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Is Japan changing and becoming open to more foreigners?
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jmatt



Joined: 29 Apr 2012
Posts: 105

PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 6:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kah5217 wrote:
From what you guys have noticed, does one sex get more stares than the other?

Or is it equal opportunity ostracizing?


They're just looking at you because they hate you. Ha ha!
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

marley'sghost wrote:
@Glenski- do you get a lot of staring, pointing out there in the inaka? (I'm assuming you don't "look" Japanese.) I'm 6 foot white, blue eyes, etc. I get less of it than I used to near where I live. None when I'm in "the big city" 20 minutes by train away. My "halfu" kids get hardly a second glance. Though when they are alone with me there is the occasional, "日本語上手です! from strangers. Well, yeah they are Japanese.
No, I don't look Japanese. I'm typical white American.

Actually, I do get stares here, even though there are a fair number of us foreigners around. The stares don't last long, though, and it's more of a surprised glimpse. What actually lasts longer is the look at my J wife and me when we are together, so maybe some people still have not reconciled the fact that different races & nationalities mix. Big deal. I catch no flak for it other than that.

When anyone talks to us (my students, my wife's friends, uni staff) with my kid nearby, their first word is predictable: CUTE! My kid doesn't like it anymore and often refuses to come to the office for that reason. He prefers "cool". I don't blame him.
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Tiger Beer



Joined: 08 Feb 2003
Posts: 755
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Is Japan changing and becoming open to more foreigners? Reply with quote

matador wrote:
Q. Are there many non-Japanese (such as Chinese) working in convenience stores like 7/11 in Tokyo? Is it very rare or normal? Thanks.

Could you have chosen a more similar-looking nationality?
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Tiger Beer



Joined: 08 Feb 2003
Posts: 755
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

matador wrote:
I'm the OP. I lived in Japan on and off for about 10 years up to 2007. Now I teach at a university here in Hong Kong. My wife (Japanese) goes over to Japan about once a month on business. She was telling me that there has been a big increase in non-Japanese working in convenience stores that she had picked up on.

I was a little unsure about this.

My experience in Japan has been that if there are 3 non Japanese walking down the street that this constitutes Japan becoming more "international" in the eyes of some Japanese/media (tongue in cheek but you know what I mean...). Hmmm, spend an hour in the middle of HK and you will feel more "international" than a month in Tokyo. Neither a good or bad thing either way, just different. "International" doesn't always = good.

So I was curious as to whether the overall visibility of non-Japanese had increased since 2007. I have only been back to Japan once since then (Osaka in 2011) and was really taken aback by how few non-Japanese I saw in my 2 days. This includes kicking back at Osaka "international" airport for a few hours. I counted about 10 non-Japanese (assorted Asian and Caucasians) when I was there. Twas always thus to be honest when I lived in Japan....I just got used to it...but coming back from HK it really felt odd.

I therefore wondered whether my wife was accurate saying that more non-Japanese were visible. You could argue that this is just the natural progression of any society. But when I was in Japan up to 2007 any change that I picked up on was g-l-a-c-i-a-l. Notwithstanding the occasional article in Time/Newsweek telling us all that "at last Japan must open up to foreigners". Er...no it doesn't have to.

Or have I got it wrong..?

It's all about perspective. I lived in the country (that can't be named on this forum), and JAPAN looked super-international comparitively.

I've continually been amazed how many mixed kids I've met who grew up in Japan, etc.

Where I lived before Japan, a country very nearby, that just never happened, You'd never meet a half kid in that country. I regularly meet them here in Japan, and taught many of them as well.
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Tiger Beer



Joined: 08 Feb 2003
Posts: 755
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

marley'sghost wrote:
@Glenski- do you get a lot of staring, pointing out there in the inaka? (I'm assuming you don't "look" Japanese.) I'm 6 foot white, blue eyes, etc. I get less of it than I used to near where I live. None when I'm in "the big city" 20 minutes by train away. My "halfu" kids get hardly a second glance. Though when they are alone with me there is the occasional, "日本語上手です! from strangers. Well, yeah they are Japanese.

Staring seems too relative.

I don't feel like people even notice me as a foreigner. I just don't feel I get the stares or anything else. I also have a kid, and while there is some acknowledgement, I don't feel it as intruisive or staring or anything else. It's very normal, not much different than the reaction we get when we're back in the U.S.

That being said, I met an American girl in the 'inaka' that I use to live at. She had only been in Japan for 3 weeks, and she thought she was getting stared at all the time.

