Wa: Japan’s Harmony In a Time of Crisis

Japan Earthquake 2011 MapThe blogosphere is awash in astonishment by the absence of looting in Japan, in the face of their worst disaster since the Second World War. From The United States to China, bloggers are confounded by the orderliness of the Japanese, even in such a crisis of hopelessness. And just as Chinese and Westerners are amazed at the absence of looting, the Japanese are shocked by looting in other countries during natural disasters and other occasions.

As a long term resident of Japan, I have come to enjoy this and other characteristics of Japan. And coming from a chaotic upbringing in Jamaica, I welcome the Japanese socialization, which places wa (harmony) at the pinnacle of the most important tenets of that society.

There is no concept more important to the Japanese than that of wa. The thought of breaking into a store and running out with a refrigerator on one’s back would be a major disturbance to harmony. If one’s foot is being stepped on in a train in Japan, in the interest of maintain wa one would not bring this to the attention of the perpetrator, as doing so would make him or her – the perpetrator, that is – uncomfortable and wa would be disturbed. Instead, the victim should just chill, knowing that the perpetrator’s action is unintentional and s/he – most likely he – will eventually discover his or her own misdeed, or disembark the train, whichever comes first.

Japanese TaxiMaintaining wa is especially important given that Japan is more a society of ‘us’ than of ‘me’, where the needs of others are more important than those of self. This requires immense trust in and of each other, without which Japan could never have achieved such rapid economic success. One of my most profound experiences upon moving to Japan was in a Taxi in Kobe on myway to work. I had hailed a cab at Seishin Chuo station to the Japanese multi-national whereI worked. Upon our arrival, the fare was 800 yen, the equivalent of roughly $8.00. However,the smallest bill I had was a 10,000 yen note, the equivalent of approximately $100.00.

Having recently arrived from the US, where – especially in New York – Black Passengers are normally ignored by Yellow Cabs, I was expecting a dramatic showdown involving the police, arrest and possibly deportation. Instead the cabbie simply inquired when I would be finishing work,and instructed me to pay him upon my return to Seishin Chuo subway station. What’s more, he continued by instructing me to pay any cabbie present in his absence.

I was shocked and wanted to remind him that I was black, and ask if he had not been concerned that I would do a runner. This early experience in Japan demonstrated to me the level of social trust that is the norm in Japan. When I relayed this incident to my students, they couldn’t even understand why it was of such importance to warrant a discussion. “Atari mae” (that’s natural orthat’s to be expected) was their response in unison.

Another important cultural tenet in Japan is the need to not be a bother to others. Hito nimeiwaku wo kakenai, or don’t inconvenience others. Looting would be a major inconvenience to others.

It is my strong desire for inhabitants of the West to take a page from Japanese social mores, but I would be joyful if those in my native Jamaica would even take just a paragraph.


Stefhen Bryan is available for public speaking engagements, interviews, book readings, and other assignments on the subject of Japan, its society, and the issues of sexual addiction and others that inspired Black Passenger Yellow Cabs.

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Black Passenger Extracts – “Retreat To Kansai”

‘Retreat To Kansai’ is the chapter of my book that will be the pilot episode for the Vook, which we looked at previously here.

Japanese Reggae GirlThis excerpt covers the meeting of a friend playing a surrogate sex role for a Japanese guy who met this ‘reggae groupie’ online. Charged with bringing back graphic footage for him, Chef takes on his sexual mission more than willingly…

“You’re waiting for me right?” he interrupted. To which she greeted him with the typical shy Japanese grin, unlike, he relayed, “a girl who was used to getting hosed down by reggae super stars.” Her personality then was 180 degrees different from her cyber-personality, not as extroverted as had been expected and she seemed to know her way around Kobe very well, leading him to a love hotel. Their conversation was sparse on the wayand though she was shy, she appeared to be on a mission: to enter the dark side.

Japanese Love HotelUpon arrival at the hotel she whipped out her cartoon character infested purse and inserted a 5,000 yen note in the slot, standing with her legs spread slightly apart and her toes turned inward. Immediately upon entering, he attached his lips to hers and commenced peeling away her layers until she stood only in her panties…”

To read the full chapter and more, you can pick up Black Passenger Yellow Cabs in paperback or on Kindle here on Amazon (US link, click here for other countries).

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Sexy Or Servile: What Do Western Men Want In Japanese Women?

Japanese Serving Girl KimonoHow does ethnicity affect what Western men look for in a Japanese woman? Is the archetypal demure and servile female sexier even nowadays?

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Taking another look into the influences at work in Black Passenger, Yellow Cabs, during this interview segment with Jamie Paquin Stefhen answers these questions and his own preferences.


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Where Is The Black Passenger?

