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Hokkaido Highway Blues

Duo

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Has anyone read the book Hokkaido Highway Blues by Will Ferguson?
Basically it's his account of how he hitch hiked from the southern tip of Japan to its most northern tip after he had been in the country for five years as an English teacher for an exchanged program. The account deals with the journey but also with the basic aspects of life in Japan. However, the most important aspect of it, is the view of Japan that the authur has developed throughout his stay, which is very interesting to read. I strongly reccomend to anyone who mite have the chance to read it, it's a fantastic book with great humor.

In the book I also came across the burakemin and it caught my attention. The authour said that the burakemin and Japanese with foreign origins will always be considered as second class citizens. I was wondering on your opinion about this; the author's opinion is that the Japanese society has certain racist elements to it.
 

Golgo_13

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It's "Burakumin". When was this book written? When did the author take this trip?


"Japanese society has certain racist elements to it"

Yes, like all societies. But there are no KKK marches there . . . yet.

Here's a definition of Burakumin from 1996:

http://hkuhist2.hku.hk/nakasendo/g012.htm
 

Mandylion

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The burakumin in are still very much with us. Last year, a man from Osaka (a burakumin himself) came to give a lecture in the little bi-monthly series my town gives on human rights issues (very forward thinking for a town of 2000 people). Maybe it is not as visable an issue anymore, I don't really know. But helping these people out is still is the focus of some organizations and a core issue to some Japanese.
 

Duo

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Golgo_13 said:
It's "Burakumin". When was this book written? When did the author take this trip?


"Japanese society has certain racist elements to it"

Yes, like all societies. But there are no KKK marches there . . . yet.

Here's a definition of Burakumin from 1996:

http://hkuhist2.hku.hk/nakasendo/g012.htm

Well, the author was in Japan for five years, the book was first published in the US in 1998, so I guess it is a little dated. I forgot to mention that the author took the trip during the sakura season, his plan was to follow the bloomin of the cherry blossom trees from cape Sata all the way to Cape Soya. The account is incredibly hilarious and u also meet some very interesting characters throughout the trip, but over all, I thought that the insight into Japan that the author offers is very interesting about many many aspects of life there.
 

Golgo_13

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Glenn said:
How is burakumin written in Japanese? I thought perhaps ブラク民, but that's not in the dictionary (I'm talking about the 大辞林). I also tried ぶらくみん and ブラクミン, but they weren't there either.

部落民. The middle Kanji has the meaning of "falling off."

I remember reading about them in a 3rd grade Ethics (Doutoku) -- yeah, try that in an American 3rd grade -- textbook. That was over 30 years ago, and I'm sure things have improve greatly for them but not completely. In Osaka-fu, Sakai-shi, the slum areas that were occupied by the 部落民 30 or more years ago have all been cleaned up and turned into public housing (Danchi). I saw the change with my own eyes last month.

However, to say that the mistreatment of some Japanese groups inside Japan as racist would be false. after all, they're still the same race. It would be like calling the Caste system in India which mistreats the "untouchables" as racist. And that system has not been completely eradicated in India.
 

Duo

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Golgo_13 said:
部落民. The middle Kanji has the meaning of "falling off."

I remember reading about them in a 3rd grade Ethics (Doutoku) -- yeah, try that in an American 3rd grade -- textbook. That was over 30 years ago, and I'm sure things have improve greatly for them but not completely. In Osaka-fu, Sakai-shi, the slum areas that were occupied by the 部落民 30 or more years ago have all been cleaned up and turned into public housing (Danchi). I saw the change with my own eyes last month.

However, to say that the mistreatment of some Japanese groups inside Japan as racist would be false. after all, they're still the same race. It would be like calling the Caste system in India which mistreats the "untouchables" as racist. And that system has not been completely eradicated in India.

Well, the author is not trying to say that Japan is a racist country. He was simply observing a particular case. He was more interested in higliting the contradictions of Japanese society. If u ever come across this book, you should defenetily read it; it's interesting to see the Western perspective of Japan and it's society. He is very effective in carrying through his points because he gives small concrete details that he witnesses himself.
 

Duo

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The authur is saying that burakumin are at the lowest level in Japan's Caste system. He is saying that the stigma of their ancestors is still living with them. Also he points out that any Japanese citizen with foreign blood will never be considered to be fully Japanese. He points out ppl with ancestry from China and Korea. He says they are forced to carry demeaning identity cards and until some years ago they were fingerprinted.
 
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