About two nights ago, I dreamed I was at an airport, or at least what my mind considered to be an airport while in my dreamlike state. I tried to get a flight to Japan, nowhere specifically in Japan, I just wanted to be in Japan. And then, I happened to remember that I didn’t have a passport. My mind could have kept reality separate from my dream, but no, I had to give up a wonderful dream for the sake of reality. Oddly enough, the bit of reality didn’t snap me out of the dream, it just kind of ended sometime after that.
About three or four nights ago, I dreamed I was sitting down to eat something, when I asked for help with using chopsticks. Some guy who vaguely looked like my Japanese friend, though it could have been anyone remotely Japanese in my mind, forced a pair of chopsticks into my hand, pushing the sticks into the padded parts between my fingers to the point where it was slightly painful. I do need to work on my chopstick usage, but I don’t think I learned anything from my dream other than the further realization that I have rather petite hands.
About a year ago or so, I had a dream I was in some kind of Japanese discount store. I suppose that’s a stretch, as it could have been an Asian-owned discount store in America. It had that kind of a feel to it, that’s all I recall. I remember thinking I was in Japan.
I still haven’t been to Japan, of course.
I miss the days when I was just an American otaku. I feel I have to specify the nationality, because in Japan, being an otaku means you isolate yourself to your domicile and surround yourself with anime and manga, the only person you love is a fictional character, and your hygiene is questionable at best. In other words, it’s a pejorative term. At least in America, being an otaku means you probably go to conventions, you seek out others like you and watch anime together when you’re not raiding the local Pocky and Ramune suppliers. If you’re an American otaku, you might even work on your hygiene because damn it if that other person doesn’t look sexy in cosplay and you want their phone number if not more than that.
It’s debatable, but I think people could call me a weeaboo. That’s the American pejorative. And yet, it’s not really a bad thing. You’re labeled a weeaboo if you talk like, “OMG Japan is the best country ever and they have all these awesome things and they’re way better than the United States!” In my opinion, Japan isn’t the only country that’s better than the United States, but that could just be me seeing some greener grass on the other side.
Pejoratives aside, it’s no secret that I want to go to Japan. It just never dawned on me that I could work in Japan; for some reason, I always thought the only way to visit Japan was to take a vacation and go there. If I knew such options existed, I might have attended a regular university or college so I could be in Japan already.
Then again, I was into anime in high school, and started getting into Japanese rock and pup music while in college. I don’t quite think I was in the mindset of wanting to actually go to Japan just then. It wasn’t until after college when I asked a half-Asian guy about how he adds an egg to his ramen, when ramen and sushi were about all I knew of Japanese cuisine. It wasn’t until that guy when I killed a part of myself, the part that liked anime and manga, because I sold all of my manga to help him out financially.
I made a friend at work one time, and he invited me over to his place after our shifts ended. He was into Gundam everything as well as cute two-dimensional girls, and didn’t think to hide the lotion and tissues that happened to be near his computer setup. I was never seen as a girl to him, and yet he didn’t need me to hang out during the times when he did have a girlfriend. That was fine by me, as my interest in anime and manga was nowhere near his interest and I couldn’t get back into it. I went to an anime convention with him one time, and I met a well-known voice actor while I was there, but there were so many cosplay costumes that I didn’t recognize and I felt like I grew out of anime altogether.
It wasn’t until my ex fiancé took me to Mitsuwa, a Japanese supermarket in New Jersey, that I realized my love of Japan hadn’t died, or if it did it was a phoenix that rose out of its own ashes that day. That was the day I realized I had stopped playing L’arc en Ciel in iTunes. That was the day I remembered I had The Manga Cookbook and couldn’t do some of the recipes because I lacked some of the ingredients that couldn’t be found at Wegmans. That day was one of the happiest in my life, all because I went to a grocery store.
After that day, I started importing as many L’arc en Ciel albums and singles as I could find, as well as albums from Hyde and Tetsuya, not to mention Gackt, Sowelu, Ayumi Hamasaki, and a few others who had interested me. I saw that Hyde’s band Vamps was playing in NYC, and I went. A few months would pass and I would go to Mitsuwa again, and then a few more months and I went yet again, each time I would try something different.
Eventually, a desperate job search got me down, and I was trying to figure out what skills I had which would be worthwhile. Well, I’m not bilingual, so I’m nothing special around these parts. However, where could I go where speaking English could be seen as a beneficial skill? That’s when it hit me: I could work in Japan, because most people do speak English as well as Japanese.
Facebook reminded me of the research I had done, which devolved into finding fun reasons which, by the end of the day, made me want to go to Japan in the worst way.
It was this burning desire to go to Japan which ended my relationship with my ex fiancé, though I can’t complain. I didn’t think he would want to go with me to Japan, or if he did go, I couldn’t see him wanting to do anything or go anywhere when I wanted to go somewhere and do something. I figured it would be easier for both of us if he stayed back in the States, that was my plan. In hindsight, it just pointed out that we were two very different people.
Which brings us to 2017. I’ve added to my collection of Japanese music, albeit digitally. I’ve been presented with songs that wrap around my heart in such a loving and painful way. I watch Japanese stuff on YouTube. I play Yakuza 0, a video game set in Tokyo and Osaka. And I have a Japanese friend. I’m still buying and making Japanese food in addition to my normal food.
And I still don’t have a passport.
I tell myself that I’m trying to see if I could find enough things to eat without becoming bored or searching for American food, if I had to survive over there. I tell myself that I’m learning Japanese, even if I’m just listening for words I already know, when I watch Japanese-language shows or play video games in Japanese. I tell myself I’m trying to avoid culture shock. Maybe it’s all true.
Meanwhile, I’m forcing my mind to think about going to Japan, that’s ultimately what’s happening. I’d like to think of it as motivation, but let’s face it, I’m just making myself think of Japan even while I sleep. I’m waking up to the sadness that I can’t just hop on a plane and go.
But I can’t just give it all up. It’s something that makes me happy. It’s my motivation beyond just surviving in this world. So if I must dream of Japan, then that’s what I must do.