July 27, 2000

11:56 pm

Right now I'm feeling: Good!

Right now I'm listening to: Do As Infinity

Do As Infinity: Kokoro no Chizu

Where the Streets
Have No Name...

I pass here every day (when I'm at Isao JHS) on the way to the train station to go home

The wind rippling the rice fields

Yes, my friends... this is a two-way street

Oh, what a twisted path I walk...
Breaks my heart to see homes with aluminum siding as wall panels as protection vs. the elements, with no wall insulation... I should give them a lecture on thermodynamics

Kickass link of the day: An attempt to rally support around the battered and beaten Napster and to garner animosity towards the big bad music quintet. (Napster gets shut down on Friday, get what music you can now!)


This entry is perhaps long overdue.

OK people, prepare yourselves for a shock...
I have ... a girlfriend.


I've been dating Aya for about three months. I've felt a little dishonest writing about all this other stuff and not writing about my personal relationships, but I haven't written about her for several good reasons. Or actually... only one reason... and come to think of it now, it isn't even a very good reason.

Having a Japanese girlfriend over here has a bit of a stigma attached to it. You see foreign guys with Japanese women all the time. It's much more usual to see a foreign guy with a Japanese woman on his arm than another foreigner. Japanese women, as a whole, are a lot more meek, a lot less opinionated, and a lot more pampering than other women. A womanizer's paradise. The Japanese women, in turn, see it as very chic to have a foreigner as a boyfriend. To their friends they are "cool", modern and in fashion. As a result of this, a lot of foreigners who couldn't get a date to save their lives in their home country often find themselves the object of many women's desire. I refer you to the following cartoon for illustration of this concept.

Here are some generally-held opinions about having foreign guys dating Japanese women in Japan:

1) Didn't work too hard to find her; it's too easy to find women who will date you
2) They enjoy the lack of attention and respect they must pay to the Japanese women as opposed to their foreign counterparts
3) They enjoy the submissiveness of the Japanese women; he's a womanizer
4) The woman is not so much interested in the foreigner's personality as opposed to the fact that he is a foreigner

Those are the major gripes against foreign guys dating Japanese women.

For me, not all the stereotypes are true. A Japanese woman will never go out with a younger or shorter guy (that's pretty much the same in the States, but to a lesser extent) and they are often very materialistic. I never thought that I'd find a Japanese girl here who I wanted to go out with because they seemed (no offense here) to have less "personality" than Western women. As a whole (and this generalization is true), Japanese women have a much smaller field of interests than Western women. I like my women to be interested in everything and anything, from physics to role-playing games. From Neurobiology to philosophy. But a woman like that is hard to find here and the pool of Western women over here is a little thin. I was thinking I would just wait til I got back to civilization before seriously dating anyone again... and God knows it took me long enough to get over my x-girlfriend (who was just about everything I ever wanted in a girl, you don't get over that too easily). But then I met Aya.

She's the daughter of a teacher at one of my schools and her mother got my email address and gave it to her daughter so she could practice her English. That's how it started off. Just email. Then we'd meet. Then it was dinner. Then it was shiatsu massages. Then before I knew it, we were dating.

I didn't want to go out with her at first. I didn't think we had enough in common. I still don't think we do. But she's terrific. Pretty (if you want to see pictures, you got to join the Notify List!), brilliant, travels incessantly. She has two jobs going just to earn money to travel. She's 21 years old and attending one of the best universities in Osaka. I really enjoy spending time with her. Sure, we've had our fights, arguments (about so many things.. existentialism, society, personality...), but we've always come back with a better understanding of eachother.

There several problems, though. Even though her mother is the one who sort-of introduced us, she can't tell her that we're dating. If she did, Aya says that she would make her break up with me. Why, exactly, I can't say. She's 21 years old. An adult, even by Japanese standards (but in a society where the children live with their parents, for sometimes their entire lives, who can say, right?). As a result, she lies to her mother when she comes to my apartment to see me. We can't really go out on evening dates because she has to be back home by a certain time. We both think we are "boyfriend/girlfriend" status, but this not being able to go out with her really bugs the piss out of me.

She has a funny concept of what a relationship is supposed to be like. OK, that's a bit culturally supremacist there, I know, but check this out. It's perfectly normal (supposedly) in Japanese society for a couple to see eachother on a date, but then not see eachother for a couple weeks. Hurmph. Now this happens in the States all the time, but not when the young couple live two or three miles from eachother, right? She thinks it's kind of strange that I want to see her more often than once every week or two weeks, especially because both of us have so much free time. Well, sortof. I keep myself pretty busy with whatever major project I'm working on at the time. She says she's busy a lot, but usually it's a lot of nothing, you know what I mean?

This was one of my main concerns before we started dating; would I still have enough free time to do the things which need to be done? Wound she be too "high-maintenance"? The answer, I soon found out, was a resounding "no". She is so low maintenance that it isn't even funny. Too low-maintenance for me. Never thought I'd say that.

She has been travelling through Australia for the past three weeks. Visiting friends, big cities, and undoubtedly having a kick-ass time.

She hasn't sent me one single postcard or email.

Sigh. I ran though all kinds of scenarios in my head... what if it takes more than two weeks for a postcard to get from here to there? What if her plane crashed (she was flying the very infamous Korean Airlines to save money)? What if..? What if..? What if..? Well, the most likely situation is that she has just been so busy having fun and seeing cool things she's never seen before that she has been to busy to write her boyfriend a postcard. This is probably standard in Japanese culture... the Japanese boyfriend would just tell his gf, "Just give me a call when you get back", or something like that. She just can't seem to adjust to the more frequent contact and "need" of the Western ethos of the relationship.

My friends have been telling me to break up with her for a while now. And they're probably right. Last week I told myself that I'd break up with her if she went the whole time she was over there without sending me a postcard and now her three weeks of vacation are nearly over and I haven't received one.

If I do follow through on this, we'll have "the talk". I hate that talk. Not that I've had to do it that often, mind you. I'm usually on the receiving end of the dump. But it's going to be hard. She'll say that I don't understand her or her culture (she's said that before) and through tears and hoarse voice she'll tell me that she'll tell her mother we're dating and we'll go out as much as I want from now on... I'm afraid I'll crack. That I won't have the resolve to do what I think I have to do. Maybe I'll crack because of the crying. Maybe because I think it really could be better...

We'll see. She comes back any day now. Maybe it would be better once we've hashed all this out. But she's known that this is a serious issue for me and she still hasn't adjusted. We'll see...

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