NewYorkScenery
nycyn.exblog.jp

ニューヨークの生活、MBA、仕事・・・
日本からの脱出
日本の芸能サイトZAKZAKを見ていたら、以下の記事があった。

日本の若い女性NYへ脱出…NYタイムズが特集記事
米紙ニューヨーク・タイムズは15日付で、「日本からの脱出」と題した特集記事を掲載、日本にない自由を求めてニューヨークに移り住む若い日本人女性が増加していると紹介した。
記事は、1990年代はフリーターの若い男女がほぼ同じ割合で渡米してきたが、最近は男性が日本経済の回復で職を得られるため、割合についても女性が増えてきたと分析。日本では結婚して出産することを求められ強いプレッシャーを感じるため、「自由な街」ニューヨークへ逃れてきていると指摘している。
3カ月から3年ほど滞在するケースが多く、東京の書店にはニューヨークのガイド本が並ぶ一方、マンハッタンのイーストビレッジには日本人女性が多く集まる居酒屋まである、としている。
記事には、プロのダンサーを夢見る20歳代前半の日本人女性らが登場。「両親はとても保守的で、私が日本人の男性と結婚することを望んでいる」「ニューヨークには自由がある」などとの発言も載せている。(共同)

面白そうだったから、NYタイムズの記事も読んでみた。(記事は一番下)

上の日本語記事はオリジナルを要約しただけでニュートラルに書かれているけど、NYタイムズの記事を読むと、日本人として複雑な気持ちになる。

記事に登場する日本人は「NYにいると(定職に就け、等の)プレッシャーを受けず、自由を手に入れられる」と発言しているけど、本当にそうなのか?
日本では「フリーター」や「ニート」という言葉は批判的な意味を包含して使われることも少なくないが、一方でNYタイムズの記事でもフリーターは「Slacker(なまけ者)」という言葉で表現され、「彼らの一部は親からの仕送りで生活し、労働ビザが得られるまでの間、英語を使わなくて済む日系の居酒屋で他の日本人フリーターと飲み会をやっていたり、小遣い稼ぎのためにヌードモデルになったりしている」と「批判的に」書かれている。
僕はこの記事に登場するような人の知り合いがいないから実際のところは分からないけど、この記事を読む限り、彼女らを見る社会の目は日本もNYも似たようなものではないか、と思ってしまう。

日本とNYの違いは、以前に「出る杭は打たれるのか」の中で書いたようなことだと思う。
つまり、階級社会であるアメリカでは、階級によって学校や職業、住む場所、利用するレストランまで(完全にではないが)分かれている。
日本にいる人は「そりゃウソだろ」と思うかもしれないけど、マンハッタンを歩けばストリートが数本違うだけで雰囲気や歩いている人が違うし、メトロノースに乗れば乗り降りする人の「階級」が駅によって明らかに違うことに気が付くはず。
そんなアメリカ(NY)では、フリーターとフリーター以外が交流することは少ないため、フリーターはフリーターとしか付き合わず、フリーター以外の人はフリーターには関心がないため、フリーター同士のコミュニティ内ではプレッシャーを受けず(出る杭とならず)に済み、居心地がいいんだろう。
言い換えれば、階級が異なる人には注意すら払わないのがNYじゃないだろうか。
一方、日本では(フリーターから見れば)おせっかいな人が多く、フリーターに対して冷たい視線や言葉を浴びせる人も少なくないため、それがプレッシャーになるんだろう。

そういう意味では、記事にある「NYではプレッシャーを受けずに済む」というのは本当かもしれない。
しかし、それが記事にあるような「自由を手に入れる」事であり、「NYに行くことがサクセスストーリー」なのかは疑問。
「自由」の裏返しは「自己責任」だと思う。

記事に出てくる人達は、企業に就職するというよりは、アート等の世界で飛躍を目指している人だろう。
「NYは勝者と敗者、優劣の差がはっきり出やすい」と巷で良く言われているけど、本当にそうだと思う。
アート等の世界では「自由」な生き方をしている人の中から「勝者」が出てくることが多いイメージがあるけど、裏を返せば大半の人は「敗者」となるわけだ。
NYには敗者にもチャンスがあると言われるけど、単にチャンスがあるだけで勝者になる確率が高い訳ではなく、決して敗者に優しい社会ではない。
敗者のままでいるなら、日本の方がよほど居心地がいいだろう。

