Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tissue, Toilet Paper, Miwa And Anjulie

Several days ago, my good friend Miwa Lyric presented me with a gift that she had brought all the way from Japan. Nestled inside a small, plastic, pink pouch was a package of thin tissue paper for removing oil from ladies' faces. Both cute and functional, the tissues sparked a conversation regarding various Japanese customs.

A third person sitting with us that day had never been to Japan, and was surprised to hear that Japanese public toilets offer no paper towels with which to dry one's hands. Instead, Japanese carry their own private handkerchiefs with which they pat their wet hands. When you think about it, using one's own hanky is much more sanitary considering that one avoids dispensing a paper towel from a machine that's dripping with the mixture of water and germs left by the previous person. Which brings me to this...what is up with Asians and toilet paper?

At first, I thought it was just our family. I mean, my mother literally walks around with a roll of toilet paper that she uses primarily to blow her nose. She's always had bad sinuses so she's always been stuffed up. But, what's wrong with using a box of tissues? Is she just being thrifty (in only the way that Asians can be) by not purchasing tissues because she already has toilet paper in the house?

One day as I was riding a bus, I happened to look down at the car next to us. There, through the back window I spotted a roll of toilet paper sitting on the rear dashboard. "Hmm," I said to myself silently. "I bet they're Asian." When the bus pulled up ahead of the car, I could see clearly that the family was Asian. Big surprise.

Speaking of surprises, I recently saw a thought-provoking indie film that posed many intelligent questions. Medicine for Melancholy is about two African Americans who find themselves facing each other following a drunken one-night stand. At one point, the male questions the female about relationships and wonders why blacks seem to always cling to whites when it comes to interracial pairings. Why, he asked, don't we ever see a black woman with an Asian man? I wonder that a lot myself. If you know, please drop me a comment.

And, thanks everyone for your support. If you bought a Hapa*Teez t-shirt, please let me know if you'd like to submit a photo of yourself wearing one for this blog as well as for the Watermelon Sushi website.

As for the photo above, that's my sweet buddy Anjulie, a transracial adoptee whom I met several years ago at Occidental College. She'll be visiting this week and filling me in on all her mad adventures. This pix was taken while she was touring Ghana.

Your Hip Hapa,


Exxuendo said...

Hi Yayoi,

It is my belief that black women do not generally date Asian men because Asian men do not like us. Since I find Asian men attractive, I do not think my assessment is ignorant. Of course, I am also in my fifties, and things might be different if I were, say, twenty.

P. Tucker

Diary of a Mad Army Wife said...

I have no idea about every Asian country or WHY Asian people are the way they are with toilet paper but...

We are an American Military family stationed in South Korea. We visited Japan from here. The public restrooms here in Korea have one communal roll of toilet paper that you have to take from before you go to the stall, and more often than not, it is out. They throw the tissue in the trash instead of flushing it. (Our toilet at home is constantly having to be unclogged b/c we flush the toilet paper). They also only have communal bars of soap, and like my husband once so colorfully put it, "My genitals probably have less germs than that bar of soap." Oh, and no paper towels. In Japan, the public restrooms I visited didn't even have toilet paper at all.

Anyway, it has been educational to say the least. I have learned to carry wet wipes and hand sanitizer in my backpack at all times.

On another note, Japanese people responded to my biracial children as plain old Americans and were more accepting of us as Americans. Koreans are much more curious and often very rude about it. We live in a town right outside of a military post so you'd think they'd be used to seeing Americans in all colors but my African-American friends say that Koreans (who apparently fear people with dark skin)often assume they are from Africa.

We had to go to briefings that taught us that Koreans are proud of their "mono-ethnic" heritage and that anyone who isn't full-blooded Korean is considered the lowest class of person so we should address all Koreans with the respect we would show anyone in a superior position to us....isn't that just a fancy way to say that Koreans are racists?

Sorry for the tangent. Love your blog.

Yayoi Lena Winfrey said...

Amazing. Really. That you should have to address anyone at all as if they were above you. Yes, there are many racists of many ethnic tribes around the world. Isn't that what WWII was about? I mean, some aspects of it--with the Germans and Japanese both professing racial superiority?

Thanks for commenting. I enjoyed reading your blog, too, although you are kind of hard on the women. ; ) I love the title--Diary of a Mad Army Wife.

And, I love your blended family, too!

Your Hip Hapa,