Japan really is an exciting and unique country. Even after living here for more than 12 years I am still amazed at the diversity and excitement of this country. I just went to a small monthly Brazilian music concert, where my designer and friend performed two songs. This event was a window into the culture and people of Japan. I was taken aback as I considered how many other countries around the world, if any, have similar gatherings. Every city has its ethnic events, I know, but this was different and yet so Japanese.
There were 14 performances on this afternoon and all were by Japanese. All of these musicians study and practice various Brazilian musical styles and sing in Portuguese. In fact, many if not all study Portuguese only to be able to sing these Brazilian songs. None of them earn an income from any of this, nor do they hope or expect to earn any money playing Brazilian music. They truly love the music they study and play. Certainly all devote a large amount of their free time to master their musical hobbies.
The audience was comprised of all the musicians and their friends, maybe 60 or 70 people in total. The venue was in the main bar area of Shinsaibashi, Osaka but that is another story. Several of the musicians have traveled to Brazil and have brought back instruments and clothing. Obviously, they were all passionate fans of Brazilian culture.
As I was watching the performances, I started thinking about what other countries might I experience this same type of event. I realized that there is probably no other country in the world that embraces foreign cultures like Japan. There is a fundamental respect and admiration for most foreigners. Most countries are quite racist toward foreigners, but not Japan. In fact, visitors are often venerated beyond there inherent qualities.
I personally have been invited to various events and treated as a distinguished guest for no other reason then being of foreign descent. All those stories of how easy it is to find Japanese mates and spouses are all true. Even your compatriots who would have a difficult time securing convenience store employment are likely to engage in higher social and marital circles, solely due to not being Japanese. If you happen to be blond and blue eyed, expect near movie star treatment.
I would venture to say that no other country in the world spends more on international travel and learning foreign languages than Japan. Even senior citizens are avidly attending English or other language lessons with the purpose of traveling to distant countries. Other examples include the ongoing market for older recording acts that lost their markets in other countries. Bands that would have trouble filling a small local bar in other corners of the world can still earn some quick and decent cash playing a few gigs in Japan. Even the number of foreign celebrities on television, in magazines and advertisements is astonishing. Anything with a foreign connection seems to sell better. Japan is in a league of its own on cosmopolitanism.
Japan is too complex to explain in words or images. It really has to be experienced. Come and and see for yourself. If you happen to be coming through Nara, please send me an email. I would love to meet up.