Japan Japan Customs

Tips for Stopping Discrimination in Japan

Assuming you speak English just because you are not Asian.

Why do you assume I speak English?
???????????? Nande eigo o hanasu to omotta?

Why do you think all white people speak English?
?????????????????????Nande hakujin minna eigo hanasu to omotteiru no?

(I know you don’t mean to be rude but…. ) not all white people speak english
(Kizutsukeru tsumori jya nai no ha wakatte iru no dakeredo…) hakujin minna eigo o hanasu wakedewanai

– Being complemented on your Japanese

But I only said 2 words!
???? ?? ????? demo futakoto shika ittenai?

But I barely said anything.
???????????Demo sonna ni ittenai.

You can judge language skills from only one word? You are a genius aren’t you!
????????????????????????????Tatta hitokoto de nihongo no reberu ga wakaru no? atama iin da ne!

Sorry to defy your expectations. (funny response, you might get a laugh)
????????Shitsurei itashimashita.

– A policeman asks to see your passport

Why? Did I do something wrong?
doshite? nanika machigatta koto shimashita ka?

Is it illegal to be white here?
???????????????? Hakunin ga koko ni iru no ha ihou desu ka?

Is it illegal to be black here?
????????????????Kokunin ga koko ni iru no ha ihou desu ka?

Please show me your badge
??????????????Keisatsu techou o misete kudasai.

Why did you stop ME?
?????????????Doshite watashi o tometta no?

– Being asked “can you use chopsticks?”

– Can you tie your own shoes?
???????????????Jibun de Kutsu himo musubemasu ka?

(Shoes) don’t come from Japan so it must be difficult for you.
??????????????????????????(Kutsu) ha nihon no mono jya nai kara sazou muzukashii koto deshou.

– Being Stared at

Don’t stare at me
???????Jiro jiro miruna

Can I help you with something?
?????????Nanika you desu ka?


Photos from Tokyo

Some photos I took recently in Tokyo.

the sign says “do not stand in here!”

Jump over the lights!

Look what they will turn this ancient Temple into. Oh Sweet Progress…

I had some good times in Tokyo. To everyone i met there, well i have learned something from you. I’ve tried to be playful,nonreactive, and living in the moment while some people let their perceptions destroy them or realize their potential to be social savantes. You know who you are.

And though some events are so worthy of it, I haven’t yet typed out my adventures in Tokyo for public consumption. I’d love to write more intoxicatingly to get you all drunk off of vicarious nonsense, but i have a feeling I have the potential to do even better. In time of course. Many writers are just incredibly talented. In one of my university English classes, I had to choose a mundane topic, and describe it in a poetic style to attract the reader’s attention. I chose shoelaces. pretty mundane right? but they are a deadly serious expression of who we are in our soles. or something like that. Anyway, Some people can produce attractive writing instantly on any topic. And that’s great. But even though, i haven’t quite yet cultivated the provocative writing style i hope for, I can still cultivate the lifestyle I want to express.

A lifestyle with a few more cliff dives into unknown situations where i don’t care about embarassing myself. And anything that sounds profound or entertaining. Anyway, enjoy these pictures. Most are from Asakusa in Tokyo. The one with Shohei dueling a samurai uniform is from an Izakaya in Shinjuku. I have a lot of pictures from all over the place to put up. And go ahead and view the entire photo gallery

Japan Japan Customs

4 AM in Japan

Hi there audience. Thanks for joining me on this enlightening walk along a street at 2 AM in Kyoto as freezing cold temperatures test our endurance. Our minds half focused on ignoring that intense cold and the other half meditating on the lyrics of the Black Eyed Peas’ Where is the Love before finally arriving at our destination and some interesting conversation.

We met Shohei’s friend. A Japanese guy, who was born in Brazil and has lived in Japan since he was three years old. And now as an adult, is culturally Japanese. Rafael has lived in both Tokyo and Kyoto so I asked how he compares people from these two areas of Japan.

He said, “People in Tokyo show no emotion on their face, and are very cold. But people in Kansai are kinder.”

