An expatriot on the Fourth of July

It is weird not being in America on the Fourth of July.

This is one of the last things I thought I’d care about while living abroad.  I define myself more readily as a New Yorker than an American.  Despite coming from a family with a grandfather, father, and two cousins serving for the U.S. Navy, I’ve never considered myself a patriotic person.  I guess it stems from the fact that not many people live up to the ideals of our founding fathers (including the fathers themselves!).

But, by and by in Japan, I’ve been realizing how important American values are to me – particularly our melting pot idea which is only emphasized by my New York roots.  For all the times I scoff at overly politcally correct statements, I somewhat cringe at the sexism apparent in Japan.  It’s not outright, mind you (save the groping on the trains…).  Moreso a perpetual boys-on-this-side, girls-on-that-side system that pervades each level of society.

One clear example of this is in one of my adult conversation classes.  On Tuesday nights, it’s a man and two women all in their 30s.  Each time the male student is absent, the women are all a chatter, but whenever Mr. Shinozaki is there the woman seated to his left clams up.

I always make the distinction in my class that I can only speak for New York, and, specifically, New York City.  I sometimes forget that in my expansive country there are vast differences in lifestyles, the chief distinction being urban versus suburban.  Coming from the city, I take for granted my privilege at grabbing Indian food or going to the Met, listening to a street performer, poking fun at someone’s poor attire.

I forget in other parts of the country people LIKE going to Taco Bell.  They don’t think about whether books, movies, or music is good – just how much it’s hyped.  Now, of course this isn’t true for every American.  It’s likely not true for most of them.  I’m not about to profess some elevated level of taste.  But between the shittiness of pop culture in recent years and laughable politics, I always found it hard to stand behind the red, white, and blue at home.  I wanted to distinguish myself from the overweight family with their Gap sweatshirts and trainers huffing loudly about.

And now I find myself sitting in my apartment, wishing I were in a friend’s backyard cracking open a beer, eating a hotdog (yes, Mom, a hotdog!), and watching some fireworks.  So here’s to wishing all of you back home a nice Fourth of July.  Hopefully your neighbors aren’t too obnoxious with their (illegal) fireworks. 😉

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About Michelle

I lived in Japan for a year & a half teaching English. Now I'm blogging about learning to cook in NYC.
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6 Responses to An expatriot on the Fourth of July

  1. Dyane says:

    Yokota airforce base is a GREAT getaway!

  2. Dyane says:

    I would love to know what’s good in Okayama.
    Any good restaurants? Coffee shops?
    What’s showing at the local movie theater?
    Whats the ‘new tech’ toy ?

    • Michelle says:

      I’m not sure about Okayama since I live in Oyama, but there aren’t too many interesting things in this area. Harry Potter 7 will start showing this weekend.

      • Dyane says:

        Yes, I meant Oyama, in Tochigi. (our family moves around a lot) Now my DH is (too busy working) in Oyama, so I searched and found your blog. : ) Have you been to the hotel buffets? Is there a decent bakery with a danish? (of course it can’t be compared to NY! ) Is there a good shop a teenage girl might enjoy a gift from?

        PS: That calendar falling while on that page, is a bit creepy!

  3. Michelle says:

    No, no hotel buffets. Too rich for my blood! Danish isn’t so popular here, but there’s a store near the station called Ito Yokado that has a shop called Paris …something. The whole place is red. They make some good bread.

    As for shopping… connected to the station is VAL and Roble. That’s probably the gal’s best bet. On (I think) the second floor of Roble there’s an anime shop, and up towards the top (maybe the 6th floor) there’s an arcade. The movie theatre’s also connected to all of this.

  4. Dyane says:

    Thanks. I only have a bit more than a week there, so this helps a lot. : )

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