日本FLASHBACK: You Were What Now?

12.6.12 ShaSha LaPerf 10 Comments

Last year I wrote an article about dating thugabees. At the time I was going to do a 日本FLASHBACK about a guy I met while I was living in Tokyo. I was on the fence about classifying him as a thugabee--maybe it was full on case of blackophilia? I'll let y'all decided. Also that was only one part of the story about this guy. It gets much more WTF then that:

Picture It. Shibuya. 2004.

I had only been living in Saitama maybe a month. I was still in "OMG I'M IN FUCKIN JAPAN!!!" mode, and was completely in love with hanging out in Shibuya. So I find myself in a used music store and I'm giddy since I'm already on a mission to collect any Chemistry and EXILE CDs I didn't own. Eventually I make my way to the American R&B section. There's a guy standing next to me, but I don't pay him too much attention since I'm racking up CD after CD after CD (which by the way got lost in the mail when I shipped them home...yeah I'm still pissed about that).

The guy suddenly strikes up a conversation with me. He was maybe about 4-5 inches shorter than me with a ponytail and was wearing those enormous headphones that people like to wear to make people thing they're listening to music when they probably just do it so they won't be bothered. He was older than me but I couldn't tell just how old (I was 24 at the time). He tells me that his name is Yoshi and we talk about music. Apparently he's a huge fan of R&B, specifically neo-soul. He has dreams of moving to the states to become an R&B singer. I'm not really sure if I believe his story but I humor him as he hands me a CD with a few covers he did. I mention wanting to go out clubbing and he invites me out for a night around Tokyo. I take the offer and we make plans to meet next weekend. I listen to the CD on my way home--LOL yes I was still had the portable CD player at the time).

The CD included a few songs, but right now I can only remember listening to him do a cover of D'Angelo's "Brown Sugar." And I remember it not being very good.

So the weekend comes. I'm pretty under-dressed since it didn't occur to me to bring or buy any clubbing clothes and I certainly didn't have shoes except for my work shoes. We'd made plans to meet in Roppongi. Okay I need to take a pause to explain Roppongi. Granted it's been a good 6 years since I'm sure much hasn't changed. Roppongi is basically a dumping ground for horny Japanese and foreigners looking to hook up with each other. It's loaded with dance clubs, hostess clubs, and American restaurants like Hard Rock Cafe. It's not quite a red light district, but it is a common foreigner hang out. On the other side of Roppongi Hills with is an expensive shopping area. Anyway at the time I didn't know too much about Roppongi, so it didn't seem like a big deal to me to check it out.

I got there earlier than Yoshi and found myself bombarded with club promoters handing out fliers and asking me to go to their clubs. I feel all icky being there. Eventually Yoshi showed up with a bouquet of flowers. I was extremely flattered; however, I spent the night carrying the flowers around.

Yoshi takes me to a 70s soul dance club. It's funny, even though I had spent a fair amount of time roaming through many areas of Tokyo, this was the first time I'd seen so many black people in one place. Many of them were friendly, but older than me. Yoshi and I spent most of the night dancing and laughing. We're having a good time. before deciding to go to McDonald's until the trains started running. That's when he breaks out an English/ Japanese book about Martin Luther King. He starts going in on how he's really big into black culture and loves black people.

Our conversation makes a turn into him being a Christian. He told me he didn't smoke or drink (and he didn't do either any time I was with him). His views on Christianity were so strong he actually wanted to change his name to Joseph.

Well that and because he hated his father, he said.

Yes this was all on the first night.

Oh yeah he also mentions that he's 35. @_@ That one took me for a loop. He only looked about 30 at the most. Despite the age range, I was somewhat amused by Yoshi, mostly because I couldn't tell if he was full of shit or not. But since I was so intrigued, I decided to meet with Yoshi/Joseph again. I wasn't attracted to him, but he seemed harmless and was a nice enough guy. Friendzone.

And indeed things got more interesting.

We decided to hang out again, this time in Shibuya. Yoshi/Joseph took me to his favorite hang out, most of which were actually just record stores. But we did stop into a "hip-hop clothing" store, that was owned by an African woman (unfortunately I can't  remember which country she had come from).

Of course.

The woman and I had a nice chat. I'm sure I wasn't the first black woman that Yoshi/Joseph had introduced to her.

After that, we head to Yoyogi Park to chat. Yoshi/Joseph again mentions his love for "black culture." He actually tells me that ebonics is a beautiful language and asks me if I could teach him.

I'm serious.

The night ends on that note.

And we make plans to meet again.

This time we're hanging out in Shinjuku at a small cafe.

We get on black culture again and he's telling me he loves my skin tone. He also seems excited when I mention that I was going to get my hair braided--mostly because of the crazy ass humidity in Japan. As much as I enjoy black culture, I was also finding myself very tired of talking about it. Yoshi/Joseph was asking question after question. Like I said, I think Yoshi/Joseph went beyond being a thugabee, asking me about soul food, what black people like to do in America. At times I felt he just picked up an Ebony magazine at Kinokuniya, made a checklist about black folks and decided to run a list of things to ask me.

Yoshi/Joseph changes the conversation to let me know a bit more about him.

Including the fact that he was once a member of the yakuza.

So the yakuza is also something I'm pretty ignorant one. The majority of what I knew about them was from watching J-drama and a few documentaries. I knew there were certain areas of Tokyo that I wasn't supposed to venture and had no desire to. So I did a bit of a double take when he told me that.

Yoshi/Joseph continues his life story. He didn't exactly mention what he did as a member of the yakuza, nor which faction he was a part of. He only focused on the reason why he left. He told me he left after holding a gun in his hand and the fear of actually killing someone is the reason why he left.

