This blog entry provides me with an excuse to put up
one more photo from my recent Japan trip -- this one taken
inside the Engyoji temple complex up on Shosazan
Some months back, I did a meme in which I mentioned that my ethnicity and/or nationality tends to get mis-identified a lot, including when my mother and I visited Taiwan last December and got frequently mistaken as Japanese. Well, after my most recent trip to Japan, my conclusion is that (my mother and) I do seem to come across as Japanese to even the Japanese -- or, at the least, it tends to be assumed by many of them that we can speak and understand their language!
Additionally, while in Hong Kong, I've been asked more than once, "Are you Korean or Japanese?" Whereby people get rather stunned when I tell them that I'm Malaysian. Part of the reason for their surprise, I think, is that I seem to be the rare Malaysian in Hong Kong who cannot speak Mandarin (because I attended Malay rather than Mandarin medium school in Malaysia) as well as is not all that fluent in Cantonese (because I'm from Hokkien-majority Penang rather than, say, Cantonese-dominated Ipoh -- the hometown of Michelle Yeoh -- and Kuala Lumpur). (On a related note, one reason why I never get mistaken for a Mainland Chinese person -- as a Hong Konger friend of mine pointed out -- is that I don't speak Mandarin.)
Among other things, this state of affairs resulted in an amusing conversation transpiring when I went to the laundry the day before I headed to Japan. To cut a long story short: The woman at the laundry that I spoke to (in bad Cantonese) asked me where I was from. When I said "Malaysia", her response was, "then why don't you speak Cantonese?" But, then, after I told her that I was off to Japan the next day, she seems to have figured that I had mistakenly told her that I was from Malaysia and, instead, was actually Japanese. Going on from there and thinking that I was Japanese, she changed her mind and decided that I spoke Cantonese very well!
All of which has me concluding that I speak Cantonese very badly if measured using the standards usually applied to Malaysians but very well if measured using the standard usually applied to Japanese folks...! ;b