I will admit, being ethnically Japanese in Japan has it's benefits.
I can sit on the train, or go shopping, and no one questions why I'm there or who I am. I can listen in on foreigners' conversations without them knowing I can understand 100% of what they're saying (which is the closest I've ever felt to having a super power). And the squatting, bending, bowing, hashi-using, bitter-green-tea drinking, red-bean eating parts of the cutlure come naturally to me.
But, as the saying goes... there are two sides to every story.
There are also some inconvenient things about being an ethnically Japanese, yet nationally American, non Japanese speaking human in Japan.
Number one: People look at my weird when I can't understand them. I don't blame them. People are usually understanding when I explain how I'm yonsei (4th generation), but it usually takes a few minutes of explaining that "はい、私の父と母と日本人" (Yes, both my father and mother are Japanese)
Number two: There are so many times where I have so much to say...whether it's to a teacher at school, or someone I just met, or a person on the train...the words flow through my mind but I can't always get them out in Japanese. This results in me often times looking really shy and stand-off-ish, which is not my natural state of being!
Anyway, point is, being Japanese-American in Japan is quite the experience. It is comical at times, humbling, and has totally opened my eyes to what it means to know your ethic culture as well as your national one.
I am constantly reminding myself to stay curious and positive when it comes to studying Japanese...so I've come up with two good tactics:
1. GET A BILINGUAL BIBLE
I bought this gem at church a few weeks ago and It's been rad to read through the Bible via the eyes of the Japanese language. I've been learning a lot through this process and I find it really beautiful to see how the Japanese language expresses the Word!
2. FILL MY BRAIN WITH ENDLESS HRS OF AWESOME JAPANESE TV
Japanese TV is crazy. And I mean that in a good way. It is so random and entertaining. For example, in the show above they showed pictures of old Japanese beauty queens and news anchor, and then found them at their current age now. Then they followed them around for a day seeing their work, their house, their family...etc. There is also a show called "lovemageddon" where semi-famous Japanese people get matched up on dates and it's brilliant. Watching TV helps me get more comfortable listening to Japanese and also helps keep myself entertain trying to figure out exactly what is happening.
On top of this, I also go to lessons and work through a textbook...but let's just say I like to mix up my language learning with more creative outlets. Wish me luck!