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View Poll Results: How do you feel when a Japanese calls you "gaijin" ?

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  • "You are an outsider and will never belong to Japanese society" (exclusion)

    17 29.31%
  • "You are an outsider, ignorant of Japanese ways" (cultural ignorance)

    17 29.31%
  • "You are different from us ! Hahaha !" (childish differentiation)

    12 20.69%
  • "You are not Japanese, but I am" (opposition)

    13 22.41%
  • "You are not a Japanese national" (on the passport)

    11 18.97%
  • "You are not an ethnic Japanese" (different looks)

    13 22.41%
  • "Wow ! You are better than me !" (awe)

    8 13.79%
  • Don't know

    10 17.24%
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Thread: What connotation does the term "gaijin" have for you ?

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  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    What connotation does the term "gaijin" have for you ?

    We already have a poll Is the word "Gaijin" a racist slur?, but I would like to be more specific on what it means to each of us when we hear the word "gaijin". Please vote for all that apply.

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  2. #2
    Five times to Japan. ArmandV's Avatar
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    I voted "don't know" because no one ever called me gaijin.

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  3. #3
    天国に居る Damicci's Avatar
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    Edit didn't realize this had turned into a poll. Yeah I can't say there is a non bias option.
    Last edited by Damicci; Jun 14, 2006 at 10:43.
    ☆Rieko☆ says:
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  4. #4
    Junior Member DoctorP's Avatar
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    I chose to abstain from the vote....no acceptable choices

  5. #5
    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CC1
    I chose to abstain from the vote....no acceptable choices
    It always depends....in this case, how much information they have on me, if none naturally I would attribute it entirely to appearance. But I agree there should be a less loaded, more neutral ("Could care less") option(s) on this poll.

  6. #6
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CC1
    I chose to abstain from the vote....no acceptable choices
    What would be an acceptable choice ? I can always add new options, so just speak your mind.

  7. #7
    Junior Member DoctorP's Avatar
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    It is slightly skewed with a racist tone isn't it!

  8. #8
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    I think the admin of this site really dislikes Japanese people. It's not a very positive set of choices, is it?

    I don't think there is any perfect answer to the poll because "gaijin" means different things at different times depending on the context of the conversation, the person who is speaking, and their attitude towards foreigners.

  9. #9
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stinger
    I think the admin of this site really dislikes Japanese people. It's not a very positive set of choices, is it?
    Please propose more choices based on your own reflection on the meaning of "gaijin".

    I don't think there is any perfect answer to the poll because "gaijin" means different things at different times depending on the context of the conversation, the person who is speaking, and their attitude towards foreigners.
    I did not intent this poll to give a single answer. That is why it is a multiple choice. See it as a "choose all that you think may be true in at least some situation, and leave out those that never apply".

  10. #10
    Regular Member Mars Man's Avatar
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    There appears to be a problem with this poll; the answers are from the speaker/user point of view. Can we really know that? Or is this a poll of how we intend it when and if we use that term?

    As it stands, the question asked for the poll, does not seem to align with the answer/choices provided because they way I feel and react and concieve of any insinuatuations behind the word 'gaijin' are surely in my mind, and, for any such particular moment, are only in my mind.

    Could I have a little clarification on either the answers or the question, please.

    note: I posted this without reading any posts--for better or for worse.
    Last edited by Mars Man; Jun 14, 2006 at 09:19. Reason: just for the information...

  11. #11
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mars Man
    There appears to be a problem with this poll; the answers are from the speaker/user point of view. Can we really know that? Or is this a poll of how we intend it when and if we use that term?
    I want to know how non-Japanese feel about being called "gaiijn" based on they think is intended to mean.

    I have asked many Japanese what they meant by "gaijin" and the answer are often very different. So for this poll, choose all the meaning you have encountered. It doesn't have to be a meaning shared by all Japanese, as many have different opinions about the actual meaning or connotation of "gaijin".

    I questioned them about whether they called themselves "gaijin" while abroad, but usually they don't. In fact, I remember that both times I went to China with a Japanese tour, the Japanese people in the group frequently referred to the local Chinese as "gaijin", eventhough they were the foreigners in China. That is mostly why I cannot accept the translation "foreigner" as it rather means "non-Japanese".

    I also know it's not about being an ethnic Japanese, as Japanese Americans, Japanese Brazilians, etc. are almost always called "gaijin".

    That's why I feel most strongly that it means "outsider to Japanese society, culture and customs" OR "physically different".

  12. #12
    Seeing is believing Minty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    I questioned them about whether they called themselves "gaijin" while abroad, but usually they don't. In fact, I remember that both times I went to China with a Japanese tour, the Japanese people in the group frequently referred to the local Chinese as "gaijin", eventhough they were the foreigners in China. That is mostly why I cannot accept the translation "foreigner" as it rather means "non-Japanese".
    I also know it's not about being an ethnic Japanese, as Japanese Americans, Japanese Brazilians, etc. are almost always called "gaijin".
    That's why I feel most strongly that it means "outsider to Japanese society, culture and customs" OR "physically different".
    I never been called gaijin by Japanese, not that I have heard of, but I expected to be called a gaijin because I am indeed a foreigner.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Minty
    I never been called gaijin by Japanese, not that I have heard of, but I expected to be called a gaijin because I am indeed a foreigner.
    And couldn't that be the root of the problem?

