Girl Talk episode 1: Rino and Mika

I tend to write long introductions when what I really want to do is to get straight to the point. Okay, so I’ll try not to go off the topic too much today. Have you noticed I don’t write much about kawaii culture (I did my thesis on that, so I might share pieces of it sometimes though), idols with high-pitched voices, Lolita fashion, that sort of thing? I think there’s been enough articles written about that stuff on the interwebz.

Anyway, what I want to say is… Japanese girls are much more than just a pile of kawaii stuff.

I’d like to present a few short interviews to you, or should I say “girl talks”, I had with the girls and women I know. They all agreed to be a part of my little project and they all had some interesting thoughts to share. Please spare a minute or two to learn about the world from their point of view. I didn’t add anything from myself, all I did was provide a translation. It’s all their own words.

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RINO

She’s a lovely and talkative 17-year old girl. When I first met her, I was surprised to see how serious she is about things. She studies hard to get into her dream university. She loves fashion and designing her own clothes. She loves Harajuku fashion and she dreams of being one of those young designers you can meet there. In this photo she’s wearing a top her mom used to wear as a young girl and some accessories she made by herself.

Meet Rino.

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Rino about me: First time I met you I noticed your blonde hair and thought “She looks like a ‘real’ foreigner” — a foreigner like I had imagined them. You were friendly and fashionable. I like talking about fashion with you and I want to go shopping in Harajuku with you one day.

Rino about fashion: I have always liked cute things and had an interest in different styles. Once my friend, who is just one year older than me, organized a small fashion show by herself. It was very low-key, with just a bunch of her friends. We all enjoyed it and  that’s when I saw that fashion can make people happy and we can express ourselves with it in so many ways. I started making accessories like brooches and bracelets. I’m still a student so I don’t have much money to buy clothes, but I can make them! My mom gave me a lot of clothes she wore as a teenager and I love second-hand shops, where I find interesting pieces of clothing and play with them. I have a big dream of working in the fashion industry. I could be a minor designer, or even just work for a fashion magazine. They wouldn’t even have to pay me, I’d even be happy if I could do it as a hobby!

Rino about the future: I’m a little scared of the future. I realize it’s really difficult to get noticed in the fashion industry and it’s often not really a stable job. Sometimes you don’t even have money to support yourself, let alone your dream.

Rino about life here: In Japan, they always show Paris on TV… that’s why so many Japanese people want to go there and that’s why they imagine it’s so great. European cities are beautiful, aren’t they? I did a homestay in England a few years ago, but I couldn’t speak any English at that time. I remember that everybody told me the food would be terrible, but guess what! I really liked it. And we always drank tea over there, I guess that’s a really British thing. Kids at school were so talkative, they would tell their opinions and take an active part in debates. They could drink juice in class and I envied them, because they seemed so free. Here in Japan, we can’t say anything at school, we don’t have discussions and don’t express our opinions. Everybody has to have their mind set on one opinion. We are really good at adapting to situations, ‘cus we don’t want to stand out. Maybe that’s why so many Japanese people are not good at communicating with others? We get embarrassed really quickly. But of course, don’t get me wrong, I love Japan. I like that even if you lose something valuable, like your phone, you will get it back because no one would even think of keeping it. I love Japanese food, everything is delicious, right! I like that Japanese people do everything properly — but it also depends on the person, of course. I feel that Japanese feel very confident while walking in a crowd of people. You know, we don’t wanna stand out, we just keep walking as one group.

I’d like to be different, though. When I go to university, I want to dye my hair or perm it, I dont know, do something to look different.

Rino about boys: I have to study for exams, I’ve never even thought about my ideal type or anything. Looks don’t matter, but I like boys who wear glasses. They look smart and I think that what boys really need to be is smart, not necessarily handsome, right? Anyway, for now I will study, study and study some more. I will work hard to make my dreams come true.

