As a foreigner in Japan, have you ever experienced a slightly awkward yet somehow humorous interaction with a Japanese person? Perhaps you were curious to know more about some aspect of Japanese culture and asked someone a rather random question, or conversely, a Japanese person was curious to know something about your culture and came to you for all the answers. Or maybe you were just out on the street and happened to witness an amusing exchange between some natives and the local gaijin.
Last year, we brought you 10 such tales of comical intercultural interactions, and today we’d like to introduce seven more fun, quirky, and interesting anecdotes as shared by Japanese Twitter users about their exchanges with foreigners. Have you ever been in a similar situation to one of these yourself?
1. My (country’s) bad
▼ “I asked a Dutch person if there’s bullying in Dutch schools, and he replied, ‘What’s ijime [bullying]?’ I tried to explain: ‘It’s like hitting each other…’, but he answered, ‘That’s a crime.’ Again: ‘Stealing other people’s stuff and hiding it…’, but again, ‘That’s a crime.’ ‘Ganging up on someone in a group…’ ‘If it’s unjust, it’s a crime.’ Yeah, he’s got a point–sorry that Japan’s so terrible.”
こめぬか (@komenuka2) November 13, 2013
2. A year in common
▼ “Here’s something that I learned when chatting with my German friend yesterday. When Japanese people ask ‘Were you born in the Heisei era [January 1989-present]?’, it’s basically the same as German people asking, ‘Was the Wall still there?’ [the fall of the Berlin Wall began in November 1989].”
なかんづくドリア (@thsc782_407) October 28, 2013
▼ 1989 marked a year of change for both Germans and Japanese.
3. Anybody can do that
▼ “I told a foreigner that her Japanese was good after she said arigato [thank you]. She then replied, ‘Can’t you at least say ‘thank you’ in English, too?’ I couldn’t stop laughing.”
外人「アリガトウ」 日本人「日本語上手ですねｗ」 外人「お前らもthank youくらい言えるだろ＾＾；」 クッソワロタ。—
まお (@Astral_Flow) November 26, 2011
4. We all love ninja (or so the Japanese think) Part II
▼”A foreigner I know asked me, ‘Why don’t Japanese people show their faces in their Twitter icons?’ I answered, ‘It’s because we’re descendants of ninja.’ ‘Oh! All right, all right,’ he replied, and seemed content with my answer.”
外国の知り合いに「なんで日本人はTwitterで自分の顔をアイコンにしないの？」って聞かれたから「忍者の末裔だから」って答えたら「Oh!!!all right all right」って納得してくれた。—
えのたま (@neoenox) June 14, 2011
5. Those darn ninja again! Part III
▼ “A study abroad student at my university asked me, ‘Why are Japanese students always playing on their phones and sleeping during lectures?’ To which I answered, ‘We Japanese are all ninja, so it’s part of our training to be able to gather intelligence while doing other tasks.’ But then he remarked, ‘Don’t think that all foreigners find it funny when you cite ninja in your explanations.’ Well then, excuse me.”
おざなり (@Rock_ozanari) October 30, 2014
▼ Of course, they could’ve always just skipped normal school and gone to ninja school from the start!
6. Free meals for foreigners?
▼ “I used my Suica [a rechargeable smart card] to buy a meal ticket at Matsuya [a Japanese fast food chain specializing in beef bowls]. A foreigner who was waiting behind me curiously motioned as if to let him look at it. But when I gave it to him, he then proceeded to buy a meal ticket for tondon [rice covered with pork and vegetables]. Unbelievable.”
讃岐 (@snKaoru) June 22, 2012
7. I’m not suspicious, I swear!
▼ “I was on my way home when suddenly a French-looking girl asked me in Japanese, ‘Are you by chance Japanese?’ I was taken aback by her strange question, but she continued, ‘I heard that Japanese people are frightened when a stranger talks to them on the street, and I guess it’s true. It’s okay, I’m not scary–I’m not scary at all!’ I totally got the fox-squirrel treatment [this is probably a reference to the fox-squirrel Teto in the pre-Studio Ghibli film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Teto was initially hostile towards the titular character but later gained her trust].”
まおう (@149lunettes) April 22, 2015
▼ Aww, what a cute fox-squirrel thingy!
Which one of these anecdotes tickled your funny bone the most? Feel free to add your own stories in the comments section below!