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Thread: Fluent Foreigners Now Accepted In Japan!

  1. #26
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pachipro
    If we were fluent, they would treat us as they would any normal Japanese person and would reply, “すみません 外国人さま”(I’m sorry most honorable foreigner.)
    I don't ask to be called gaikokujin-sama. I prefer noting at all than anything with "gaikokujin" that emphasize our being "soto" (from outside), and therefore not part of the group, eventhough we live and work in Japan, are married there, and know better Japan than most other countries in the world (including the USA in my case - which makes me all the more annoyed when I asked by Japanese people who know me "how things are in America").

    Even the Japanese police would be required to first ask all gaijin riding their bicycles, in Japanese, "日本語 わかりますか?" (Do you understand Japanese?) and upon hearing our fluent Japanese, they would bow to us and wave us on our way without checking the registration number on our bicycle or asking for our gaijin card as, since we spoke fluent Japanese, we were to be treated as any normal Japanese and couldn’t possibly have stolen a bicycle or be in the country illegally.
    Are you kidding ? They always ask me that. And half of the time if they bother asking more questions, they wonder how I speak so well Japanese and ask me if I have been in Japan for over 10 years (very unlikely at my age). That gives me all the more contempt toward them, as they think it takes over 10 years to learn their "difficult and unique language" and because they first decided to stop me and check my bike because I was a foreigner (and therefore a potential thief in their mind, as all foreigners are poor, which is why Japan only now ranks 17th in GDP/capita at PPP, behind almost all Western countries).

    However, because we are gaijin and hate redundancy, the Japanese would be informed NEVER to welcome us again into their place of business should we exit and return within a few minutes or hours. Heck, why not ever say “welcome” to us ever again as they should already know us and they know how much foreigners dislike them acting like robots.
    Watch out that "irasshaimase" doesn't mean "welcome" (which is "yokoso"), but more like "hello" in English.

    I would prefer if they'd avoid saying "irasshaimase" twice the same day. It's normal to greet people everytime you see them, but not the same day. The Japanese know that very well, as they use "ohaiyo gozaimasu" with people they meet for the first time that day, even if it is in the evening. What's more, you can't expect shop attendants to remember all the people they have seen in their life, but in the same day it is possible. What annoys me most is when I am the only foreigner to enter a cafe, if I pass a few times in front of the counter because I am looking for someone, they keep saying "irasshaimase" everytime I pass, really like robots. I would expect them to remember me within 10 seconds, except if they are mentally retarded.

    When we first meet Japanese people, they would be required by law, to first ask us “Do you understand Japanese?” Upon hearing our fluency, they would know NEVER to ask us if we could use chopsticks, like Japanese food, sleep in a futon, etc. because it would be assumed that since we are fluent, we must do all things a Japanese person does. And they would know how much a foreigner hates to hear those questions if they are fluent

    They would be told NEVER to ask a fluent gaijin if we like natto or ikura, or can eat sushi, or enjoy the Japanese bath because we probably do and they wouldn’t want to offend the honorable fluent gaijin as they were probably asked that question by someone else, somewhere, sometime.
    I am looking forward to that.


    They would be informed that if the honorable gaijin looks lost or confused and, if they are fluent, to never offer ones assistance, especially if they have a map in hand.
    I think this should be a rule (at least a moral one) in any country: "Don't offer help to someone unless they ask you for it, except if you want to offend them". This rule may only apply to men, as women are known for their poor abilities to read map or find their way.

    If we do ask for directions in fluent Japanese they would be informed to just reply with, “You are fluent, find it yourself,” as they might offend us otherwise.
    Now that doesn't make sense.

    The Japanese people would also be required to first ask a gaijin’s country of origin before they ask us if we have such and such in “America”.
    That should be a law, and there should be penalties for all infractions.

    Even though the majority of Japanese people have only interacted with Americans and it was Americans who occupied Japan after the war and gave them their constitution, and it was America who paid to rebuild Japan, and it is Americans who constitute the largest majority of gaijin in Japan, they should not offend other people from another country by assuming they were American.
    What are you saying here ? According to the Japan Statistical Yearbook, among the registered foreigners in Japan, there are 57,000 Europeans, 47,000 Americans, 12,000 Canadians and 11,500 Australians. That means that out of a total of 127,500 Westerners, 37% (a bit more than a third) are Americans. The chances are the highest that if a Japanese meets a Westerner in Japan, they will be European.

