Is it Time for a New Username?

This is a bit of a heavier post, but the topic is an important one that I hope to gain some insight on. There’s been some talk on Twitter calling for non-Japanese users to not use Japanese names online. The reasons cited include concerns regarding cultural appropriation and undermining the Japanese community’s online presence. Certainly, these are concerns that should be addressed and discussed.

As you can see, “moyatori” is a username with Japanese roots, and as you probably already know, I am not Japanese. While I do have my views on borrowing from a culture other than your own, I don’t wish to write this post as a defence for my username. I’ll be talking about why I chose it, but I really don’t want to come across as defensive or hostile. The title of this post is a question because if it does make people uncomfortable, I will seriously consider changing it.

Writing this post to tidy up my thoughts on culture, appreciation, and appropriation, and to invite any discussion on the murky issues surrounding these.

Aside from the debate on Japanese names, I’ve also been a part of conversations about the appropriation of indigenous knowledge from a class seminar I had to facilitate this week. One of the topics discussed was LEGO’s inappropriate “borrowing” of Maori names in Bionicle. Obviously, LEGO was in the wrong for plucking Maori names out of context, especially sacred ones, and doing so without asking. One of my questions for the seminar was what LEGO could improve on or change, and I was a bit shocked at the pessimism of most of the responses. Some of my classmates denounced the possibility of a genuine collaboration between LEGO and traditional culture, citing corrupt incentives as an invalidating factor. Others advocated that non-indigenous group shouldn’t have anything to do with indigenous knowledge, because indigenous knowledge is too complex for an outsider’s understanding, and colonial history casts too enormous of a shadow on everything.

LEGO Bionicle

Perhaps it’s because Canada has a long and complicated entanglement with colonialism that my classmates would be wary. It’s difficult – and some argue, impossible – but if done right, wouldn’t it have a positive impact on children’s cultural awareness if Maori names and legends are respectfully used in LEGO projects? Isn’t there merit to Barbie dolls of different sizes and skin colours, even if the manufacturer is only making these changes for the money?

If the only ones with a legitimate claim to a culture are the members of the culture themselves, wouldn’t the progress of intercultural understanding be stalled? Also, why is “white culture” the only one that we can (and apparently should) appropriate? Because it’s the dominant culture that doesn’t need extra protection – that’s perfectly true. But on the other hand, isn’t it counterproductive to tell people to identify with whatever part of Eurocentric culture they want while installing barriers that discourage them from adopting elements from any other culture?

Here, I feel like I must also talk about myself. My cultural knowledge and background only give me enough authority to have a say on very few cultures – really only about two. I am Taiwanese by birth and Canadian by naturalization. I can only claim full fluency in English and Mandarin, but I have also learned Japanese, Taiwanese, and Spanish (in descending level of fluency). I have never lived in Japan and my Japanese speaking skills are rather rusty, but I comprehend the language enough to read most things that I need to and translyricize an occasional song. I don’t know if Taiwan having been a Japanese colony gives me any shadow points, for anyone counting, but I suppose I grew up under the influence of Japanese culture.

About “moyatori.” It came after I decided to name my blog “The Moyatorium” by combining “もやもや” (moyamoya) – a Japanese onomatopoeia meaning “hazy,” “fuzzy,” or “gloomy” – with the English word “moratorium.” “Moratorium” in the context of psychology, not law or economics. I vibed with this pun so much at the time that I decided my name would be an extension of it, and that’s how “moyatori” occurred. It’s a name that is both an identity and an identity crisis, thanks to its angsty origin. The length of the four-syllable username came to intimidate me a bit over time, so I started identifying as just “Moya.” It’s not a real Japanese name (for better or for worse?), but it has inevitable Japanese roots.

Probably the most moyamoya image in my collection

Am I hiding behind this name? Yes, probably. What of my real name? Well, which one of them is “real”? Offline, I answer to three names depending on the context: my birth name, that name transliterated into English, and the English name that my mom chose for me out of her then-limited repertoire of English names. The first is used by my family and family friends, the second is used by the translation agency I freelance for and in legal contexts, and the third is for school, friends, and any other jobs. As a consequence of this, my names don’t have a strong sentimental value to me, and I rarely ever correct mispronunciations. “Moya” is only a fourth name, and perhaps, my favourite one yet, having created it and its associated identity from scratch. (But did I steal it from a culture that I’m not supposed to own?)

I don’t wish to be depriving an individual or cultural group of their identity by claiming it for my own. But does it have to be this way? Speaking about a culture I do have a more legitimate claim to, I wouldn’t mind people picking Chinese or Chinese-inspired usernames at all. But I guess Chinese isn’t cool enough for most people to want to do that, and I also don’t tend to find incidents of “appropriated” Chinese culture all that offensive.

