A Week Around Tokyo and Innocuous Racism

As I was hosting my parents a couple of weeks ago, I had a chance to re-visit all of the places that I travelled to (along with a few new ones) when I first came to Tokyo in 2010 as a tourist. Here are a few snaps I managed to get whilst going around. The locations are Asakusa, Odaiba, Meiji Jingu, Kamakura, Yokohama (I know it’s not Tokyo) and Roppongi Hills.

I Had a lesson today where I asked one of my students to describe his experience when he last visited England. He was an elderly-ish client, so we can assume at least a little bit of xenophobia (it seems to come with age). Firstly, and quite amusingly given the fact he knew that I was English, he stated that he didn’t really like England, or the people. He informed me that the English believe themselves to be, for lack of a better phrase, the superior race and that we view anything from our own country to be superior, whilst anything foreign is inferior and not worth passing up afternoon tea over. I found this very strange. The common law of averages surely dictates that he must have met at least one American in his life. Everything is relevant old boy.

His second point, stated as you would comment on the weather, was that, because there were so many people of a different skin colour, he wasn’t sure which one was English. If this doesn’t give you an idea of the Japanese homogeneous society structure, I’m not sure what will.

I just want to point out here that I am no way patriotic. I was born in England, for which I am glad – mainly because their brand of social indoctrination is played a little more softly than in other cultures. Being born British, in a way allows you to resent being British, or at the very least be apathetic towards being such. To be honest, I find really patriotic people quite tedious. In most cases I assume that overt patriotism is an indicator of a fear of change (or possibly laziness), where the person (sometimes community) in question would much rather the World bend to their will and conform – Heaven forbid they should have to adapt themselves.

And breathe.

God Save the Queen.

Chris

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