My Mutated DNA

Chinese is about 5% of Indonesia population. Japanese, outside Bali, is rarely seen on the streets. Indonesians can easily distinguish them. But, most of them think I am a Japanese, especially in tourist destination areas. They talk to me in English, or greet me with Japanese words such as ku ni chi wa.

Last week we visited Prambanan Temple in Central Java. I asked Meidy to buy the entrance tickets to Prambanan Temple and told her that the woman in the ticket booth would ask my KITAS (temporary stay permit for foreigners). The woman did. She stared at me from the booth while reading my local ID card. She might have thought we had cheated them for 50K rupiah, the extra payment the foreigners have to pay. That is the reason why Meidy always deals with the vendors, instead of I, in the touristic areas.

Sometimes I make fun of the people who misidentify my ethnicity. I say I am from Tokyo if they ask my origin city. Or, I say I just learn bahasa Indonesian for two months when they ask how long I have learned Indonesian. “Wouw, pintar!” is the next words; it means smart.

I am sure these Indonesians have “normal” eyes because the Japanese themselves misidentified me in Lombok and Peru. They talked to me in Japanese and were embarrassed when I said I were not a Japanese. Why do I look like a Japanese? I am sure I am my father’s son because there was no Japanese in my hometown when I was a baby.