The line between “appreciation” and “appropriation” has always been thin, and the category in which an action falls is, in my opinion, determined by attitude and depth of understanding of a culture. I tend to give more credit to intention. “Appropriation” is rarely driven by malicious intent, so even if someone misrepresents a culture due to inherent biases or a lack of understanding, I think it can be pardoned and possibly corrected. And if someone uses an element of a culture in a way different from what the original culture intended? I think it still comes down to what the attitude is.

We stan a dyslexic Bad Boy (Source)

Non-Asians using chopsticks for non-eating purposes? Go for it! Chopsticks in the hair is a convenient hairdo and interesting aesthetic, and I’d hate to be the only one allowed to do it just because my hair’s the right colour. People tattooing Chinese onto their skins? Ideally you’d do some research on what it means, but go for it! Nobody tattoos something onto their skin intending to make a permanent joke of themselves, so I see nothing wrong there. Writing books with Asian protagonists who embody no Asian traits at all? Well, it might not be a successful book, but you do you. Tagging stir-fry creations with #AsianInspired even if the only ingredients you use are broccoli, bell peppers, and chicken? I might secretly go “haha” before hitting the like button, but what a lovely effort!

I just think we should encourage attempts to embrace another culture rather than judge them incessantly. They might be shallow, but people must start somewhere, right? It bothers me that White people transliterating their names into Chinese beside their Twitter profile is somehow controversial. What’s disrespectful about a correct transliteration?

Of course, it’s important to have conversations that further our understandings of different cultures and raise awareness about healthy representation and how not to fetishize. These are difficult conversations with conclusions that nobody can agree on, but the more we have them the better. If we gate-keep access to cultures, these conversations won’t mean much at all?

These are, of course, only my thoughts regarding one of my cultures. I can’t speak for anyone from any other culture, or whether or not my username is offensive. I am inclined to believe that several of my opinions in this post are already triggering for some to read, but I hope that they were not too hurtful. They hadn’t been written to offend.

Please tell me what I don’t know and haven’t thought hard enough about! I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on the topic, and you are free to DM me if you want to talk about this in private. DMs always open.

55 thoughts on “Is it Time for a New Username?

  1. I think it’s a non-concern. In general, the whole concept of ‘cultural appropriation’ is something that is blown out of proportion, used more as an excuse to go after people for wanting to learn more about other cultures, than genuine concern for ensuring said culture is respected. In a lot of cases, curiosity about other cultures and wanting to experience things in an authentic fashion is a natural response, so suggesting that one can ‘steal’ from another culture is to be disingenuous.

    Further to this, cultures have always influenced one another historically: my favourite example is how during the Tang Dynasty, Japan was greatly influenced by Chinese culture, which had far reaching impact on things like language, law, and philosophy. The reality is that cultures will influence one another: no culture can exist in a vacuum. What some people consider ‘cultural appropriation’ is really just a desire to learn more about the other culture through immersion.

    For instance, I have no objections to seeing people watching HK martial arts flicks or wearing cheongsam for a Chinese New year event. Just because I am Chinese does not give me any right to claim that people are ‘stealing’ Bruce Lee movies or har gao. Similarly, when I see people with tattoos of (hilariously mistranslated) Chinese phrases, my inclination is to think that they find our hanzi cool enough to turn into a tattoo.

    Hence, I do not believe a non-Japanese individual holding a Japanese-sounding name to be doing anything wrong intrinsically.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Thanks for the comment. That’s a good point about intermingling histories.

      The tattoo issue spawns many discussions on fetishizing cultures for an “aesthetic,” which personally I wouldn’t mind at all, but which I guess it’s fair if it peeves people. I tend to agree with you that it’s a positive sign of appreciation.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. My experience has found that typically, a lot of the people getting offended over ‘cultural appropriation’ are acting offended for the sake of gaining a few easy retweets and upvotes. This is ludicrous, a consequence of people wanting attention in the easiest way possible. I’m not going to say this holds true for every case: there may be legitimacy in some instances, but if it’s going to occur on social media, chances are, it’s an attention-seeking attempt!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it’s really good that you’re thinking about this! I personally would not use a Japanese name but it’s just my personal choice. Whatever decision you make in the end, I’ll support it! I think it’s okay to stick with your current name.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I don’t see how anyone could or would take offense to your name, or mine even. It’s just a word. I could understand if the words used were something sacred or held some strong cultural value, but these are just regular words. I feel like anyone who even did take offense is actually just being unreasonable and petty, and there’s no point in enabling people like that. There are already too many angry people on the internet.

