The Other Side of Lost in Translation


Gays in Japanese Media

< Black Lizard > (1968)
Starring Akihiro Maruyama(Miwa)
Japan's most Famous Drag Queen

Some Gaijins are surprised to see some,
not many but more than a few, gay or gayish TV personalities on Japanese TV shows.
Some of them are comedians, some are actors/singers,
some are commentators, some are critics,
some are choreographers, some are flower srrangement artists
yes, you see them much more than on American TV shows.

However, this does not mean that they are more liberated than in U.S., not at all.

A few years ago, I was watching Ed Sullivan show on PBS and shocked to see a female impersonator was doing "Judy Garland."
Even today, you rarely see any drag queens on a primetime network TV show.
Then how could that be possible in '60s before the '70s gay movement??
I was puzzled,
but eventually I realized that he was not a drag queen
but a female impersonator.

This guy was introduced as a female impersonator,
and impersonated Judy Garland,
surprisingly he sang well, not lip-synched as today's drag queens.
He was a man who had a special skill to impersonate Judy Garland,
not supposed to be a drag Queen,
therefore his sexuality was not question.
That's why he could be on the National network show in '60s.

Despite of the fact that there have been so many protests to improve their situations from gay community throughout '70s to the present day, there are a very few celebrities who came out as gay and a network TV do not have much gay themes shows and they are usually comedies if you find them, like "Will and Grace."

Why are comedies Okay?
Because if they are funny, someone you can laugh about,
it is easier to accept them than a strong, intelligent and handsome,
who can be threatening to a mojority who is White in this society.
In other words, you better be a novelty if you like to be accepted by the majority.

Peter aka Shinosuke Ikehata

Easily I can count 13-14 of them,
who sell "bing gay" in Japanese showbiz.
And all of them are either drag queens or very feminin types
I do not say all of them are sell-out
but most certainly they are stereo types
and that's why they are accepted.
They are mosdef novelties,
they are not the people who can threaten
the Japanese traditional value of family and social structure.

I have to mention that this does not include
Onnagata of Kabuki which is a Japanese traditional theatre,
where men do female roles.
Probably one reason
some drag queens can be accepted by Japanese media
is that Japan has a long history of gender bending in their showbiz.
Yet, asking them about their sexuality has been a big taboo.
They can do that as long as their sexuality is not in question.

There are many Japanese male celebrities
who got rumores to be gay,
and as they are musculine types,
they will never come out
because they know that would be ends of their career.

Tamasaburo Bando
The biggest star of Onnagata, Kabuki's actor who specialized in female roles

In every aspect, well, probably besides issues of recycle,
Japanese have a very low awareness on any social issues
compared to Americans.
And when it comes to a gay issue and a woman's issue,
they are more than 30 years behind.
Because almost nobody protest about them.
I do not say nothing
because I do remember some womanlib activities in late '70s in Japan.
Also I heard there was some gaylib activity in '90s as well,
which probably was inspired by AIDS activism of U.S.
However, they faded away eventually just like any American trens
Japanese love to immitate.

Carousel Maki
She was even in a '70s str8 porn film.
Who saw it?, who knows!

In Japan, violent gay bashing does not happen very often,
but being gay is something you rather hind in order to fit in.
Actually, if you are a gaijin,
you are already different because of your skin color,
being gay does not add much more,
especially Japanese have a stereo type images of
the western countries filled with gays,
which means they are not going to fall off from their chairs
if you tell them you are gay.
However, you still better not say about it if you become a teacher,
especially in rural areas.

Peter / Shinosuke Ikehata

Ai Haruna
Japan's Newest Drag Sensation

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The Wilderness of Fossiles 「化石の荒野」

This is such a cool song from 1982,
which was a theme song from some crappy film.
But the lyric is so cool.

This is the best version.
Unfortunately the enbedding is disabled,
so just click this link 「化石の荒野」
*Please read my translation while you viewing this video.
just scroll down this page and you will find it!

This is the promotional clip.

And this is my crappy translation,
sorry for the quality of it.

"The Wilderness of Fossiles"

Putting my ear on the chest of the man
waken up from his dream
I can hear the sobbing-like sound of the north wind
and a roar of the beast

People live in a city of fossiles
to look for pieces of love
Please let a magician of time fool you
to open up your heart

Do you remember love can bleed?
Do you remember there were the days like
we believed in only warmth of our flesh?

