What If Womanhood Were A Country?

Exploring the borders of gender.

Steve QJ
4 min readSep 25, 2022
Photo by cottonbro

The moment my feet touched Japanese soil, I felt a powerful and wholly unexpected sense of identification.

Given where I’m going with this, some of you will assume I’m only saying it to make a point, but I’m being 100% sincere. It was one of the most profound experiences of my life.

It was nighttime, and I’d just stepped off the plane, so there wasn’t much to see. Narita airport is just as uninspiring as any other. But the humidity in the air, the new scents carried by the breeze, the sound of my fellow travellers as we milled about on the tarmac, every cell in my body told me this was somewhere I belonged. Even writing these words makes me feel homesick for it.

Over the next two weeks, as if I were making up for lost time, I devoured the history of each shrine and izakaya and pachinko parlour I saw. I learned how Japan’s topography makes it uniquely vulnerable to natural disasters. I memorised every nuance of etiquette and culture my westernised brain could absorb. If I believed in past lives, I’d swear I was Japanese in my last one.

But sadly, in this one, I’m not.

So while now, five visits later, I can eat effortlessly with chopsticks, have a comprehensive understanding of the intricacies of sumo…



Steve QJ

Race. Politics. Culture. Sometimes other things. Almost always polite. Find more at https://steveqj.substack.com