    I watch a lot of Korean Starcraft and most of the players use random English words for their names like “Snow”, “Flash”, “Dark”, “Mini”, etc. Japanese bands and twitter users and all sorts of people do the same. I’ve plenty of German and French words here and there too. People like the sound / meaning of a foreign word, and they go for it. Can’t see anything inherently wrong with that.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. True, you and I are on the same boat. “Moya” and “Yomu” actually share three letters. I don’t want to say the the voices I heard are petty, since it looks like people are genuinely hurt by this phenomenon of Japanese names representing non-Japanese people, but I guess the title of my post sounds a little reactive.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I heard a good saying the other day:
        You can’t give offense, you can only take it.

        Even if something is wrong, we choose how to react to it, especially if its out of our control. I think to be genuinely hurt over someone using a Japanese word for an online screen name is a choice. Being upset doesn’t make someone right.

        Again, if the names in question you mention are sacred, or mirror the names of important people, or somehow mock the meaning of the word, or something like that, I can understand if people get upset. But otherwise, without some proper reasoning aside from “that’s Japanese, you’re not allowed to use it” as if they speak for ALL Japanese people, I do think it’s petty. In that case, they chose to get upset over seemingly nothing, or be arrogant in thinking that they are allowed to dictate who is and isn’t allowed to take inspiration from Japanese words, as if Japan itself didn’t take inspiration from China and other countries for many of it’s own words.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. My view is that it should all depend on what you’re comfortable doing. I also think people too often blow these “cultural appropriation” issues out of proportion. As you’ve said, there’s a thin line between appreciation and appropriation, and I think showing the proper respect for another culture along with a willingness to understand it shows actual appreciation.

    Maybe I’m biased because almost everything I write about is from Japan and I’m not Japanese at all. But my understanding is that most people in Japan would probably like that people find their culture and art interesting or attractive enough to care about. And hell, Japanese is full of English loanwords, so even people here complaining about the use of words like “kawaii” should consider that. As long as the cultural exchanges going on are positive and respectful, I see nothing wrong with them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m very glad that this post is starting a lot of discussions on the topic, at least. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and I am inclined to believe that Japanese people will enjoy your blog as much as I do, though I’m probably late to discovering it. In any case, positivity and respect are certainly the way to go.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh jeez I’m gonna have the Phoenicians coming after me for my name aren’t I? I respect your considerate nature but I think it would be a little silly of a reason to change identity in a sense. I think there’s a difference between “Minnesota Vikings” and “Washington Redskins”. I don’t think there’s anything derogatory or opportunistic about your name so I see no offense in it.

    I agree with you that there’s a fine line between appreciation and appropriation but I think the more important difference is in bridge building rather than gatekeeping. I think sometimes the lines are blurry, why does Disney get to “promote diversity” with Moana, or Mulan or other culture vulture products and sell it back to them. Is it for the greater good for the positive of promoting diversity or is it kind of scummy?

    But your not lifting culture and selling it, and I think it’s rooted in your admiration and enjoyment of that culture so I don’t see anything wrong with it. You’ve made it your own and if anyone has a problem with it that’s more so on them. I think it’s good to have a conscious about this stuff, I’ve confronted with it with my own series. I’m aware that “31 Spooks of October” could be problematic if asked an extreme point of view. I’m aware that “spook” is a racial slur but I’m pretty sure that given the context and primary usage of the world that if someone wants to go through the mental gymnastics to make a tin foil claim that I’m dog whistling or being out of line that’s more on them being a whacko then promoting any sort of social good.

    IDK Moya, the internet is a wild place and it seems like we’re always looking for the next thing to have a big fat opinion on. Usually the petty stuff like this is the easiest as it’s less consequential in the grand scheme of things. I think you come from a caring place and your goal is to promote Japanese culture so in a sense your brand takes on a life of it’s own. If anything it’d probably be more reasonable to change it over the fact that Moyamoya is a rare condition for brain blood vessels and that’s weird.

    Yeah I don’t think it be a problem, but the decision is ultimately yours. Now me calling myself a “critic” now that’s offensive.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, “Mulan” is a hotspot for me. The animation is a sort of decent but badly watered-down rendering of a beloved Chinese folk story. But then Disney decided they’d make a live-action version for release in China. They had visions of big $$$.

      In order for a western company to release a movie in China, it has to be approved by the Emperor or at least his representatives. That is currently president-for-life Xi Jinping. The original mythology is about a girl who protects her elderly father from being forced into the military by pretending to be a boy and going in his place. The primary focus of the legend is her love for her father and the cruelty of the Emperor and his minions in drafting people incapable of fighting just for canon fodder.

