Inside Scoop on Japan: They say you can find a Jamaican anywhere. In the bustling port-city of Yokohama, Japan, writer and teacher Keisha Brissette is holding down the fort, sharing her heartwarming (and hilarious) adventures teaching, dating and living her best life on her blog, “A Piece of Mine.” We also love her insightful interview with artists and other yardies living abroad, from Dubai to China. And her sidesplitting viral blog on “Why I pretend to know Usain Bolt” got some serious social media love from the fastest man alive himself. One couldn’t expect anything less from the gifted writer, who has won several playwriting awards from the Jamaican Cultural Development Commission. We spoke more with her about her life in Japan, and what she misses most from home.
What made you move to Japan? Inside Scoop on Japan
I had friends working there and they told me it was a great way to earn money teaching English.
What inspired you to start the blog?
I have always enjoyed creative writing and always wanted to blog, but was fearful of sharing with people on the World Wide Web. Then my friend Denzil died. We went to college together and he was in the prime of his life. His death was a sort of wakeup call. It made me realize that I didn’t want to leave this earth with unfulfilled dreams. So, I sat and wrote my first blog in tribute to him. I have been at it ever since.
What Japanese cultural quirk do you love most?
KFC as Christmas dinner, no kidding. It’s a big thing here. They have a “KFC for Christmas” advertising campaign and people make reservations to get their chicken from as early as October. You get your seasonal chicken bucket with a side of cake and wine and all that. I find it quite fascinating.
Most memorable date in Japan?
I don’t have a memorable date. The fact that I am trying my darndest to remember would suggest that they aren’t that memorable. But I’ve had a guy order everything on the menu so I could try each dish though. That was impressive.
What’s the major difference in dating culture between Jamaica and Japan?
Men actually talk to you in Jamaica. Japanese men are “shy”. That is until they’re behind a computer screen and they’re using their fingers to do the talking. Japanese men are also not too keen on wasting your time. If they like you, they tend to start speaking about marriage very quickly – like the third date. The only stipulation is that you intend to live in Japan forever. The ones I have met have a deep love for country and culture and want to marry women who intend to stay.
Doubt this has to do with cultural differences, but it’s something I’ve noticed that I would like to comment on. When I just moved here, I lost a lot of weight and was 110lbs, I hadn’t gone natural yet so I still had my perm. I kid you not, at that time men (usually the younger ones) would go out of their way to talk to me. They’d come up to me at the train station a lot. Didn’t meet one “shy’”one. But once I settled in, got adjusted, gained some weight and start rocking my natural hair – that stopped. Just an observation that caused me to believe beauty here is associated with how straight your hair is or how thin you are. I could be wrong, but that has been my experience.
What advice would you give to Caribbean women looking for love abroad?
Be open-minded. That’s all. An attractive woman is an attractive woman anywhere in the world she goes, and most men are attracted to attractive women.
You’ve written on the love stories of other Jamaicans living abroad. What’s your favorite one so far?
Sorry, I don’t have a favorite. But I enjoyed writing about Shauna-Kaye’s experience in China as I did it in two parts and kept people on edge for weeks waiting to see if she’d fallen in love.
What Jamaican goodies do you need to fend off homesickness?
Lasco, bammy and banana and/or plantain Chips (feel free to send me some)
Name one thing living in Japan has changed about you?
I didn’t notice this until I went home last Christmas. I went to visit a friend, and someone came over to ask if I was Keisha. I said yes, and she said, she didn’t recognize me because I looked a lot more serious. And, for the entire three weeks after that people kept commenting on the fact that I laughed less. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing, but, I’m a lot more serious and reserved now.
What advice would you give Jamaicans wanting to live and explore in unexpected places?
Just do it! Nike was right on that one. Don’t think of reasons why you can’t go, just go. I have always said life should not be lived in one place and the best education you can give yourself outside of school is travel. Just go.
Read more of Keisha’s musings at her blog, A Piece of Mine.