I didn’t know there was a name for these people until fairly recently. I’ve been encountering them for quite some time. College was practically a minefield of Wapanese. Their existence personally offends me.
Their offensiveness comes from the fact that they feel they have a special right to Japanese culture. I’m half-Japanese myself. I’ve lived in Japan and attended school there once. I have a complicated relationship with Japan, but I don’t feel I have a special right or claim to Japanese culture, and I don’t call myself Japanese. If I were to move to Japan, speak Japanese and commit myself to contributing to that culture, no matter what the obstacles, then I would claim that right. But that’s not my decision, so I don’t claim it.
I do feel a very strong sense of identity as part of the Japanese diaspora. I am a Japanese-American and one of the nikkeijin. I have a kinship to Japanese-Hawaiians, Japanese-Brazilians, Japanese-Peruvians. We have a tragic and powerful history.
Wapanese don’t care about any of that. They look at any Asian person and want to know 1) Will they discuss obscure anime with me so that I can brag about my privileged access to my Wapanese friends? 2) Will they have sex with me?
Here’s a typical conversation.
- Where are you from?
- No where are you REALLY from. Are you Japanese?
- Not really. My father’s Japanese.
- Do you speak Japanese?
- What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you care about your culture. I can speak Japanese (insert mangled Japanese words). Have you heard of (insert obscure anime title)?
Here’s a typical conversation with other kinds of Asian-Americans. We’ll skip ahead to after the “where are you REALLY from” part.
- Are you Japanese?
- No, I’m Chinese-American.
- Oh. Too bad.
Unlike people with a healthy interest in Japanese culture, Wapanese are arrogant, insecure fetishists. To them, Japan represents a way of propping up their ego by claiming a kind of elite insider status. They are very dangerous for Asian-Americans who have a weak sense of identity due to internalized racism. This kind of Asian-American finds social acceptance among Wapanese, but at the price of being their pet monkey. They are still extremely irritating to other Asian-Americans who are required to be around them due to work or school, and also when they have to go out of their way to avoid contact with Wapanese.
Wapanese are overwhelmingly white. It’s quite possible for them to be people of color, but only if they’re especially arrogant and ignorant individuals. For example, the average African-American with a strong interest in Japanese culture will tend to be more pragmatic and much less prone to cultural appropriation. After all, they don’t necessarily like it when white people do it to them.
Wapanese are often hated by other whites. The most popular definition of “Wapanese” on UrbanDictionary.com is very nasty and homophobic but it gives you a good idea of how they are often viewed:
�Wapanese� are decidedly caucasian individuals who, by means of thoroughly warped postmodern acculturation processes, have come to the decision that it is in their best interest to act as if they were denizens of the nation of Japan. The term �wapanese� can be accurately though of as an analog to wigger. A whitey can be classified as a �Wapanese� if they are in possession of two or more of the following defining traits:
1. Has an unhealthy obsession with shallow, saccharine and intellectually insulting animation shows (also refered to as anime by the nerd elite) originally tailored for young Japanese children
2. Operates under the erroneous belief that every aspect of American culture is vastly inferior to that of Japan�s � even though 99.9% of Wapanese have never had firsthand experience of any sort with their preferred culture (in other words, they�ve never set so much as one foot upon the island(s) of Japan)
3. Halfheartedly studies Japanese language and/or is a part-time practitioner of martial arts
4. Has a sword (samurai swords only, of course) collection
5. Is a Virgin
6. May be afflicted with a terminal case of yellow fever; however, they constantly fail in their quest for Japanese pootytang
7. Extreme cases may traipse around whilst wearing a �costume� that makes them resemble their favorite anime characters (this practice is reffered to as cosplay; cross-dressing and raging homosexuality is not an uncommon component of cosplay.
Interestingly, Wapanese are generally though of as �failures� and rejects within their own culture. Social scientists such as myself speculate that it was their failure to gain acceptance within their own culture than has lead many a white geek to seek out Japan�s culture as a surrogate; however, they�d be shattered to know that the insular and somewhat racist Japanese society would be even less accepting of them than the people of their true and native culture.
Here are some Wapanese in their own words. This sad image is from a livejournal community called “Fandom secret”. Based on the Post Secret model, the community puts up anonymous “postcard” confessions.
Unfortunately, Wapanese infest online forums and make it hard for Asian-Americans to talk to each other about serious issues. Here’s a post on japanforum.com responding to the question, “Are you Wapanese?”
well, after viewing that, i’m still kinda saying yes. but i so totally understand the wigger comparison. but i don’t try to be Japanese. i understand that i am white (french, british, and lebanese, to be exact). i am just a big fan of the japanese culture. and kids at my school who are Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, or any other Asian ethnicity, they dont’ really embrace their culture. and i’ve never understood that. ever since i can remember, since i was like 4, i’ve been obsessed with Japanese culture. but i guess they’re just like me…only opposite.