      In order for the Chinese government to accept the movie, it had to be completely rewritten. Now she is a fully adult, extremely female, super-warrior who is a member of the Emperor’s personal guard. She is dedicated to is protecting the Emperor and following orders.

      In the traditional legend, it was the Emperor attacking nomadic tribes, not a desperate defense against invading Mongols. Mulan did not reveal her gender until after the wars were over and she was safely home, else the Emperor would have executed her. The Chinese people saw this as obvious propaganda and panned the movie. Disney lost money.

      If Xi Jinping were really smart, he’d have made viewing the movie mandatory. He and Disney would come out ahead that way.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I didn’t actually know much about the politics behind Disney’s Mulan, though I do know a thing or two about the ballad it was based on. Can only say that my family and I enjoyed the animated film when it came out? (But then we’re *technically* not Chinese?)

        The intentions behind a company’s decisions don’t tend to bother me very much. Are they trying to tell a good story more, or are they trying to make money? Could be either, probably both, and I’m okay with accepting the premise that companies are money-driven. So “culture vulture” or not? Who cares if the film is good!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Hmm, I suppose my name would be 10x more offensive if I did anything for profit. Like if I published a book with this name and got famous, which is a horrifying thought in multiple ways. (If I ever get famous, the first thing I’m doing is making my Twitter private)

      Thank you for the reassurance. And yes, I was informed of the moyamoya disease shortly after the start of my blogging career and that was kind of awkward. At least I doubt that’s what anyone who actually uses the word “moyamoya” would think of first when they hear the word.

      I still think it’s worth looking into the cultural and political implications of a username, even if I am already attached to mine, and I only hope that I have done so appropriately.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know it’s kind of like copyright, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with making a profit. It’s a judgement of intent if Moya is your brand and you begin selling merch with your design and name as a way to spread your personal and unique brand than that’s fine. It’s not like you’re going this is hip or cool or profitable so let’s make a bunch of shirts with Japanese characters because that’s a trendy thing I can capitalize on.

        Well I think you being famous is a delightful thought as it means that more people get to experience your neat personality and reviews.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t know, I think I’m in agreement with Emily Dickinson when it comes to fame:

        How dreary – to be – Somebody!
        How public – like a Frog –
        To tell one’s name – the livelong June –
        To an admiring Bog!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. To be contrary, I think cultural appropriation is good. My ancestors were pulled kicking and screaming into the wider world by the Romans. They still had diplomas in Latin less than a century ago. The Salish and other tribes tried to bootstrap themselves into a more gracious life by rather forcefully requesting of Father DeSmet that he come with them and teach them. The Japanese took frying – tempura – from the Portuguese and Baseball from Americans. Rangaku [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rangaku ] is nothing but appropriation. And the Japanese were welcome to it. If English had to return all the words we blatantly stole from other languages, we could hardly express ourselves. I confess to feeling strange when ‘Chinese’ restaurants use carrots, chili peppers,peanut oil, and broccoli, but I am grateful for it.

        I think learning from our neighbors is good. That’s what it really is. And we are ALL neighbors.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. My feelings on the subject can be summarized very simply:
    They say, or, rather, they screech, “Cultural appropriation!”
    And I say, “F*** them.” Complete with a middle finger.

    Elaborating a bit more, and a bit more politely, on *why* I feel that way:

    The stories we tell are about us. All of us. Humanity. Taking inspiration from other cultures is merely an extension of learning from one another, and joining together all the truths we find into the greater whole. Without it, there is no Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Dungeons and Dragons, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Thor comics and movies, Legend of Zelda, Super Mario, Stargate, and so much more. If we forbid it, we are putting up barriers between individuals as well as societies. It chokes any hope for peace, by strangling the love that we, as humans, can always feels for our fellow man, because we must always remain separate, always remain “pure” and without “contamination.” This is utterly counter to everything good in human nature. What is left is blind zealotry of fanatics. Oh, and look! That’s exactly what is demonstrated by the people who screech about it so much!

    Are there times where people have hastily and ignorantly stepped on other people’s most sacred customs and beliefs? Yes. Yes, they have. And there are times when people do so deliberately, too. We should strive to avoid giving offense, but, as a comedian once put it, nothing happens when you get offended. I’m not going to get leprosy because someone else’s version of “art” was to put a Christian cross in a pile of poop. Neither will I get struck by lightning because Stan Lee and Stargate both made versions of Thor which depart wildly from the being that my own ancestors once worshiped. Allah is not going to come down in wrath on Muslims just because one of them heard a song in Ocarina of Time which bears a very slight, and very accidental, resemblance to one of their sacred songs. Samurai and ninjas will not appear and cut people down just because we’ve shared our languages. And the wizard of Arthurian legend is not going to appear and turn me into a toad just because I’ve used his name as an online handle since middle school. 😉

    Now, if you choose to change your online name, for your own reasons, that will be your choice and far be it from me to try and dictate anything you do (the way *that* crowd *would*). But it sounds to me like your online name has a good deal of personal significance to you. You intended no offense and have not given any offense, and you would not dream of diminishing what other people value. In short, I see nothing whatsoever wrong with keeping it. It’s yours, not theirs.

