Mesmerised by Culture

During my first stay in Japan 1980

During my first stay in Japan 1980

I was born and raised in nowhere special. A rural Michigander– a real bumpkin whose feet were always black and leathery in the summer. Culture to me was living on a washboard dirt road and playing in the woods.

That is, until a mysterious flyer about an exchange program appeared in our rural route mailbox. This little piece of paper, a piece of junk mail really,  brought a girl named Yuki to our house. The year was 1979.   In short order this petite girl from Tokyo and I became best friends.

This is how it all started for me. I was still in high school when I first traveled to Japan, to stay at Yuki house, and it was mesmerizing. I had only known Japan from old encyclopedias and post war history films. Shoot, I thought Japan was all geisha and rickshaws! But when I got there I could not believe all of the technology, cute character goods like Hello Kitty…and culture up the ying yang!

Everything seemed to have significance and meaning. Instantly I was hooked and set out to immerse myself and somehow become Japanese. And as misfortune would have it, before even leaving Japan, I met a Japanese man who was more than willing to teach a naive American teen how to do things the proper way and two years from that day I married him. Unbeknownst to me he was in fact, a vile pedophile.

While I was still a child really, a free-spirited Michigan white pine of a girl, I would be retrained to do just about everything the proper Japanese way and over the span of the next decade I regressed. I became much smaller in mind…constantly worried about getting too old for him and doing things just so.

By the time I managed to break free from the wires that controlled my branches and the tiny pot that bound my roots, it was clear to many that I was not well. From that point my poor choices cost me nearly everything; but worst of all, it cost someone very important much more.

The book, The Six-Foot Bonsai,  is my attempt at piecing together what occurred– what I saw, my warped thinking…and what, in the end, I had to admit.  I was a failure in every way.

“I’m Stacy and I’m a recovering Japanaholic”– a selfish person who binged on a culture because it suited me. For what should have been the sweetest years of my life I chased moon rabbits and danced with demons as the seed sewing monkey sat on its haunches and watched. To the detriment of everything I wanted my drug.

“The Six-Foot Bonsai: A Soul Lost in the Land of the Rising Sun” is available through Amazon.




19 thoughts on “Mesmerised by Culture

    • Thank you Alexis. Your thoughts about the content and delivery is important. When I read your story, although a very different tragedy and cultural context, I thought there were similarities. Most of what happened occurred during our late teens and young adulthood. And you went abroad knowing there would likely be more abuse. You were drawn to what you knew was bad for you.

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    • Especially young women without self-confidence. They want to fit in, be accepted and loved. When they get into an abusive situation where they are blamed for just about everything, they know deep down that what is going on is wrong, but they stay. In my case they abuse was masked by culture in that I saw some of my ex’s traits as product of the culture and how he was training me was supposedly cultural training too– how to be Japanese. Everything became pretty confusing. When I got out I was pretty messed up and abandoned even my own ethics about what I should be doing to be a good person. I try now to make up for things with the important ones but I should have gotten professional help for it a long time ago as the damage to one was so severe. #tryingtogrow

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  1. You’re NOT a failure. You’re born at the dawn of globalization when information were scarce and limited resources as well as expectation for women to pursue higher education or a career therefore the lack of awareness. Even today, it still shocked me that there are young women who only had education up to primary 6 (12 years old), that’s during my mother’s time. How will they be able to provide for their family if unfortunate event happen to their husband? Then, there is the problem of uninteresting curriculum emphasizing on subjects that aren’t really applicable in real life situation. Life is a steep learning curve! I don’t even know about the existence of pedophile until I turned 15 when a flasher appeared naked around the school compound. Despite way earlier, when I was 12, a pervert pinched my butt right before the red light turned green at a busy crossroad. Recently, a Malaysian pedophile jailed in Canada for 20 years got released. Upon returning to Malaysia, his profile was published in local newspaper to notify parents of his re-integration into society.

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    • Wheat Wanderings, I can certainly find some excuses as to why I was blind and abandoned my ethics, but since I’ve grown back to what I suspect is an extension of my original self, I failed to be as compassionate as I should have been to the real victim in all of this. Of course I loved and cared, but it was not shown in actions and priorities. Plus, in retrospect, as the one who did not protect the victim despite suspicions, I needed professional intervention when she came forward because the problems were too big. Instead I just wrapped her into our family and our lives and moved forward without much in the way of special care. That’s a pretty big failure to add to the original. But thank for the perspective on the original sin. I know I was really young and information was certainly lacking. Also, I like your point about how Malaysia points out these perps. Here too we have pubic tracking online.

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  2. It is print on demand so it may be that you have to place the order for it to release. I certainly hope you can read it. I sent copies myself internationally but that’s rather challenging!


  3. Thank you so much Bindu. I read your thoughts on Bonsai and I was so happy to see that you understood the important topic I was trying to convey. Culture can be so captivating and alluring but it is important to understand what is underneath the surface. Japan’s culture is very complex too. It takes much time to grasp– even still to this day. God bless your lovely soul and life.


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