It’s been a while since my last blog, but I am sure you can appreciate my being busy with trying to bring ‘Black Passenger’ alive through a VOOK (see my previous post on that here).

Book Fair Reading - www.blackpassenger.com

My last book signing was a grand success and I thank everyone for showing up at Book Soup to make it so. Just when I dragged my wife to the signing, so as to be able to read to at least one person, a whole host of people showed up, creating a stimulating environment for almost 3 hours.

If you missed me at Book Soup in Los Angeles, fear not, for behold I will be in Oakland on Sunday February 20 (4pm) with the JAANC. Be sure not to confuse Auckland with Oakland. Auckland is in New Zealand, whilst Oakland is in Northern California. Wouldn’t want you to take a whole day flight to New Zealand, only to discover that you’re slightly off by a few time zones.

Next black passenger reading in Oakland for JAANC - Sunday 20th Feb at 4pm

As to the VOOK, I have begun a campaign on Kickstarter.com to raise some funds for shooting the pilot. So swing by the project to pitch in a buck or two to make it happen.  There are some interesting rewards for your contributions, including a personal reading of ‘Black Passenger’, depending on how far you are from Los Angeles. We have already shot two scenes for the pilot and need to shoot two more, hence the necessity of funds.

So, please follow the links to contribute and for more info on my event in Oakland, California. You can keep up with all upcoming activity on my website events page and signing up for my monthly e-mail update. I said it many many time and will never stop saying it: Thanks sincerely for your continued support.

And remember, my next event is in Oakland, not Auckland.

Support the Black Passenger Yellow Cabs video project

Read more on the Jamaican American Association of Northern California

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Audio Excerpts: The Making of a Rice King (part 2)

The Real Jamaica - www.blackpassenger.comThere are many ways to experience Black Passenger Yellow Cabs: Of Exile & Excess in Japan, from traditional paperback to the digital era eBook and Kindle format. The Vook format is also moving along well (watch out for more news on this soon).

Here we continue the with the second half of ‘Making of a Rice King’. Detailing the beginnings of the book and the origins of the sexual addiction that drove me from Jamaica to Japan, this chapter sets the scene for the excess to come in the following chapters. In particular it looks at my Jamaica, a very different one to that portrayed in the tourist brochures and TV adverts.

Audio book reading – Making of a Rice King (part two)

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The Great Mystery of the Disappearing Derrière

The mystery is finally solved.Black Passenger on the Japanese ass in the USA

Which mystery?” you’re probably asking yourself, completely oblivious to this quandary suspendended in the minds of many. Well, in my mind anyway:

It is the mystery of the yellow woman’s shrinking posterior in America.

Here in the US, whenever I tell my black friends of my exclusive preference for yellow women, they immediately respond with, “but they aint got no ass.” After which I am forced to school them about the state of Japanese women’s posteriors in Japan. In Japan, observing women well endowed in the buttocks is more common than men in the West can imagine. For those of you who’ve read Black Passenger Yellow Cabs, you can recall that the first thing which attracted me to my wife “Shoko” (not her real name, but her name in the book.) was her round cakes, as she traveled up the escalator at Sannomiya station.

But since her arrival in the States in 06 and especially since my return in 08, something has gone amiss with Shoko’s derrière. She had been maintaing a standard, albeit a diminished one, by doing her squats at the gym, where at her peak she was able to squat her own weight: 125 pounds. Then came Thanksgiving, followed by her final exams and Christmas. We haven’t had our regular regiment at the gym since November and now my beloved posterior, Shoko’s posterior that is, is all but gone.

When I met Shoko in April of 2003, she was 23 years old and had never ever set foot in a gym, but owned an onion that would bring pools of tears to your eyes. So what was she and other Japanese women doing in Japan, that they aren’t doing in the US? Recently I had an epiphany;

It’s the lifestyle.
In Japan, women walk and ride their bicycles everywhere. On any given day, they’re climbing hundreds of stairs. Because, if one is young and able bodied in Japan, but chooses to use the elevator instead of the stairs at the train station, one will be greeted with overt looks of contempt. Of course, you are exempt if you’re hauling luggage. It’s that vigorously active lifestyle: climbing those hundreds of steps at JR, Hankyu, Hanshin, Kintetsu train stations, which gives Japanese women, IN JAPAN, their Africa-esque glutes, of which many, if not most, are ashamed. The last thing Japanese men want is a woman with a big round ass.

Heels in JapanMoreover, Japanese women – fashionistas that they are -are almost always wearing 15 foot heels, even if they’re going hiking. Seriously, I’ve gone on dates with women who wore heels to the beach, AND WOULD NOT REMOVE THEM IN THE SAND. But I digress. Daily walking (in heels) and stair climbing ensures rump maintenance.