Someone else we met in Kyoto also mentioned that people here are less likely to give a fake smile like in Tokyo. And I noticed it too. There are some cultural differences, but I have met friendly people in Tokyo as well regardless of the cold impression its people often give.

I asked him if he’s ever experienced discrimination in Japan. He said no, but he is annoyed at often being called gaijin as it’s like considering him as an “outsider” when in fact he is not. He’s also annoyed that Japanese always assume he speaks English just because he is white. But it is not the assumption that annoys him, it’s the fact that those situations happen so often that he constantly has to explain that he actually doesn’t speak English and is in fact Japanese. He added that Japanese are usually understanding and accepting when he explains this.

Shohei explained that he is definitely Japanese as he accepts the existence of illogical assumptions such as he is white therefore he must speak English without being offended.

According to Shohei, since Japanese often avoid negativity as a cultural trait, it’s also best to avoid logical considerations that could lead to a negative or uncomfortable conclusion.

When Rafael asked me about my opinion on the bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki, I gave a well thought out, considerate response. Explaining how though there is always tragedy in war, and regardless of who was victorious, those events ended the suffering of millions of innocent lives. And when I asked him the same question, he giggled “Yay! Barbeque!”

Sometimes I really don’t know if I should respond to people with humor or a thoughtful reaction. I’ve always thought it best to usually do whatever amuses myself in an interaction and save more thoughtful serious conversation for when I get to know someone though.

Communication Japan

Tips for Socializing in Japan

Just a few quick thoughts on socializing in Japan that i have been thinking about lately.

Something i have mentioned previously in this blog is that in Japan people don’t self disclose meaningful personal information so easily or quickly. Initial conversations with a person are in fact very light in terms of content rarely involve really getting to know someone. Some Japanese acquaintances have told me that they need to wait at least year after initially meeting someone to disclose their personal ideas and feelings. I once read a story, somewhere on the interwebs but unfortunately was unable to find to link to, about a French guy who worked at a company in Japan for nearly a decade. During that time he felt he really loved his job, and he felt his co-workers really respected and liked him too. One day, after work a Japanese co-worker told him that actually, “nobody likes you.” He of course felt very upset to be told this, and at the same time deceived because that entire time everyone had treated him so nicely. But those polite niceties we find so easy to endure in Japanese social interactions are a mere facade to hide us from the embarrassment if people knew what we were really thinking. If you feel like you have a great friendship and would like someone to listen to you with genuine interest, you can always try to disclose some personal information or stories and see if they reciprocate as all people are different and not everyone will fit in to every generalization i mention.

The Japanese co-worker in that story, after many years of knowing his French co-worker finally felt comfortable enough to reveal a real thought, thus hoping it would have been the beginning of a genuine friendship. So true friendship in Japan is indeed very difficult to achieve.

Another thing about socializing in Japan that differs from my culture based preferences is that people rarely devote time to each other to develop connections and friendships with their fellow human being. Time is usually devoted primarily to school work, or actual work, and any free time is often time devotable to some other group activity. So because of this, cultivating genuine friendships is even more challenging, though of course possible. So be considerate of time constraints and the fact that just because someone says they are busy, they aren’t just blowing you off.

Which brings me to the prevalence of hilariously obvious excuses Japanese people will tell you when they don’t wanna accept your invitation to hang out. I’m ok with tactful honesty if someone doesn’t want to meet me for whatever reason, but there is a vast difference between people i have met who give me an excuse and then never interact with me again, and people who make an effort to spend time with me after they know they have missed a chance to because of some obligation.

Also don’t be negative at all. I think having a fun positive attitude is great for social interaction with anyone, but even casually mentioning you don’t like something that someone else likes can give them a reason to never want to interact with you again. So this might be part of the reason, or at least related to the reason for Japanese not disclosing much of their real identity to one another at first as they are afraid to offend people with their real opinions.

another point is to be excessively grateful when someone does something nice for you and be willing to apologize for anything even if you feel you have done no wrong. Remember apologizing is not necessarily mean you are wrong and the other person in the right. It just means you value human relationships more than your own ego.