Archive for March, 2010


Conversation 3/28/10: Tell me something I don’t know…

This conversation took place with a Japanese friend at a cafe in Yokohama:

Me: …I thought it was a very interesting article! What do you think?

Yoko: Of what?

Me: His argument that both Gaikokujin and Gaijin essentially mean the same thing: Not so much foreigner, but not-Japanese.

Yoko: You think so?

Me: Well, yeah, actually, I agree totally.

Yoko: Why?

Me: Let me give you an example. I had an experience recently. I was in Hawaii, in Waikiki, and I overheard two Japanese guys talking about a party they’d gone to the night before. Both agreed that the party was ok but would have been better if there were less Japanese there and more Gaijin. It rubbed me the wrong way, being referred to as a foreigner in my own country. Hell, I’d taken the vacation to get away from that for a spell. So I took issue with it, and told them as much.

Yoko: Really? What did you say to them?

Me: I told them that this is America, and that they were the foreigners, not us!

Yoko: That was rude!

Me: A little, I guess, but I guess I am a little sensitive about that kind of thing, for obvious reasons. But, no more rude than they were. Presuming if they spoke in Japanese none of the Americans sitting in their vicinity would understand they were calling us foreigners.

Yoko: But, if you feel that Gaijin means not Japanese then why did you say anything?

Me: I hadn’t really thought it through until I read that article; which was after the fact. And even if I had, the way Japanese were behaving in Waikiki, I was already pissed anyway.

Yoko: How were they acting?

Me: Like they owned the place! Like they were in some Japanese resort, not guest in a foreign country, in my country. I feel like if I can be on my best behavior in their country they can certainly be on theirs in mine!

Yoko: I see. (Sad expression on her face)

Me: What? Was I wrong?

Yoko: ….

Me: Seriously! They were behaving the way many Japanese do in Japan. I mean, in Japan I have to accept the excuse that Japanese are not used to foreigners so they are shy around me, to put it nicely, but if you go to foreign country that excuse because invalid.

Yoko: I see…

Me: And I think I  know the reason why.

Yoko: Why?

Me: Because, some Japanese don’t even know Hawaii is America! Maybe they think it’s Japan.

Yoko: That’s ridiculous!

Me: Seriously, Yoko. I ask my students…and this has happened many times…I ask them, have you ever been to the US? And they say no, but they’ve been to Hawaii! Hawaii is America, I say. And they get this look like…”Oh yeah, that’s right.”

Yoko: You don’t understand Japanese people…

Me: Tell me something I don’t know…(said sarcastically)

Yoko: Eeee?

Me: Nothing. Listen, I don’t claim to understand Japanese. I don’t even understand Americans, sometimes.

Yoko: Of course we know Hawaii is in America. We’re just being humble.

Me: Humble??? You mean ignorant!

Yoko: …

Me: I mean, come on, if a Japanese person on vacation, say, in NY, asked me had  I ever been to Japan and I answered, “No, but I’ve been to Okinawa,” would they think I was being humble or that I was an ignorant American?

Yoko: But, you’re not Japanese.

Me: I don’t get it.

Yoko: America, the mainland, is…expensive to visit. Plus, you have to know some English to get around. Hawaii is cheap to visit, and you don’t need much English.

Me: Ok…

Yoko: So, if we say we’ve gone to the US, then that’s just like boasting that we have money and we can speak English. We are humble so we don’t say such things.

Me: But, like you said, I’m not Japanese. And, presumably, I don’t know the rules of humble etiquette. So, why, at the risk of appearing painfully ignorant with no benefit, would Japanese be humble with me?

Yoko: Habit.

Me: I see…

Yoko: I don’t think you do. Because you are Gaijin. (Smiles) I mean, gaikokujin.


If you read / follow my blog, why don’t you go to my networkedblogs page here and click “follow.” (and rate me…I like 5 stars but I’ll take what you got) It’ll help me build up my readership and whatnot. Also you can catch my tweets at Locohama.

Copyright © 2010 Loco in Yokohama / All Rights Reserved

Please know that this blog is my original writing and may not be reproduced in any way without the expressed written permission of the author (that's me!) Thanks!

Words I love…

Everybody is a star
I can feel it when you shine on me
I love you for who you are
Not the one you feel you need to be
Ever catch a falling star
Ain't no stopping 'til it's in the ground
Everybody is a star
One big circle going round and round

Words by: Sly Stone

You're at LOCO IN YOKOHAMA! Are you signed up? If not, better hurry! Subscribe now while supplies last (-: enter your email here!

Join 2 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 261,646 are wondering when Loco will finish this book!

Join Loco’s Network here!

Stumble Upon

Gaijin Beat



  • 未知なる世界へ旅立とう! #アカクロ 2 months ago
  • 未知なる世界へ旅立とう! #アカクロ 2 months ago
  • #パズルガールズ 艦長、期間限定のプレゼントを配布中です。早くお受け取りください! 2 months ago
  • 【ドラゴンボールZ ドッカンバトル】 最後まで盛りだくさんの6周年! 「激突×団結!6周年超絶DOKKAN謝祭」の第3弾が開催中! 6周年を余すことなく遊びつくして、豪華報酬をGETしておこう! #ドッカンバトル #ドラゴンボール 7 months ago
  • 【ドラゴンボールZ ドッカンバトル】 まだまだ続く6周年! 「激突×団結!6周年超絶DOKKAN謝祭」の第2弾が開催中! さらなるイベントやミッションも登場! 6周年を記念したキャンペーンを引き続きドッカンと楽しもう!…… 8 months ago
March 2010

Top Clicks

  • None