Gaijin stereotypes

Finally, the weather is starting to cool off! Thank God! For most of August, I would have to go into the ‘cool room’. The cool room is my wife’s room, the one with the sofa. My apartment is divided up this way: My wife’s room, which is mostly her chests of drawers, vanity, and boxes upon boxes of stuff. It is the room with the only A/C. There is the tatami room/ or bedroom where we sleep on our futons. There is a closet in there but its bursting with her stuff, I’m afraid of it and finally my room, which has all my goodies and spend most of my time. It is where the computer is and since I don’t have a TV, this is how I watch DVDs and stuff. Anyhow, it has been so hot recently, I have to shut everything down and just hunker down in the cool room and read.

This isn’t a commentary on what Japanese people think about others, but rather about how other non-Japanese see other non-Japanese.  I am going to aggregate some common ‘types of Gaijin’ stereotypes you see on the net. These are always written in a very negative, self- aggrandizing fashion. What I mean by that is they are written by people who came to Japan, most likely as teachers, to jobs they hate because they were never teachers to begin with nor had any qualification or inclination to teach, thus they descended into a pit of their own negativity and deep need to feel superior to those who are comfortable in Japan, so we can call these the first category: The Haters.
From here on out I am just reposting and commenting from varied blogs, after which I will comment in italics, because while all stereotypes are true, they always carry some uncomfortable truths.

The Otaku

Not as prevalent as you may think, mainly because most otaku can’t be bothered to leave their own bedrooms, let alone entire countries. Still, the few who do manage to suck up the nerve to head to Japan find residence in and around Akihabara, where they dress up as stormtroopers, maids, sailors, and other almost naked peoples. Unlike other cultural imperialists, their interest in Japan is specific, focused, obsessive: anime, manga, and its various pop-cultural offshoots. Otaku are probably the most content commoners you’ll find in Tokyo since, unlike their home countries, nobody there judges them for their social sins.

Well, nothing gives away a superiority complex like referring to others as ‘commoners’. The Otaku are actually anyone who obsesses over a hobby and surround themselves with trappings of that hobby. Going to this extreme is unhealthy no matter what it is. It is when what gives you joy smothers everything else. But those are the extremes of even that concept. So what if someone enjoys these little fantasies and are socially awkward, they are usually kinder and gentler souls and once you get to know them they are good and loyal friends… and you just learn to bear with the oddities.

The Obnoxious Europeans Who Masquerade as Americans

Americans get a bad rap in Japan–in the view of Japanese, they’re lazy, drunken, rude, arrogant, and large. But by all accounts, Americans aren’t lazy. In fact, they work more hours and have fewer days off than the citizens of just about any first-world nation in the world. Most of those vacationing unshaven slobs you see stumbling around the city are of various European descent: grotesque Germans, slovenly Slovaks, and wave after wave of drunken Englishmen, all being rowdy as hell, and all intoxicatingly falling over themselves to give us Americans a bad name. Most Japanese can’t tell an Aussie accent from a Boston one, and instead assume that the jerks vomiting up cheap sake in the middle of a busy intersection are from Paris, Texas rather than Paris, France.

I have never been much of a bar fly, but this category encompasses anyone under 25 who comes to Japan. Americans, Europeans, Aussies, Brits, in my case waves of inebriated Kiwis. I dislike the undercurrent that Japanese are natively ignorant though. Of course they can’t differentiate accents if they have no experience. Line up the average American and they often can’t tell a Kiwi, Aussie and or British accent. It’s not because they are stupid, it is all just lack of experience.

The Genki

Super enthusiastic (“genki!” as they like to remind you) about Japan and everything in it, they’ll surround themselves with a circle of Japanese people and refuse to let you see what’s inside. These are the ones who carve out a little slice of Japan for themselves, usually in some rural backwater, and act all Chris Columbus with it. As soon as you meet them, they’ll make sure to include in their introduction everything they know about Japan so as to ensure you are inferior and don’t belong here, gaijin! The reality of it is they know way too much about way too narrow segments of Japanese culture and try to impress you with the fact that they can pronounce “karaoke” or “karate” correctly within the context of any sentence.

Very funny, and I have known a few of these people. It’s pretty accurate until you get half-way through and you get bogged down in the writer’s prejudices… Just excitable people really, the anethma of the bitter and cynical.

