So I went to the JOS yahoo group to read some posts (that would be the stateside equivalent of MIJ, or in other words, non-japanese wives of Japanese husbands) after not looking there at all for quite a while. When I was in Tokyo, I basically lived on the MIJ board, it was the main avenue I had for venting Japan-stress and basically commiserating with people in the same boat as I was.
Nobody ever tells you when you get married internationally that you aren’t just marrying a man, you are marrying his entire country. It’s like the extended in laws from hell. You will never extricate yourself from Japan again, even if you get divorced. Just like an ex-in law, you find yourself standing in a room, hearing about Japanese food or the olympics or the new baseball player in the mariners and find it uncomfortable and awkward. (not that i know what that is like for real, just my imagination)
As i was reading the JOS posts, some of the other women were giving advice to a newbie who is considering marrying her fiancee. I don’t give advice because, what do i know? I’m just making this up as i go along, but it was interesting reading the other women’s advice.
The most interesting thing for me was a comment by an old-timer (married more than 10 years) who said she had a completely different attitude towards living in japan then she did the first time she went. She said she got extremely stressed out by trying to change and adapt. She felt like she had to toe the japanese culture line on everything. After a short break in the states, she moved back as a middle-aged woman. Now, she says, she feels that she can’t be bothered to go changing core values anymore. She tries to adapt to a certain extent, but doesn’t feel the same pressure.
I agreed with that. I was telling Naoto about it in the car today on the way to our church’s easter egg hunt, and I told him that this last time in Tokyo I was more comfortable because I didn’t try to be all Japanese and just kind of attitude as ‘oh well, this is the way I am”. Then he looks at me with a serious expression (at a stoplight) and says “you know, there’s a word for that in japanese,” so i say “what is it?”
Then he turns around with a grin and says ‘obatarian.’
Obatarian is the weird made up word to describe women of a certain age in japan who have brought up their kids, probably divorced their husbands, and now feel like they own the world. They unshamedly push their way to the heads of lines, don’t wait their turn, take up too much space on the subway, wear clashing patterns, etc. etc.
God, please, there is nothing more I would like to be in this world than an obatarian. If it’s possible for an American to end up like that, I’m ready. Let me in, I’m ready to disregard the rest of the world for my own needs.