Texan-Japanese Intercultural Marriage – Finding Your Best Friend Beyond Race

in Couple Profile, Intercultural Marriage

Share:

Texan-Japanese Intercultural Marriage
Our todays featured intercultural couple are a member of AMWF (Asian Men White Female) community. Ryosuke and Grace Mineta reside in Toride, Ibaraki, Japan. They´ve been married for three months. Grace shares how it´s like to live as a Texan in Tokyo at her blog, How I became a Texan.

What makes your marriage offbeat?

Our marriage is “offbeat” because we both come from completely different backgrounds, have different interests, and radically different views on life. I was raised Christian; he was raised Buddhist (but became Christian). I was raised trying to quietly cheat the system in English; he spent his days giving his teachers a headache in Japanese. I love to write, draw, and watch movies; he loves to box, run, and cook gourmet meals. I am white; he is Asian. I am bossy and ambitious; he is laid-back and optimistic.

Oddly enough, we complete each other – in an “offbeat” sort of way. Our marriage is “offbeat” because we learned that ‘different’ doesn’t mean ‘incompatible’ and ‘change’ isn’t such a scary word after all.

Texan-Japanese Intercultural Marriage2

What made you end up in an interracial marriage? What was your motivation in deciding to marry someone of different culture?

Neither of us every intended to “start something.” Growing up all over the globe, I had dated several different races (including my own) – but never an Asian man. Living in Japan, he dated quite a few Japanese girls, but never a foreigner.

We met the first day of my sophomore year at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania. He was doing a year-long study abroad program; I was floundering and frustrated with all the closed doors I kept hitting. We started off as “friends” before graduating to “best friends” and then eventually to “lovers.”

When he returned to Japan, I followed him for a 15 month study abroad program of my own. Even so, we lived an eleven hour bus ride apart (him in Akita and I in Tokyo). Every other weekend, one of us would board the grueling night bus so we could spend the weekend together. It was a frustrating and beautiful time for our relationship.

Texan-Japanese Intercultural Marriage3

Our romance was a whirlwind. On our one year anniversary, he proposed. We got married 13 months later in a rustic ceremony in Texas and then moved to the outskirts of Tokyo (for his job).

Surviving the Distance: How to Nourish Long Distance Relationship

The first time Ryosuke got down on one knee with a strawberry ring pop outside of my dorm room, asking me to be his girlfriend; neither of us had even considered marriage.

But we got along so well. I was his “better half” and he was my best friend. So, without ever really thinking about race, religion, or nationality, we entered an “offbeat” marriage.

Texan-Japanese Intercultural Marriage4

Tell us about the wedding. Did your different religious and cultural background affect how you planned the wedding?

We have had two wedding ceremonies and are in the early stages of planning a third wedding in Japan (crazy, I know).

The first wedding took place at the chapel across the street from Ursinus College – where we first met and fell in love. It was simple, with a dress from eBay, sushi trays, about a hundred close friends, and a miss-spelt wedding cake (instead of “Ryosuke” they wrote “Ryosual” – even though I read them the name six or seven times to make sure they got the correct spelling).

Texan-Japanese Intercultural Marriage5
the first wedding at Ursinus College

The second wedding, the “legal” wedding was a small, rustic ceremony in Texas. My father, a missionary in Ghana, performed the ceremony. Most of my family was able to attend; none of his family was able to make it (the cost of getting passports/plane tickets/hotels for his immedaite family was more than the cost of having another wedding in Japan). I wore my mother’s old wedding dress. We ate Tex-Mex and sushi, danced to songs from all around the globe, and said our vows in Japanese and English.

Texan-Japanese Intercultural Marriage6

The third wedding, set for sometime next year, will be a traditional Japanese wedding in Tokyo. I will wear a beautiful Japanese wedding kimono. Ryosuke will hold my hand and translate the play-by-play for me in hushed tones. We’re both pretty excited.

What are your biggest challenges and how do you solve them?

The biggest challenges are, of course, related to fighting. I come from a vocal and argumentative family (in a good way, I think) and was raised believing “arguing is natural for a healthy relationship”; he was raised believing “fighting damages a relationship.” Think about conflict resolution in Japan VS conflict resolution in Texas – and you have a nice window into our early dating life.

Texan-Japanese Intercultural Marriage7

We’ve come a long way in terms of learning how to argue. I try not to lose my temper and he tries not to shut down when we argue.

I wrote an entire post about it back when we first got engaged; Things my Japanese Boyfriend and I Culturally Disagree About: Fighting

What compromises are required in order to make your marriage work?

If you do not respect and appreciate your partners culture (to the extent you are willing to forsake elements of your own culture for their benefit), intercultural and interracial relationships are nearly impossible.

I don’t know how else to say it. I tell people that a lot when they ask for dating advice on my blog.

Texan-Japanese Intercultural Marriage8

Marriage requires compromise – even more so when both you and your partner were raised with radically different views on gender roles, religion, government, volunteering, and love. By trying to “convert” your partner into your way of thinking about, for instance, love, you are completely disrespecting their own beliefs on the matter.

The biggest compromise Ryosuke and I have had to make was acknowledging that our way is not always the correct way. We have learned to respect each other’s cultures.

Did you ever encounter people who frown upon interracial marriage? How did you deal with them?

Funny that you mention it. Yes, yes we have. But not in the same ways that other couples have, I guess.

We get questions all the time – not necessarily racist or ignorant, just curious. Some of the most common questions asked to interracial couples are: 8 Questions Interracial Couples are Tired of Hearing.

