日本FLASHBACK: Birds of a Feather...

24.5.11 ShaSha LaPerf 5 Comments

Picture It. Japan. 2005-2006.

During my second year of living in Japan a close friend of mine moved over there. Actually it was extremely lucky how it happened. When I was in college I had a close nit group of friends called the BGAA "Black Girls and Anime." It was four of us and we're still great friends today. But in the group me and my friend Terri (not her real name of course), were the ones that were really into Japanese culture. She studied art history in college and got a chance to take a two week, university sponsored trip to Japan. Around the same time I found out that I was going to be teaching in Japan. And it's funny because two days after I arrived in Japan, she was leaving from her trip.

A year later Terri tells me she wants to teach in Japan and I was super excited.
Although I had friends that I hung out with in Japan, none of them were black and not even America for that matter. I loved living in Japan, but there were times when I wanted to talk to people that would feel the same way I would about things like finding a good hair dresser or missing macaroni and cheese. That's where Terry came in. We both prayed and hoped we wouldn't be too far away from each other. And as luck would have it, she ended up with a job near Yokohama, about two hours away from where I was living and working. A week after she makes it to Yokohama, she and I were out and about causing a ruckus in Tokyo.

In Japan seeing black women is very rare. But seeing two women who work, live, and hang out together is like trying to find actually vocal talent in a Johnny's Entertainment boy-band. So we got a few eyes our way when we were hanging out in Shibuya or Harajuku or Yokohama. At the time Terri's dreadlocks were almost down to her waist and I was wearing my hair in either braids or twists. Our hair was a topic of fascinatin with a lot of Japanese people. She's from California and I'm from Michigan. People assumed she was from LA (though she's not) and people would ask me if I had seen the movie "8 Mile" (I still haven't seen it yet). I have to admit, Terri and I had a lot of fun fucking with people. Both of us speak conversational Japanese. We'd be on the train talking about whatever in English, then for the hell of it, we'd switch over to Japanese.

As I mentioned earlier, Terri was also interested in Japanese culture. While my other friends would give me a WTF look for wanting to go to a Japanese concert, Terri was on board. We actually went to a few concerts, one of them being for the Japanese R&B band Skoop on Somebody. When the lead singer Take broke into "Oh Happy Day" we brought out the soul clap. We also went to a summer concert that featured SOUL'd Out, m-flo, Homemade Kazoku, Bonnie Pink, and YUI. But hey we did more than hit up the concerts. We particiapted in hanami, went to firework displays, bought kimono and jinbei, and of course we did karaoke! We took a few trips to Odaiba and made our way to Tokyo Disney Sea.And we got to check out a few of Japan's most famous shrines as well as Yokohama's Chinatown.

We would do our fair share of guy watching around Tokyo and Shinkjuku too. Although we were too chicken to go into one we would walk around Kabukicho eyeopening the host guys. Our crack on the thugabees hanging out in Harajuku.

And we bitched about work. Man did we bitch about work! Although we both worked for the same company, Terri mostly taught adults while I mostly taught children. We would exchange stories about our crazy ass cor-workers and students.

I would say we had the most fun when we went clubbing. Generally we went to the same clubs over and over because we liked the DJs and I'd made friends with some bartenders before Terri moved to Japan. And for Japanese guys to see to black women shaking their asses on the dance floor. We would often try to start the electric slide, but sadly it never caught on. I remember around Xmas time that year we had probably the craziest night including:

  • A Japanese guy dancing by himself in a mirror
  • A Japanese girl just like a Christmas tree who surprisingly started the electric slide (we joined her...no one else did)
  • Terri getting a propsition to join a threesome, then later being told by the guy that he had a small dick
  • Meeting two black guys at McDonald's one who had a mohawk made of dreadlocks
  • Seeing all the drunken young people passed out at McDonald's
  • And finally the friend of mohawk dude overhearing Terri's "small dick" conversation and telling us there was nothing wrong with a small dick because he was "half Mexican."
I'm fuckin serious. We still joke about that night.

So when Terri left Japan, I was pretty heartbroken. I still had one year to go and it was tough losing such a close ally. We had spent a lot of time hanging out including Christmas and Thanksgiving. When she returned to the states we continued to talk online, along with our other to close friends. I still had fun in Japan with my other friends, but I have to say I had the most fun when I was with Terri.

This year Terri was offered a teaching position in Korea. My friends and I are already saving up for a trip to see her (even though she hasn't even left herself yet). I'm already looking forward to causing a ruckus with them!


  1. Wow! that is a flashback that I would like to have.All that fun while working and learning. That sounds very enjoyable. It's memories like those that I would want to pass to any children/grandchildren( don't have any, but I did)

    It also reminds me of how life is too short to be stuck in a cave. I'm getting old. The last thing I would want to do is not to enjoy it. I would love to visit Costa Rica, or some Francophone county to brush up on my Spanish/French. I've heard that Costa Rica is pretty nice, but I admit to having fear of planes. I'm trying to get out of that.

  2. LOL that's why I'm tellin y'all to get out the country even if just for a short trip! Even though I did get to Japan I have friends that manage to make it out of the state/country once a year and I still feel so behind!

    Costa Rica seems like a great place. LOL after watching Fast and Furious I'm ready to head to Brazil, plus a friend of mine in Japan is now living in Sao Paulo so it's a possible trip in the future. As for flying, maybe try Dramamine? I used to hate flying because I would get airsick so I used the drowsy-type Dramamine. I ended up sleeping through most of my trips now. My trip to Japan from Detroit was about 14 hours and I was lucky because I had the Dramamine to keep me asleep through most of the trip and I had gotten a seat next to the emergency door. I still get a little nervous when I fly but those things helped a little bit.

  3. You're right. Everyday, I do things to get from those fears,bit by bit. It's funny. I never had a problem with heights in the past as I had wanted to parachute at one point in my life or ride on a balloon. I think my fears of planes came when I got stuck on an elevator.With the elevators, I'm slowly starting to get over that,it has effected me with the planes. I got stuck for 7 minutes( it felt like 99 years) on the 8th floor of a hotel.

    A lot of my friends and ex Spanish professor always boasted about Costa Rica. I don't know how true it is ,but it is said that it's a more American tolerant country. They just seemed to come back talking about the good time they had there. I want to visit a Francophone country. No since Montreal, Canada isn't a terribly far from the states, I might try going there. A Senegalese friend makes me want to visit his homeland. He's already told me to let me know if I ever would and he would help me out.

    Nope..can't leave this world not enjoying my life. For some people, that is all they know and end up missing out on it.I won't let this be me.

  4. Sorry to hear about the elevator! Yeah I have mini fears about being stuck in one. :( But it's good to hear that you're trying to get over it. For me I get a bit nervous when the plane is taking off but it's not so bad when it's in mid-flight, unless I get airsick. :( What about traveling with a friend? Might make a flight a bit easier to deal with.

  5. Great stories. Having a close friend with you can really make all the difference. I've only lived in the USA but I'm on my 4th city as an adult and I'm always grateful to find that one friend I can hang out with outside of work, bonus points if the friend is a black woman who can understand some of what we go through.