    People don't like to think of themselves as being a foreigner, particularly after living here a few years.

    It almost seems like they expect everyone to know that they belong here or are long time residents.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hachiro
    People don't like to think of themselves as being a foreigner, particularly after living here a few years.
    It almost seems like they expect everyone to know that they belong here or are long time residents.
    Sorry to respond to this a bit late.

    I can't speak for others, but personally my own opinion is the opposite. As far as living in Japan goes, I will always consider myself a foreigner. I will never consider myself Japanese, neither do I feel the need for Japanese people to consider me one of them.

    This has nothing to do with not liking Japan or Japanese people. I adore living here, but I'm not one of the otaku crowd who after spending a few years here suddenly thinks they are more Japanese than the Japanese. I'm proud of who I am and where I come from. I have no inclination to want to change that.

    Actually, on the second point about "expecting people to know that [we] belong here", I honestly think this does happen to an extent. I seem to recall that when I first came here, shop assistants, schoolgirls on trains, old women and various other people used to apparently find me a lot more amusing and interesting. Perhaps I looked more foreign, more lost, more wide-eyed. Now I find that sitting on the subway or walking down the street I notice a lot less head-turning than I used to get. Perhaps after spending time in one place you do start to blend in a little more, and people are less aware of your difference, or at least they don't point and snigger in the way they used to.

  15. #15
    Where I'm Supposed to Be kirei_na_me's Avatar
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    Heh. I'm not afraid to vote or say what I take it to mean.

    Mostly, when I hear "gaijin", I take it as being "You are an outsider, ignorant of Japanese ways". Saying that, I don't mean that the Japanese I know, who use that term, mean any harm by it. I don't really hold it against them.

    I don't understand what the big deal is about being called "gaijin" anyway. Yeah, I think it's a little crazy to be called "gaijin" in my own country, but I just see it as how they are, so I just shrug it off. It doesn't bother me at all.

    It must bother some people, though, and a lot. When I started a Yahoo group for non-Japanese women married to Japanese men, and called it "Gaijin Wives of Japanese Men", it offended someone enough to make her not want to join. She said if I didn't change the name, she wouldn't join. I thought that was a little extreme, to say the least.
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  16. #16
    Hullu RockLee's Avatar
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    I agree with Mars Man, There is no option that seems to reflect how I think about it.
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  17. #17
    Hullu RockLee's Avatar
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    I think you should add the option "it just means foreigner to me"

  18. #18
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RockLee
    I think you should add the option "it just means foreigner to me"
    And what is the difference between "You are a foreigner" and "You are not a Japanese national" ?

  19. #19
    Resident Realist nice gaijin's Avatar
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    How about "other: please explain" instead of "don't know"

  20. #20
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    You know there are times that I read threads like this and get the impression that people are truly misunderstanding the use of the term in most situations.

    Some posters are out to make it sound like there is some huge conspiracy among the Japanese public to be racist towards all gaijin and that the use of the word perpetuates that racism.

    In my experience here it all depends on the person and HOW it is used. Let's say a 6yr old kid runs up to you on the street point a finger at you and says; Ehh gaijin-da! Are you going to accuse that kid of being a racist? Come on now.

    Ok another example, you are shopping in the local grocery store and an elderly obaa-chan looks at you, smiles and says; Konnichiwa gaijin-san!, Is she being racist? I think not.

    Of course everyone could come up with examples to counter that and I have heard of pretty much all of them in my time here, so dont start saying what about this case or that, I used those as examples only.

    There is no underlying mystery about the people or the word, there is no conspiracy about it's use as well. People from foreign countries that come here or live here in Japan have become IMO overly sensitive to it's use, because they don't like being thought of as being outsiders, which in most cases is the case.

    Once the shoe is on the other foot people complain. You want to call me gaijin, fine I dont care, I will call you one back too if I see you here in Japan.

    So what it isn't that big of a deal. I think that people need to get the chip off their shoulders and worry about more important things in life like whether or not Japan is going to be able to continue on to the second round in the WC and if they (surly) dont, if Zico should be fired or not. Now that is a better topic to discuss, IMO.

  21. #21
    Veni, vidi... vicodin? GodEmperorLeto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hachiro
    There is no underlying mystery about the people or the word, there is no conspiracy about it's use as well. People from foreign countries that come here or live here in Japan have become IMO overly sensitive to it's use, because they don't like being thought of as being outsiders, which in most cases is the case.
    That is because in many of our home countries, we have been educated to be extremely sensitive to any racially/ethnically motivated labelling. When we go to college, our housing associations and student networks tell us to "celebrate diversity", and encourage us to make as many friends as we can that are of different races, creeds, and sexual orientations. We have high school classes about the Holocaust, and every single American north of the Mason-Dixon knows about how evil slavery was, and how bad Jim Crow was, and how horrible the White Man was to the Native American.