    But what irritates me most, is that many of the Japanese who know me, and know excatly where I am from, and to whom I explained the big difference of mentality between Europeans and Americans (eg. regarding religion, education, lifestyle...) still ask me sometime later "if Americans do this or that". For example, this week again I was asked by someone who's known me for over 2 years "but isn't Valentine's Day different in America and Japan ?", to which I replied that "yes, in all Western countries it was different from Japan).

    Even if this were the law in Japan, some immersed gaijin would still say something like, “The Japanese do not speak to us and are just patronizing us.”
    Certainly not. We would just have the same kind of conversation as they have between them, or discuss more interesting and less evident differences between our countries (such as the legal system, the education system, politics, the way business is done, etc.).

    They might even say, “The Japanese are not interested in us as they do not even ask us if we like their culture and food.
    Would you react like that ? I wouldn't. Do you ask Japanese coming to your country whether they like this or that typical food without knowing if they have tried it ? I would only ask them more general questions such as "Is there anything you cannot eat ?" (some meat, any allegries, etc.) if I invite them to eat at home. But otherwise, not even the French would ask (all) their Japanese acquaintances if they can eat frogs and snails. It just doesn't matter, and you don't want to make them look stupid if they can't.

    Sound inane? I thought so. What kind of country would Japan be if this was the way it was? A better place for immersed foreigners to live? I think not as someone, somewhere would complain about this also.
    I have lived in 7 countries and travelled to over 30 countries (sometimes as long as 5 months, also I don't consider it "living" there) in my life, but nowhere more than in Japan have I been repeatedly asked stupid, irrelevant, offending or self-evident questions. As I mentioned above, I quite disagree with your opinion regarding your conclusion of this post. But we come from different countries and cultures, and as I started realising in other threads, Americans (and Australians) are in fact very similar to the Japanese in many respects, especially all things related to their "insularity" and little knowledge of the "rest of the world". So it may not bother you that the Japanese are like this, but for me it's quite unnerving.

    I think it would be a boring place and it would be very difficult to meet new people as the only thing a Japanese can now ask you is your name and country of origin.
    That's not true. You can start a conversation in a thousand different ways. In most cases when I was asked those dumb questions, we were already well into a conversation. Sometimes it just broke it down, as it made me think that the person I was talking to was not more intelligent than the others.

    Can you imagine what it would be like if the Japanese were not allowed to ask you why you like Japan, the food, customs, etc, just because you were fluent and may become irate?
    I don't mind being asked it this way (why do you like Japan), but not the stereotypical fixed questions that make us feel like they are testing our ability to appreciate their uniqueness (can you eat natto ? can you sleep on a Japanese futon ? can you read kanji ? can you use chopsticks ? can you drink Japanese sake ? can you blablabla...). I am not again discussing cultural differences. Their approach is just wrong. They only ask these questions to try to prove that their country/culture is unique and in some way superior. Very condesceding and offending. If you can't feel it, then you should try to go deeper in their mind and find their motivation in asking the question, as I usually do.

    Heck, even if it doesn’t come as fast as I want it, it is not my country, I am not Japanese, and why would I want to criticize another country’s customs and culture when I am their guest even though I may not agree with some of them?
    I pity this kind of mentality. There is nothing wrong in criticising any place or any system or culture in the world the same way as you would do it with your own. As I mentioned in other threads, Americans tend to lack self-criticism, and therefore often have difficulties accepting criticism from outside (as seen with the anti-French reactions before the Iraq War or on this very forum in the Bush-related threads). I have no problems with others criticising my country or culture, as long as they can do it based on logical arguments and facts (not just untamed emotions). I also think it is a service done to other countries/cultures to point out what we think is a problem, especially if that concerns their dealing with foreigners (the topic of this thread with the Japanese).


    Besides, it is too much fun being an immersed foreigner in Japan. We can pretend we don’t know the language to see what people are really saying about us.
    Well, that's not always fun to see ow prejudiced they can be.

    If we feign ignorance at first, and pretend that we don’t know the language, we can tell if a person really likes us for who we are or if they are just patronizing us just because we are a foreigner.
    I think it's a bit more complex than that. This will only tell you if the person is completely set against foreigners in general (=racist) or not. But there are many people (esp. in Japan) that will not openly express their negative feelings in public, especially in front of a foreigner. So you'll have to dig a bit more to know whether the persons you meet really like you for who you are or not.