A flock of birds with white wings
living in the darkness of your eyes
Wondering what startles them to fly away to the grey sky

Do you remember love can bleed?
Do you remember there were the days like
we thought the spring had finally come to be excited and kiss

We sleep back to back
because it seems that our hearts are so cold
Anticipating a light of morning even to forget our dreams

People live in a city of fossiles
to look for pieces of love
Please let a magician of time charm you
to open up your heart

This is totally WOW to me!
I loooove this lyric, it really rocks!
which was written by the true genius,
the late great Yu Aku
who wrote countless hit songs from '60s to the recent time.

Yes, I live in a city of fossiles
to look for pieces of love,
only to be tricked by the magician of time,
and only to be disappointed.
Yet, I keep doing it
and I know I keep doing it until the day I die.


When Japanese say Japanese is difficult to learn

Very often Japanese say Japanese language is hard to learn.
I guess the one reason is that you have to learn three sets of characteres, which are Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji.
And the other is that the subtleness of usage of particles and auxiliary verbs may be confusing, even for Japanese.

But then, Hiragana and Katakan are easy to learn as Alphabets,
And even much easier to use them
as you have to learn spelling to use Alphabets,
on the other hand you do not have to when you use
Hiragana and Katakana as they are 100% phonetics.

Of course, Kanji, which is an ideograph, is very difficult learn.
However, it is not from Japan, it is from China.
And Hiragana and Katakana were derived from Kanji
as it was too difficult to learn for Japanese.

When Japanese say Japanese is difficult to learn,
what they really mean is that Japanese are smart enough
to speak such a complexed language.

Then, I wonder why no Japanese speak English after studying for six years at their middle schools and high schools.
Also many Japanese still speak crappy English
after they have lived here for sveral years.
If they are so language-smart,
why can't they learn English easily?
Especially many of them think English is
easier language to learn than Japanese.


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I hate Republicans!

Yes, I am a Republican hater.
Because I am an Asian who lives in U.S.,
who speaks English with accent and make a little money.
How can I relate myself to the group of people,
who are mostly rich White conservative males,
who are very very good at manipulation.

This does not mean I think the Democrats is a great party.

I also did not like the fact that Obama put so much emphasis
on the part his health care reforming plan is
not for illegal immigrants.
I know he said that in order to get Republicans' votes.
However, it is the fact that this country depends on
illegal immigrants' cheep labors so much.
You simply can not leave them out so easily.

In a way, Wilson was right, Obama said a lie.
But he would have not have to do that
if Republicans were not that evil.

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Japanese who love Gaijins & Americans who love Japanese

Now it seems that we have more people who are interested in Japanese cultures because of the rising popularity of anime, manga and other Japanese pop cultures.
However, in '80s & '90s those kinds were much fewer.
Vast majority of Americans had, and still most of them have, a very little or no interest in Japan, Japanese people or Japanese culture, which meant that they might have been a little different when I met some people who said that they were very into Japanese or any other Asian cultures.
Frankly speaking, some of them were, and probaly still, sort of weirdos.
I do not want to offend any Japan loving Gaijins,
but again until like '90s, vast majority of average Americans had 0 interest in Japan, then people who did a lot could be a little "strange."
They were definitely very different from average Americans by the fact they liked Japan alone.

I still speak crappy English
but during my first few years here, my English was really really bad.
Who wasts to make friends with an Asian who speaks crappy English?
Nobody but those Japan/Asia loving, a bit different people
or guys who think Japanese girls are easy
and hungry for White and/or Black guys.

I started to avoid those Japan/Asia loving people
as soon as I started to speak half way decent English.
I do not say those Japan loving people were bad people,
many people are a little different, including me,
and still can be very nice.
However, I felt like becoming a catalogue of Japan
when I talked with them.
Those people wanted to talk to me not because of
my personality, my talent or my thought
but simply because of me being a Japanese.
I did not like that.

If you go to Japan, and if you a Caucasian
including a Caucasian looking Hispanic or an American born Black,
you get some or lots of attention from Gaijin loving Japanese.
They love to talk to you because they see glamorous images of
American and/or European cultures behind you.
Eventually not all but some of you may feel the same way that I felt,
"Do these Japanese like me only because I am a White/Black?
I do not represent entire America
nor I am not a catalogue of American cultures either."
But unfortunately if you speak only crappy Japanese,
usually those are only Japanese you can make friends with.
Or some Gaijins seem to be addicted to the attentions they get
from Gaijin loving Japanese.

But one thing you should remember,
do not generalize Japanese only by hearing from or looking at
what those Gaijin loving Japanese say or do.
they do not represent majority of Japanese
though much more Japanese like Gaijins
because Japanese love American/European cultures
compared to the number of Americans who are into Japanese culture.
So Japanese who are really into Gaijins are not strange
as American who are really into Japanese cultures, I guess.

Interestingly it seems that it could be much easier for me
to make Gaijin friends in Japan than in U.S.

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