    And to Hell with anyone who *might* (theoretically) try to make you feel ashamed of what is yours.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you for the comment, I enjoyed reading it. I think you’re safe from the wrath of Merlin; you seem to be positive representation for him. I hope I didn’t give the impression that I was victimized, in my attempt to write about trying not to victimize people!

      I do agree that people tend to be overly sensitive, especially online, but I also don’t want to undermine what people are voicing about their suffering. Whether I agree or not, there’s a reason that people feel a certain way, and I wanted to have a conversation about it. I know I didn’t link directly to any of the Twitter discussions I saw, mostly because I’m kind of intimidated by the possibility of drama, but it’s nice that I’m at least getting a few different viewpoints on the subject both as comments and through DMs. Thanks again for pitching in!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Of course! I’m glad my comment was appreciable. And no, you didn’t give any victimized impression. I just tend to speak my mind very strongly and with very little tact. 😉

        (also, very wise to avoid the twitter drama)

        Liked by 1 person

  7. As a straight white guy from America, I definitely have very little room to comment on what other people should and should not find offensive. However, this is actually the first time I’m hearing about this, and I spend quite a bit of time on the internet. From what I understand, it is generally a cultural tradition in Japan to give someone a Japanese name after they haves lived there for a while, but beyond that my insight is limited. I would maybe take some time to talk to those who no more about the issue, but otherwise I don’t think your name is particularly offensive.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That is an idea often criticized by others, usually citing the complexity of colonial history and how one side needs more help to get to their feet under current socio-political circumstances. It always makes me feel torn, because I do in fact agree that symmetry is important in any social movement, gender equality for example. And yes, Jack, your say is relevant to the discussion too!


  8. I think about this topic sometimes, not just because of its relevance to Japanese and International Studies, but because of the whole “how [culture of your ethniticy] are you if you were born in a place that historically has nothing to do with you?” question.

    A lot of my answer is personal enough that I don’t want to leave it in this comment section, so I think I’ll properly answer via DMs instead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ethnicity being a factor determining your right to practice to embody a certain culture feels like a kind of determinism, and I’m not really comfortable with it. Thanks for having that discussion with me!


  9. Oh, oh- Let me jump in on this since my username is in a grey zone I think! My name, as people might know, is taken from Code Geass and is a combination of the main character Lelouch and love interest Shirley Fenette. I admired how Shirley’s love was so pure and complete and so I donned her last name. In a way, it’s also a ship name, but I didn’t want to be called Lelouch [Fenette] and so it was shortened to Le Fenette.

    Because of this, the name seems much more French. But there’s nothing spelled like “Fenette” in French. The closest is fenêtre which sounds the same and means window. So, in the end, I have a vaguely western European name that I took from a Japanese anime that has approximations of real culture for the purposes of storytelling. I also have Fenette written in Katakana on my Twitter. And I’m neither French, Japanese, or even generally European.

    Here’s my two cents on the full scenario. I’ve had many conversations about culture and cultural appropriation in an academic setting and I’ve to the conclusion that “borrowing” is okay so long as you understand what it is you’re borrowing. If you don’t know what you’re taking and are aware of that lack of knowledge yet persist anyway, it’s very questionable. As for how to maintain cultural values when intertwined, that would take a comment that’s far too long and would have too many subpoints. What I would stress above all to people is to ask “why have I chosen this word?”

    In your case, I think it’s very appropriate and not harmful at all. In fact, I like it. It’s what a name strives to be: an explanation of yourself. Every part of it tells your story and that includes the mixture of Japanese and psychology.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for weighing in on this! I would never have guessed that your name was a Code Geass reference, so it was nice reading your explanation. I can agree with the emphasis on awareness and knowledge-seeking as an aspect of healthy cultural appreciation. I’ve never thought of my name as telling a story. It’s a pleasant thought!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I think it comes down to one thing: respect! If you are disrespecting a culture in some way by for instance choosing a cultural name and adding something to that name that makes it disrespectful, than I can understand how people could be outraged by something like that. But you aren’t doing that now are you? You chose this name not out of disrespect in any way. I think in general these days people are becoming way too sensitive by the smallest things. I’m a really patient guy, but even my patient is lately often brought to the limit because of things like that.
    So really, if you ask me, no need to change your name at all. You are doing nothing wrong, and you should simply stick with it. Just by writing this post it shows that you are thinking about an issue that other people might nog even consider, and if that’s not a sign of respect I don’t know what is😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, nobody targeted me specifically at all, I just thought to respond to it since it was a current topic. So you also think it comes down mostly to intention. Thank you for the comment; I appreciate it!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I don’t see any harm in your username as it comes from a respectful place; it would be like someone calling themselves the Movie Samurai because their blog covers Asian cinema – it’s appropriate branding rather than appropriation in my view.