Ah, the offensiveness. She believes Asian-Americans can’t really be “American”, they can only ape white culture. They should stick to just being Asians… but hey, white people can be even better Asians than Asians are.
I consider myself 100% American. In fact, I have ancestors who were here 400 years ago, which gives me a claim just as good as any non-Native American. But if they were only here 40 years ago, I would still be 100% American.
The Wapanese model of ethnic identity places white American people at the center of the universe (of course). All culture is theirs to sample. The Japanese culture is an especially tasty morsel.
I’ve successfully avoided most contact with Wapanese, but I had to pay a price for that. In college, I stayed away from any kind of Asian student union or Japanese club. If I was a stronger person I could have done it, but I felt like I just couldn’t stand to be insulted by the people I would inevitably run into there.
When I learned Spanish and became a student of Mexican culture, my experiences with Wapanese made me overly cautious about falling into a pattern of acting like an appropriator. In the U.S., I never speak Spanish in front of a Latino just in case I make them feel bad if I happen to know more Spanish than they do. They have to totally initiate it first, or else I’m just too nervous.
And even now, I occasionally run into Wapanese who think my interest in Mexican culture is bizarre and deeply inauthentic to my truest, noblest Japanese-ness, which they want to inspire me to recover. Argh!
(p.s. luckyfatima’s comment earlier today touched on some of these issues)
Has anyone else noticed that many Japan related sites on wikipedia are littered with anime references when such references aren’t at all appropriate?
I remember when I used to edit wikipedia a lot, i stumbled on this page called Kawaii. The subject of the article was about all the cutesy things there are in Japan, from sanrio stuff, to cute depictions of smiling dogshit on signs telling people not to leave the dogshit when walking their dog.
The article was called Kawaii. There were references to things being Kawaii, and that they had varying degrees of kawaii-ness. The word kawaii was littered throughout the article, and after a huge edit war, the page was placed with a new title called cuteness in Japanese culture. All references to the word Kawaii were then placed in a seperate article, and every time they had used kawaii to describe something in the article, I had it changed to cute.
The edit war was about how the word was becoming popular in American culture now and almost everyone knew its meaning. The otakus ruin everything. The status of the page now is that kawaii redirects there and the word kawaii is still defined and explained on a page that is supposed to be about cutesy things in Japan, not the word kawaii.
Another article that I found the Otakus overrrunning was the one on Ramen. After all the important information about what ramen is and how to make it and different types, there was a list of over 100 items in which ramen appeared in various manga, video-games, and anime.
Literally this meant stuff like:
“#22: In Ranma 1/2 episode 37, Shampoo and Genma went around the corner for a bowl of ramen. The hot soup forced Genma to revert to human form but this was spoiled when he inadvertently spilled cold water on himself during an earthquake” (that was entirely made up… but it is the gist of items on the article.)
The last and most heinous of Wapanese intrusions on wikipedia was the article for the Korean city of Busan in which they felt it necessary to state that in Japanese the name of the city was Fusan and can alternatively be called kamayama. Furthermore, calling it Busan would confuse Japanese speakers because they wouldn’t be able to diferentiate the name of the city, and the local name for Winnie the Pooh (known as Pooh-san to the Japanese).
They are everywhere on wikipedia, they haunt the article for Asian Fetish claiming that it doesn’t exist. They demand that all characters of Japanese origin have katakana pronunciations listed. They want to list every time anything shows up in manga or anime.
I’m so tired of these people!
Japanophiles may claim to be learned in all things Japan, but the sad truth is many Japanophiles hardly know anything beyond the superficial aspects of their beloved country and culture, much less about any other country.
Japanophile — They believe that everything in Japan is good and everything anywhere else is bad. They don’t see the truths before their eyes and refuse to see them.
Those who cosplay, dress in Japanese fashion, watch anime, etc. aren’t considered Japanophiles until the unhealthy obsession is present.” –UrbanDictionary.com
My favorites are the occasional ones who refuse to admit they don’t know everything about anything Japanese-related, even when directly refuted by, I dunno, a Japanese major who lived there. It’s kind of amusing.
I find it funny how Japanophiles would only hang around in sticker booth shops, and get blown away at sushi instead of immersing themselves on every aspect of Japan from the good, the bad and the ugly.
Learning about feudal history but avoiding 20th century Japanese history or just focusing on manga, outdated Japanese pop music or sushi is really not the way to go. There are even Japanese majors who act in this manner.