NYタイムズの記事を読むと、こういう事実を認識しないで「とりあえず」NYに来る人が多いのでは、という印象を受けた。
もしそうだとしたら、こうしたNYの厳しい現実も認識したうえで渡米を考えるべきじゃないかな、と思う。
それを認識したうえで、それでも日本が嫌だからNYに来る人もいるんだろうけど、そうであれば、一生NYでやっていくのか、ある程度過ごしたら日本へ帰るのか、日本へ帰ったらどうするのか、など考える事は沢山あると思う。

NYのピアノバー(日系キャバクラ)に何度か行ったことがあるけど、そこで働く女性の何人かは、「とりあえずNYに来た、英会話学校(NOVAみたいな学校)に一日一時間だけ通うことで「留学生」としての学生ビザを発給してもらい、とりあえずビザが切れるまではNYにいるつもり、Hip Hopサイコー」みたいな感じ。
NYに来て半年というキャバ嬢から「ゴナ(gonna/going to)ってどういう意味ィ?」と聞かれた時は、鼻からビールが出そうだった。

f0081958_8474486.jpg
(NY Timesから)

一方、大きな夢を持ち、一生懸命努力して勝者になることを目指している人、勝者となった人も多いと聞く。
彼(女)らは渡米前から明確なビジョンを持ち、努力を厭わず、夢の実現に向けてストイックに頑張っているようだ。
勝手な想像だけど、NYで勝者になれる人は、日本でも勝者になれた人じゃないだろうか。
逆に言えば、勝者じゃなくても「それなりに」生きていける日本で勝者になれない人はNYでもなれないのでは、と思ってしまうのである。


・・・と、何を書きたかったのか分からなくなってきたけど、NYタイムズの記事を読んで、何故か複雑な心境になったという話。

一方で、自分の意思でNYに一人で乗り込んでくる意識と行動力はすごいな、とも思う。
上の方で偉そうなことを書いているけど、僕は会社の転勤でNYに来ただけであり、渡米に関してはかなりの部分で会社のサポートを受けた。
こうしたサポートも無く、知人もおらず、単身NYに乗り込んでくるその姿には逞しさを感じるし、尊敬する。
だから、同じ日本人として、彼(女)たちにも頑張ってもらいたいと思うんだよね。
大きなお世話なんだけどさ・・・


f0081958_8484260.jpg
ニューヨークでは、何をやっても殆どの人が見向きもしない。
人は人、自分は自分。
自由と都会の冷たさを併せ持つこの街が好きですか?
僕は結構好きです。




October 15, 2006
Escape From Japan
By SHERIDAN PRASSO

AT the Terminal 8 food court of Kennedy International Airport, over a breakfast of Coca-Cola and greasy Chinese noodles, Miho Mimura slipped her hand into her new American boyfriend’s and the tears started to flow. “I’m sad, I don’t want to go back to Japan,” she said.

She looked tired, her complexion worsened by the fierce fluorescent lights. It was the morning after her 23rd birthday, and she and her boyfriend had stayed out celebrating until the wee hours.

“Today I expect cry, so no makeup,” Ms. Mimura said in her imperfect English, rubbing her eyes. The emotion was understandable. Her three months in New York had changed her forever.

Ms. Mimura had come with a broken heart, after splitting with a Japanese boyfriend. To pay for her plane ticket, she took a second job in a bar in Tokyo, supplementing her $10-an-hour wage as a clerk in a clothing shop.

She came to New York to heal. She came to dance, particularly the hip-hop moves she had practiced in Japan. And she came to New York, like thousands of other young Japanese, to find herself.

In the East Village on any given weekend night, throngs of such Japanese crowd the restaurants known as izakaya that have sprung up on and around St. Marks Place, in an enclave sometimes called Little Tokyo. With red paper lanterns and cacophonous dins, the restaurants serve delectables like raw liver sashimi and grilled rice balls, to tables of expatriates known in Japan as “freeters” (a combination of free and the German word for worker, arbeiter), or “NEETs” (Not in Education, Employment or Training).

As a Japanese version of slackers, such young people are often derided at home as selfish for drifting through part-time jobs or trying to develop talents in the arts — photography, music, painting, dance — rather than contributing to society by joining a corporation or marrying and having babies. The pressure can be intense.

