Otaku Confessions: How I Became Interested in Japan

I talked with my sister about the fact that my blog is kind of all over the place.  I have a very hard time compartmentalizing my life as “health issues,” “writing,” “life,” etc. I realize I probably will never have that many readers because of this, but this is who I am.  I don’t know, maybe at some point I’ll create entirely separate blogs for my various interests.

Another part of my identity is that of an otaku.  And this term has a different meaning in America than it does in Japan.  In Japan it roughly translates to nerd.  In America the word otaku specifically refers to someone who is into Japanese anime, culture, video games, music, etc. and who may, or may not, also be a nerd.  My husband has told me that he doesn’t want his friends or family to know that I’m an otaku.  It embarrasses him.  And I get that I suppose.  Even in America the term otaku carries a bit of a stigma.  My husband is a Japanese citizen and being a nerd isn’t particularly a cool thing to be, not in Japan at least.  America has sort of glamorized the role of the nerd, and it has cultivated its own subculture.  I think the recent popularity of shows like, “Big Bang Theory,” proves my point.  Another part of it is that America is gradually shedding the nerd stereotype, but that is still a work in progress.  People often assume that I’m a certain person based on the way I look (got to love stereotypes) and an attractive woman can’t be a nerd or be obsessed with video games.  Maybe I’ll write an entry about that someday because this is a big problem for women gamers, and the fact that guys don’t take us seriously.  I’ll post a picture of me below. . .

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This is a picture of me, a self-identified otaku and nerd

Before I say anything more about this, I will say that I am an American woman married to a Japanese citizen and we live in America.  My husband spent the first 18 years of his life in Japan, so he is a lot more qualified to speak about Japan than I am.  And it would be unfair of me to base the entirety of Japan’s culture on my husband.  I realize that he is only one person from a country of about 130 million, so sometimes I take his opinion with a grain of salt.  If I ever say anything that seems way off, please let me know.  It’s not my intent to offend anyone with these posts or to be judgmental or culturally ignorant.  I’ll admit that I am no expert by any means on Japan’s intricate culture.  Hell, I wouldn’t even call myself an expert on America’s culture XD  I guess this series is more about my experiences and thoughts as an American looking in on Japan from the outside.  I’ve been to Japan a few times as well and have a few friends there.  My husband’s whole family lives there as well.

I’d say my interest in Japan started from an early age.  I was a very avid video game player starting with the NES, which we got when I was five.  It was the SNES and the introduction of Final Fantasy II that was a turning point in my young life.  The story was so amazing, and I fell in love with the characters.  I knew that the game came from Japan, as did many other awesome role-playing games that I played as a kid like Final Fantasy III, VII, IX, Secret of Mana, etc.  Because of this I came to think of Japan as this magical land of video games.  As I grew older my obsession with video games continued to grow.  My husband and I currently own a PS3, Wii, PSP, and Gameboy DS currently.  We are waiting to purchase the PS4 until Final Fantasy 15 comes out, if it ever does.  I love to watch video games almost as much as I enjoy playing them.  I’d say that I’m more into video games than my husband, but he still enjoys them quite a bit.

I was introduced to anime at 12 years old, and I think this is a more popular foray into Japan’s culture.  I’m not trying to say that anime is representative of Japan’s culture, more like otakus become interested and/or obsessed with Japan after their introduction to anime.   I’m actually not THAT into anime, and neither are Japanese people, which I discovered upon meeting my husband and other Japanese people.  At 12 years old my best friend at the time introduced me to Sailor Moon.  To be honest, it’s not that great of a story, but it appealed to my inner needs of fantasy and escapism.  I wanted to be Sailor Moon because let’s face it, being the princess of the moon and solar system is a lot cooler than being an awkward, self-hating, unpopular, and painfully shy teenager.  And she had kick-ass magic powers too.  Who wouldn’t envy her?

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My family moved to California when I was 13, so at that point I knew no one else that loved anime and/or video games with the exception of my little sister.  So in this sense it made me feel very different.  The internet was still in it’s infancy when I was in high school so I was not able to connect with other otakus and female gamers at the time.  Despite all of this, I still harbored a deep passion and respect for Japan.  After meeting my Japanese husband in college, there was a surge of interest followed by a period of apathy as my studies required intense focus.  Through my introduction to fanfiction several years ago, I have met many other females with a deep appreciation for Japan, and I suppose that increased my interest again.  My interest waxes and wanes with the different phases of my life, but there will always be a special place in my heart for Japan.

