Enter “The Marshmallow Girl…,”

Or Plus size women (in America). Recently RocketNews24 posted an article about Japan’s newest trend acknowledging “Marshmallow Girls”. A “Marshmallow Girl” is a voluptuous/”chubby” Japanese woman.

TGIF everybody…

Plus Size Model, Goto Seina modeling for Japan's new plus-size women’s magazine, la farfa.
Plus Size Model, Goto Seina will model for Japan’s new plus-size women’s magazine, la farfa.

This recent acceptance really surprised me. Why? Well, any American who has ever dated a Japanese woman (let alone married one) must be aware of the tremendous pressure for Japanese women to be super skinny in Japanese society. The pressure is very intense, ten fold what we put up with in America. It’s a nightmare for any girl who is bigger than a (American) size four .

To get an idea of what I mean, the picture below illustrates, “how plump the figure is thought to be, and assuming that “0% chubbiness” is the representation of the average “acceptable” size, you should get a pretty good idea of how strict Japanese society is with curvy figures.” – Joan Coello, RocketNews24

Percentage of socially acceptable "chubbiness" in Japan
Percentage of socially acceptable “chubbiness” in Japan with 0% being average.

When I first met my wife she was around 60% and (over the years) went up to 80% but is now down 50% with her goal being 40%. Her goal is 40% because that’s comfortable for her and is what she wants. I love 100% of her all the time but my opinion doesn’t matter when she’s looking in the mirror and shopping for a new outfit. She strongly believes Japan is way over due in changing its attitude towards larger women.

Plus size models
Japanese plus size models 

I can’t imagine the social repercussions this will have on little girls’ self image/confidence. I hope this will broaden perceptions of what people consider to be healthy & attractive. It’s really why I’m taking the time to even mention this.

Welcome to the new millennium Japan!

"Marshmallow Girl" model
“Marshmallow Girl” model

What do you think?

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Rural Yokosuka

Not perfect, but a nice balance of city and country.


View from our bedroom in Japan 2008. Some times I feel like Godzilla is coming over the ridge at any moment...
View from our bedroom in Japan 2008. Some times I feel like Godzilla is coming over that ridge at any moment… If he did, I think I’d try to hug him.

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Asian, not Oriental! My wife is not a rug…

Oriental rugs...
Oriental rugs…

So last Saturday morning when my wife (who is Japanese) returned from grocery shopping to our apartment building , she passed a few people on their way out. A few moments later, I hear an older greying blonde haired woman yelling about how someone’s white truck was blocking her in. I opened my door to help but before I could open my mouth she blurted out, “Have you seen an Oriental woman walk past here? I think her white truck has blocked me in and I’m late for work!”

My first thought was, “What century are you from? Oriental?!” My second thought was to insult her but my parents raised me better than that and since she was also older I figured maybe she didn’t know that people no longer used Oriental to describe Asians.

Instead, I informed her that first, “She’s my wife and she drives a black car,” and second, “that white truck belongs to the landlord so you should probably find him.” Upon hearing the “Oriental woman” was my wife this lady’s tone completely changed and further hearing it was the landlord’s truck blocking her in, she did a complete one-eighty in her attitude.

Upon returning inside, my wife couldn’t help but notice I was slightly annoyed. I looked at her an said, “Oriental? You are not a rug.” And she laughed. Then she asked, “Is that bad? I’ve never heard anyone call Asians Oriental. Where does that come from?” And without skipping a beat I replied, “I don’t know but guess what my next blog will be about!”

Asian woman in Oriental costume and makeup.
Asian woman in Oriental inspired costume and makeup.

To me, calling someone Oriental could be as insulting as the n-word. That word referred to enslaved Africans as objects/property and not human beings. Oriental refers to products from Asia or Asian culture, not people.

Let’s look at some definitions:

The Orient means the East. It is a traditional designation for anything that belongs to the Eastern world or the Near East or Far East, in relation to Europe. In English it is largely a metonym for, and coterminous with, the continent of Asia.
…Some in the United States consider “Oriental” an antiquated, pejorative, and disparaging term. John Kuo Wei Tchen, director of the Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program and Institute at New York University, said the basic critique of the term developed in the 1970s. Tchen has said, “With the anti-war movement in the ’60s and early ’70s, many Asian Americans identified the term ‘’Oriental’’ with a Western process of racializing Asians as forever opposite ‘others’.” In a press release related to legislation aimed at removing the term “oriental” from official documents of the State of New York, Governor David Paterson said, “The word ‘oriental’ does not describe ethnic origin, background or even race; in fact, it has deep and demeaning historical roots”. – Wikipedia
Politically incorrect term used in place of “Asian.” Correct usage should be an adjective for things like inanimate objects, not humans.
Correct usage: There’s an Oriental rug store on Derbe Drive. 
Are you going to the Oriental market? 
Incorrect usage: Is that dude oriental? 
Orientals are known to be bad drivers.
       – Urban Dictionary

Do you see what I mean?