Many escape to New York, staying from three months to three years. “In New York they feel they don’t get any pressure, that New York gives them freedom,” said the Japanese-born owner of the Sunrise Mart, a Japanese market in Little Tokyo.

The influx is at least a decade old, but unlike in the mid-1990’s when men and women freeters came in equal numbers, now it is largely a female wave — a result of the recovering economy in Japan that has made it slightly easier for young men to find corporate jobs upon graduation.

Some of the youths are financed by their parents. Others say they wait tables, even when lacking work permits, in Japanese restaurants in New York where little English is required, or take cash jobs like posing nude for drawing classes in Chelsea art studios.

“Three months ago, I asked my parents to send me money, and they said, ‘This is the last money!’ ” said Misaki Ishihara, 23, an aspiring makeup artist from central Japan, near Kobe, who has been in New York for two years. “My parents are so conservative, they can’t believe I’m here alone. They want me to be married to a Japanese man, an established man, make some kids and live in the same house with them. I can’t even believe I am from that family. I am so different!”

Ms. Ishihara’s New York sojourn has included learning to surf on the Jersey Shore, studying English and establishing credentials for her career. “I want to go back to Japan eventually, but now is not the time,” she said. Her dwindling cash supply notwithstanding, her favorite pastimes are, she said, shopping, clubbing with hipsters on the Lower East Side and partying.

Peter Pachter, who runs the American Language Communication Center in the Hotel Pennsylvania on Seventh Avenue near Penn Station, has watched the ranks of his Japanese students increase 14 percent, to about 500 in the last two years.

“There’s a feeling that they kind of blossom here; they finally get a chance to express themselves,” he said.

A number of Japanese freeters have become role models in Tokyo by finding success in New York; their stories make their way home via the weekly radio show “Good Day New York,” which broadcasts “live from the Big Apple” to 12 million Japanese from a studio on Fifth Avenue, and the “D.J. Kaori Show,” which reaches listeners all over Japan.

D.J. Kaori, the host, began spinning records at the restaurant Match in SoHo in the mid-90’s. After being discovered by Funkmaster Flex of Hot 97, she graduated to D.J. jobs for celebrity parties. That translated into a recording contract for one — and now eight — CD mixes in Japan.

“It was so hard in Japan to have the confidence to say, ‘I can be what I want to be, I can do what I want to do,’ ” Kaori, now in her 30’s, said in a mellifluous voice. “New York is very free. I thought, ‘If I want to do this, I can do it. In Japan you have to follow the rails.”

In Tokyo bookstores, guides like “Finding Yourself in New York,” and “The ‘I Love New York’ Book of Dreams” fuel the fantasies of those would follow in Kaori’s footsteps. In an indication that a phenomenon has truly taken off, there’s a contrarian title, “Even If You Live in New York, You Won’t Be Happy.”

New York now has the largest number of Japanese living in any city outside Japan: 59,295, according to last year’s Japanese Foreign Ministry data. But the Miho Mimuras don’t register in those statistics. Like the majority of the nearly 475,000 Japanese who landed at Kennedy and Newark airports last year, she was officially a tourist. In her allotted 90 days in the United States, she took more than 850 photos — “my memory souvenir!” — of the Statue of Liberty, of Picassos at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when the guards weren’t looking, and of Harlem, Radio City Music Hall and all the other places on a Japanese girl’s must-see list.

She had a favorite East Village restaurant. She marveled over $5 T-shirts at H & M. “Very cheap!” she exclaimed. She stood in front of store windows imitating the mannequins. She took classes almost every night, mostly at Broadway Dance Center on West 57th Street, a studio heavily populated with young Japanese women. She saw “Stomp” because the 13-member cast includes a Japanese woman who, like Ms. Mimura, came to New York to pursue a dream of being a dancer.

On her very first Saturday night in the city last March, at a clandestine Japanese lounge operating without a liquor license in Midtown, Ms. Mimura ordered a drink more appropriate to the girl she still was than the woman she aspired to be: milk and Malibu rum. She had arranged to meet a fellow student from her first hip-hop class who went by the nickname Smiles, and a friend of his. Before their arrival, Ms. Mimura confided, “I want American boyfriend.”

