Thursday, December 24, 2009

Assimilation is futile. You will be resisted, in Japan

"Don't be a nail that sticks up. Assimilate," is the advice from Johin C. Wocher quoted in a Japan Times Online article.

Ahh, were it so easy. Dr. Wocher's ability to assimilate is probably much better than mine. He has been in the country longer, probably has better language skills than I do, and his physical posture is probably more studied than mine, but I bet he still causes cashiers at convenience stores to break out in cold sweats by his race only.

My god, this dead assimilation horse has been so thoroughly flogged in American race relations I hardly have the energy to address it as it applies to Japan. Thank goodness Arudou Debito has already. A great article here.

My experience here is that race is the determining factor in much of our (immigrants') interactions with Japanese, and we will be hammered down whether or not we attempt assimilation or not.

Cases in point: I was playing with my dog in a large open area in our neighborhood recently, when an middle aged woman, who passed us at a distance of somewhere around 50 meters shouted, "Where are you from?" "I'm from here," I shouted, and she moved on.

I was at my home yesterday when the door rang. I answered it, and it was a group of religious types with pamphlets. The elderly man was dumbfounded, and called for backup. The woman who appeared asked the same question, "Where are you from?" I answered similarly, but with a cross tone in my voice as she was standing on my front door step, "I am from right here. This is my home. Is that what you rang my doorbell for?" As she then asked if I could read Japanese, I said yes, but I am hardly interested in anything she would be carrying, and thanked her.

The Borg quote from Star Trek was, "Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated." The Japanese equivalent would be "Assimilation is futile. You will be resisted."

1 comment:

CEJ said...

America is largely a conformist society that strongly assimilates. Japan is a conformist society that strongly resists assimilation. I like your play on words. Assimilation is futile. You will be resisted--and hammered down if you don't conform too.