Free style life in liquid Japan

Note from Editor: Students are reading Anne Allison’s book Precarious Japan, and sharing their thoughts on how their own future plans are impacted by the instability and insecurity that Allison describes.

by Maya Hattori

Graduating university, surviving the job-hunting, getting a firm job, becoming a mature shakaijin, getting married and having kids… this is the typical scenario that Japanese think to be success in life. However, this does not apply to me. I will view my future focusing on two topics – work and having a family.

First, I still do not have any concrete plans what to become or in what kind of field to dedicate myself. However, the typical Japanese job-hunting seems ridiculous to me. Some people, indeed, get their top choice jobs. However, recently, as the job hunting is getting more and more competitive, many people have to get through interviews with over hundred companies until they are hired. This means they no longer have a choice what kind of jobs they want, which leads to depression, frustration or leaving the company soon after they got hired. Moreover, dressed the same way and having the same hairstyle or doing things that seem to be helpful improving your images for the interviews also appears wrong to me. The pressure of the job hunting is killing our characters and ambitions. Therefore, at the moment, I am not thinking of becoming an employee of a usual company but pursuing what I like and trying to create a new business system or style. Though I may fail once or more, challenging keeps me from regretting. Due to the precariousness of Japan, I don’t expect any kind of stability anymore. Having a secure and long-term job may be stable and secure, however, being flexible and changeable seems more exciting, challenging and interesting. For example, some friends of mine are furitā and change their jobs a lot, but still have fun and know their identities and what they want to do. Therefor, I think it is not correct to see them as losers or not-shakaijin. Moreover, I think my job scene does not have to be in Japan.

Next, I may get married at some point in the future, if I want to. However, I don’t like the pressure that Japanese give to unmarried women who are getting older. Moreover, getting married because of pregnancy is the last thing I want to do. My ideal style is to have a partner with whom I can share a part of my life but still pursue my own dreams and live my life – vice versa. After having children, I still don’t think that marriage should be hurried. I can get married at any age but I can’t have children if I’m too old. People who get married too young or with a feeling of responsibility tend to get divorced. When you have children and live with a partner, you never have the risk to get divorced anyway.

As Allison says, there is nothing stable or secure anymore in this country. Therefore, I think it is the best to make the most and live for the moment. The future does not guarantee you anything. I would like to create my life without considering the risks or what others say.

Race and Visual Appearance

by Kohsei Ishimoto

The idea of how one thinks of another (first impression) can mainly come from how one looks. We all have our own beliefs of various cultures, which can also alter who we choose to be with. In “Seeing Faces, Making Races: Challenging Visual Tropes of Racial Difference,” Terry Kawashima (2002) explains the relationship between ‘beauty’ and ‘race’, focusing on “light skin”.

Many cosmetics companies are now promoting “whiteness”, selling products that can lighten one’s skin. Many people in Asian countries now focus on these products, possibly feeling that beauty is to “look white”. When looking at make-up as well, fashion magazines (mainly in Japan) promote the image of looking “white”, or “ha-fu”, by showing how to do make-up in a certain way.

Hair dye can also be put into this idea. When walking the streets of Japan, there are many Japanese people that have dyed hair, usually brown or blond. Although having “too light hair” does not have a positive image, the number of people with dyed hair has obviously increased greatly.

But does having light skin, doing make-up in a certain way, and having colored hair mean that one is “white”? Personally, I would say no to this. It cannot be said that being “white” is being beautiful; there are many different races in the world, and everyone should be considered beautiful.

I also dyed my hair in high school, starting with a dark brown color, but later on to a bright close-to-white color. In Japan, this can be considered ‘unusual’, leading to situations in which people would avoid you. It is also close to impossible to get a part-time job with a light hair color. It is usually prohibited to dye hair in Japanese public schools, but since I had attended a private school, the society I had been in allowed me to dye my hair. However, I did not dye my hair because I wanted to look “white”; I dyed my hair because I wanted to look like an individual.

When looking at western countries, it can be said that not all people try to stay light skinned. Having “too light” skin can be a sign of sickness, and most people must have the desire to get a tan during the summer. When considering hair color, my Non-Asian friends dye their hair to exotic colors, such as red or blue. This can be because they already have a natural tone of color, compared to the “dull” color of black in Asians.

In conclusion, I believe that the act of doing make-up a certain way or dyeing hair is done through the individual’s decision; our personal experiences in society can alter our own belief’s of “beauty”.