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Reflections on a Certain Thread

Today I went to the grocery store on the way home from work.

I was thinking about the discussion on the "Have you Ever Experienced Discrimination in Japan?" thread here, and I was quietly monitoring the people around me in a way that I normally do not any more, looking for signs of racism or discrimination for the sake of "science".

I did notice that people looked at me. Yes, they looked, but I saw nothing sinister in their eyes. I didn't even see curiosity, but since I was obviously looking at them back (or how else could I have noticed?), I can't report anything substantial on that point. I should also note that I made these observations at the entrance, where I am rather inclined to have people look at me (and everyone else around) if only for the sake of avoiding bumping into each other!

The most remarkable encounter I had happened while waiting to pay for my goods.

It happened when I went to the check-out lane. I got in the lane with the fewest people waiting to be checked out (only one!) and started waiting. Suddenly the lady in front of me looked at me and said (in Japanese of course), "Would you mind skipping ahead of me? I forgot to pick up some eggs." I asked her if it was indeed alright with her and proceeded to the cashier.

Mundane as heck, no?

It's that very mundaneness, the very fact that it was nothing special in any conceivable manner, that makes it significant to me. She didn't waver or even seem to take notice that I was not Asian in appearance. She treated me as I assume she would have any person standing behind her in the check-out lane.

I stand reaffirmed in my conviction that even though there are racist people everywhere, Japan included, this is not an inherently racist country.

Comments

Fortunately, most japanese are not racists, but the few who are can give you bad experiences. Even though they are few and far between their racist behaviour can give you the feeling that japanese in general are racists, but it is not a fair judgement.
😌

Because there are so few forigners in Japan who look different from the average japanese, you will often get much more attention than what you might be used to. I guess that you get insight into how it must be to be a famous celebrity. Getting so much attention can be tireing, but remember that the boy who point towards you, does not know that it is the tenth time that day you experience to be to centre of childrens interest. So don't get angry.
:wave:

For some reason small japanese children always get very exited when they see me. I guess I must look like some TV host from a childrens programme.
😊🤩
 
I went to Gusto (a chain restaurant) with a friend (oh, yeah, he is Japanese) about a month ago and we sat down mostly just for the drink bar.

He told me that the other people in the restaurant were indeed looking at us, a fact that for some reason I was completely oblivious to, and his theory was that people aren't used to seeing a non-asian-looking person being able to have a regular conversation in Japanese. In other words, they were curious.

I find that many people are very friendly once they realize I can speak Japanese. Many people apparently want to talk to the foreigners and be friends, but the language barrier, real or imaginary, is the main obstacle.
 
Your experiences closely resemble my own. It's funny as I too just came from that very same thread!

In much the same way as a few bad gaijin tourists can give all gaijin a bad name, a few racist Japanese can give the wrong impression to all gaijin. It's a bit of a cycle, and it's usually the same kind of people who get caught up in it. Those who over-perceive and over-generalize.

Day to day interactions are largely void of racism in Japan in my humble opinion. I've had far too many positive experiences to ever think otherwise.
 
You have japanese and you have japanese, and those aren't the same! Like me i like all japanese people and when i think i'm rgith i step to them but my analyse isn't always right eg:
60% will say something and start a conversation
25% will say something but they will ignore you
15% will say NOTHING at all

(this is a bad theory) but what i'm trying to is, everyone is different and while i was in japan my friends laughed at me because i used english words in a japanese conversation.

Then i replied what's with engrish? look at jpop they use english words also! Bakayaro! and then we start to laugh.
Since im half japanese people will recognize me as one of their kind, and i want that they do the same to all people, in fact we are all the same except we have our own ideas and own characters and our own skincolour etc....

I have also experienced discrimination but not in heavy forms.
 
Han Chan said:
Getting so much attention can be tireing, but remember that the boy who point towards you, does not know that it is the tenth time that day you experience to be to centre of childrens interest. So don't get angry.
Mikawa Ossan said:
I find that many people are very friendly once they realize I can speak Japanese. Many people apparently want to talk to the foreigners and be friends, but the language barrier, real or imaginary, is the main obstacle.
bakaKandajin said:
Day to day interactions are largely void of racism in Japan in my humble opinion. I've had far too many positive experiences to ever think otherwise.
Herbal Shin said:
Since im half japanese people will recognize me as one of their kind, and i want that they do the same to all people, in fact we are all the same except we have our own ideas and own characters and our own skincolour etc....

I have also experienced discrimination but not in heavy forms.
Good entry Mikawa and one that is more on the mark than not. As I said in my own entry, you will find discrimination anywhere, anytime no matter who you are if you look hard enough for it. Even here in the US south I can find it if I want to since I am a "yankee" from the north.

City Japanese discriminate against country Japanese. Southern Japanese discriminate against northern Japanese and vice versa. Old vs young. Tatooed vs non-tatooed, etc, etc. Chinese, Korean, Western. Need I go on? It is there as it is in every country, state, and city around the world and no matter what laws or international treaties are passed it will always be there. It is just human nature and nationality has no play in the picture as, if the world were all the same color and nationality, there would still be discrimination and stereotypes based on income, background, living area, etc. It just how humans are wired.

The point is, if you let it bother you it will, if you choose to not let it bother you it won't. People should understand it for what it is as it will never go away.
 
i will soon be travelling to japan osaka and do not expect to receive undue attention from people. my experience is that it is unlikely in any large city anywhere in the world exept possibly china where the interest can be overwhelming, especially if you stop to talk to someone in the street; then you are likely to have a crowd around you in a very short time; usually friendly, sometime over-enthusiastic, but can be an enjoyable encounter.
cheers teijin
 

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