Family Matters

I have quite a few relatives in Japan, and have met many of them over the course of my stay here. They are all from my father’s side of the family, because the wealthy snobs on my mother’s side cut off contact with their American relatives years ago. I have not tried to get in touch, either – although I’ve made plans to several times, it’s not really that important to me, I guess. I get busy and forget about it, you know how it goes.
I’m quite close with a few of my second cousins (on my father’s side). I go visit them in Nara sometimes, and we hang out. It’s just nice having relations around sometimes… I think of this as an added bonus for Nikkei since most of us don’t have the “blue-eyed, blonde-haired gaijin” looks and benefits associated with such in Japan.
Anyway. I’m in a difficult situation now, or rather, my cousin is. She told me about it a couple weeks ago, and I really haven’t stopped thinking about it since then. Her parents have set up a marriage of convenience for her. She is unwilling – she has a boyfriend, among other things. But her parents are unrelenting. These facts alone create several different problems and no easy solution. There are other factors involved, but this is as detailed as I’m comfortable with, for now.
First off, I told her not to elope with her boyfriend in haste. Such youth does not mix well with impromptu life decisions, and I can say that because I know. Luckily, she wasn’t really considering that anyway so I didn’t have to convince her too hard. In fact, she is now pursuing the best course of action possible, and we covered it in detail that day.
Basically, I gave her my support. There is nothing else I can do at the moment. I respect her parents and understand their motivation, but I support their daughter, which, by the way, is what I think they would want of me, as well. I know them well. It is not for lack of understanding or compassion that they would marry their daughter to a person she has never met.
My cousin expressed regret that there is no happy ending to this situation. I told her that you can’t make everyone happy, and that the real Japanese way to handle this – a dual skinny dip in icy water via Osamu Dazai – might be just a bit dramatic. She laughed out loud, and the sound of it made everything better for a instant.
We are keeping in touch, and when I think about this it consumes me.
For the time being, I ask anyone who reads this post to refrain from acknowledging it in the real world to anyone but me. There is zero chance of it affecting the situation at hand, but it will piss me off anyway. Meanwhile, thanks for lending an ear.

3 thoughts on “Family Matters

  1. decisions that involve other members of your family can suck, especially when the consequences of your choices can totally suck even MORE. I imagine that this is a time when close relationships & the support they provide mean a lot. i’m sure that’s not lost on your cousin & that she must really appreciate the advice & perspective you offer.

  2. Just “being there” for your cousin while keeping a compassionate distance from any direct involvement in her family’s decision, is an act of a good, wise heart. You are the CosmicBuddha!

  3. Omiai is yet another one of those facets of Japan that is so hard to explain or categorize. Marriage itself is a different beast than in the West.
    I hope it all works out for her in the end. Her parents sound very old-fashioned.

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