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 MIKA

Mika is 17, too. I met her at the orphanage where I volunteer. I remember meeting her for the first time. She was really bubbly and, unlike I expected, she wasn’t shy at all! She started talking to me straight away, from the moment we met a million words pouring out of her mouth. Since the very beginning she seemed to take my presence at the kids house as something obvious, like “Yeah, Stasia visited us and she will come here every week from now on, we can talk and study English and watch movies together, that’s nice”. She’s a lovely, smart girl. I can see how much she has changed since the time we first met, how much she has grown.

Meet Mika.

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Mika about me: I thought that you were fun and beautiful! The adults* told me that a foreign girl will visit me every week and I just couldn’t wait to meet you! I think I would have been a little scared if you were a guy though. I didn’t really know what I should talk about with you, but that was before you came here. Now I know that we can just do whatever and it’s fun.

(*they call their caretakers “the adults”)

 Mika about the orphanage: I came here when I was 12. I like it here. We’re like a big family. I’m the oldest girl on this floor, but I don’t mind spending time with smaller kids. When I get older, graduate from the university and all, I want to work here. I will take care of all the kids! Why? I love them! Of course it’s hard sometimes. Kids get angry, they shout and cry and hit walls with their little fists when they get frustrated. But I understand it. I remember being angry myself. I was at that difficult age, everything made me angry. But it’s over now and it will be over for them too, we just have to be patient, right?

When I first came here I was scared. There are strict rules, there are many things we cannot do, we have to go to bed at 9, we have to study hard. I knew it was for our own good and I quickly got used to it I guess. When the time comes and I have to leave this place, I will really miss it. The adults and the kids. That’s why I want to come back here and help, like they helped me. I guess the kids will be really grown up by the time I come back here though!

Mika about school: Studying is difficult. Our classes and teachers are so boring. We don’t do anything fun, creative, all we do is read textbooks. I like Western pop groups, they’re really cool. I wish I could understand their lyrics or sing along with them. I hate English. I mean, I love English, but not the English I study at school. It’s all too difficult and I can’t memorize grammar formulas and words and phrases and all that… I like music, it makes me so happy when I understand even single words in the songs. But classes are so boring, I don’t think I’ll ever learn anything. Can you imagine how boring my classes are? Most of my classmates sleep through the class. Teachers see it, but they don’t do anything. They know we’re tired and bored. I will soon go to New Zealand for 3 weeks, I’m so excited to see something brand new! I worked hard to make it come true. I got a part-time job and paid for everything by myself, though I couldn’t buy anything nice while I was saving up my money. It’s okay, I’m really happy I got this chance. I will stay with a host family and I really want to study real English!

Mika about boys: There’s a boy I like, but I don’t think he sees me as a girl. He just sees me as a buddy and it’s okay because we can spend time together. Boys should be nice. And tall! But honestly, I don’t care what they look like, as long as it’s fun being together. I think that’s very important. What if he’s really handsome but you’re bored with him and he can’t make you laugh? That’s kind of pointless, isn’t it?

Mika about life: What makes me happy? Everything! I love everything! I really love food. Sweet food, spicy food, sushi, gratin, burgers, ramen. I’m happy everyday, but sometimes I get sad when I’m bored. I start thinking about things. Thinking too much, do you do that too? Then I try to think about everything I love and I’m happy again.

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Thank you for reading the thoughts of two amazing girls. If you’d like to tell them something, I’d be more than happy to pass it to them. Thank you ♥

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24 thoughts on “Girl Talk episode 1: Rino and Mika

  1. Very interesting update. I read the whole thing so fast that I couldn’t stop thinking “wait, that’s it?! I want more!”

  2. These are really great interviews. I think I can hear their voiceless scream. I’m (dunno why but) kind of happy but also sad that the schools in Japan haven’t changed at all for many years since I graduated. But these girls are really smart. I didn’t know or even feel anything about the world, society and stuff when I was just a little brat in high school.

