May 03, 2010

Meetup Event in Baltimore on May 1st.

We had a Meetup Event in Baltimore on May 1st. Here is feedback from one of our attendees. We received positive responses from everyone who was there! The next event is on June 26 in Los Angeles. We are looking forward to meeting you there!


Last Saturday, 1 May, I traveled to Baltimore to attend my first MJL Meet-Up. I wasn't really sure what to expect but I knew that there would be Japanese women attending and an untold number of men. Naoko san was there to run the meeting and she was accompanied

by her husband, Roland, and relatively new son, Yuma chan. As it turned out there were three "couples" other than Naoko san and family.

The meet-up was held at a small Thai restaurant near downtown Baltimore. The dining area had good ambience and privacy and the food was good. During lunch each person introduced themselves and told the group something about their life. The difficulties of using email to communicate was briefly discussed and Naoko san asked each of us why we were interested in a marriage between non-Japanese men and Japanese women. (Come to think of it though, I don't remember Naoko san telling us why she married a non-Japanese. How'd she get away with that??) It was good to hear that some others in the group, in addition to myself, thought it was a difficult question to answer. For me, the thing I found really enjoyable was how quickly every one seemed to relax and participate in the discussions. Two of the Japanese women had flown in from Japan and initially they seemed a little reticent to use their English but that disappeared quickly. The dynamics of the group left me with a good feeling about the meet-up. Unless I am in Japan again in September I plan to attend the next Baltimore meet-up!

Something I didn't anticipate was each man being asked to spend some time with one of the three women after the meet-up ended. Naoko san paired us up and each couple was then free to spend time in the city. For me it was a really fun experience. "Y" and I went to the Inner Harbor and the National Aquarium there. Standing in the ticket line we did a little "ningen" watching, and I saw more women than I needed to see who sported busaiku tattoos. The aquarium was crowded, not so bad as rush hour subways in Tokyo, but we managed to enjoy many of the exhibits. And for a snack we had smoothies (one strawberry and one avocado) and grilled teriyaki ika at a faux Japanese restaurant. (The smoothies

gave it away that this was not authentic Nihon ryouri!)

I hope that my partner got as much out of this as I did. "Y" seemed to be relaxed about using her English skills and, generally, I found her easy to understand. There was an occasion or two where there was a miscommunication. But if we had used my "Japanese-as-a-second-language" verbal skills, there would have been no communication- well maybe a grunt or two here and there from me but that would have been about it! I really appreciate the fact that Japanese women study English and become competent enough to communicate with native English speakers especially considering how different Japanese and English languages are. My feeling is that their language skills would improve quickly once living in the U.S. or another English speaking country.

I can't compare this meet-up to others that have been held in Baltimore and elsewhere. But I think being asked to spend time with a Japanese woman after the meet-up really adds greatly to the meet-up experience. For future, successful meet-ups I think it is really necessary to have a good mix of Japanese women and non-Japanese men. So ladies, come on over to Baltimore and L.A. to help make these a success. I'm not going to say that to the guys because at the next meet-up, if there ain't enough of us, I may get to take two or more Japanese women around town. Whoowaa!!

(M.D. VA)


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