Then there is the fact that I am very attracted to Asian men, and the prettier the better XD  Sexuality is very complicated, and I’m not even sure why I love Asian men, but I just do.  I guess the fact that I’m 6’0″ tall makes it ironic because the average Japanese man is 5’7″.  My husband is 5’11” so he is pretty tall for a Japanese guy.  But I wouldn’t mind being taller than a boyfriend by a few inches.  It just doesn’t bother me.  I’m not someone who was exclusively interested in Asian men.  I dated lots of different guys before getting married in my early 20s.  But the fact remains that my ideal of male beauty is someone that looks like Hyde from the Japanese bands L’arc en Ciel and Vamps.  And legally I can’t post a photo, but I’ll post a Youtube video for you.

And most Japanese men don’t look like Hyde actually. If you go to Japan expecting everyone to look like Hyde you will be very disappointed.  That would be like coming to America and expecting everyone to look like Angelina Jolie, Megan Fox, Cameron Diaz, etc.  I always have to laugh when I see males writing articles about how to pick-up-women, and stating that women like alpha males and masculine men who will take control, etc.   Nope, not me.  I wish my husband was more feminine XD  With all that being said, there is a greater acceptance of men being beautiful and very feminine looking in Asian cultures.  Currently, in America that sort of thing will often have people doubting your masculinity and sexuality.  And there is nothing wrong with being a homosexual, but I think it is wrong to make assumptions on someone’s sexuality based on the way they dress.  The way one dresses or appears visually does not necessarily define their sexual preferences.  Just my opinion though, so feel free to disagree with me.

Here’s a popular Kpop (Korean pop) band, Big Bang, featuring more beautiful Asian men 🙂

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11 thoughts on “Otaku Confessions: How I Became Interested in Japan

  1. I actually really love this post. I laughed about your husband not wanting you to talk about being otaku. K is the same way! He thinks it’s so embarrassing if I talk about it 😀 too funny.

    • That’s cute Megan :3 Yeah, otaku status isn’t something people advertise in Japan because it has a different meaning, lol. I don’t think my husband told his family that I was an otaku XD I don’t know if they even know how we met. Will have to write about that one sometime 🙂

  2. That Japanese lead singer of Vamps is HAWT! I like the music, too. One of the hottest men I ever made out with was my half-Japanese Environmental Science TA freshmen year of college. Woohoo! Be otaku and be proud!

  3. Lol, Juicer! Me and my friends are really into beautiful Asian men, but it seems like most American women aren’t, shame XD Hyde was very popular in Japan when he was in the band L’arc en Ciel. Vamps is more of a Jrock band than L’arc en Ciel, which is Jpop. He’s over 40 in that video I posted. Plastic surgery is not that popular in Japan, but I don’t know, he looks really good for being 41 XD Asian men tend to age really well 🙂 Yeah, I like Hyde, but favorite Jrock singer is Yasu, and he formed the band, “Acid Black Cherry,” as his own project after his band “Janne de Arc” disbanded. If you watch his song, “Black Cherry,” you will see he looks very feminine XD I’ve only been to the concert of one Japanese band, and that was Dir en Grey because they came to San Francisco. They are like a rock/heavy metal fusion. My husband REFUSED to go with me because he just doesn’t like me fangirling over them I guess X3 But my sister went with me, which was awesome. Yasu has never come to America ;____; Hyde did recently actually, but I think he just came to NYC. I still check monthly to see if any of them are coming to America. I don’t want to miss it!

    • omgosh, you like ABC too????? i live in america and haven’t met anyone who loves him from my country yet 😦 i wish he would go international. i saw yoshiki (and toshi as guest vocalist) in San Fran last year during his classical piano tour, and WAH, they were amazing. its my dream to see X live someday. but even more, to see ABC live. Yasu is just fantastic, and i totally agree with you about the gender thing, it doesn’t matter how one looks, that doesn’t define who you are. my husband is Caucasian, but very fem looking. in fact, i think he has prettier eyes than me sometimes…lol. i have always preferred leaner feminine men too. thanks for pointing that out, it makes me feel like im not the only person who feels that way.

      • Omg, I love ABC!!! My husband is Japanese, so I thought about going to a concert over there, but since he hates the band, I would have to go with myself or one of his sisters :/ The other issue is that I haven’t been healthy enough to fly over to Japan, but a girl can dream eh? His voice is so beautiful. I actually got a chance to go see Dir en Grey in San Francisco. They are another Jrock band, but they have a heavier metal influence. Yes, I love feminine looking men, which sounds a bit odd I guess you could say XD I was in fanfiction for a long time for a video game, Final Fantasy VII. Erm, let me get a pic of the main character Cloud: http://images4.fanpop.com/image/photos/15500000/Cloud-Strife-cloud-strife-15516957-608-336.jpg Most people in the fandom adore Cloud for his physical beauty and his tough as nails personality. There is actually a name for pretty Asian men and it’s Bishōnen. It’s a Japanese word that describes a young man whose beauty (and sexual appeal) transcends the boundary of gender or sexual orientation. It’s typically shortened to bishi. Me and my friends adore bishis X3 Well, the majority of the Final Fantasy VII fandom loves bishis. That’s part of the appeal of the game XD But back to ABC, I have to be careful not to sing the lyrics or even play “Black Cherry,” around my husband because I think he would be like O.O Most of the other songs are okay. Happy to meet another ABC fan 😀