My bullshit meter is bouncing up and down. I wasn't sure of why someone would make up a story like this. Would he think that since I'm a foreigner, I would think he was much "cooler" if he told me he was in the yakuza? Seems like that would scare the shit out of most people actually, even a girl from Detroit. And I had questions about him being able to leave the yakuz so easily as I'm under the impression that doesn't seem like the type of thing you can just "quit." He didn't really specify when any of these events happened and the story he was telling was so crazy that it probably was true.

Either way whether he was yakuza or not, put me on my guard. Haha, I know I had a bit of delayed reaction in terms of that. But if he actually was affiliated with the yakuza, I certainly didn't want to be involved in any way. I'm not even sure why he would tell me so much about himself since we hadn't know each other that long.

But I don't have too much to worry about. After that night Yoshi/Joseph didn't contact me, and I deleted his phone number. I actually had a brief thought that maybe the yakuza caught up with him. But I figured he was okay. LOL maybe ran out to find some other black woman to fill his head with awesome stories about black folks. Meeting Yoshi/Joseph and hearing his stories is probably one of the more WTF encounters I had with a guy. But hey, just another crazy story for me to tell.


  1. Wow, great flashback! It's really cool to read about these encounters especially since I've never had any.

    And you really have to wonder about those kinds of people. Obviously, they mean to no offense, but at the same you just want to tell them 'hey, NOT cool." :/

    Cheers for crazy stories~

  2. Wow, that sounds crazy, especially when you said "he actually tells me that ebonics is a beautiful language and asks me if I could teach him."

    He seems like he was beyond curious about the black culture. Probably on the obsessed side of it a bit, lol. I wouldn't know how I would react in that type of situation when I go to Japan.

    Some of his stories seem like he was making it up, just to get an reaction out of you or maybe see if you fall under the category of being interested in such things. Like the yakuza thing. It doesn't seem like something you would randomly tell a stranger you barely know long enough. I don't know, that's just my thoughts on it lol.

    Reading your stories about your adventures in Japan are really entertaining, when they are like this. Lol.

    1. I left Japan with about 3-4 journals loaded with crazy stories. I'm making my way through them!

  3. From your earlier definition of a "thugabee" he doesn't seem to fall into that category. He just comes across as someone who has a fetish for Black culture/people. You would think someone who claimed to be so well versed on us as a people, wouldn't have asked some of those crazy questions he did!

    Thank goodness you seem to have a strong sense of who you are as a person (Even though I don't know you personally) There are a lot of Black women who would have gobbled that bullshit he was spewing up. Soon as you mentioned the Yakuza I knew this cat was on some B.S.! lol

  4. Giggles! I think for the next year when I meet people I'm going to tell them I was in the yakuza, and see if they believe me, lol @ his ebonics comment, sounds like he had a crazy fetish good thing you didn't let it go too far.

  5. I've only seen a few lines of you post to see a red flag with him.

    If a man want to turn me off,just talk about my ethnicity and the stereotypical thoughts about it. Maybe Joe was trying to break the ice by talking about that,but no matter what , I'm never comfortable when the topic of discussion is about my race.I agree with the others on here, it seemed that Joey was more into finding the stereotypical Black person than learning about you as a person.

    Too bad Joey made up the story about the yakuza. He probably could have made a difference in a life of another Japanese guy who is struggling with issues with it or just issues in general. I knew a guy who was a former gangbanger. In spite of his past, he's trying to tell other at risk kids not to fall into the same trap he did. So far he's doing doing well.He never used it to look tougher and he especially didn't use it to impress possible girlfriends..ugh!

    In the natural, if a Japanese guy told that he was a former member of the Yakuza and his sincerely is trying to his life together, I would commend him for it,but if he's using his experience in there to score points with me..oh no! I'm sorry. I love my life too much to be involved with people like that.I hate that all of that gangsta rap is out because everybody seem to think that all Black/Latino people live in gang infested ghettos. I would love for guys like him to talk about that with me. I would tell him to enlighten me because I have no idea what about gang life,nor do I ever want to be involved with in yakuza or any form of gangbangers in the states.

    So far, I'm thankful for the Asian guys I've talked with. They seemed well educated and the Black fetish topic never came up. When it came to these guys, we discussed such things like our families, business, movies , religion in this case, school, foreign language( french class) some sports or music( mostly oldies, rock rand B) and far as me, it was Asian fetish free talk. I just like guys who can be be themselves. Just tell me hello and well click on a conversation that we can relate to. I'm more comfortable with guys doing that thsn talking about my blackness all day long.

  6. This post really fleshes out why you are so strident with telling black girls to chill the fuck out with the Asian-culture obsession! You've been on the other side of that and know how icky it feels!

  7. Initially when Yoshi approached me I have to say I was somewhat excited since--shock, shock--guys really don't surprise me that often. And because he went straight for R&V and not hip-hop, I figured he was more than just a thugabee. And like I wanted to learn about Japanese culture. I was open to talking about black culture or American culture or North American culture, whatever, LOL. I wanted to make sure that what he did know about us wasn't just all media type stuff. But it's amazing how fast ALL the conversation turns into that one topic, and how tired you get. It was definitely because a "student/teacher" situation and I LIKE to talk about all kinds of stuff.

    To this day his yakuza story still confuses me because it was just so random...LOL but he was way out of my age range at the time anyway.

  8. This whole story...I can't even. It just surprises me that some people are actually like that!

  9. Btw, I gave you a blog award, because I think you deserve it! Your blog is always awesome to read!