Japan - 日本 Journal

Tokyo – 日本人と外人の関係について


By tok_matthew

May 29th, 2005 @ 5:35 PM Life in Tokyo




1.日本人にはじめてと日本人よくLets go to the Izakaya sometimeを言っています。外人はこの文を聞くと本との招待だと思っています。そして、外人の答えは、

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Tokyo – Racism in Japan

Racism in Japan

By tok_matthew

January 4th, 2005 @ 5:06 PM Law & OrderRacism

In today’s Japan times there is an article on page 13 entitled “Racism is bad business.” It addresses the issue of foreigners being barred entry to certain Japanese establishments and how this hurts international business in Japan. Over my 3 years in Japan I have seen many articles and pieces devoted to this issue and I would like to get some feedback from you other Japan ex-pats out there. We all know that racism is not good but for the sake of sport, I would like to argue against all this whining from ex-pats about the racism issue. So without further delay let’s start the debate.

I have never experienced being barred from any Japanese establishments (of course I lived in Tokyo and it may differ in the countryside) and I’m tired of all this ex-pat whining. Japan is a homogenous country and they have very specific customs and rules of behavior that most foreigners cannot understand. Most of us ex-pats are good hard working people and try to understand Japan from the inside. But then you have the other type of “gaijin” like in Shibuya or Roppongi that are extremely shady and are suspect. If I was Japanese I would bar these people too.

Further, I (like many of us) got my start in Japan teaching English. We used to go to Watami, get extremely drunk and make a wreck of the place. Some gaijins commented that many of us go crazy because we are not in our home country and think that acceptable forms of behavior no longer apply. There were food fights, vegetarians that gave the waiters hell if they could not understand that they wanted their salads with no bacon bits and got angry when the food came with a bit of meat, and drunkards spilling their beers all over the place. I’ve noticed that the Japanese do not resort to this type of behavior no matter how drunk they are. Just go to any of the foreigner areas in Tokyo and you’ll be sure to see a gaijin making a mess of himself.

Most Japanese in the countryside do not know how to deal with foreigners and a few bad apples have spoiled it for the rest of us. I think that on the overall and circumstances being what they are here in Japan, the Japanese do a very good job of hosting the foreigner. Sure there are hard times and I too have been rejected from many apartments because I was a foreigner. But once you learn the ropes of dealing with the Japanese and speak the language, many of these obstacles dissapear into thin air. Don’t get me wrong, I almost lost my sanity a few times dealing with apartment rental and university life where they do not know how to deal with foreigners. But after being here for three years and learning the language, my life has become 300% easier. I think that if gaijins made more of an effort to understand Japan and the Japanese instead of trying to have Japan adjust to them, this racism stuff would ease up a bit.

The article lists a website at that apparently catalogs pictures of foreigners being barred entry. Might be worth a look but not getting too angry over.

International Japan - 日本 Journal

Tokyo – Gaijin Complex

Gaijin Complex

By tok_matthew

September 15th, 2004 @ 12:10 PM Uncategorized

When I first came to Japan I lived out in Saitama along the Tobu Tojo line somewhere between Shiki and Kawagoe. Out there in the “country” it’s often rare to see an unknown gaijin (since we all taught for Nova) and if you should happen to see one it was custom to make eye contact and give a little head nod. This simple gesture conveyed that we hoped each other was getting along well in a land so different from our own and was a sign of respect. In effect it basically said, “Hey, you look like me and there are not many of us! So I hope your getting along well here and I wish you the best of luck.”

I then moved to Mejiro and have found that approximately 50% of you gaijins out there are inclined to give a head nod when passing a fellow foreigner and the other half make a bold and obvious attemt to NOT make eye contact. This is not by mistake and it should be obvious to us gaijins that upon passing another gaikokujin we have to make a deliberate decision to acknowledge or not acknowledge. It has only recently reached the 50/50 percentage when before I would put those who acknowledged other gaijins at about 65%.

Therefore, I would like to discuss the mindset of those that deliberately look the other way when passing a fellow gaijin. It’s not like they don’t see us since most gaijins stick out like a sore thumb. So is it that they want to try and fit into the society so much that they avoid all contact with other foreigners? Or is it that the number of foreigners are getting larger and passing another gaijin isn’t as rare now as it used to be? Or perhaps it is simply the city mindset where you’re not supposed to be polite to anyone and mind your own business?

As for me I usually pass 1 or 2 gaijins in a day and give the polite head-nod. But then again Mejiro is a nice residential area and not like Roppongi, Azabujuban or Aoyama with a ton of foreigners……..