    However, I do feel confused when people have Twitter handles written in Kanji/Katakana/Hiragana and they turn out to be English/American/non-Asian. I know they do it because they think it looks cool or are delineating their love of Asian culture by picking something descriptive about them in Japanese, but some do it to show off they know the language and they are the worst.

    tl;dr – your name is fine! 🙂

    BTW – what does “We stan a dyslexic Bad Boy” mean? :-/

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I guess I have a bit of a problem with your example of Twitter handles – if there is an English/American person who is an EN JP translator, then I think it would be okay for them to have their name in katakana, because that’s the correct way to write their name in the language they translate in. Finding matching kanji that don’t offend/turn out to be something silly, for someone who knows how kanji work or for people who receive such names from their homestay parents (or whatever other personal connections a person may have in Japan), is really just an extra level of flair.

      …Then again, if they were a translator or someone who studied Japanese to the N1/N2 level, a person might write part of their Twitter bio in fluent Japanese instead. For instance, I have 日本語もOKです。 in my Twitter bio which indicates this (I’m not yet at the N2 standard due to COVID as of this comment, but I’m kinda close).

      Also, not all Asians know Chinese characters. I think you’re conflating “China” with “the whole of Asia” there.

      Re: “dyslexic bad boy”: If you go to the source Moya provides, it actually gives you the answer in the photo caption – it’s meant to say “bad boy”, but it came out wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think you have misconstrued my comments. I was referring to anime/game fans who use Japanese for their names, mostly to show off they know Japanese, (they do exist) which I personally find a tad egregious, but that’s just me.

        Which is why I never said I had a problem with it, I just think it is misleading – if I see a Japanese name and/or Japanese text in their handle I naturally expect that person to be Japanese. Nothing to lose sleep over though, just something I thought cogent to Moya’s question.

        And for clarity about the tattoo picture, I was querying the word “stan”, which I assume is some teen slang I am too old to understand.

        Thanks for the reply though.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I wouldn’t really mind non-Asian people using Chinese in their Twitter handles. Who knows? They can have personal reasons for having a Chinese name, and even if they don’t, I still think it’s a nice thought. It’s just too hard to judge their intention as an outsider.

      “Stan” is just another way to say “support someone strongly (perhaps fanatically).” Used as a joke in this context, haha. But yeah, I seriously don’t mind people tattooing ridiculous Chinese on their bodies. They do them.

      Thank you for your comment!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Fun fact about the term “Stan”: It actually comes from the Eminem song of the same name since the song was about a hardcore fan of that rapper writing letters to Slim Shady himself. Also, it can be a combination of “stalker” and “fan”.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yup! I always wondered about that when I first heard the term a year or two ago. I guessed if it had anything to do with the Eminem song, and thought it was interesting when I was right for part of the etymology. Haha!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. This is a heavy topic, but this discussion should definitely be had. I wasn’t aware of that when it came to non-Japanese people not being allowed to use Japanese names on Twitter usernames and handles. I did some thinking about this because I’ve used Japanese names as usernames during my high school years when I was super into anime. Maybe in hindsight, was I being offensive even though I was into Japanese culture and took classes in the language during my last year and a half of high school even though I’m not Japanese?

    Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about appreciating other cultures. Same with learning other languages even if they aren’t associated with your heritage. You could even make a case of even cooking other dishes could be a form of appreciation when done right.

    Like you said earlier, Eurocentrism can be very problematic especially in America and Canada. It seems like the messages can come off as “white is right” whether in subtle or overt ways in society. Someone’s race isn’t their fault and I’m not bashing anyone’s ethnic background since that would be very counterproductive to this and other conversations. I was talking about the racial climate and the systematic aspects than any individual person, to be clear.