    Plenty of people from outside the United States will be happy to point and say, "Political correctness is a bunch of crap, you Americans are dumb!" But little do they realize that the politicians most non-Americans would prefer running the U.S. are the exact ones that have foisted P.C. upon us in the first place.

    We've been taught to be sensitive to this. It's been bashed into our brains since we were children. That Japanese kid pointing and yelling "gaijin da!" would get suspended from school in the U.S., especially if he was a white kid yelling, "Look at that slant-eyed kid!"

    So what it isn't that big of a deal. I think that people need to get the chip off their shoulders and worry about more important things in life....
    You'd probably be amazed at how many Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese students I tutor who are very quick to claim they've been discriminated against. 9/10 of the time they think someone is discriminating against them because they are Asian or foreign, it is really simply that someone is being an *******.

    I'm not sure if it is because they are in a foreign land, or if they know a little about racial difficulties in the U.S., or if they expect the same sort of treatment here that they'd give foreigners to their own lands, or if it is something else. But it definitely seems like my students are coming to the United States expecting to be discriminated against, and take even the slightest incident as a personal attack motivated by racism/ethnocentrism/xenophobia.
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  22. #22
    Banned Mike Cash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GodEmperorLeto
    every single American north of the Mason-Dixon knows about how evil slavery was, and how bad Jim Crow was, and how horrible the White Man was to the Native American.
    While every single American south of the Mason-Dixon reminisces about how righteous slavery was, how good Jim Crow was, and how wonderfully the White Man was to Injuns?

  23. #23
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    That is because in many of our home countries, we have been educated to be extremely sensitive to any racially/ethnically motivated labelling. When we go to college, our housing associations and student networks tell us to "celebrate diversity", and encourage us to make as many friends as we can that are of different races, creeds, and sexual orientations. We have high school classes about the Holocaust, and every single American north of the Mason-Dixon knows about how evil slavery was, and how bad Jim Crow was, and how horrible the White Man was to the Native American.
    I realize that, yet the education system here does not emphasize these things in the way the US does. The US is a melting pot and if people were not educated about cultural and racial diversity open warfare would probably occur. I am not defending the system here, I am just pointing out that the system is different, including the language, and people here are starting to learn to be more PC but not in the same way that it is taught or preached in the US.

    We've been taught to be sensitive to this. It's been bashed into our brains since we were children. That Japanese kid pointing and yelling "gaijin da!" would get suspended from school in the U.S., especially if he was a white kid yelling, "Look at that slant-eyed kid!"
    Quite possibly so, but this isnt the US and comparing things here to there is not fair either as the backgrounds and history are so different as to trying to compare them to apples and snowballs.

    Not saying that it is right yet I am not saying that it is wrong in the sense that the people are consciously discrminating against people.

    You'd probably be amazed at how many Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese students I tutor who are very quick to claim they've been discriminated against. 9/10 of the time they think someone is discriminating against them because they are Asian or foreign, it is really simply that someone is being an *******.
    No I am not surprised at all. I would however be curious to know just how many Japanese fall into that category. I am not talking about anyone other than the Japanese.

    I'm not sure if it is because they are in a foreign land, or if they know a little about racial difficulties in the U.S., or if they expect the same sort of treatment here that they'd give foreigners to their own lands, or if it is something else. But it definitely seems like my students are coming to the United States expecting to be discriminated against, and take even the slightest incident as a personal attack motivated by racism/ethnocentrism/xenophobia.
    Once again I would be courious to know how many Japanese are included in this statement? Also would you be willing to ask them how they would feel being called "gaijin" whilst they are in the US in your classroom? I would be willing to bet that some of them would actual look at you incredulously, only because of the fact that to them the word only has the meaning of foreigner when they are talking about or discussing people that are not Japanese.

    I do not doubt that you have faced people like this in your classroom (?) Yet I have lived with this for over 20 years now and have come to the realization that the impact of the word gaijin only affects those that let it.

    Now this is a question I have for everyone here, if the word "gaijin" holds such a negative connotation to people what word in Japanese would you want the Japanese people to use when talking about a foreigner?

  24. #24
    Regular Member godppgo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hachiro
    Now this is a question I have for everyone here, if the word "gaijin" holds such a negative connotation to people what word in Japanese would you want the Japanese people to use when talking about a foreigner?
    Go up to that foreigner and ask him/her to fill out a detail survey on his/her nationality, race, place of birth... etc. Also ask him/her this: "how would you like me to call you so that it will make me look less racist to you?".

    Jeez what's the big deal? It's just a different culture, get used to it.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by godppgo
    Go up to that foreigner and ask him/her to fill out a detail survey on his/her nationality, race, place of birth... etc. Also ask him/her this: "how would you like me to call you so that it will make me look less racist to you?".

    Jeez what's the big deal? It's just a different culture, get used to it.
    Umm I think if you read my posts in reply to this that is just about what I have been saying.

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