Editor Note: Hamish has another in his series of Five Questions With…

Hamish came up with this idea because he was accumulating too much material for his Famous News Sushi column and asked if he could do these mini-interviews. Why would we say no?

Thank you Hamish for being such a trooper for us. We really appreciate all fo your hard work.

Let us know what you think of these interviews in the comments below.

TGG: I shared a video from this channel last week on News Sushi, and this week, I’m so happy to be able to share an interview with the one and only Clare of L Japan! For those who don’t know you, could you introduce yourself to our readers?

LJ: My name is Clare, I am a citizen of American and Ireland, and a permanent resident of Japan. I moved to Japan from Florida in 2012, and spent 3 years working as a JET Program ALT in Gifu prefecture before moving to my current city Kobe to work at a university. I started our YouTube channel “L Japan” (a play on the “L Word”) in November 2019, less than two months ago as of now, for a couple of reasons. First was to be a resource for other women like myself who want to date women in Japan, but don’t know how or what to do. Basically, videos I wish I had seen before I had to learn everything for myself. The second reason is to showcase my relationship with my girlfriend to destigmatize Japanese-foreign lesbian couples, and to bring to attention the unique challenges, namely visa status and different understandings of gay culture.

TGG: The $64,000 Question… what brought you to Japan? And what do you like about it?

LJ: I studied Japanese in high school as a foreign language elective, for no real reason other than I didn’t want to take Spanish or French. I fell in love with the language, and really linguistics in general. I ended up majoring in Chinese at university, and studied abroad in Beijing. My Chinese was much better at that time, but I wanted to “even out” my language skills by living in Japan for a year or two, becoming effectively trilingual, and then going back home to work for an international company. It turns out, I really enjoyed living in my small town, and find Japan a much easier place to live than South Florida in terms of safety, healthcare costs, living costs, food, culture etc. I had a very good placement on JET, and I think that’s one of the main reasons why I decided to stay long term.

TGG: My partner and I follow a couple of gay couples travel vlogs (eg. StepsOf2Foreigners), but I don’t think we could ever put our relationship out there on the web like that. What made you and your partner decide to put yourselves out there?

LJ: My girlfriend and I are naturally interested in seeing other couples like ourselves, not just other lesbian couples but specifically Japanese-foreign lesbian couples. We found several other Japanese-Japanese lesbian couples on YouTube, but no couple like us, so we decided to put ourselves out there. I think there is value in showing different types of relationships, because you never know who else is out there struggling. Before that, I had come out slowly on different social media platforms by posting about her, and the response was always very positive, which made starting a YouTube channel of us much less scarier.

TGG: What kind of series are you planning for the future of the channel?

LJ: As of now, there are more light-hearted Japanese videos, as I wanted to get video editing practice in before making the more serious ones, but I want to expand the topics, especially in English, including interviews with lesbian bar owners, joint videos with other international/lesbian couples, videos about how to obtain Partnership status, how to get married abroad, etc. The Japanese videos will all have English subtitles (closed captions) but the English videos will not have Japanese. Also, we plan to avoid anything overly sexual, because, aside from not being comfortable sharing stuff like that, we don’t want to contribute to the sexualization of lesbian couples. I have also created an anonymous question box, and I try to answer every question in the comments section, because I want the channel to be a resource especially to other foreign women looking to date women in Japan.

TGG: How can we best support you (i.e. where can we find your channel, follow you on social media, buy your stuff etc)

LJ: The channel is still a baby, so I would love any suggestions or requests for topics so that I know for sure what I’m making will be useful to those who watch. In terms of promotion, I don’t sell anything, but having more subscribers/views/likes helps my videos appear higher in search engine results, so sharing the channel with anyone you think may be interested would probably be the best support for us at this point. As for other social media, I have also created a Twitter account and an Instagram account (both are @ljapan_youtube), for the purpose of new video notifications as well as general lesbian/LGBT topics (Twitter) and daily life photos (Instagram).


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