Below are several examples of how Japanophiles apply their superior knowledge of Japan when dealing with regular people:
Example 1: “Abe Shinzo is an asshole for making those remarks about comfort women.”
Japanophile: “You’re a racist! JUST MOVE ON!”
Example 2: “Japanese girls are people. They are overrated.”
Japanophile: “You’re a racist! You’re just delusional and saying groundless things!”
Example 3: “Japan’s not all anime and jpop. It’s also perverts and pachinko.”
Japanophile: “You’re a racist!”
Example 4: “Japan’s police is worse than the LAPD. Look at what happened to Lucie Blackman and Lindsay Hawker.”
Japanophile: “You’re a racist!”
Example 5: “Ya know American animation in general has much more variety and originality between series than Anime. I just prefer it.”
Japanophile: “You’re a racist!”
Example 6: Japan doesn’t need to abolish Article 9 when their neighbours are still uneasy and Japan’s military is a lot stronger than you think because they get much of their weapons and technology from the USA since the Cold War.
Japanophile: You’re a racist! Japan is a weak country that needs protection from those evil North Koreans!
Example 7: Harajuku girls? More like whore-ajuku girls.
Japanophile: You’re a racist! They’re not whores! They’re cool!
Example 8: you know, japan produces and approves more pornographic films than the united states, and i certainly must question their moral integrity for doing that.
Japanophile: you’re a racist!
Example 9: The Japanese are still a very gender biased society. Look at their divorce laws which prevent women from remarrying 6 months after the divorce yet men have no similar ruling.
Japanophile: You’re a baka racist!!
Example 10: it was fair that the Americans obeyed the Geneva accords and placed incendiary bombs on major cities in order to deplete resources and make japan surrender.
Japanophile: you’re a freaking racist!
Example 11: Japan actually has its share of human rights violations over their treatment of Ainu, Zainichi Koreans/Chinese, and illegal immigrants. Not to mention their reluctance to grant citizenship to multi-generational Zainichis who are fully Japanised in all but the right to naturalisation.
Japanophile: SHUT UP! You’re a racist! Japan is the freest country in all of Asia!
Example 12: We like to make fun of weeaboos because they are so annoying to Asians, Japanese, and real scholars of Asian culture.
Japanophile: You’re all racists! Stop the hateful fascism against us people with feelings!!!!!
Example 13: Here are some pictures showing vending machines that serve fresh vegetables and another serving fresh porn without parental controls. Isn’t this interesting?
Japanophile: You’re a racist!
Example 14: It is awful how the Japanese government is now denying their Army ever forced their Okinawan citizens to kill themselves to prevent capture by the Americans
Japanophile: You don’t know anything about Japan! You’re wrong!!! See some Okinawans say it never happened!!! You RACIST!!!
Example 15: Isn’t the cost of living high in Kyoto?
Japanophile: All places have high costs of living! You’re anti-Japanese!
Example 16: I think L’Arc en Ciel is overrated. X Japan was much better in their heyday even in their glam rock phase.
Japanophile: You’re a racist!!! L’Arc en Ciel is the greatest! Did you hear their latest song from Gundam 00?
Example 17: This is awful. Some Japanese guy killed his family and then himself and got only 1 minute coverage on the Japanese news while an American raping a girl got a whole day’s news.
Japanophile: YOU’RE A RACIST!
Example 18: The Pillows haven’t been popular in Japan since the 90s ended.
Japanophile: YOU’RE A RACIST! GO LISTEN TO YOUR STUPID AMERICAN MUSIC BAKA!
Example 19: you know, it’s rather commonplace that Japanese politicians use brute force via the yakuza to handle any existing impediment. yakuza are also used to handle financial situations or sweeping things under the rug. how do you like them Japanese apples?
Japanophile: screw you! you’re just another one of those Japanese culture haters! i hate them! they tried to ruin our anime club meeting today! i hate them! i hate you!
Example 20: It’s clear that those who are simply not familiar with the issues will simple side with Japan or anything remotely related to Japan due to their abnormal affinities towards Japan. We call these people Japanophiles or Wapanese if we wanted to insult them.
Japanophile: You’re a racist! Anata wa baka desu! You are anti-Japanese! Japan is much better than China with their pollution, rapes, and diseases
Example 21: Did you hear that an English teacher was killed not that long ago, and buried in a bathtub full of sand?
Japanophile: she probably deserved it.
Example 22: Did you hear how the Japanese police are a complete joke? They still haven’t caught Lindsay Hawker’s killer a month after he killed her and left them with an orgy of evidence. Even all the UK expats are doing their own detective work now.
