Halloween Commercial - Part II

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a story I posted in my Intercultural Communication class blog. It's an experience I had living in Japan. I hope you like it.

Submitted: October 23, 2009

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Submitted: October 23, 2009

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In a previous post, I talked about my embarrassing experience playing the role of a wrestler zombie in a Japanese TV commercial. During that shooting, I had the chance to meet people from different countries and I met a dark-skinned young man out of the ordinary.

The first time I saw him, I noticed that the way he moved didn’t correspond with how he looked. I said to myself “There’s something wrong with this guy.” From a distance, I saw him interact with other people and I thought, “How silly this guy looks! I think it’s OK to imitate the Japanese to some extent. When in Tokyo, do as the Tokyoite do, but this is way too much!”

When I first talked to him, I introduced myself in English and he answered in Japanese. “Who does he think he is?” I thought. However, I started to reflect, “Wait! Maybe he doesn’t speak English and that’s why he uses Japanese.” So, I stopped judging. I heard him speak Japanese and he was incredibly fluent and he sounded like a native to me. I got interested in his situation and asked him “ How come you speak such fluent Japanese? You’ve been here for a long time, haven’t you?”

He answered: “Yeah, 19 years. All my life… I was born in Japan. I’m Japanese.”

“Ok. Now I understand.” I told him. “But, where are your parents from?”

“My mother is Japanese. My father is American, but I don’t know him. My mother got pregnant and he left her, so I have no direct links to the US and I can’t even say Hello in English.”

Our conversation was interrupted as we got to the shooting studio and started to get ready. Everybody assumed that he was a foreigner and could speak English. So, he had to explain his situation on and on, but no matter how many times he did, makeup artists forgot and would talk to him in English again until he reminded them. I then thought that his everyday life must be really hard, revealing everything about his background to everybody all the time.

During the break, I had the opportunity to talk to him again and I commented, “ It must not be easy for you to live in Japan.”
“Yes, it’s not easy. People always assume I’m a foreigner and I always have to repeat the same story every single time, but once people get used to it, things get easier and they start to treat me as a Japanese.” He said.

I’m glad I came across this one-of-a-kind situation. It made me reflect on my attitude. Judging people without even thinking is wrong.
The way one looks can be a reflection of one’s culture or provide us with clues about a person’s background, but it can be misleading at times. So, we must never assume things without finding out their certainty.


© Copyright 2018 translingual writer 79. All rights reserved.

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