonggone? A naturalized citizen IS eligible. You know this. You just said it.

  • Steve Novosel

    There’s been 62 prime ministers in a nation of 125M+. The possibility for ANYONE to become PM is insignificantly small, not just naturalized citizens.

    • Toolonggone

      Name any Japanese born outside the country and/or naturalized Japanese who successfully took PM office in the list, if you still think “a naturalized citizen could even become PM” under current political system.

  • Steve Novosel

    “It’s obvious you have an issue with the article”

    I think you have completely misread what I wrote. Can I ask you a serious question – no snark? Are you a native speaker of English? Because honestly, I have no idea how you would think I was criticizing the article. I wasn’t, and I am not. I think it is well-written and interesting, and I have not said anything here to imply I was critical of the author or his article.

    So since I think it is likely you have misread what I wrote, I will repeat that explicitly: I enjoyed this article and found it quite interesting. I do not criticize it or its author at all.

    “And you assume that the author is trying to inflame Japan-bashing sentiment with this article?”

    Clearly not. Nor have I said or implied such.

    “You are also wrong about your description of me.”

    Which description of you? I don’t know you and you don’t know me.

    “Foreigners who make an opinion about the problems with Japanese society–even though it is mild and conscientious, are being subject to reprimand.”

    Completely and totally incorrect. I work in a Japanese office with only Japanese coworkers and we discuss the issues of the day from time to time. I am not one for keeping my opinions to myself. Nobody ever criticizes me for sharing my opinions. Not one time in many years.

    Do we disagree in our opinions sometimes? Of course – everyone does, everywhere. It’s a discussion. But being reprimanded for having opinions and sharing them? Ludicrous.

    “See the quotes you made in your previous posting”

    I’m quite aware of what I wrote and what my own opinions are, Toolonggone! I’ll repeat – I think you have a bit of an English-language reading comprehension issue, because you seem to be consistently misunderstanding what I have said despite me correcting your interpretation.

    • Toolonggone

      All right. Mr. Novosel. I suggest you read this post first, so that you can get why you receive a challenge from me for this prolonged discussion.

      After this, you can go ahead and check out my other post as a follow-up.

      Here is the point of contention:

      Relevancy to the main idea of the article:

      >And it sure sounds like quite a few people who like to complain
      about life in Japan, doesn’t it?

      What kind of people are you referring to? How could you know that these kinds of people are on increase, and/or instigating others to complain about life in Japan today? Does the article make such an implication?? I don’t see that from the entire content or the voices of those interviewees. You are not thinking seriously that they should be held accountable (or deserve some sort of blame) for some people around here, your neighbor and elsewhere complaining life in Japan, are you?

      I don’t blame people—whether they are foreigners or Japanese—for an act of complaining, let alone, as long as they can prove that their concern is legitimate, and hence worth bringing it up to the floor. Yes, I see plenty of trivial complaints made online, including JT, huffington posts, and yahoo, etc. I don’t have energy to engage in them because that’s not worth it. You can simply rule them out because it’s not important. But, the things are different stories, when an act of complaint clearly 1) appeals to the real issue affecting people’s social life and/or 2) meets the constraints of burden of proof for the risk of harming moral/ cultural/ human rights.

      Your painting of the individuals in the article with some foreigners who complain for mere self-satisfaction of Japan-bashing is a clear indication of your worldview. That coincides with the ideas of typical Japanese conservatives/conformists who penalize those having difficulty in conforming to conventional cultural norms and values. You don’t like the “unconventional” life choices made by some Japanese appeared in the article? Fine, that’s your opinion. But, you can’t mock/blame the interviewees for behaving similarly to some “irrational” foreigners just because that’s not your cup of tea. They have made their choices based on a deep ramification on their life, unlike some whimsical, absent-minded foreigners who come to Japan to make money and shoot a barrel of trivial complaints in their life for nothing.

    • Toolonggone

      All right. Mr. Novosel. While you probably see my other post above for my initial
      response, I suggest you also read this post carefully so that you can figure out why you receive my challenge for this prolonged discussion. It might work better for you to split into two posts because it’s way too long to put it into one.

      Here is the main point of contention:

      >And it sure sounds like quite a few people who like to complain about life in Japan, doesn’t it?

      I don’t know how this relates to the main idea of the article. What kind of people are you referring to? How could you know that these kinds of people are on the increase, and/or instigating others to complain about life in Japan today? Does the article make such an implication?? I don’t see that from the entire content or the voices of those interviewees. You are not thinking seriously that they should be held accountable (or deserve some sort of blame) for some people around here, your neighbor and elsewhere complaining life in Japan, are you?

      I don’t blame people—whether they are foreigners or Japanese—for an act of
      complaining, let alone, as long as they can prove that their concern is legitimate, and hence worth bringing it up to the floor. Yes, I see plenty of trivial complaints made online, including JT, huffington posts, and yahoo, etc. I don’t have energy to engage in them because that’s not worth it. You can simply rule them out because it’s not important. But, the things are quite different stories, when an act of complaining clearly 1) appeals to the real issue affecting people’s social life and/or 2) meets the constraints of burden of proof for the risk of harming moral/ cultural/ human rights.