    I wasn’t aware of Lego’s Bionicle series appropriating Maori names. That’s not cool of them to do so especially since that ethnic group went through so much especially when they were colonized in what we call New Zealand. I could name other examples of blatant disrespect to other cultures. There was a trend years ago especially with hipsters where they would wear Native American/First nations headdresses which I thought was stupid and insulting. Someone made a scathing meme of that trend where they said something along the lines of “Hey, we killed their ancestors, so let’s wear their stuff!” to drive the cultural appropriation point home. Look at Iggy Azalea. She’s a white Australian woman who is trying to have a so-called “Black-cent” whenever she raps. Not only does her delivery sound fake and cringe-worthy, but it’s derogating rap music and making an assumption that all African-Americans talk that way which is just offensive. I know you know I’m going to bring up this example, but this bears repeating: Disney trademarked the phrase “Hakuna Matata”. The fact Mickey Mouse can legally profit off the name (I’m not just talking about the song) and can sue others for using it “the wrong way” is beyond insulting. They never invented the phrase to begin with and it’s super common in the Swahili-phone parts of Africa. Of course, a good portion of Lion King fans don’t know crap about African cultures, so they wouldn’t care about that stuff, but that was just malicious on Disney’s part because they’ve never done that with other cultures. Could you imagine if they trademarked a common Mandarin phrase like “Xie Xie” for example to help promote Mulan?

    This is certainly a topic that I have been doing more research on and something I do care about. I don’t know how much my heritage (Black/white mixed) plays into this conversation, but I know I’ve gotten angry with people appropriating other cultures. You certainly don’t come across as someone who would just disrespect another culture. If you were to trademark your user name, then that would be bad (not that you would do such a thing). If you feel compelled to change your user name, that’s fine, but if you want to keep it that way, then I understand, too.

    Whew! That was a long text block. Hope you’re alright.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the discussion. As you see, I have no clear-cut response regarding the use of Japanese names, and am not really in a place to give such advice. I’m glad my post gave you something to think about though.

      And yikes about “Hakuna matana.” Very relevant to the discussion I had in class about indigenous intellectual property. I tend to feel wary about anything other than company names getting trademarked.

      I’m doing fine; glad to be spending time responding to all the comments!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No problem. I appreciate you being honest about this situation.

        Yeah, that was so insulting of Disney to do that. It also adds to my point of The Lion King being built on a legacy of theft and that case is more offensive to me than them stealing stuff from Kimba (even though their constant denial insults my intelligence). I found out about the trademark weeks after finding out I was part Congolese on my mom’s side since Swahili is one of the official languages in the DRC. You could even add the fact that “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” is a plagiarized song when you look at “Mbube” by Solomon Linda. Good call about that unless it’s a company name. I wish those cases were more well known and that more people cared.

        That’s good to know. It’s good that we can have a healthy discussion.

        Liked by 1 person

  13. People are just looking for things to be offended by. I bet that if you asked a hundred random Japanese people they couldn’t care less. Whether you use a Japanese word as the name for your blog is entirely dependent on social pressure from other Americans.

    Even the word “appropriation” is selected for psychological reasons and is not truthful. To appropriate is to take something away from another. What is “appropriated” is no longer available. You aren’t taking Japanese culture away from the Japanese for your own private use. You are expanding American culture – which is already a mixture of many other cultures – to include a bit of Japanese. *Adoption* is an accurate word for what happens.

    The notion that a culture can only be enjoyed by people of a certain genetic ancestry feels vaguely racist.

    Say some guy in Tokyo sets up a blog called Joe’s Place to talk about American cinema. Do I get to be all huffy and insulted that they have appropriated American culture? Nah, that wouldn’t go anywhere. Just look at how much western culture Japan adopted because the Japanese people liked it. Baseball, western clothing, rock/pop music, fast food, English words. Why should the process no go both ways?

    The interface between two cultures is always going to be a blend of the two. Culture is meant to be shared and appropriated and tweaked. It is how the world evolves. Demanding cultural purity is a lot like demanding racial purity.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The poison has sunk deep! “shared and appropriated and tweaked” should be “shared and adopted and tweaked” The only way to “appropriate” culture to is use it yourself and then deny that option to everyone else.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you for the insight, Fred! I wouldn’t be all to bothered if it was just American voices complaining about appropriation, but I do know that there are Japanese people who are unhappy about this. Might seem unusual that I dedicate a post to the issue on my blog, but since starting my master’s degree, I’ve found myself surrounded by great minds that are passionate about cultural issues and social justice, and have often wondered how to align myself.

      I haven’t thought about the semantics behind “appropriation,” so thank you for that. And yes, I do believe that progress should happen both ways to enable the most meaningful exchanges.


  14. In general, the ‘cultural appropriation’ discussion is complicated, as there’s not clear line, or guidelines, on what’s acceptable or not. But in your case, no, I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with an ANIME BLOGGER using a Japanese nickname/blogname.

