I am a black woman in Japan as I am everywhere. As with black women who live all over the world we all have different experiences.
How I am treated?
Well this depends on who is meting out the treatment. Some people stare, some are rude, some are kind and demonstrate the usual behaviours one would experience in many places. The negative things that people do to me may not be because I am black since many people see me simply as gaijin (foreigner).
The people I work with and have worked with have been professional and kind in many respects. I have formed really great friendships and those take longer to build, again not so much because of my colour but cultural differences. Do some people seem to be xenophobic? Are some people racist? It is possible. Should you not visit Japan or move here as a black woman because of such things? I say do not be overly concerned, come and educate those who need to be educated. Meet stereotypes straight on and live a different truth.
Dating in Japan
This YouTuberis a black woman married to a Japanese man she met here, though you need to bear in mind that there are certain factors that affect how black women may be perceived by some men here. The idea of beauty that they grow up with is in stark contrast to ours. This video gives some insight from another black woman’s dating experience in Japan.
Japan is generally safe. There are some cases of stalking but it may not necessarily be because you are black. There are some perverts and they do prey on Japanese women as well. Take the usual precautions you would at home.
Combating Stereotypes as a Black Woman in Japan
What many people here know of black people in general is based on the international media. Yes, there are people who will see you ad pull their handbags closer. There are people, especially in the deep rural areas, who will cross the street on your approach. It is not my role to educate all those random people – thankfully they are not the norm especially in big cities.In my sphere of existence in Japan I get to show people around me that I, as a representative of black women everywhere, am serious about my craft (teaching language and literature), I am not loud and vulgar but I am forthright and know how to resolve issues professionally. I am trustworthy and just a human being living out my purpose. I do this because this is what many of us hardworking black men and women do. It is nothing out of the ordinary but for people who take their cues from the media it speaks volumes.I am a black woman in Japan but so am I everywhere and I am more than just the colour of my skin.
Is Japan a place for a black woman to live a good life?
Forget the naysayers, they are everywhere and should not be a factor in you making this decision. You can apply to any number of positions advertised on the internet to be an English teacher for starters and see if it is for you. Teaching ain’t for everyone but it is a nice way to transition in and learn Japanese to really utilize what you studied.
Your life here will be what you make it. I would caution anyone planning to move here to ensure that you know yourself well and love yourself deeply. It may be hard for some people to acclimatize since it often takes a long time to develop meaningful relationships with the natives. In big cities you will run into other foreigners but in the country side this may not be the case.
I am content with my life here. I can’t speak for every black woman in Japan but it is not impossible to live well here (FYI I am single). I think more depends on you as a person than the people who will surround you. Are you open-minded, resilient and sure of yourself? These are some characteristics that I think any expat regardless of his or her ethnicity need to have to live his or her best life here.