    If we screw up on their customs we can just say, “I didn’t know,” and we are usually forgiven. This can come in handy in some situations.
    This works in any country, regardless of the language. Many Americans "screw up with the local customs" when they come to Britain, but may be forigiven because they are foreigners, even is the culture is related and the language basically the same.

    Being totally accepted in Japanese culture would require me to act, think, and be Japanese to the core. That I do not want as I totally enjoy being the henna gaijin (strange foreigner) and thinking for myself.
    Well, that is you, but I don't wish to be seen as a "henna gaijin" at all.

    I enjoy meeting new people, walking into new establishments and don’t mind answering the usual “20 questions” all foreigners, fluent or not, are asked time and time again, sometimes from the same people, although this is rare.
    I usually don't like wasting my time with shallow people. There are too many people in this world to meet in one's lifetime, and I'd prefer to choose those with whom I can share something in common or have an interesting conversation. This does not include anybody who might think that all Westerners must be Americans, or that only Japan can possibly have 4 seasons.

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  2. #27
    JREF Resident Alien Pachipro's Avatar
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    Smile

    Chill out, Maciamo. That post was intended to be a "fantasy" reality; a joke. It was not intended to be dissertation on how foreigners should be treated in Japan or how I would want it to be. I had to laugh to myself at your answers as you seem to have taken me seriously. That was not my intention.

    I was taking the opposite side of your arguments with a little intended humour. Sorry if I offended anybody.

    At first I thought your feelings were intended to be a "devil's advocate" position to get some serious discussion started. But, I have spent many hours going through the numerous archives of posts on this website and now realize that you are dead serious on your views of how the Japanese treat foreigners with their "stupid questions", getting asked for your "gaijin card", etc. Although I may disagree with your feelings regarding these things and your wanting to change Japanese thinking, you, and others, are CORRECT in everything you say.

    As I've mentioned before, my relationship with Japan and the Japanese spans 32 consecutive years with the first 16 actually living there starting when I was 18. I have lived in a dinky 2DK apartment (after being turned down 2 or 3 times prior), have worked for two Japanese companies in Japan (not teaching English), taught for various schools while in university in Japan, before finally owning my own English School for the last 4 of those years in Japan with no problem finding a 3LDK mansion to rent. I have also been VP of Sales & Marketing for a Japanese company for my first 8 years here in the states. And I visit yearly.

    Therefore, I have experienced everything, and maybe some, that you are experiencing now. I know exactly what you are going through because I have "been there, done that, experienced that, thought that, and felt that." Living in Japan is, and for the most part will always be, a "love-hate" relationship for foreigners. Myself included.

    If I remember correctly, I think you mentioned that you are living in Japan for 3.5 years now. Everything you are saying and feeling has been said and felt by foreigners for the past 30 years and probably back to the end of the war and probably even further than that. Nothing has changed. Nothing. Not one single thing, and I don't think it ever will. I used to think, "Maybe if this guy (you) lives there long enough he'll see that nothing will change and just learn to go with the flow without getting so irritated and upset over it. Maybe he'll just learn to like Japan for what it is rather than what it should or could be." I have come to the conclusion that, regardless of how long you live there, your views will not change. In a way I feel for you because I have seen it really drive people from Japan with a venom rarely seen. I know a few foreigners who still live in Japan more that 10 years, but still despise it while enjoying other aspects of the culture. Are they wrong? No. Some just need to vent once in a while lest it drive them nuts. However, if I felt as one of my friends do, I would be out of there in a heartbeat as all he does is ***** and moan anymore. He says he'd like to leave, but feels he is just too old to find decent employment in the states. (He's over 50.) I really feel for him.

    As LEXICO said:
    "the Japanese general public do not seem to be aware of the "irritation" their "naiive" hospitality is causing the gaijins. They are not aware that their lack of individual attention is vastly dehumanising for people from the Americas, and even more so for people from European nations who value their invidivualtiy with utmost value."
    They either don't care or don't want to listen to what the foreigner is saying. Maybe they block it out as they, subconciously don't want to believe it. Maybe, deep inside the Japanese mind is the universal feeling that they still feel they are superior. I don't know and frankly, I don't care anymore. Japan is Japan and will always be Japan then, now, and long after I am gone.