Here in America, Shoko no longer has to climbed those stairs on a daily basis, and neither does she have to walk anywhere. Remeber that 80’s song by Missing Persons? “Only a nobody walks in LA.” Her modes of transportation do not require the exertion of any of her own energy: the elevator, the escalator and the car, which has an automatic transmission. As if that wasn’t bad enough, sitting in class and the library for hours, was the death knell to my Shoko’s butt. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for her empowerment, education and otherwise. But not only is her tuition at USC exorbitant, it’s literally costing her her ass.

However, we’ve endeavoured to change all that. We are back in the gym for rigorous training and our apartment building consists of 12 floors and 12 flight of stairs. We will now be pretending that they are the stairs at a Japan Rail station.

And just like it was on the very first day we met some 8 years ago, it will be great fun peeking up her skirt as she climbs the stairs.

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Happy New Year! + Conversations Book Club – 1/14/11

Happy New Year!

To all readers, followers, and anyone that has supported my writing and Black Passenger Yellow Cabs since it was published, my thanks and appreciation. Wishing you happy and successful 2011.

As to my first activity of the new year, following the Conversations Live! interview with Cyrus Webb last month – read/listenConversations Magazine December 2010 Cover here – I will be heading down to Mississippi next month to discuss Black Passenger Yellow Cabs in more depth at his Book Club event. Find more details here.

The December edition of the excellent Conversations Magazine is now available here. Cyrus recently included Black Passenger Yellow Cabs in his top books of 2010 and has described the book as “fascinating and courageous”.

You can buy both the physical copy and eBook via the newly redesigned Black Passenger website here. Enjoy the new content and leave your thoughts, comments, or questions on the new chat board. Or do the same on the Facebook page, if you prefer.

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Audio Excerpts: The Making of a Rice King (part 1)

There are many ways to experience Black Passenger Yellow Cabs: Of Exile & Excess inShrine Photo Japan, from traditional paperback (currently available at a discounted holiday rate on here on Amazon.com) to the digital era eBook and Kindle format (Kindle now at the amazing holiday offer of 99 cents – limited time!). Scenes are also being made for the new Vook, which I talked about recently here.

Many people also enjoy the audio book format, which is why I’ll be releasing excerpts of my reading of Black Passenger Yellow Cabs via these pages in the coming weeks. This one comes from the first chapter, the first half of Making of a Rice King. Detailing the beginnings of the book and the origins of the sexual addiction that drove me from Jamaica to Japan, this chapter sets the scene for the excess to come in the following chapters.

Audio book reading – Making of a Rice King (part one)

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Howard Stern Interview (Audio)

Howard Stern

Last year I had the unique experience of being interviewed by the legendary Howard Stern. During this roller coaster discussion about Black Passenger Yellow Cabs we covered race, sex, and the availability of women in Japan to the Western male.

Many of you have asked to hear this spot and finally we have it uploaded and ready to go. Enjoy.


The stream is also now up on the newly redesigned blackpassenger.com, along with much more information on the book and its influences. Take a look around and get in touch about anything you’d like to see on the new site.

You can also listen to the more in-depth interview recently recorded with Cyrus Webb on Conversations Live! radio. That’s up here.

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Filming Black Passenger…Guerilla Style

Camera - Film Shoot - FreeFoto.comWell, after many delays, actors schedule conflicts, script rewrites and location problems, filming for the pilot of the vook edition of Black Passenger finally got underway today. If you have no clue what a vook is, check out the site: http://www.vook.com.

For those of you who have read the book, we are shooting the “Retreat to Kansai” chapter, but with minor changes for cinematic effect. You know how it is; the movie is always a little different from the book. We managed to shoot two out of three scenes and will start on the third scene hopefully next week.

Special thanks to Michael Lieba, who in between his gruesome full time job, his girlfriend, supermarket shopping and the general hustle and bustle of living in the big apple, found the time to write “Mistaken Identity”, the smashing script for that chapter. Michael is commissioned with the daunting task of writing the entire screenplay for Black Passenger and is already brimming with some good ideas.

Like the marketing of Black Passenger the book, the film of Black Passenger is straight guerilla style and all the actors and crew members were in fit physical condition, ready to sprint from the scene with all the equipment on their backs at the sight of the authorities. So far, my actors Mayuko and Kevin, did a wonderful job, and my director (who made the book trailer above) will make this look like a multimillion, if not a multibillion dollar project.

Ok, gotta get back to work, gotta check out the dailies, I’ll keep you posted. And don’t forget to ‘like’ the Facebook page and comment on this week’s topic if you want a chance to win a free eBook.

Photo credit: FreeFoto

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