Nagano: She’s from America

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I woke up in the morning on my fourth day and last full day in Nagano. I was both relieved and saddened that it had gone by so quickly. I wanted to make the best out of the last day that I had.

A big topic these days in Japan is the political elections. The topic came up the night before and during breakfast because it was being shown on TV. I can’t vote, so I wasn’t able to contribute a lot to the conversation. Yoshida-san is a very open man, but when I asked him about who he was voting for he told me that it was a secret.

After breakfast, we started working on something new: separating potatoes. It took about an hour or so to get them all done.

Because I mentioned music yesterday, I saw him bring his radio to the garden this time. We were listening to the Christmas music that was being played over and over while planting onions. I was listening to a Japanese version of Au Lang Syne while the snow blowed in my face.

The last event of the day was Onsen. I love Onsen, but unfortunately I don’t get out as much as I’d like to.

This one was huge, with multiple baths, with one of them being outside in the snow.

I am a very easy person to spot in these kinds of places. Dirty-blond, blue eyes, white. I just felt all these eyes on me and I didn’t like it. Being in the country, I am sure you don’t get many Western faces, but still.

After a while inside, I decided to check out the outside bath. It was cold for a second, but once I hopped in it was heaven. There were a few people in the bath, but a couple of them left just as soon as I got in and so remained one sweet-looking elderly lady.
I make conversation with strangers easily, so we started talking. She told me she was wondering I could speak Japanese or not, so when I said something she was surprised. She told me that she has lived in America before. I told her that I was born here and have never lived anywhere else. In the middle of the conversation, she called her granddaughter over and said, “Look! She’s from America. You’re studying English, right? Say ‘How are you’! Say your name! This is your chance to practice!”. Because of that she got really shy and wouldn’t look me in the eye. It was only when I started speaking Japanese to her was when she actually got curious. After the conversation, I wasn’t feeling good, and I left the bath. This kind of “speak to the foreigner” thing happens to me often, and most times I don’t mind. This time I minded.

As I was looking in the mirror, my face was bright red. I wanted to take my face off then and replace it with one that would fit in more. As I was blow-drying my hair, Yoshida-san’s words came to my head, You can not change anyone but yourself. I knew that I took it too seriously, but sometimes it is just difficult to look over your own problems.

Looking back, I feel better about it now, but this is what I jotted down while I was sitting there:

I really do have a complex. Oh, how I want to fit in so bad sometimes. Back home in Kansai I don’t feel the pressure as much because of the environment I am in, but yes I feel it here. I have been with them for four days and I just wish I could be someone else. Sometimes I just wish I could be someone else.

Now like I said above, it is the environment. I was not used to it, but I went through it. I now want to go back because all the good that I received overcame the negativity. There are just so many wonderful things that I would have never experienced had I been born Japanese. I am so grateful to be where I am and to be who I am. A girl with an American passport, who is from this funny country called Japan.

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One thought on “Nagano: She’s from America

  1. Pingback: Nagano: A man named Coffee « Johnna Slaby

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