    Example: I've seen extremely popular, fluent "tarento" being interviewed on serious "roundtable" discussion programs on TV in the 80's concerning the plight of foreigners living and working in Japan. And you know what? They all mentioned the same exact things you, me, and practically every foreigner, fluent or not, in Japan is saying. They expressed their irritation at the complexities of being a foreigner in Japan from being stared and pointed at, to being asked for their gaijin card for no reason other than they were foreigners, to the 20 question routine from all Japanese even when their face and name were known all over Japan! And any Japanese who watched TV knew they were fluent, have lived in Japan for more than 5 years, could eat sushi & use chopsticks, etc.!! All the interviewer and panel said was "Ah soo desuka. Naruhodo." Still nothing changed. And again, personally, I don't think it ever will. If theses nationally popular foreigners couldn't change it who could?

    You, Maciamo, however, have spoke with more passion and research on the subject than anyone I have ever encountered. I commend you for that. And if anyone can change it, maybe it's you! Seriously. Have you ever given it any serious thought?

    Have you written your feelings to the English language dailies or Japanese language dailies in Japan? Maybe someone can pull some strings and you can get interviewed on a serious TV show. Maybe you should seriously consider working for the UN on their Human Rights program or something. (I am not being sarcastic either.) With your passion on the subject maybe you can make a change for all foreigners living in Japan. That is if you really want to.

    As for me, I am visiting Japan again on Feb 24th for a week or so. I know I may be asked for my passport, asked again if I can eat sushi & use chopsticks, not be heard when I speak Japanese, be stared at etc., but I don't care as I know I will have a wonderful experience as I always do.

    I will play pachinko, visit an onsen, enjoy singing enka, enjoy the visits to out of the way izakayas and akachochins with my Japanese friends, shopping in a supermarket, bentos on the train, watching TV and laughing at the gaijins in commercials etc, etc. and begin seriously looking for an area we want to settle in permanently in the not too distant future. Yes, for all it's "flaws", I do intend on retiring there and living out the remainder of my days in Japan. Maybe my epithat will read in Japanese:

    "In Case Your Wondering, Yes, I could eat sushi, use chopsticks, enjoyed an ofuro, slept in futons, played pachinko, ate gyuudon...... Thank you for allowing me to experince and enjoy your culture."
    Do What You Love And You'll Never Work Another Day In Your Life!


  3. #28
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Thanks for your reply, Pachipro. Actually your idea of contacting the UN's Human Rights Body has caught my attention. I am probably not going to work for them, but we could write a letter explaining the problems.

    The main issue is "discrimination toward foreigners due to the government's education system that teach all the Japanese that Japan is unique (in a superior way) and that it (often unconsciously) affects the behaviour of the Japanese in a negative way toward foreigners, so that they keep asking the same "government-inculcated" prejudiced questions that can be offending to foreign residents. That will be difficult to be taken seriously when they have to deal with torture and genocides in other countries, so I should add all the discrimination problems related to the police, admission to onsen/hotels/apartements, etc.

    Shall we make a petition so as to have more influence when we submit it to the UN ?

  4. #29
    JREF Resident Alien Pachipro's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Actually your idea of contacting the UN's Human Rights Body has caught my attention. I am probably not going to work for them, but we could write a letter explaining the problems.

    The main issue is "discrimination toward foreigners due to the government's education system that teach all the Japanese that Japan is unique (in a superior way) and that it (often unconsciously) affects the behaviour of the Japanese in a negative way toward foreigners, so that they keep asking the same "government-inculcated" prejudiced questions that can be offending to foreign residents. That will be difficult to be taken seriously when they have to deal with torture and genocides in other countries, so I should add all the discrimination problems related to the police, admission to onsen/hotels/apartements, etc.
    The key point here is "government's education system" and "government-inculcated". That's where we must begin if at all possible. You obviously are much more articulate than I, but I would support you 100% in anything you decide to do. With the massive amount of intelligent, frank discussion in these forums on this subject, I'm sure we could come up with quite a few people here, plus the people you and the others know, to support us.

    Some years back, my wife and I came up with the following solution we thought about persuing when we return to Japan if we ever had the opportunity. It was actually a fantasy, but I'm beginning to believe, with enough support, it might just become a reality.

    What we, and I'm sure others there, would like to see is a government sposored program on NHK 1 (not 3), and simulcast on NHK radio about this subject. Once a particular topic is covered, it could be acted out with fluent foreigners. It would be an ongoing series that would never be cancelled, only updated.

    Example: The scene is in a restaurant with friends or co-workers. Everyone knows the foreigner well and knows he/she has lived in Japan a while and can speak, read, and write Japanese, let's say, fair.