      • hey girl, i am finally getting back to you…like a month later :/ im so sorry to be so late…life got insanely busy with me. yes, i did read about your condition a while back…it certainly sounds like a journey, to say the least.

        but haha, yes! i love Cloud from FF. yasu’s hair reminds me a lot of Cloud’s from the Free Live a few years ago (in fact, one of my Japanese friends told me he supposedly cut his hair to look like Cloud’s). do you still dream of going to an ABC concert someday? im considering it as he’s doing an arena tour now, and the tickets are not via lottery…it’s general sales, meaning that us international ppl can actually buy them via proxy services online. so im dreaming a little….:)
        yeah…i play Black Cherry all the time around my husband, but thankfully he doesn’t understand Japanese. ive been studying the language for the past year so whenever i figure out what yasu’s saying im like…WHAT? and then my husband starts asking me what it means. when i tell him, he thinks it’s funny lol. he’s a fan of Hyde more than anyone in Jrock, and though I love Hyde, ABC has captured my heart totally. thus i dream of seeing him live someday…that would be a miracle…i just hate how much the plane tickets cost, and me too, id have to go with a friend or something. even tho i speak okay japanese i can’t read kanji and still dont want to go to Japan alone. it would be an adventure, but maybe a terrifying one by oneself? lol

      • Ooooh, I didn’t know you knew about Cloud from Final Fantasy VII 8D Yeah, Yasu does look like him in the Crisis video * -* The lyrics of “Black Cherry” are kind of dirty. I looked them up, and from what I remember it’s talking about sex. Then you have that “Unh, unh, unh. . .” part where it sounds like he is having an orgasm XD So yeah, I don’t play that one around my husband >_> . I started to like Hyde recently too! It would be difficult (not impossible) to travel in Japan without knowing Japanese. I still remember when I traveled there at 18 with my husband, but at the time he was just my boyfriend. They lost our luggage at the airport D: I have no idea what I would have done if I was by myself because I don’t think those guys spoke much English, and it was a complicated process. Tokyo is the most English-friendly city in Japan, at least to my knowledge. I haven’t gone to Japan in a long time due to my health issues. I might be able to go sometime in the future though XD We could potentially meet up there 🙂 My husband’s parents and sisters are coming to visit America. The saddest part is that I haven’t seen them in years, and they are the nicest people 😦

  4. I’ll have to tell my eldest daughter about the Korean band, maybe it is one she already likes. Like you, she has a fascination with Japanese culture, anime, and manga. I also would love to visit Japan. I have a Japanese friend here in Cambridge, UK, and enjoy reading Japanese literature.

    • That’s awesome that your daughter loves Japanese culture 🙂 My sister and I were both otakus but I married a Japanese man and became more of one, and she is marrying an American, so that whole part of her life she phased out. I actually dated an otaku as a teenager, and he was a lot more of one than I was. He ended up marrying a Bulgarian woman, and his otakuness sort of faded. My sister and I were both into video games and anime, but she doesn’t even have a TV now, lol. I’m going to do a post on going to Japan. Honestly, if you don’t know the language, you would have to be the adventurous type if you stray out of Tokyo. Tokyo is pretty English friendly, but many other places aren’t. Japan is really a beautiful country thought, but it’s very different. I still remember the first time I visited I was in such culture shock.

      Kpop has become pretty popular in Japan. What’s interesting is that Japanese pop music is still very different from Westernized pop music (America/England/Australia). This is one of Japan’s pop idols: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcIOg_m-bp4

      Compare that to one of Korea’s pop idol groups (Girls Generation) and you can see that Kpop has a lot more Western influence:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7mPqycQ0tQ

      Kpop groups are popular in Japan, but I don’t know how most Japanese people feel about them. My husband really dislikes them. He dismisses them as being super fake, and Japanese people pride themselves on natural beauty. The Kpop groups are manufactured. These big corporations take them in at like 13-15 and train them for years to become part of these pop idol groups. So like the Spice Girls on steroids. But they are happy and fun to listen to, so I don’t care how fake their music is XD

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