She spent those first weeks struggling to learn her way around the city. She found it difficult to navigate the subway or to find Internet access. For a month, she slept on the couch in the Brooklyn apartment of her best friend from childhood, a design student at LaGuardia Community College. The two women spent hours in deep conversation.

Ms. Mimura wrote in her diary about her ex-boyfriend and why he had abandoned her. In one entry, which she allowed a reporter to read with the help of a translator, she confided that she had been needy and insecure around the boyfriend. Six months after the breakup, it was still hard to let go. She phoned him from New York and they talked about why their romance had ended. “I still need him,” Ms. Mimura said.

One night, Ms. Mimura went to the East Village club Sin Sin, at a monthly party called “Soulgasm,” where a well-known dancer, Henry Link of Elite Force Crew (who has danced for Michael Jackson and Mariah Carey), often shows up. The party is popular with young Japanese women interested in hip-hop culture.

About 1 a.m. Mr. Link appeared, dressed in a T-shirt and track pants, and soon a circle formed around him as he danced. From time to time challengers stepped into the circle to battle, using their own dance moves, with crowd reaction measuring their success.

Ms. Mimura bounced with anticipation. In Japan, she never would have tried such a thing, but when an opening came she handed her beer to a bystander and plunged into the circle. Mr. Link stood back in admiration, and spectators nodded and clapped.

“At Sin Sin I wasn’t nervous, just not thinking about it,” she said later. “I felt really happy — everybody cheering. I felt so good!”

A dancer from the Bronx named Mark stood on the edge of the circle watching Ms. Mimura’s impressive moves. He walked her to the subway after the club closed at 4 a.m. She thought he was “very kindness,” she said later, and agreed to dinner and a movie the next Saturday night.

But Mark showed up two hours late, and when Ms. Mimura sought an explanation he babbled at her so quickly that she didn’t understand. It was a stilted evening, hampered by language difficulties and hurt feelings. But still Ms. Mimura was eager to see him the next week at the House Dance Conference, another monthly event at a club.

When she did, however, the initial spark was gone. Smiles, her first American friend, was also there. A 22-year-old student of graphic design at New Jersey City University, he is partial to tank tops that show off his biceps. At the club, he took a proprietary interest in Ms. Mimura’s welfare, making sure she got a prime spot on the edge of the challenge floor to watch the action.

Slowly, Ms. Mimura was gaining confidence about living in New York, discovering an inner strength. She signed up to go to a national dance contest in Boston, where she made it to the semifinals. Her new friend, Smiles, wished her “Ganbatte!” a combination of “Good luck” and “Knock ’em dead” in Japanese.

But she didn’t win. She blamed too much technique and not enough feeling for her loss. She needed to let the freedom of New York and the let-it-all-hang-out attitude of Americans into her heart while dancing, she said. “Japanese dancers copy, not create,” she said, “and I’m more like typical Japanese dancer.” She resolved to be more American.

Shortly before she was scheduled to return home, over dinner on St. Marks Place, Ms. Mimura declared that New York had changed her. “I wasn’t strong at all when I came here,” she said. “In Japan, I had people to rely on, but in New York I didn’t have any people. I have to rely myself, so I became stronger. In Japan, I am a little bit shy. But in New York, people have freedom, and that freedom is very good for me.”

She said that when she returned home she would pursue her dream of becoming a dancer. She had been promised a promotion if she returned to her job at the clothing store in Tokyo, but Ms. Mimura resolved to take a less demanding job to leave time for dance. Indeed, since returning to Japan in June, she has kept that promise to herself and is working in a mobile-phone shop, while entering dance contests — three so far.

It was a mild summer morning when she arrived at Kennedy for her flight home. She had bought a second suitcase for all her purchases — 30 pairs of Tommy Hilfiger socks for friends back home; a crystal statue for her ex-boyfriend’s mother; a stuffed bear for a grandmother; jewelry for her mother and sister; and for herself, dancing shoes and piles of new clothes.

Smiles was with her. At some point in the previous days, it seemed clear, he had become her boyfriend. He helped load her suitcases onto the baggage scale. They headed to the food court.

Alternately crying, then finding something to laugh about, then crying again, Ms. Mimura took out her camera.

She wanted to remember the moment.
[PR]
by nycyn | 2006-10-18 09:17 | 雑感