Was she? I don't know....is she just hyperaware? Was she looking for that? Was she stariing at everything and everyoe and getting the stares back? Am I just oblivious to it, or desensitized? How can we both have lived in the same small inaki town at the same time, but have two drastically different experiences with it?
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 997
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 11:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tiger Beer wrote:
I don't feel like people even notice me as a foreigner. I just don't feel I get the stares or anything else....

That being said, I met an American girl in the 'inaka' that I use to live at. She had only been in Japan for 3 weeks, and she thought she was getting stared at all the time.

Was she? I don't know....is she just hyperaware? Was she looking for that? Was she stariing at everything and everyoe and getting the stares back? Am I just oblivious to it, or desensitized? How can we both have lived in the same small inaki town at the same time, but have two drastically different experiences with it?

I live in Narita -- so pretty international by Japanese standards -- and my wife is Japanese. I'm visibly foreign.

My wife tells me that, when we're out together, people look at me first and then, when they see that we're together, they look at her. I don't notice, but that's the kind of insensitive guy I am. She isn't the kind of person who imagines this stuff.
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pitarou wrote:
my wife is Japanese. I'm visibly foreign.

My wife tells me that, when we're out together, people look at me first and then, when they see that we're together, they look at her. I don't notice, but that's the kind of insensitive guy I am. She isn't the kind of person who imagines this stuff.
My wife doesn't claim to notice anything, whether stares at me, her, or our kid. I've seen more stares drift from me to them, and I often wonder what people are thinking.

Is it, "Gee, what's she doing with him?" or more like "Hmm, cute kid. Oh! That's why!" or something else.

It's also very difficult to know whether the look is a disapproving one. My mind-reading talents aren't up to snuff on that, and I would caution people from making guesses.
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OneJoelFifty



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 463

PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My girlfriend and I get stares. I argue that they're thinking "Look at her, what a lucky woman to be with such a handsome foreign guy!" and she argues that they are wondering "Wow, she's beautiful. Why is she with him?"
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Pitarou



Joined: 16 Nov 2009
Posts: 997
Location: Narita, Japan

PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OneJoelFifty wrote:
My girlfriend and I get stares. I argue that they're thinking "Look at her, what a lucky woman to be with such a handsome foreign guy!" and she argues that they are wondering "Wow, she's beautiful. Why is she with him?"

Thanks. I'll remember that one.
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Tiger Beer



Joined: 08 Feb 2003
Posts: 755
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pitarou wrote:
Tiger Beer wrote:
I don't feel like people even notice me as a foreigner. I just don't feel I get the stares or anything else....

That being said, I met an American girl in the 'inaka' that I use to live at. She had only been in Japan for 3 weeks, and she thought she was getting stared at all the time.

Was she? I don't know....is she just hyperaware? Was she looking for that? Was she stariing at everything and everyoe and getting the stares back? Am I just oblivious to it, or desensitized? How can we both have lived in the same small inaki town at the same time, but have two drastically different experiences with it?

I live in Narita -- so pretty international by Japanese standards -- and my wife is Japanese. I'm visibly foreign.

My wife tells me that, when we're out together, people look at me first and then, when they see that we're together, they look at her. I don't notice, but that's the kind of insensitive guy I am. She isn't the kind of person who imagines this stuff.

Perhaps it's all relative to each individual.

For all I know, I'm getting stared at all the time, and have no clue.

But, I often see my students out and about walking down the street. A large number of times, they've walked right by me, without even noticing me.

I also have a little kid, so I notice a lot of people looking at him. But when I brought him to the U.S., a lot of people looked at him there too.

Half of my problem might be that I've spent a lot of time in other countries, where I seriously got stared at regularly, as if I was a zoo animal. I'm sure Japanese people look, but it must be subtle. I just don't notice it in any compareable way. I've been in other countries, where I've been followed around, or pointed at by many people at the same time, and a lot of other very noticeable staring.

Japan seems largely indifferent to me. But, there are probably a large range of variables related to what a person is comparing staring/attention with, based on where they have or haven't been in comparison.
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kathrynoh



Joined: 16 Jul 2009
Posts: 63

PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I'm sure Japanese people look, but it must be subtle.


I've had people walk beside me down the street, craning their necks to stare at my face! That's pretty unsubtle. And that's in the middle of Tokyo, where you'd think foreigners aren't that uncommon.

I actually found it less common in smaller towns than in the city.

I'm not sure if women get stared at more than men but I found even wearing necklines that are very conservative by Western standards, I'd get stared at ie. not showing cleavage but a bit of my upper chest. It's really creepy. It's not even done in a hitting on you/checking you out kind of way, just staring! Of course, it's always older salarymen.
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