After over ten years of being concerned with Japan, sometimes I feel like the whole country is a partner in my marriage. I mean, how many of you wake up every morning and speak in a different language and cook the food you didn’t grow up with and plan activities for that day from a culture you only encountered in National Geographic growing up?

Anyway, that’s what I mean, I’m married to Naoto and his country.

So it always strikes me as strange when I find myself having stereotypical American reactions to things Japanese. I thought I was way over that.

We watched Howl’s Moving Castle the other night. And I really really like it. It was even bordering on romantic. Howl’s voice was Kimura Takuya, who is like the Brad Pitt of Japan. Everyone likes him. So they establish Howl as this heroic, mysterious hero (he saves the main female character the first time he meets her). Then, just after Sophie moves into his castle, he has a literal (he actually melts into goop) meltdown over a botched hair dye job.

And I’m sitting there going “no, no, no, don’t make the romantic lead a spoiled boy!” because it’s all against what American romantic leads are supposed to be, right? They are supposed to be Indiana Jones or whatever,

Brad Pitt can’t have temper tantrums over hair color!

And then I was kind of uncomfortable with myself for a few minutes, because I hate recognizing American-forged emotional reactions in myself. ‘Cause I’m all about the self-image-as-bicultural-person. Except I’m not bicultural, really. I’m just conversant in Japanese culture. Really I’m American.

How strange.