Official book launch is September 30th, 2012!
Since there’s four days left, I’ve decided to go with another “F”: foreign. It’s a word used in one of my stories called “The Day the Sky Fell”. The story, set in a Japanese senior high school, follows me through a rainstorm of the sky, which has decided to fall on my birthday. The sky continually falls as I desperately race towards my husband’s job.
The word “foreign” is what my husband and I are in Japan, especially as English teachers in our respectable schools. In English, it’s not so bad a word, but in Japanese, gaijin (外人) carries a passionate weight for people who understand Japanese culture. When someone calls me a gaijin in Japan, it’s normally to express the differences between us. “You and I are different, but you’re foreign.” Some kids who are half-Japanese face this word in their Japanese schools.
Sometimes, the word is used as the only word to express anything that isn’t Japanese. “Of course, foreigners are good at English games,” one student said during a game of Scrabble. Gaijin is sometimes the only substitute Japanese speakers know in regards to non-Japanese things or people. But I don’t mind being called a gaijin or a foreigner in Japan or in the States (my home country). For me, gaijin is just another word in Japanese.