    Everyone begins to place their order while reading from the menu. When it's the foreigners turn, he/she orders from the menu. Two women (or men, or the boss) then exclaim, "Maa, Nihongo ga joozu desu ne, "nani-nani"-san. sugoii!"

    A little bubble appears over the foreigners head in Japanese with their face showing their true feelings: "Oh no here we go again. You *****, that's 3 times this year you asked the same question and you know damn well I can speak Japanese. I speak it to you whenever we talk on the phone, whenever we go out. I can see this is going to be another one of "those" nights. Next they're going to compliment me on my reading ability and use of chopsticks again. Why did I agree to come here? And why do the Japanese people continue doing this?"

    Nani-nani-san then forces a smile and says with a slight nod of the head, "Domo."

    Cut to the roundtable discussion group discussing why the foreigner was upset even though they didn't show it with both sides giving their viewpoint.

    Cut to a well known newscaster or serious host then explaining to the viewers why the foreigner is upset and not pleased and that this is not just an isolated case. It happens every minute of every day of every hour in Japan and gives Japan a bad reputation to the outside world and foreigners. The 'caster then goes on to explain the subtle nuances to the audience and then a completely different scene is acted out asking normal questions anyone would ask an aquaintance or friend in a similar situation.

    Of course, the above scenario is only a simple example, but different scenes could be acted out as you also mentioned above. The possibilities are endless and this forum could be used as an example with it's huge bease of foreign members.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Shall we make a petition so as to have more influence when we submit it to the UN ?
    Why not give it a shot? I'm for it. Anyone have any connections?

  5. #30
    Five times to Japan. ArmandV's Avatar
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    Lightbulb The U.N.? Here's another idea.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pachipro

    Why not give it a shot? I'm for it. Anyone have any connections?

    I seriously doubt that the U.N. would be interested in this, to be honest (I could be wrong). But rather than go over Japan's head, why not contact the Japanese government first? Then you can work up from there.

    Maybe a petition or letter-writing campaign to the Consul General would be a good place to start. The Consul General of Japan in the United States may be contacted at:

    Hon. Yoshio Nomoto, Consul General of Japan
    350 South Grand Avenue, Suite 1700
    Los Angeles, CA 90071
    Telephone: (213) 617-6700

  6. #31
    Chukchi Salmon lexico's Avatar
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    Whatever works,...

    I'm all for it. UN, Embassies, Consular Offices, Japanese Government, Parties, TV Stations, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, anything that will solve this problem...it can be a showcase of prblem solving cultural conflicts. btw isn't UN responsible for lowering international conflicts?

    Here's Embassies of the World.
    Z: The fish in the water are happy.
    H: How do you know ? You're not fish.
    Z: How do you know I don't ? You're not me.
    H: True I am not you, and I cannot know. Likewise, I know you're not, therefore I know you don't.
    Z: You asked me how I knew implying you knew I knew. In fact I saw some fish, strolling down by the Hao River, all jolly and gay.

    --Zhuangzi

  7. #32
    Five times to Japan. ArmandV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lexico
    btw isn't UN responsible for lowering international conflicts?

    [/url]

    In theory, yes.

  8. #33
    JREF Resident Alien Pachipro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArmandV
    I seriously doubt that the U.N. would be interested in this, to be honest (I could be wrong). But rather than go over Japan's head, why not contact the Japanese government first? Then you can work up from there.
    Maybe a petition or letter-writing campaign to the Consul General would be a good place to start.
    You may be all too correct here ArmandV. The point is that if someone starts the ball rolling and others who feel the same pick up on it, something may come out of all this. See my thread on "Gaijin vs. Gaikokujin"
    http://www.wa-pedia.com/forum/showth...073#post173073

    It worked then for that little sore point with foreigners. Why not for the rest of the gripes?

    However, if apathy reigns supreme, and foreigners would rather "***** & moan" about the problems rather than take part in the solution, nothing will change. It will be only the foreigners who know there is a problem. The Japanese will still feel there isn't one.

  9. #34
    Five times to Japan. ArmandV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pachipro
    You may be all too correct here ArmandV. The point is that if someone starts the ball rolling and others who feel the same pick up on it, something may come out of all this. See my thread on "Gaijin vs. Gaikokujin"
    http://www.wa-pedia.com/forum/showth...073#post173073

    It worked then for that little sore point with foreigners. Why not for the rest of the gripes?

