Today, we present five phases Western expats go through, from arriving fresh off the boat to thinking about retirement, when living in Japan.
Beyond silly mistakes like wearing toilet slippers on tatami or forgetting to add “san” to someone’s name, what other things do foreigners unknowingly do to reduce their chances of living happily in Japan?
Japan attracts all kinds of people from all over the world. Some come to work, others come to play, and thanks to its relatively low crime levels, high standard of living and abundance of delicious food, Japan is a very easy place to call home for a while. Plus, isn’t Japan where all those anime, video games and ninjas come from? It’s got to be worth a visit!
But today, instead of talking about the myriad things Japan has to offer visitors, we’re going to have a bit of fun by taking a closer look at some of the visitors themselves. You might not encounter each of these five types of people if you’re staying in Japan for just a couple of weeks, but if you’re here for work or an extended sojourn, then you’re bound to meet at least a couple of them along the way…
Japan has a plethora of products that are weird even by the standards of many Japanese, like these big booty mouse pads Sir Mix-a-Lot would approve of, cosplay outfits for pets, or photo books dedicated to male nipples. But perhaps some of the country’s most unique products to spend your cash on are just everyday items you can find in most Japanese homes.
Our Japanese site was curious to find out if foreigners could identify some of these “strange” household staples, so they sent a reporter to interview people from different countries on the streets of Tokyo to see what they had to say.
Visiting Japan is one thing, but living there can be something completely different. When many people first visit the country, they get the oohs and aahs of the bright lights in Tokyo and the cultural experience of Kyoto, with plenty of temples, shrines and good food along the way, and by no means is that a bad way to do it! However, you there are some things about Japan that might not sink in during just a brief visit. Living in the country is a unique experience in both awesome and frustrating ways; there may be times when you never want to leave, yet times you feel far from home.
A recently released video gets into some of these complex feelings of foreigners living in Japan in the aptly titled video: Japan Feelings.
“Why did you come to Japan?”
It’s a simple question, and if you spend enough time here, you’re sure to be asked it countless times by Japanese people. In fact, Japan has a whole television show dedicated to asking foreigners this very question, called YOU wa Nani shi ni Nippon e?
For those of us who came for to learn a specific trade or study the language, or who are married to a Japanese spouse and/or have family in Japan, it usually isn’t a hard question to answer honestly. However, for those foreigners that were drawn to Japan’s shores through things like anime or manga, cosplay, robots, or schoolgirls, it can be a question that’s difficult to come up with a socially acceptable answer to.
Still, not all foreigners are ashamed of coming clean about some of the strange hobbies that brought them here, like one Polish Twitter user who is proud to be living out his some of his wildest dreams in good ol’ Nihon. After arriving in Japan, he was presented with the chance to act out one of his many perverted fantasies, leaving otaku on Twitter both amused and green with envy.
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?
Foreigners are being hired to pose as celebrities by Chinese real estate developers to help agents sell property in “ghost towns” by making them appear more animated and worldly, according to a new mini-documentary released by the New York Times.
Thanks to China’s overzealous property development, the supply of luxury apartment complexes in some of China’s most rural areas has far exceeded demand. But that doesn’t stop the sales pitches.
The Times’ David Borenstein traveled to provincial West China where he found firms that specialized in recruiting groups of expatriates who they would then rent out to attend events, the majority of which are hosted by real estate companies.
Many foreign visitors to Japan are curious about taking a dip in one of Japan’s many hot springs or sento public baths, but are deterred by two factors: the embarrassment of being naked in public, and the worry that even having a small tattoo – very much taboo in Japan – might result in being ejected from the premises. While the first issue is something that can be overcome with a little bravery, the second issue is undoubtedly a problem.
However, a resort inn in Nagano has now publicly stated that they will allow foreigners with small tattoos to enter, providing they cover up the offending ink with a patch.
Last year, we introduced you to the Mannequin Guy, a 2m tall (6,6″) American dude living in Japan who took to the streets on Halloween 2013 to give passersby a scarily good laugh. Well, we’re happy to report that Mannequin Guy returned again this Halloween, and there’s even a video compilation of all the best bits of his routine!
Unintentional cultural misunderstandings became the subject of great debate in Japan recently following a new round of commercials produced for cup noodle manufacturer Nissin. Although intended to be entirely tongue-in-cheek, some people have raised the issue that it is precisely these kinds of advertisements that compound incorrect notions about a country and lead to further stereotyping, which led to a survey being taken which asked Japanese to list the things that they perceive to be the most common stereotypes about their own culture.
Think you can guess what made the list? Keep reading after the jump to find out!
I come before you today, readers of RocketNews24, with a confession. What I am about to tell you may shock you, but it’s eating away at me and I need to get it off my chest. You see, yesterday afternoon on my way to lunch, I did a fellow foreigner–a fellow gaijin, if you will–a tremendous injustice. It was not my intent to do so, but at the very moment this gentlemen, this benevolent stranger, put himself out there and sought to make a minor connection with another foreigner, I turned away.
That’s right, gentle reader, I accidentally ignored a Gaijin Nod.
Allow me to explain.
The cleaning crews who maintain Japan’s high-speed bullet trains have a mere seven minutes to make the interior of the train spotlessly clean for its next journey. Those seven minutes are carefully divided into different tasks to make sure everything gets done in the allotted time.
Another curious detail people often notice about these cleaners is the way they bow as trains are entering and exiting the station. While this act is generally thought to be a respectful gesture, the intended recipient of the bowing seems to be a matter of great debate, with plenty of conflicting opinions out there, even among the Japanese!
As the end of the year approaches, many foreigners living in Japan are heading back to their home countries for the holidays. Of course, seeing family and friends for the first time in a while is the best part of going home. But many people also have fun stocking up on all the familiar products that are hard to find in Japan. Check out the results from a survey on Japanese website, Madam Riri, asking foreigners to reveal the items they like to buy in their home countries and bring back to Japan.
Let’s be honest; there are a lot of distinctly average-looking foreign guys living in Japan dating jaw-droppingly beautiful Japanese girls. We’ve all witnessed it- a woman who could play the female lead in the next James Bond movie, walking down the street with a guy who, if we searched for him in the same movie’s end credits, would more likely appear as something along the lines of “man in post office # 3”.
Were the same couple to be seen out and about in the guy’s home town, pretty much everyone would be looking from her to him, then back to her again and whispering to their friends “Wow, that guy’s punching above his weight….”
Shallow? Yes. Narrow minded? Definitely. But no matter how much we remind ourselves that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, there’s no denying the fact that human beings, flawed as we are, make a lot of decisions based on appearances. And when Johnny Average gets to date Princess Zelda (I’m a nerd, remember?), heads turn.
How do they do it?