A while ago my host sister and I were talking over dinner one night and she told me about something called a Teiju Visa. Or Tei Juu Visa. It hardly matters how it’s spelled. However, the details of that visa are pretty cool. It’s a relatively new visa (last 15 years or so) that a child of a Japanese national can get. With that visa, my host sister said, there is no time limit to your stay and you can work full time and receive any of the benefits of a Japanese citizen. She also mentioned that it’s the strongest visa, next to a marriage visa — but even then, if you divorce your Japanese partner then you’re out. So technically it’s the strongest visa to have for a foreigner. It’s a Japanese green card, essentially. I guess you have to renew it semi-frequently at first, but after you’ve been in the country for a while those times get longer and longer in between. It’s called something like Child of a Japanese National Visa, but it’s not only for a child of a Japanese citizen. My host sister mentioned that it extends to two more generations or something, so in theory my sister’s children’s children could technically get it. I guess you just have to prove that you are a descendant from someone Japanese.

Guess who’s mom is still a Japanese citizen?

My mother is supposed to report back to me when she heads up to Portland for some required visit to the Japanese consulate. When she’s there she’s gonna inquire about the visa and what needs to be done. That doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m gonna be living in Japan soon; I just want to know my options. If I did return to do more schooling, or if I just wanted to be able to come and work for a bit, it’d be a hell of a lot easier than having to go through all of the requiste bureaucratic hell. And I could work a real job. And there’d be no “you’ve been behaving badly so we’re sending you back,” for whatever it’s worth. And if this visa sounds as good as it does, then it’s kind of like having dual citizenship. And that would be fucking sweet.

So hey Sister P, you can look into this, too. Google Tei Ju or Teiju or Tei Juu, one of those, and see what comes up. When mom goes up to Portland try to remind her before she leaves that she needs to get that info, for all of our sakes. By the way, Happy belated Birthday.

The TeiJu Visa — again, from what my host sister tells me — came into existence as a way of making reparations to descendants of Japanese expats. I guess the majority of kids who have the visa are from South America; children or grandchildren of poor Japanese farmers who were sent off by the Japanese government to South America in the early part of the 20th century to try and cultivate the land there. That didn’t work so well due to the drastic change of environment, especially for rice paddy cultivation, and so these farmers starved or just remained poor and were not allowed back into the country or something. This is all from a story, so please don’t quote me.

There were also issues with Okinawans. Japanese citizenship needs to descend patrilineally, or something, and since there were a lot of white military dudes stationed on Okinawa, they had lots of kids and then deserted them by coming back to America. These kids, while born and raised in Okinawa, were technically without citizenship since their fathers were American citizens. Therefore, they were in limbo. I believe that these reasons are why the Teiju visa was created. So yeah, I would be taking advantage of something that was set up for those less fortunate than myself, but you know…

If anything, it’s just nice to know that I could stay for an extended period of time if I so desired. I’m realizing that I’ll only be able to scratch the surface of this city in the five or so months that I’m here. There’s just too much to see, and I feel like I’ve already seen a lot in just two months. The sheer amount of people is not bothersome; it’s what makes this city buzz. Exploration is endless here; that alone is worth the price of my semester in school. Also, the host family I have is damn cool, and I have the feeling that they’ll be my Tokyo people for years to come.

I haven’t been using the camera much in the last couple of weeks; don’t know why, really. I need to get on that because I’ve still been going to different districts and seeing awesome, or funny, or absolutely ridiculous things that need to be snapped. There are many little police boxes around the city that are like mini-stations with, like, only a couple of cops stationed there. I need to make a comparison with the police boxes in small residential areas and the police box in the Ginza district. The one in Ginza looks more like a piece of modern art rather than a police station. This is set in the most expensive shopping district in Tokyo (or at least so I’ve heard). It sits up against Cartier, and Louis Vutton, and DeBeers, and other amazingly expensive places. The Abercrombie and Fitch store in Ginza is twelve or so stories high, and it has more of an atmosphere of nightclub rather than clothing store. The couple of times I’ve been to Ginza, the doors of the AberCro were open and it was very dark inside. They were blaring the techno beat and had pinpoint lights circling around the floor. All they needed was a fog machine and a bartender.

And no pictures…What the fuck, right? I’ll get on it.

There’s really only a few main areas I have yet to hit up. One of which is called Roppongi. The Roppongi area is the area for westerners and the Japanese chicks who like them. I’ve been told from just about every source that it is douchebag central, so I’m not in any hurry. Besides, most westerners in Japan are fucking annoying. The trend seems to be that people come here and think they know a thing or two and then put on airs about being culturally learned or some shit. I don’t know if this is a white guilt thing, where some dude desperately needs an identity, but it sure does feel like it sometimes. I don’t know if it’s because Japan is still viewed as, you know, “The Far East,” or something, even though it’s an extreme amalgamation of hyper-modernity and tradition, and until recently was only second to the U.S. in terms of  its economy — to be replaced by China, no less. And Japan has been this way for a long fucking time. But maybe there’s something exotic about the kid who ventures to Asia. He has some sort of bragging rights because he’s in a culture that’s perceived to be so very different from his own. But if you read an earlier post you know my hypothesis on that one: deep down, they really just want to fuck Asian chicks.

It’s hard to explain, but I have that feeling that there’s still a lingering “Orientalism” in the minds of foreigners coming to this country; a propensity to categorize Asians more than they would, say, a European country that was less developed. Edward Said drew attention not only to the negative stereotyping of Asians and Arabs and the Orient, but also to the so-called positive ones that still managed to trivialize or fetishize the people. You know,  all arabs live in caves — except the ones who live in Riyadh or fucking Dubai. “The Japanese are a clean people,” was what some person in my student travelling group said to my friend, as she instructed him to use a wet-nap. Or at least that’s what he told me. But she’d only been here for, like, a day. So, how the fuck does she know who’s a clean “people.” That’s like saying Americans are an inherently loud people, and while that may seem like a culturally true stereotype when you witness many of them abroad, it is still simple-ass shit. Really, it’s laziness: it’s a shorthand attempt to make sense of your surroundings, because it’s easier to do that than to judge people individually. It’s like the beginnings of an college sociology course: “Wow, it’s a really big world out there, isn’t it?”

I realize that I even fall into these traps occasionally. Sometimes I have that mindset where I think of a “people.” I try not to, however, because I think it tends to be a disservice and doesn’t get to the truth of what people are about. Also, I tend to look for things and people who are not as easily stereotyped or brought into the homogenous whole of society. I knew they existed, and I’m finding them, and I’m glad that I am finding them because I can’t do “quaint” all the time.

Anyhow, it’s getting late.  More to come soon.





3 responses to “Gaijin.

  1. Have you read ‘M Butterfly’? it’s a pretty good read, I think you’d like it. Topical.

  2. Well, just try to not pat them on their tiny heads, and address the eldest male first whenever possible. Plus, they hate it when you call them “you people.”

  3. Wow- that visa sounds like it could be a really good opportunity. I’d really miss you but how amazing would that be if you could stay longer?

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