    However, if apathy reigns supreme, and foreigners would rather "***** & moan" about the problems rather than take part in the solution, nothing will change. It will be only the foreigners who know there is a problem. The Japanese will still feel there isn't one.
    That's why I think for something like this, the U.N. would not be too terribly interested and that going directly to the Japanese government would be better. I prefer the direct approach. If the consul is flooded with letters and petitions directly, then you would have their immediate attention. Better yet, since we have members from other countries who have the same "gripes," they can also bombard the Japan consuls in their countries at the same time.

  10. #35
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lexico
    btw isn't UN responsible for lowering international conflicts?
    Here is the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

    The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) is the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by its State parties.
    Japan is a signatory of the treaties. Let me bring your attention on :
    - International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

    - Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity

    - International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families

    No no, I insist that we use JREF's own embassy listing, which by the way is the most complete on the web for Japanese embassies abroad and foreign embassies in Japan and has links to all official websites (if there is one).

  11. #36
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikecash
    Starting off encounters by asking "日本語 わかりますか?" would be discriminatory. At the very least, it is certainly not the way I prefer my encounters to get started. I prefer that people just speak to me under the assumption that I do speak Japanese.
    That may just be a cultural preference, but I tend to agree with you. Usually in Western countries people (anybody, from a supermarket cashier to a bank manager) assume that any person in their country understands their language, and only ask "can you understand English/French/Italian..." if they see that the person doesn't reply and looks confused.

    This is not due to the fact that Western countries are more cosmopolitan, as many Japanese I told this about wanted to believe. I when all around Europe with my wife, and even in shops in rural areas (near my parents' home) where they never see any non-Caucasian, people didn't ask her whether she could understand but just talked as if she was a local. When we went to Europe last month, I intentionally send her alone to the cashier, and observed from a distance, to see whether they would address her differently as the locals. They didn't. Nobody looked at her strangely, made gesture or spoke differently (even more slowly). It would be nice if the Japanes ehad the decency to do the same, and only wonder about one's language abilities if they don't seem to understand.

  12. #37
    Decommissioned ex-admin thomas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    No no, I insist that we use JREF's own embassy listing, which by the way is the most complete on the web for Japanese embassies abroad and foreign embassies in Japan and has links to all official websites (if there is one).
    On a side note: the most comprehensive listing of Japanese embassies abroad is actually here (constantly updated)

    => http://www.wa-pedia.com/dir/Governme...ns/index.shtml

  13. #38
    Chukchi Salmon lexico's Avatar
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    Welcome back, PachiPro !

    Welcome back, PachiPro!
    It's been well over two weeks, already past three weeks in fact since you left for Tokyo. I was wondering whether you got stuck in Japan, or got scouted for a milliom bucks contract !
    So how has it been ? Did you find any change in the way they treated fluent foreigners there ?

  14. #39
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    i am so glad to able to post something. i have been reading this conversation and its beginning to bug me and i am guttted that someone of such experience and time in japan can be so boiled up by this. i lived in japan with a bunch of foreigners and there were a few with the exact opinion as maciamo and frankly it rubs me up the wrong way. this constant whining about "we are looked down on" and "they think we are third rate" blah blah blah - firstly if it bugs you so much (which it obviously does) why are you living there? i was in japan for a year and was asked none of these questions you keep rehashing. i understand your points completley but i find there is a negative mind set there in the first place to be looking for these racists comments. and the reason for me writing this post is to 1, voice my total and absolute disagreement and more importantly two, to find out what age group of japanese people are asking these questions? i noted your age earlier and for my own information i was curious to see if it is the younger generations of japan who ask such questions as i think your racist commentry about the whole of japan being a homogenous pool of arrogance doesnt fit in my 12 months experience. (i understand my experience cant speak for japan but at least if your comments are true then i should have been asked once in a while, no?)

  15. #40
    JREF Resident Alien Pachipro's Avatar
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    Thank you for the "welcome back" Lexico and welcome to the forums garethparke.

    My stay in Japan was wonderful as usual, albeit too short this time. To answer your question, I was treated with the usual respect and courtesy afforded anyone else in places of business. I've learned over the years if you can speak Japanese and speak it with confidence when entering a place of business no one freaks out or trys to use sign language or refuses you service. I went into many places by myself and encountered no problems whatsoever, from buying batteries for my camera to ordering beer and food in a place I have never been in before.

