White Guy Japanophiles


#1

One of my good friends is a nice guy, pretty progressive and basically chill dude. However, he’s a huge Japanophile. He’s only drawn to music, films and games that are made by Japanese companies and artists. He’s only dated Asian girls in the last 5-10 years. And is always sharing stuff on Facebook from Japanese accounts.

Typically I’m a “do your own thing” kind of guy but I find his behavior kind of extreme. When I try to vent to him about work bullshit he always starts a reply with “Well in Japan,…” It’s almost comical at times.

Am I wrong for seeing this as odd? I’m not xenophobic but I find his dedication to one particular culture as strange. A broader appreciation of other cultures would be welcomed.

Anyone have experience with similar friends?


#2

Like. A weeaboo?

Yeah. I know quite a few people like that. And, I think most people on the Internet could probably think of somebody they know who is like this.

Most people on the internet (including myself) could also probably tell you about a time in their life where they acted just like that. Thankfully my stint only lasted a few grueling weeks in middle school, but, I get it.

Again, like you said it’s a case of do your own thing. I do think it’s kinda dangerous to think of any place in the world as some kind of utopia, especially to the point where you think everywhere else in the world has less to offer.


#3

Everyone I’ve known like this has had one thing in common: they don’t actually give a shit about Japan. They love fetishizing this idealized version of Japanese culture from the media they like but can’t speak to any of the problems the country has. Japan is like anywhere else and I think a lot of people like this don’t see that. It has strengths, weaknesses, beauty, and ugliness. If they actually wanted to understand Japan and the intricacies of their culture they’d make the effort to do just that.

If they think watching anime and only dating Japanese people is how to get there…I don’t think I even need to explain how unbelievably gross that is.


#4

Speaking as a white person who has been in and around anime culture since the early 90s, this is a really common experience. My college roommate (before I gave her a hard shake) really wanted to be a cute Japanese girl. White nerds in the US get really weird about fetishizing another country, Edward Said is rolling around in his grave.

It jumps over the line of appreciating another culture and goes straight into hyper-romanticizing another country in a fantastical way that has very little bearing on reality.

I say you should bring it up with him versus him consistently inflicting this on his girlfriends.


#5

Mod hat on though: I trust everyone to keep this civil and nuanced.


#6

An easy cure for the “well, in Japan…” digressions is to either educate him about Japan’s many social issues or encourage him to educate himself. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying primarily Japanese media or Japanese-language internet, but he should have healthy skepticism about Japan’s society. (Particularly with regard to work culture!)


#7

Totally. I don’t want this to turn into an attack on people that like Japanese culture. I do too! My bud just seems to be extreme about it.


#8

There’s definitely a difference between appreciating and enjoying a culture that isn’t your own and fetishising it to hell and back.


#9

I’m Japanese and yea it gets real off putting with how singular it is with peeps online, and what I see on twitter. Like yo like JP stuff if you want it’s all good but only liking and engaging w/ JP media only is a bit sus.

Also a bunch of anime fans’ crusade against Western centrism tends to swing to the other side of the fence into Japanese apologism when it comes to the unsavory or straight up nasty bits in JP media; e.g. calling out homophobia in Persona games isn’t an example of western cultural imperialism it’s calling out homophobia, which sucks and is bad everywhere.


#10

I myself am a white dude but I have had the age of consent in Japan Mansplained to me SO many times. As if somehow that’s the dividing line on what is and isn’t okay


#11

I’ve been this guy before… I watch a lot of anime, though not as much as I used to, and I tended to find myself more in Japanese fiction as a teen than I did in the Canadian/American media I was exposed to. As a result I tended to fetishize (for want of a better term) Japanese culture without truly understanding it. I was being exposed to Japan’s equivalent of Archie; the clean, clinical experience that may be relatable, but no one really has. It made me an ass, to be frank. I didn’t understand anything about Japan, really.

I think you need to give your friend a good shake and try and explain that to him. There are no places on Earth that are utopia. Everywhere has issues, no county is infallible or perfect, and Japan is no exception, regardless of the quality of the media they produce.

Watching hella anime and only dating Asian women isn’t going to bring him closer to something he loves. Reading and researching the reality of that thing will.


#12

I took a few Japanese classes at the local library before my vacation in the country. One of these guys showed up looking very out of place; he was even wearing an Evangelion shirt and everything. He enthusiastically introduced himself as someone who loved anime and Japanese culture.

It was very satisfying to watch him visually shrivel as the class went on and he fell further and further behind.

As has been said in the thread, the biggest problem unique to Japanophiles is that they are completely absorbed in the pop culture and know nothing about the country that isn’t present in anime. It’s not a cool way to be.

All I could suggest is that you maybe plant a seed by asking him the name of the Prime Minister that served before Abe, or seeing what he thinks about the drastic population decline. I’ve seen friends grow up Japanophiles who are now working at local cultural foundations, or even holding positions at American branches of Japanese companies that require a knowledge of Japanese and English. It’s possible that this friend may be able to make his interest in the pop culture a starting point for a more fair and sobering interest in Japanese culture as a whole.


#13

I’m the “In Japan” guy. I went for a month and now I think everything relates back to it. I’m getting much better I only bring it up if someone asks. My girlfriend broke me of the habit by shutting completely down when I talked about Japan, it definitely worked.
Japan is a wonderful place with a unique culture, but from experience as one, Japanophiles can be irritating. It’s hard though, because when you surround yourself from the culture it’s hard to separate your life from it.
I think us being surrounded in gaming culture is what brings us to this forum. I guess what I’m getting at is be understanding a little bit on why he thinks everything is Japan.