"Confessions of an Ex-Japayuki" is an insightful firsthand story on pinoyexpats.org about a Filipina who worked in Tokyo as an English language teacher for several years. She talks about overcoming a common perception in Japan that English speakers from Asia are not as qualified as their American or British counterparts. In the beginning, some students requested a different teacher, while others wanted a discount rate because she was a non-native english speaker.

On top of that she had to deal with some grief from fellow Filipinos. While "japayuki" literally means "going to Japan" in the Japanese language, the same word for Filipinos conjures up sleazier images of hostesses or dancers working at nightclubs entertaining salarymen. She was initially disappointed to find such a limited perspective from both countries, but managed to make a rewarding and enjoyable life nonetheless.

Perceptions can be funny. I remember my first visit to Japan - in addition to the culture shock, I was going to meet my wife's extended family for the first time at our wedding banquet. Prior to my arrival, it was announced that I was from the U.S. So, when I walked in the preparation room to meet everybody, I received silence and a lot of wide eyes. I had to adjust to receiving a greeting more formal than the filipino hug and kiss. But I also realized that they were probably expecting some tall blond white guy. They might have been wondering, "I thought he was supposed to be American?!" The moment was initially awkward but funny in retrospect.


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