    Plz tell them:
    You may not be able to change the environment you are in but yourself. This country is weird in many meanings and, if possible, I’d like to recommend to go our from here even for a short time to take a look at yourself again that would give you different perspective you can never get here.

    • Then…my message to them in JP ^^;;
      貴方(達)より少し年上の、でも貴方(達)と同じような思いを十代の頃に持っていた者からのメッセージです。
      どれだけ努力しても自分が今いる環境を変えるのは難しいかもしれませんが、自分自身は自分の努力で変えられます。この国はいろんな意味で変なところがいっぱいある国です。もし可能なら、短い期間でも良いので一度外国に出てみることをお勧めしたいです。全然別の環境に身をおくことで、普段の自分のいる環境や自分自身を見つめ直したり、日本にいては絶対に身につけられないような価値観や視点を身につけられるかもしれません。(変なところはいっぱいあるけど総合的にいえば日本は恵まれた良い国なのでそこは勘違いしないでくださいね)

  3. This new “series” is so interesting! It shows the real thoughts and points of view of some real japanese teenage girls and not the assumptions people make from what they watch in anime or read in manga!! That’s what it makes this so interesting: it’s real! I really love your idea and I really look forward to read more and to “meet” other girls!! Please send my best regards to them!!! :3

  4. Great article, it’s always interesting to learn more about a foreign culture. Thanks a lot for this update! (Also please tell Rino that Paris isn’t the dream city we think it is, I’m French and I wouldn’t live there!)

  5. I really like this new series your doing. Both the girls are so adorable and its great knowing what real teenagers are thinking about. I really hope they both achieve their dreams! They both seem very capable and smart. I cant wait for more girls’ views on life.

  6. “idols with high-pitched voices, Lolita fashion, that sort of thing? I think there’s been enough articles written about that stuff ” What? Too much Idols & Lolita? Never!

    I like this new series of yours “Girl Talk”. I am not the target audience, I know, but I love anything about the culture. Let me just put this glass against the wall and listen in to this “Girl Talk”
    : )

  7. “I like music, it makes me so happy when I understand even single words in the songs.” -Mika. That’s how I feel about anything I hear in Japanese ever. This was a good read. I enjoyed the post. Thanks.

  8. Loved this! I really love hearing the voices of other people and I like that you let them stand alone instead of adding your own input to them. Best of luck to these two girls on their dreams!

  9. I loved this post and all your posts!! I saw on Twitter you were wondering if folks read these entries, and I wanted to let you know I am subscribed to your blog via RSS feed, and I get so excited when I see you’ve updated! I always read and enjoy them! You are amazing (as are these young women!), and I hope you keep doing what you do! 👏💕

  10. I can’t wait to read more Stasia! It’s so nice to hear their candid thoughts and dreams.

    I don’t work with children very often but when I do it’s usually with little kids. I always see the older ones walking to school early and home late and wonder what they must think about to keep going. I think I’d drop out if I had to be a high schooler here!

  11. Really great post! It’s always great to see people sharing a side to Japan not many get to see on the Internet (: Both Rino and Mike seem like such lovely girls (: Can’t wait to see the next interviews!

  12. Loved this post, Stasia! I hope their dreams come true, they seem to be such nice girls. It is really inspiring seeing them purchasing their dreams. Can’t wait for more Girl Talk episodes! :3

  13. This is amazing! It is so cool to hear about these girls and get to hear what people really think in Japan. I think it’s fascinating that both those girls are a lot like people that I know. It puts a great perspective on things. 🙂 Please tell Rino that I think that it is so cool that she is studying hard to fulfill her dreams and I totally understand how the future can be scary. Please tell Mika that I love how enthusiastic she is (She reminds me of one of my best friends) tell her that I think she is awesome and I look up to her example of enthusiasm, hard-work, and making the best out of life. Also please tell both the girls that I wish them luck, and (this might sound silly) but I’m praying for them. thanks love from America. 🙂

  14. Pingback: May digest! | living the tokyo dream

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