So what sets me apart from any other foreigner living in Japan and what could you learn from me?
Well, as I may have mentioned, I am living in a traditional setting.
This means that I live in a house with my husband’s parents and grandparents. We have farmland. I also live in a small town where I am sure that I am the only black woman around these parts. I am also a housewife.
The reason I wanted to write about this specifically now is because a thought came to me as I was doing the laundry today. I could offer advice to anyone who may find themselves in this same situation. If you are not ready to wash and fold your father-in-law’s underwear, you may want to rethink your relationship with that cute local Japanese boy.
I am lucky, before I met my husband I was studying Japanese off and on for 2 years plus. I was also sick of city life in NYC and ready to move to Japan. I was in the process of looking for a farm to work on before I met him. Yes, the heavens smiled on me.
BUT, the reality is that it is not easy! At times the passive nature of some family members makes it difficult to know if you are helping or being a pain in the butt. Many dinner time conversations are centered around trying to convince Otoosan(father) to change something or do something that will benefit the family. There is also the tradition of family structure. My husband is not the first born so we are in line when it comes to some things concerning family needs. I am grateful that he is the “responsible one” that kinda puts us in between tradition and common sense.
Right now I am annoyed by the absence of a clothes dryer. Most homes have a washing machine, but a dryer is just seen as wasteful and unnecessary. What that means for me and my afro textured hair is that there is lint in my hair all the time. This really is a pain, and as my son’s hair texture develops into big fluffy curls I see he is plagued with the lint problem also. For those without afros, let me paint a picture. Imagine having gum stuck in your hair. Yes, that is what it is like for those of us who have afros. It also makes the clothes look bad and sheets feel gross. When we build our house, we are getting a dryer. I can live without a lot of things, but I do not play with lint! Also, since we do the laundry as a family I have been hiding my nice lingerie for months. I think my family members would be mortified if they saw all of my Victoria’s Secret hanging out in public. Not to mention I would probably attract panty thieves (a reality in Japan).
There is also of course the foreigner factor. People never assume I can speak Japanese and they never know where I am from. The education about different cultures is very poor here in this town. For example; there are tons of Italian restaurants, but I have not seen Penne, Bruschetta, Tortellini or Ravioli or anything other than Pizza and Spaghetti around here.
Anytime you change your life it comes with challenges. I am blessed for them to all be surface. I just thought I would share a few of mine with you.