Do I believe this older woman is a bigot? No, I have little to no proof of that. Ignorant? Yes, possibly. Should I correct her the next time I see her? Judging from her reaction to my reaction, I think she knows what she said was inappropriate so once this post is done, I’m also  done with the whole encounter.

In researching this subject on the net, I came across this Yahoo post and it truly is the best answer I could find.

Screen Shot 2013-09-08 at 6.19.06 PM

Screen Shot 2013-09-08 at 6.19.27 PM

At the end of it all, my wife thought it was just strange. Why? Because she didn’t grow up with American racism or prejudice, so she didn’t know she’s “supposed to be offended.” Is that okay? For her, yes. Why? Because for the most part, she doesn’t care and life is too short to care.

I agree with that type of thinking but still hope certain waves of ignorance and disrespect disperse into our collective ocean of history, never to return.

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Generation who?

Sassa Narimasa the Japanese warlord of the Sen...
Sassa Narimasa the Japanese warlord of the Sengoku through Azuchi-Momoyama period

What generation do you consider yourself from?

Post “Baby-boomer”, it seems like everyone has their own set of dates that determine whether they’re really Generation X, Y, Z or Millennial. Others have based this on pop culture values or trends from their childhood. For me, who knows? I think I’m “X” although I’ve been told “Y”. Why? Couldn’t tell ya’.

So as some of us continue to ponder whether or not we’re part of Generation X, Y,or Z in America (yes, it is an American thing) I have learned that the Japanese don’t name their generations or eras like us. Why would they, they’re Japanese?

For example, we are all living in the Heisei period (1989-Present) but my wife, myself, her parents and her grandparents were all born in the Showa period (1926-1989). When your watching Samurai movies dated in “Feudal Japan” most likely it’s a story that takes place between the Kamakura period and Azuchi-Momoyama period (1185 – 1603). Immediately after were the Edo (1603 – 1868) and Meiji periods (1868 – 1912).

  • The Kamakura period was named as such because the city was the center of power for the Kamakura shogunate.
  • The Azuchi-Momoyama periods are named for the castle Azuchi and the castle Momoyama that were both considered to be very powerful.
  • Edo, the new capital city back then, is the former name of Tokyo while Meiji was the name of the Emperor who brought about changes that evolved into what we consider modern Japan.
  • Heisei means, “Achieving Peace” or “Peace and Accomplishment”.

So with this kind of rationale, could Presidencies be considered as eras? We live in the Obama Period which was preceded by the Bush Period? Never mind, that doesn’t sound pleasant at all.

So fellow Heisei-ers, what generation are you?

Old Samurai
Edo Period Samurai (c.1860)

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Looking for work in Japan

Don’t worry. We’re still pulling elements of our film together.

I read another article I wanted share.

This time it’s from a blog called “English Bento Box”.

Go on to the full blog entry here.

Job Hunting in Japan
I’ve linked the animated short below. Another article from Global Voices.org even follows up with translated comments (just as English Bento Box mentions in her blog)

In Japan, one thing my wife and her friends have expressed time and time again is the over whelming pressure to gain full time employment immediately after college. For women, this has proven to be even more crucial in having any form of a stable career / life.

Sexism and ageism in Japan is (by modern American standards) completely baffling and frustrating to me.

For men and women over the age of twenty-five, if you haven’t buckled in for that thirty year tenure… you’re doomed. Bouncing around from job to job is frowned upon there. Once you’re hired at a company you’re expected to dedicate your life to that company for the rest of your days until retirement. If not, your career prospects become limited very quickly. It’s also generally accepted that the prestige of your university rather than your skills will determine who hires you.

For women, it is expected that most will marry around twenty five and begin their families. With that in mind, most companies will not hire women in this age range and older despite the rise of single independent professional women. Maternity leave is not common, if practiced at all. Like work, you’re expected to dedicate yourself to being a mother/housewife and major companies don’t want to deal with that. Whatever “that” is.

Two of my wife’s friends are already over thirty years old and know they could not find lucrative work to support themselves if they went back to Japan. Instead, they struggle to get a sponsored work visa to stay in the states where ageism doesn’t come into play until our later years. With that said, they’ve all come to realize how “American-ised” they are.

And you thought looking for work in the states was a struggle.


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