Now that I’m back from Hawaii, I finally had the chance to wade through all the emails I decided to ignore until now (sorry if that was you!). A decent number of them were people worried about racism in Japan; mainly, they were worried that people in Japan would treat them poorly because they were, well, gaijin (that means foreigner, in case you didn’t know).
A few of these emails made reference to the infamous “no gaijin” signs which are supposedly littered all around Japan. When I searched around the internet for more information on this, I was surprised with what I found…
Well, actually, not that surprised.
First off, it’s not that bad. In fact, it’s the opposite. There is so much talk going around the gaijin world about anti-gaijin sentiment, or the “no gaijin allowed” signs…thankfully, a lot of this talk is done by people who don’t know much about Japan, or have never been there. A few rumors have spread around, they’ve gotten bigger, and people pass the word on until it becomes a bigger monster.
Now, I’m not saying that racism isn’t a problem in Japan. In fact, where isn’t it an issue? As a gaijin, you will stand out, and in a country that is 99% Japanese, you will be interesting and people will be interested. Does that mean people will treat you poorly? No, not necessarily. Will you get a lot more attention than if you were Japanese? Definitely.
I found a couple videos via JapanProbe the other day. I thought they were absolutely hilarious, though it seems as though JapanProbe’s commentors thought it was pretty insensitive and mean. I can’t help it, though, I’m a Dave Chappelle fan.
And commercial #2
This sort of moves me into my next topic: “No Gaijin Allowed” signs.
If you search for “No Gaijin Allowed” in Google, you’d probably expect to come up with a bunch of hits. If you search for it in an image search, maybe you’d expect tons of “no gaijin” signs chained onto restaurant doors (so that those dirty gaijin can’t rip them off and steal them). Instead, I found almost nothing. My normal Google search consisted of “No Gaijin Allowed” tshirts, and the image search came up with things that had nothing to do with anything. I wasn’t too shocked, though, I did expect to see more.
The reason for this? Those signs aren’t really that prevalent. I’ve been all over Japan, and I try to go to as many different places as I can. I have not once seen a sign like this. When reading about people’s experiences who have seen these signs, they explain that these signs don’t necessarily mean “No Gaijin Allowed.” Instead, they mean “We don’t want any trouble from Gaijin, so be respectful” or “We can’t speak English, and we don’t want to be bothered with body communication.”
Still, there is some anti-gaijin sentiment. I’m not denying that. Gaijin don’t always make a good name for themselves, and the few bad apples ruin it for everyone. Since gaijin stand out so much in Japan, one misbehaving gaijin can make all gaijin look bad. Every once in a while a story like this will come out. On top of this, there is some bad blood between the older generation that fought in the war and anyone not Japanese. Even that is turning around though, and I’ve never had a bad experience with someone of the older generation. Still, I can see some potential problem. On the other hand, our War veterans sometimes have bad feelings about Japanese, so it’s not like it’s any different.
Anyways, I just wanted to say that the “anti-gaijin” mentality isn’t as prevalent as a lot of people think. Japan’s a friendly place, and as long as you try to keep in mind that you are in another country, and you need to follow some of their cultural guidelines (like taking off your shoes, damnit!), you shouldn’t have any trouble. If you don’t make an effort, though, and think that you can get away with anything…well…then you might get some anti-gaijin sentiment. I warned you, though.