    You use that because of how important Japanese culture is for you, and also because that is directly related to your blog’s content, and your online persona. It’s not like you are a random person that barely knows/consumes/talk about Japanese culture.

    If an anime blogger can’t use a Japanese nickname/blogname to talk about Japanese culture, should US companies like Crunchyroll be allowed to ‘appropriate and monetize’ Japanese culture, selling it to people who are not from Japanese descent? Should it be a problem that most (if not all) of crunchyroll’s founders are not Japanese? Or because they pay a small part of their profits as royalties to Japanese companies, then it’s ok? Because they turn on a profit?

    Or should we also send back all Chinese, Greek, Egyptian pieces we have in our museums all over the world? I think that would be more aligned to cultural appropriation, right? Specially considering how much art was actually stolen at some point. But if museums are allowed to do that because they are disseminating the culture, shouldn’t an anime blog also be allowed something simple, like a name?

    I say: don’t worry. The internet is gigantic, and displeased people are usually louder. Even more the ones that are always looking for things to complain about. Those are really loud.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the comment, Falcon! The museum debate is a whole other crazy one that I lack the knowledge or mental capacity to get into… You bring up great points about cultural knowledge and monetization, and I am inclined to agree with you.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I sort of have mixed feelings about situations like this. On the one hand, I’m against cultural appropriation strongly, however, I also really do understand what you mean about there being a difference between appreciation and appropriation. You see, my dad has been training in the art of Iaido for probably over a decade now. Iaido is the art of drawing the sword, it is the martial art of the samurai. To him it isn’t about playing with a flashy sword; it’s spiritual. This is a case of a man who was born in the wrong place, at the wrong time. He follows the shinto path and studies with a traditional Japanese Master who has set up schools worldwide. The Master of the school actually sits on one of the highest Japanese martial arts comitees.

    I’m explaining all this, not to brag, but to show that there are people who have gone out of their way to learn everything possible about the culture, the language and even beyond it (he’s retired now and is now restoring antique swords). While he’s not on twitter, there will be some of those people on Twitter who have not appropriated the culture and like him and like yourself honour the culture by choosing a Japanese name to represent yourselves. I think it’s very important to keep in mind how things work in the culture we’re discussing and honour is particularly important in the Japanese culture. So I would ask yourself; do you feel that you are honouring their culture?

    The fact that you’re worrying about it and have taken the time to write this post says to me that you’re on the right path.

    Also, keep in mind that quite often the people who are offended are usually not even part of the culture in the first place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your dad’s story, Heather! He sounds like a remarkable man, and I’ll be keeping the concept of honour in mind.

      I’ve been learning and thinking about appropriation more since starting my MLIS program, which I remember that you also did. Grateful for all the insightful discussions I’ve been able to have thanks to the blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Hello Moya,

    You have started an interesting conversation and something to think about.

    I would suggest maybe considering using something like Esperanto to make a new username, that would be interesting, and you do not have to worry about cultural appropriation issues with a language like that; or maybe using part(s) of your real name like I do.

    Good luck,
    -John Jr

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting, I did not know about Esperanto. As I’ve mentioned, I kind of have a hard time deciding which one of my names is “real,” haha. For now, I may stick with “Moya.”

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I personally think someone or the particular group can only really decide what is appropriation. In Islam, we would more than welcome for people to practice Islamic teachings. But Bangladeshi culture would be an entirely different thing. Of these South Asian countries, as compared to Pakistan and India, we aren’t treated as well. But there’s a huge difference in showing a nod to appreciating our culture to appropriating it because, often, appropriation is weaponised as a subtle patronising tactic. E.g. we appropriated a part of your culture to make it more mainstream, likeable and popular. Though the intent might not always be as explicit, the underlying subconscious intent is just that without the self-awareness to realise it as such.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing this! I agree that unintentional harm can still have damaging consequences. I’m inclined to believe that making an attempt at appreciation is better than shying away from it altogether, but it’s important to have conversations that advance cultural understanding.


  18. Coming upon this and I have some thoughts as a multicultural person. I see a lot of comments saying appropriation isn’t real or whatever and I have to question if any really know what cultural appropriation is.

    “ the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society.”

    Copied straight from google. Point blank it’s the bastardization by a dominant culture who has often initiated genocide or restricted aspects of another’s culture as well. “Sacred” seems to be thrown loosely around without consideration of what that could mean to a culture, whether that is words, places, ideas, or even names.

    Dominant cultures will not understand. And like wise people of Japan will likely have a different perspective than Japanese born abroad who are subjected to prejudice against them and their culture. As someone said the key is respect. And unless one is intimately connected to another culture it can be difficult to give the proper respect needed.


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