Texan-Japanese Intercultural Marriage9

Questions aside, we do have people frown on our relationship. Most of these frowners are anonymous and angry people on the internet.

I am a blogger. I live a very public lifestyle. I’m not a “viral” figure, but my blog amasses about 100,000 views and 100-300 comments a month.
A small minority of these comments are racial attacks against my husband and me. Attacks against me because of my “white privilege” I am cherry-picking from the Asian male dating pool. Or people who tell me I’m disgusting, sick freak with “Yellow Fever” (a derogatory term used to describe people who are only attracted to and/or fetishize Asian people). Attacks against him because he is “betraying his race” by dating a white girl.

About a month ago, I made a very conscious decision not to stop blogging because of these racial attacks.

For more, check out “The Emotional Cost of Blogging: the not-so-secret downside of writing about your life on the internet”.

I delete negative and racial comments without reading them, now, and it’s made blogging much easier.

What are the benefits of an interracial marriage?

You get the chance to immerse yourself in a new culture – and the unique opportunity to see your own culture through the eyes of a “foreigner.”

Texan-Japanese Intercultural Marriage10

I cannot even begin to list the things I have learned about myself, my beliefs, and my culture through an interracial and intercultural marriage. The things I used to hold to be true (all countries should have absolute freedom) now have this darker side I never knew existed (absolute freedom also means the freedom to make bad decisions, such as eating unhealthily).

And the best thing about an interracial marriage? Both Ryosuke and I get to cherry-pick what parts of our culture we want to keep and what parts we want to adopt from the other’s culture. Even before meeting Rysouke, I wasn’t entirely thrilled about every aspect of American culture, but what choice did I have? I didn’t have the first-hand knowledge on how another culture deals with a similar problem… so specifically rejecting this aspect of American culture in favor of a different stance was much more difficult.

Now it is easy. We can have American independence with Japanese willingness to provide for the group. It is fantastic.

Texan-Japanese Intercultural Marriage11

What’s your favorite way of spending time together?

We are both love cooking (him more than me), going to farmers markets (me more than him), watching How I Met Your Mother (equally), and talking about start-up company ideas.

Texan-Japanese Intercultural Marriage12

We love going on adventures – whether it be climbing Machu Picchu or Mt. Fuji, or waking up before sunrise to watch the Tuna Auctions in Tsukiji. It helps that before he was my husband, he was my best friend. We make an effort to continue to be best friends over spouses – it keeps the romance alive.

What advice would you give to those who are planning for or are new to an interracial/interfaith marriage?

Talk to your spouse as if they were your best friend, rather than your spouse. Also, do not expect to agree 100% on, well, anything. Every cultural clash is not only a learning experience, but also a chance to reexamine yourself.

Texan-Japanese Intercultural Marriage14

Arguments are natural. Don’t take it personally.
With a little bit of love, a lot of flexibility, and an open mind, your “offbeat” marriage might just end up being the best thing that ever happened to you!

Related Posts:

Krizia Leones

hi,

i was just wondering if you’re also a filipina who’s married to a chinese. My boyfriend is chinese, but sometimes, i don’t know if we really have a future together. we met while working in the ship before, but now, i’m in the philippines, and he’s in china. As of now we’re in a long distance relationship. Do you think it’s possible for me to find a job there after we marry, but i”m not even sure if it’s allowed..

thanks so much

Glee

Hi Krizea,

Yes, I´m a Filipina but no, I´m not married to a Chinese. Grace, whose story is featured above, is married to a Japanese. Long distance relationship is definitely challenging but it´s possible to make it work. My hubby and I were in a long-distance-dating for 2 years and in a long-distance-marriage for 7 mos before we could finally be together here in Europe. If both of you are willing to do the work, there are ways to nourish a long distance relationship. As to whether or not you could work in China after moving there, I think you should discuss that with your boyfriend. He most probably has information about job opportunities available for foreigners in his land. There are many offbeat women who are married to a Chinese that seem to integrate in the country quite well. But in my experience, in order to find a job in a non-English-speaking country, you gotta learn their language. All the best to you and your boyfriend.

Laura

Hi Krizia,
I am married to a Chinese and I think you could give it a try and test if the Chinese market is what you are seeking for.
You say you don’t know if you are even allowed to.
Ok..some points…
1. When you marry a Chinese that does not give you the right to work in China, meaning marriage is not a reason to apply for a employment visa, there is no link between those (I mention this because in some countries when you marry you have the right to move and live as a local, not in China).
2. Your marriage will allow you to apply for what is called marriage visa Q1, if you want to work you will need to find a company and a job position, the company must sponsor you and give you all the required documents (Let’ call this visa employment visa and it equals to = Z visa + resident permit (Not permanent).
3. To change from your marriage visa to employment visa apart from finding a job and doing all the paperwork you will need to do part of the process out of Mainland, so budget for it.
4. I think is possible to find a job, depends on your experience, and location. Foreigners can’t take some basic jobs.
5. You can only work in one company. Your work permit is only and exclusively only for that specific job in that specific location. If you finish your job your visa is gone. If you change city your visa is gone, etc. Your visa is only linked to one company therefore holding more than one job would mean you work illegally for other company.
6. Have a look to the requirements you can find in google for that visa (last version no older versions).
7. Is possible to do it but sometimes takes time and patience. Especially the last one.

Glee

Wow, thank you so muh for this thorough information Laura! That literally covers it all!

Laura

¡Grace!
I re-read your story because I realized I forgot to comment.
Thanks for sharing with us and wish you a very happy life in Tokyo.
Laura

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: