Not just Asian. My Meyers-Briggs personality type as influenced by my autism causes me to have, in the words of David Keirsey- fascination with the Holy and the Profane (Please Understand Me II, a stupid pop psychology book, but it does have some insight, and thanks to the autism I fit neatly into one of his 16 little boxes). They want JAPANESE specifically, and not AINU but Southern Japanese.
I know the difference because for the longest time I was fascinated by the neurotypical original sin failing of racism- particularly racist situations which outsiders find ridiculous, like the difference between Swedes and Danes. The China Sea is surrounded by racist cultures that actually pride themselves on being racist- and see race as a part and parcel of a justly and highly ordered legalistic civilization. Thus I know that my cousin, who has an ethnic Southern Japanese Mother and a French/Dutch/English Father, was handed menus in Ainu when she was touring southern Japan (because no truly ethnic Japanese would be that tall).
So basically, what they want isn’t just Asian- but short Asians, with no beard on men, and thick, heavy eyelids. Because that’s who would have been living in Nagasaki and Hiroshima at the time.
Thin eyelids make Japanese into Koreans. Beards and height make them into Ainu.
Modern Ainu populations are found in Northern Japan (Hokkaido), not southern. You may be confusing the Ainu with the Rykyuans. In addition, I would add that I cannot believe there would be an “Ainu” menu anywhere, as there are no longer any monolingual Ainu in existence. Indeed, there are no longer any known speakers of Ainu as a primary language. I would also second what Ghosty says. The Yamato population is easily the most hirsute of all East Asians, with about 25% of males having extensive body hair. (I personally knew one young (early 20’s) business man in Tokyo who needed to shave twice daily. )
This was a while back- in the 1970s- and on the same trip my grandmother, who was accompanying them, got handed menus in English.
I was going to post something similar, though I don’t know if the physical characteristics described above are entirely accurate. Japanese men in particular can be fairly hirsute at times, likely owing to the Ainu/Jomon ancestry.
My wife is Japanese, and one thing that will raise the ire of a Japanese quicker than anything is to call them Chinese or Korean, and visa versa. If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years it’s that there is no such thing as “Asian”, but rather each nation has it’s own very strong identity (and very strong views about other East Asian countries/cultures). Keep in mind that East Asia never had anything like “Christendom” or the Roman Empire to create a unified identity the way Europe did; there may be a generic “Asia” or “East Asia” in the minds of outsiders (including Americans of East Asian ancestry), but typically there is no such thing for natives except for a general geographical identification.
I was visiting an Adult Family Home a few months back, and the person who ran the place was a White American woman and had several different East Asian employees, specifically Korean and Mongolian IIRC. The lady was innocently relating a story about a resident (who was Japanese) who was especially mean towards one of the Mongolian employees. The woman innocently said that she had thought that the resident would be nicer to this employee because they were both Asian, and I responded (politely and jovially, this wasn’t a lecture or confrontation) that there was no such thing as “Asian”, but rather Mongolian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, ect. One of her Mongolian employees piped up and said “Thank you! An American who understands this!” and we all laughed.
What makes this especially difficult is that we have nonsense in this country like “Asian Heritage Month”, and which often focuses on East Asia in my experience. The fact that people of East Asian descent in the U.S. typically use the term Asian generically (like the rest of Americans) doesn’t help matters much. I don’t care if people want to identify as “Asian”, mind you, I’m just pointing out that this identification is not necessarily shared by people who are actually from the region. :-p
As a side note, you will never hear more casual racism against various groups of East Asians then by other, different, East Asians. My wife has live in the U.S. for over twenty years and I still have to remind her that it’s not ok to casually make negative statements about “the Chinese”.
This is where the “The More You Know” rainbow appears over my head.
Peace and God bless!
Fair enough. But we are, after all, talking about the need for some costumed and made up extras walking around in the background of a film. A movie about the bombing of Dresden that ask for caucasian extras would not need to parse the subtle differences physiognomy between Slavs, Italians, English, French and German. Just dress people in rags, make them up to look burned, and throw some rubble over them. It’s just a movie, not a treatise on the ethnic diversity of Europe. Same here.
Actually Ghosty, There was an analogue to the Roman Empire in East Asia, and it was the Han Empire in China. It is no accident that 90+ percent of the Chinese ethnos describes themselves as “Han” despite wide variation in appearance between northerners and southerners, easterners and westerners.
I tend to agree, Mark. The request asked specifically for Japanese extras, though, which I interpreted to mean Japanese actors rather than characters. I figure if they made a point to specify there must be a reason, though perhaps they meant that the characters are Japanese?
No worries, Mark. I didn’t mean what I said to come across as a lecture; it was more of an observation I find amusing and your post highlighted it. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that you had done anything wrong, or that you were being unconsciously racist or any non-sense like that. 🙂
No worries. I didn’t think that at all. You’re a good egg.
That’s certainly true for China, but I’m referring to Rome’s pan-continental\international character. China had a big influence on surrounding countries, but it didn’t form the cultural foundation for all of modern East Asia the way Rome did for continental Europe. Jan China is certainly fascinating in it’s own right, though; and my favorite book is the Moss Roberts translation of There Kingdoms. 🙂
Keep in mind that “China” as you conceive of it did not exist in antiquity, and the Han empire did extend over a full continental expanse, submerging many hundreds of ethnicities under it aegis. (For example, Cao Cao (Meng De) of the three kingdoms, was not, technically speaking Chinese, though few Chinese today can conceive of this fact. You have to consider the ancient “Countries” (Zhao, Qin, Wei, and nauseum) that constituted today’s “China” prior to the Qin unification. I would also dispute with you on the cultural influence on the “greater China” countries. The Koreans had Hangul writing, but it was unused until the 19th century, when it was popularized by protestant missionaries, until then, Koreans wrote excessively in literary Chinese, same goes for Vietnam. Japanese did develop its own writing systems, but these were originally used only by women, and even from the Kamakura period forward, Classical Chinese still held the higher esteem among the literati.