July 14, 2007

The Music of Japan. By Roderick Ross


I live in Tokyo Japan where I have been residing for about 7 years. I came to Japan when I was 25 years old, and, aside from yearly trips home and a few excursions to some Asian countries and once to Brazil, I've been here the whole duration.


Upon moving here I didn't speak the language, but have gotten a good grasp of it now. Japan is still a fairly insular country where many people have still never seen anyone of any other races than Japanese. One aspect of living here is that I have become, obviously, very comfortable with the word "foreigner." Even when referring to myself, it has become natural for me as I think it has for everyone visiting here.


People have for the most part been fairly kind to me and people do go out of their way to try and speak to you in English to accommodate you. Japanese people do seem to try hard to make things as easy as they can for foreigners and you feel very little anti-foreigner sentiment. I think you really have to live and work here for a while to really notice any. The younger generation is much more open minded and often excited to meet foreigners.


Japan is a very customer oriented society. They are very much into intricate packaging of products, services and what not. But the culture of the society itself is so filled with ceremony that it is not surprising that extra time and care is given to even the smallest of things. However the detail oriented side of living here is as helpful as it is frustrating. Everything, including the simplest of things, is steeped in details that make it all a ceremony.


The attitude toward Blacks varies. First of all there are more Africans than African Americans so many have been influenced by them as much. However the American movie industry has done much to erode our credibility as intelligent people deserving of fair treatment and a great deal to promote the stereotype of a race of violent people. Sometimes the fear is evident but at times difficult to know if it is based on being Black or just a foreigner. Stereotypes are often in effect here, especially sexually and musically. But at least the stereotypes for music have created a booming field for African American musicians such as myself.


Combined with an extremely safe environment, a very high employment rate, and high standard of living, it is easy to make a living here at this time. Definitely the variety of people that one comes into contact with here (all seeking the better living that is a part of the economy here) makes it a lively and entertaining place to live.

Even so, you will learn that racism, whether it be toward African Americans, people from other countries, or even indigenous people is a part of life no matter where you go.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading that. I have dreamed of trveling to Japan. But as an african american female, I was hesitant about how I would be received. That you for giving us some insight. It is still a dream of mine.