    About the only things I experienced was making a few more friends I met while out drinking with a friend of mine in Tokyo one night and I was complimented on my Japanese by a few people working in these places of business. I was not refused entry to the onsen we stayed at and no one looked at me in an unusual way.

    I also did have a conversation with an older gentleman in the onsen though, on why I was in Japan, why did I like it, can I eat Japanese food, etc. and we ended our conversation over a glass of cold tea and a cigarette outside the bath. Believe it our not, he started the conversation in English with "Do you speak Japanese?" and when I confirmed that I did, our conversation was all in Japanese. I immediately thought of this forum when he asked that question and had to laugh to myself. It didn't bother me in the least as I am accustumed to this by now. In fact I found it refreshing that some Japanese people are still curious when meeting a foreigner and will talk to them rather than ignoring them. All in all it was a great trip.

    I have a video I made of my trip with pictures and video stills if anyone is interested. It is about 14mb so it may take a while to download. You may have to use the pause button for the first 40 seconds if you want to look at the pics longer. Just follow this link:

    http://home.comcast.net/~pachipro/Japan_2005_0001.wmv

  16. #41
    Chukchi Salmon lexico's Avatar
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    Heart PachiPro did a great thing for us !! <== Must See !!

    Thanks for sharing your memories of the trip with us. Great video-music flash (is that the right word ?) would be a huge understatement. I got a little emotional yesterday, and glad I didn't immediately put up a post, becasue I would have sounded like a fool. It was absolutely overwhelming.

    It really makes me wonder if anyone could have done it better than one who really loves being there. Quite a few people here I think, and I hope I can be the same when I get there.

  17. #42
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    if it was like you wrote japan would be full of foreigners and i think that's what preserves their culture so well (that they don't like to adapt to "outside")

    sometimes you have to give up something in order to get something and im finde to be treated like a foreigner (since i cant talk any japanese at all) as long as japan is so very unique and not like every other country


    well that's my point of view

  18. #43
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garethparke
    i lived in japan with a bunch of foreigners and there were a few with the exact opinion as maciamo and frankly it rubs me up the wrong way. this constant whining about "we are looked down on" and "they think we are third rate" blah blah blah - firstly if it bugs you so much (which it obviously does) why are you living there?
    I have answered your question here

    Quote Originally Posted by garethparke
    and the reason for me writing this post is to 1, voice my total and absolute disagreement and more importantly two, to find out what age group of japanese people are asking these questions? i noted your age earlier and for my own information i was curious to see if it is the younger generations of japan who ask such questions as i think your racist commentry about the whole of japan being a homogenous pool of arrogance doesnt fit in my 12 months experience.
    Did I mention my age anywhere on this forum ? As for the Japanese I meet, I probably have met and discussed wth a wider range of people than most foreigners in Japan (esp. tourists). On one side I have my wife's Japanese family, all her friends (I'd say nearly 100 that I met - she is very sociable ), then people I meet through my job, and finally people I observed, eavedrop to in the train or in cafes/restaurants, people I come into brief contact in the street, in shops, government offices, etc., and why not also add people on TV. I like analysing how all these people think and behave, and take particular attention in remembering what they say about foreigners, Westerners, foreign countries or languages.

    Overall, I'd say I mostly meet people in the 20's, 30's and 40's, but many of the most negative experiences I had where with people over 50 (although not my mother-in-law, who is very kind). I have listened (or heard through my wife) enough to my grand-mother-in-law though to get a good idea of what older people think of foreigners. Even after 2 years in the family, the grand-mother still wouldn't talk to me directly and only address me via my wife, her mother or somebody else. She was persuaded I couldn't understand Japanese, although I answered in Japanese in front of her, and talked to my mother-in-law only in Japanese as she doesn't speak English (or other languages) at all. I can tell you that the same happens with many elderly Japanese people (mostly over 70), such as the neighbours who just ignore me even when I greet them. I also had many salespeople ringing at my door, and almost everytime they would be all embarassed when they saw that a gaijin opened the door. Some would even say aloud "aah, komatta, gaijin da!" (oh ****, it's a foreigner!) thinking I can't understand them. These are mostly the people I complain about. Not the people who come to talk to foreigners by themselves or want to practice their English (they are still a minority, although it wouldn't appear in places like Ginza, Shibuya or Shinjuku).

    As we say (in French) the truth comes from the mouth of the children, and it certainly does about their parents or teachers. I try as much as I can to listen to the reaction of children when they see me, a gaijin, or how suspiciously they look at me. I can easily say if there parents are gaijin-friendly or not just by observing them with their parents. That requires good observation and psychological skills, but I love it.