Japanophile: You’re a racist and she should have been more careful. Just MOVE ON! Everyone else did.
Example 23: Do you realize they drive around with big black vans preaching how foreigners should leave the country?
Japanophile: They don’t hate white people. Just Venezuelans and they don’t hate Koreans (just the dirty Zainichis) and they don’t hate Chinese people… They just don’t like any Chinese that is not from Hong Kong or Taiwan.
Example 24: People that spend thousands on imported manga/anime/electronics for the sake of owning them with no practical uses are clearly Japanophiles on crack. These kids don’t buy any Japanese materials other than this pop culture crap.
Japanophile: I take offence to those remarks! Surely purchasing large quantities of anime and manga without studying the language, local culture, the entire history, and businesses are not Wapanese! You’re a racist!
Example 25: I think Japanese cartoons are pretty cool.
Japanophile: “Ok A. It’s anime. and B. Cool doesn’t even begin to describe how sugoi it is!”
Example 26: J-rock reminds me of rock music from the 80s.
Japanophile: You’re a racist! Are you implying something about J-Rock? I don’t know the issues, but whatever music was made, the Japanese perfected just like they did with Chinese culture and Taiwanese people.
Example 27: It’s funny how Japanese subway has a drink machine not behind the counter, yet you have to pay to get refills. It’s cause Japanese want to Americanize their society.
Japanophile: You’re a baka idiot! Japanese has a rich culture that they’re very proud of. I know cause I watch Inuyasha.
Example 28: An anime on kamikaze isn’t cool.
Japanophile: You’re so racist and bigoted you don’t understand what the kamikaze went through.
Example 29: I am learning Japanese to improve my opportunities in life.
Japanophile: Your obsession with Japan is out of hand and invalid. You do not truly understand Japan and you are being narrow-minded by not pursuing the standard interests. You are, to say plainly, a poseur.
Example 30: Have you been to Japan?
Japanophile: No! But it’s so sugoi desune!
Example 31: Ever been to Japan or lived in Japan?
Japanophile: Why should I live in it, when I watch anime…they are accurate…
Example 32: I hate it when Japanophiles always think it’s the other side’s fault when there is some dispute with Japanese or Japan in general
Japanophile: You’re a racist!
Example 33: You know, cost of living in Japan is really high.
Japanophile: But manga costs $5 dollars there, and it’s $10 here!
Example 34: Many aspects of Japanese culture are derived from the Chinese during the Tang dynasty.
Japanophile: No they’re not.
Example 35: Even though I can’t totally agree with Korea’s claim on Dokdo, Japan’s claim on Dokdo is even worse, as it is first claimed by Japan in an era in which Korea was controlled by Japan and had no means of protest.
Japanophile: Fuck you, you Korean nationalist! You’re racist against Japanese!
Example 36: The history between Korea and Japan is so strong, that it is entirely possible that the Jomon people are the ancestors of the Ainu, and the Yayoi people had origins mostly from the Korean peninsula and were the ancestors of modern Koreans and Japanese.
Japanophile: Fuck you, you Korean nationalist! Everyone knows that Koreans came from Japan, not the other way around!
Japanophile: I like Japanese/Asian girls
Japanophile: Because they are more submissive, exotic, and they like it when a gaijin like me speaks their language. Besides, guys like you and me would never be able to get hot women like this back in the states!
Me: Speak for yourself man…
[Situation… at a teacher meeting for all JETs in Saitama prefecture, the Saitama board of education opened the floor up for concerns that JETs might be having]
Japanophile: I don’t know how you people expect me or anyone else to teach all these classes, especially when most of us haven’t even had any kind of formal teacher training.
Me: You fucking applied to be a fucking teacher, asshole, stop complaining!
Example 39: Why is it that you guys took the trouble to come to Japan for a year or more, yet all of your friends are white expats?
Japanophile: Shut up you racist! Why are you so elitist?
Example 40: Kabuki is boring
Japanophile: You are racist!
Example 41: Dude, why are you taking so many pictures of that Japanese mailbox?
Japanophile: It’s so zen, the way that this mailbox is set up. The distance from the curb, the opening facing the east where the sun rises, the feng shui of this mailbox is perfect! The Japanese are brilliant in everything they do!
Me: I think they just wanted the opening to face away from the street
Japanophile: Exactly! They planned it that way from the very beginning!
Me: Well what about the other mailbox on the other side of the street then?
Japanophile: Well, that one’s just a mailbox, but the 7-11 in front of which it stands is also a fine specimen of Japanese aesthetics!