      Your painting of the individuals in the article with some foreigners who complain for mere self-satisfaction of Japan-bashing seems to be an indication of your worldview. That coincides with the ideas of typical Japanese conservatives/conformists who penalize those having difficulty in conforming to conventional cultural norms and values. You don’t like the “unconventional” life choices made by some Japanese appeared in the article? Fine. That’s your opinion. But, you can’t mock or blame the interviewees for behaving similarly to some undesirable foreigners you characterize just because that’s not your cup of tea. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE TRYING TO DO RIGHT HERE, Mr. Steve Novosel! I don’t see that’s cool. Those appeared in the article have made their choices based on a deep ramification on their life in a difficult time like this, unlike some whimsical, absent-minded foreigners(like those you can imagine) who come to Japan to make money and shoot a barrel of trivial complaints in their life for nothing.

      • Steve Novosel

        Toolonggone, you’ve not only missed my point again – this after I warned you that you completely misunderstood what I wrote AND what my opinions about the article are – you extrapolated from that misunderstanding to some odd psychological analysis of my world view. What’s up with that?

        I’ll repeat – you have completely misunderstood what I wrote. I cannot be more explicit in that. I was not criticizing Japan nor was I criticizing Japanese people (though I find it intriguing that you claim to be Japanese and in a previous comment lamented that foreigners in Japan cannot make comments regarding Japanese society without being criticized, then you criticize me for a perceived slight of Japanese people and society.)

        “How could you know that these kinds of people are on the increase”

        Never said they were.

        “Does the article make such an implication??”

        Never said it did.

        “You are not thinking seriously that they should be held accountable (or deserve some sort of blame) for some people around here, your neighbor and elsewhere complaining life in Japan, are you?”

        Never said or suggested anything of the sort.

        “I don’t blame people—whether they are foreigners or Japanese—for an act of complaining, let alone, as long as they can prove that their concern is legitimate, and hence worth bringing it up to the floor.”

        Funny, I don’t care if someone’s concern is legitimate or not – everyone has the right to complain whether it’s a valid complaint or not. Freedom of thought and all that. I don’t have to like it, but I do respect that they have their opinions.

        “some foreigners who complain for mere self-satisfaction of Japan-bashing seems to be an indication of your worldview”

        It’s not.

        “That coincides with the ideas of typical Japanese conservatives/conformists who penalize those having difficulty in conforming to conventional cultural norms and values”

        I don’t do that at all. What I pointed out was that in the quotation I referenced in my initial post is that the thought of those who are having difficulty adjusting to their lives overseas (not ‘conventional cultural norms’ – their lives overseas, period) are those who are not willing to adjust their thinking from their old culture to their new culture, be it by not working at learning the language, or learning how and why people think in their new culture. This is common sense – the greater the difference between a new culture and your culture of origin, the more effort you need to put in to adjust to that culture. It’s just common sense for all migrants everywhere.

        “You don’t like the “unconventional” life choices made by some Japanese appeared in the article?”

        Huh??? Where is this criticism coming from? As above, I have neither said nor implied such a thing.

        “…behaving similarly to some undesirable foreigners…”

        What? Who said anything about undesirable foreigners??? My goodness, you are on a tangent here.

        “…made their choices based on a deep ramification on their life…”

        All migrants, myself included, have done this.

        “unlike some whimsical, absent-minded foreigners(like those you can imagine) who come to Japan to make money and shoot a barrel of trivial complaints in their life for nothing”

        You sure seem to have a low opinion of foreign migrants to Japan. Strange.

      • Toolonggone

        > You sure seem to have a low opinion of foreign migrants to Japan. Strange

        Read my post again. I am not talking about foreign migrants in general. You surely seem to have no idea about the types of non-Japanese coming to Japan under any visa eligible for New Resident Card. It varies from 1) those who are truly appreciative of and respectful to local cultures to 2) those who come to Japan primarily for hyper-cultural consumption and show their attitude by denigrating local people or culture. Now which one do you think would likely be a trivial “complainer”? That’s what I mean “undesirable.” It’s like some of those coming to Japan as JET-teachers–especially in the late 80s and 90s, who were indeed causing a lot of trouble to local school teachers and students for rude and unprofessional behavior.

  • Steve Novosel

    “The article is about the story of some Japanese people who decide to
    move out of their home country for their life choice. This has nothing to do with whether their voices are the main representative of Japanese
    or not.”

    Well, duh. That’s what I’ve been saying all along!

    “…, your rant of reading comprehension problem…”

    I didn’t rant about your reading comprehension problem, I politely pointed out that you clearly do not understand what I said, so because you are not a native speaker you likely have a bit of a comprehension problem. It’s not a criticism, I have severe comprehension issues in my second and third languages often as well. I was pointing out that you might want to ramp back your attack because what you think I wrote is not what I wrote. That’s all!

  • Steve Novosel

    “I certainly don’t appreciate the way you relate the views of some Japanese who make a plan to move out of their home county with those of NJ living in Japan”

    Why not? You don’t know some of these serial complainers? If you’ve lived overseas – anywhere – and mingled with fellow foreigners you will have met this breed of person. I knew several in the US (where I am from originally, though Japan is home now), I knew them in Malaysia and Thailand. They come from all over, and they get fed up with life in the country they live in (for whatever reason), and they complain relentlessly about everything. Stress reaction? Culture shock? Failure to try to assimilate? I don’t know.

    But they exist in some quantities, and they come from all parts of the world including Japan. You see them commenting on articles here (and other sites) frequently. You run into them in bars and nightclubs. I would hazard a guess that they are not the average anywhere by any means, but of course they do exist.

    “I feel it even disingenuous especially when I see your accusation of me “spending too much time in the foreigner bubble,” which is not true.”

    You’re overusing this word accusation. I haven’t accused you of anything.

    • Toolonggone

      As far as you are being honest with me, I’m not gonna paint you with an ‘apologist’ devil term.