    As for the stupid questions, misconceptions about foreignc ountries and prejudices about foreigners, I have surprisingly found them in every age and socio-econonomic groups. I know that some Japanese do not even realise how offensive it can be to doubt a foreigner's ability to use chopsticks, because some of my wife's friends who have studied abroad and had foreign boyfriends still asked me such questions. When I told my wife how these questions irritated me, as there is no reason I couldn't use chopsticks while living in Japan, and that they ask me only because I am a foreigner, even when they know exactly how long I have been in Japan. My wife had no idea, but has since taken my side and now explains to her friend that it is not polite to ask such things, as I am a human like everybody else and not some kind of retarded creature called "gaijin".
    Last edited by Maciamo; Apr 4, 2005 at 23:38.

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    Guess what happens to Japanese people when they go out in the world? Do you think they are treated better, beeing so small (no offense ment) and usually the accent is BIG. So are they treated better than we are over in Japan?

    Hmmm.

  20. #45
    天国に居る Damicci's Avatar
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    Can't wait til I can eaves drop on trains.

    I would have to agree that I have not come across many older Japanese when I was there but the younger ones about my age and under pointed and stared and it wasn't a big deal to me. I had a lil boy get on the bus from the airplane to the terminal when we first arrived and the father asked the boy to sit next to oniisan (big brother) talkign about me and the kid kinda just kept walking maybe he didn't hear him maybe he didn't want to. but there has been times where i had people bump into me and instead ah eeee ah i sorry or some other jacked up english phrase they quickly responded with gomenne or mostly sumimasen and when I would respond with a daijoubu or a ii yo kinishinai they kinda gave this look like thumbs up you speak japanese. even with older women i would get this response mayb late 30's 40's So I am gonna say that Maciamo is probably right about the older generation being the problem with ignorance torwards foreigners in japan. The younger generation either don't care or are interested and want to try to speak with you (only in clubs this happened but none the less it happened).

    At first that kinda cramped my style being in japan no one seemed friendly not smile or nod of acknowledgement. But later in the week I notice dmore people smiling and being nice. But mostly younger crowds. As foreigner in Japan I would say a nice smile will go a long way.
    ☆Rieko☆ says:
    目が大きかったらすぐにゴミがはいる


  21. #46
    I jump to conclusions mad pierrot's Avatar
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    as I am a human like everybody else and not some kind of retarded creature called "gaijijn".
    I liked that sentence so much I wanted to post it again. I feel similar frustrations quite abit. As Maciamo noted, it's particularly disturbing when that treatment comes from people who know you well or have known you for a long time. Teachers I have worked with for near two years now are still shocked when I can do menial tasks or carry on conversations about certain subjects. Remember, criticizing this kind of behavior does not mean I hate Japan. That's all it is; criticism.

  22. #47
    Regular Member Gentleman10's Avatar
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    OMG people .... just get over it, no one is trying to be amazingly discriminatory or racist towards foreigners, they're just trying to handle the situation they way they think is best.
    I really doubt anyone has the time to think "Ok, what's the best way I can approach this person to piss him/her off". Honestly guys, I think we're dealing with a bit of o-v-e-r-s-e-n-s-i-t-i-v-i-t-y here. I mean, the people there are trying to do us, ***the guests of the country*** a convenience by doing this, so who are we to say "zomg ugh! Don't approach me like this you discriminatory native! You may only address me as なになにさま".... now if I were Japanese and heard that, I'd think someone would have alittle bit of sand up there *** =\, lol

  23. #48
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    I am not fluent in Japanese...actually I only know a few words. I am finding myself getting nervous on my upcoming trip because of my lack of Japanese. What I find just as interesting though, is that the people I am going to visit in Japan are just as worried about their lack of English skills. I think that they are maybe even more concerned as many a conversation has been about my comfort. How cool is that...it makes me feel special. If that is the treatment I can expect, I don't care what they call me.
    I hope life isn't a big joke, because I don't get it. ~Jack Handey

  24. #49
    Life is adventure Thunderthief's Avatar
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    Japanese are incapable of understanding a gaijin doesn't always need to be talked to as if there five years old, they always have been and always will be.

  25. #50
    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thunderthief View Post
    Japanese are incapable of understanding a gaijin doesn't always need to be talked to as if there five years old, they always have been and always will be.
    And you say that based on what?

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