Japanophile: Damn Americans! Why can’t they spell Japanese things they way they should be spelled! It’s Supaa Mario Burazaasu! It’s Seiraa Muun! It’s Poketto Monsutaazu!
Me: You’re a fucking idiot
Japanophile: Damn Koreans, why do they constantly re-edit the wikipedia page about the Tekken character Hwoarang? The character is Japanese in origin so his name should only be pronounced Faran, since that’s how it’s rendered in katakana. Why do they keep adding hangul to the page?
Me: Hwoarang is Korean.
Japanophile: Shut up with your Korean fantasy lies! You’re anti-Japanese!
Japanophile in Korea: Why doesn’t anyone understand me when I speak Japanese here?
Me: Because you’re in Korea.
Japanophile: They were once part of Japan. Why do they hate being Japanese?
Japanophile: How come if I am born in Japan or marry a Japanese woman I don’t automatically become Japanese? It’s an unfair double-standard!
Me: Because that’s how the Japanese nationality law works.
Japanophile: You lie!
Example 46: Wow, Hamasaki Ayumi certainly had a lot of plastic surgery
Japanophile: Not anymore than the average Korean woman, you racist!
Example 47: Utada Hikaru’s English album sucked, especially the single from it, “Easy Breezy” I especially detest the lyric “You’re easy breezy and I’m Japanesey” In the video as well she appears to have this unhealthy envy of the white girls who are currently with her white ex boyfriend.
Japanophile: You don’t understand the brilliance of the lyric! Japanese people live in such a rigid society that they can’t wait to be rescued by marrying a white guy!
[situation: A white British expat that I have met for the first time has revealed that his Japanese wife is pregnant, and I’m 1/2 Korean.]
Japanophile: I’m conducting a biological experiment.
Me: I’m not an experiment you asshole. I certainly hope you never let your child know that you refered to him like that before he was born.
Japanophile: No, what I meant was that it’d be interesting to see what Japanese features he’ll have and what normal one’s he’ll get from me.
Example 49: Many prominent Japanese in showbiz are infact Zainichi.
Japanophile: You racist Korean nationalist, stop trying to steal Japanese brilliance.
Example 50: Pac-Man was quite a fun game in its day
Japanophile: It’s Puck-Man you idiot! You’ll believe anything Midway tells you!
Example 51: I like Spider-Man but that Japanese series from the 70s where he had a Spider-Mech was terrible.
Japanophile: It was brilliant and much better than any American Spider-Man story you racist!
Example 52: Gee (Astro Boy, Voltron, Speed Racer, Robotech) looked like a pretty good cartoon back in the day.
Japanophile: You idiot it’s (ATOMU, Go-Lion/DairuggaXV, Maha GO GO, Macross/Southern Cross/Invid)! And it’s no mere cartoon! It’s ANIME! Don’t you know anything?
Example 53: Isn’t it strange that in the Dragon Ball movie that all the main characters are White?
Japanophile: No they aren’t. Piccolo is Green!
Example 54: Ichiro is a great hitter as a leadoff guy given his speed. It’s a shame that much of his career the Mariners had no viable cleanup hitter to drive him in once he got on base.
Japanophile: Yes, the Mariners should have signed the entire roster of the Orix Blue Wave. (Except the Korean ones).
[Situation: Cibo Matto was formed by 2 Japanese women when they lived in NY and their music was mostly in English for an American audience and they have no real following in Japan. In essence they are an American act. At a Cibo Matto concert in 1999 in DC, after every song they finish….. ]
Japanophile in hello kitty shirt: Miho Kawaiiiiiiiiiii!
Me: You idiot, she speaks English!
Miho Hattori in a later interview (not quoted exactly): It bothered me that these people only liked us because we were Japanese, not because they liked our music. They group us in the same vein as Pizzicato 5 and Shonen Knife, even though our musical styles are nothing alike.
Example 56: My you Japanophiles seem to have a very stereotypical view of Japan and of Japanese people, yet you are all so quick to accuse other people of racism.
Japanophile: It’s not stereotypical and I can’t be racist, because I have Japanese friends!
I know this can be hilarious yet this is how they respond to people in real life. They love to use the word “racist” as if there was no tomorrow with the assumption it makes their responses undeniably credible.
One would expect that studying Japanese as a major or interest would entail some cultural learnings for make benefit glorious nation of wherever, but maybe that’s just me being optimistic. And people wonder why I view Japanophiles with such disdain…
Its interesting to see some Japanese majors not take jobs in Japanese companies such as Dentsu, Nomura Group or Mitsubishi, but rather spend a few years in JET or a reject program (should they not qualify for JET) before returning to grad school for similar studies.