The Cynical Assholes Who Love Japan but Publicly Hate It

This is a comprehensive group of people who bitch about Japan when in front of others, but secretly love it because Japan has provided them with a life far better than whatever sad situation they’ve escaped from in their home country. This group includes sarcastic college graduates, as well as middle-aged bankers who gripe about Japan’s cultural oddities but end up hitting on 30-year-old office workers at the local gaijin pub every Friday night.

Beyond the title, I have never seen this one. I have never know a gathering of more than 10 people anywhere without a cynical asshole who publicly hate things but actually loves it.

The Nigel

The Nigel is named after a porn star, name of Nigel, whose purpose in life is to befriend and befuck every willing female this side of the Orient. A Nigel can be spotted at night in the club districts of Japan–the base being foreigner-friendly Roppongi–with a mission to spread their seed, along with tales of marriage and security, to any woman sucker enough to lend an ear and possibly some other open orifices. Nigels can spit game, don’t discriminate between 3s and 8s. They’re most commonly found in Bangkok (zing!) or in sleazier areas of China, but they certainly aren’t lacking in abundance in ol’ Nippon. The open borders are now gaping, and Nigels have thrust themselves in.

And this is different from any college male how?

The Bitter White Women

So you go to Japan, you’re suddenly a rock star, and pussy is flying your way like a million bats out of the Batcave (must…force…comic…analogies). That is, if you’re a red-blooded male. If you’re a dude that swings the other way, there’s still a lot Japan has to offer you in the form of highly entertaining gay bars with cosplay. But if you’re a big, strapping gal from the mid-Northwest, Japan might not be your kind of place. Foreign guys, when they’re getting laid, are not choosing to eat N’awlins catfish at the Kobe beef steakhouse. And Japanese guys, when they’re not being worked to death by a sadistic bureau chief, are often too intimidated by the hulking, busty behemoths to ask them out on dates, let alone climb them.
Add to that the fact that all the dress and shoe sizes in Japan are about five sizes too small, and what do you get? Sad, bitter white women who resent the fact that the losers who they once blew off for fucking that tattooed freak at the club no longer even bother to buy them pity drinks.

Wow, huge generalization but I think it’s especially dated I think. Younger girls from overseas that come here have now been brought up on anime and found a love for Jpop, so there are a greater variety now. What I saw most of the time where girls that lived in the bubble. They only stayed and dated within a very small social circle of other foreigners. I never did meet one with a Japanese boyfriend. Most of the girls I did know became bitter and left in one years time. This was years and years ago though… Most of the foreign girls I know now are married to Japanese guys. What a change huh?

The Permanent Migrants

Don’t bother getting to know these types too long, as they’ll likely be in Saudi Arabia before you can ask them what their plans are for the weekend. Permanent migrants are never in Japan for more than a short stay, usually because they have another exotic locale to visit, add to their PassportStamp account, and tell everyone they come in contact with that they’ve “done” Japan, thought it was okay, but so and so was better. They give off the impression of a worldly traveler, when in reality they’ve scoured the world and yet found nothing that validates their existence. These guys and gals would suffocate on their own cloud of smug if they weren’t already choking on massive tornadoes resulting from their hightailing it out of town while leaving anything resembling commitment behind.

Backpackers… that is the backpacker story. The yen translates very well internationally and it’s a small country, so it has always been a springboard for the rest of Asia. I never met anyone like the one mentioned, but the author is what he is.

The Restarts & Forgot-to-Leaves

The restarts moved to Japan one day on a whim with no prospects, set up residence for a short-term escape, and ended up staying for a long-term purgatory. Often, restarts have screwed up somewhere in life irrevocably and Japan, with its futuristic neon flashing lights, robots, flying cars, and android babies, promises a vision of a much better and more automated tomorrow. Sometimes restarts will end up living happy new lives, while others don’t realize it was themselves, and not their past countries, that they were running away from.
Occasionally these restarts will slowly mutate into a devolved breed called forgot-to-leaves, a sad group of people typically indistinguishable from other normal folks, but who can often be spotted wandering around the city streets like zombies at 5 a.m. after all the bars have closed, talking to anyone who will listen that they were once important, but have now turned Japan into their own private Florida where no one listens to them and they will soon die.

This is true enough, but it looks more like the ramblings of someone who is justifying the fact that some people are fitting in, or are happy in Japan. As to the second half, never seen it. This particular author seems to drink a lot…

The Professional English Teacher (PET)

The PET loves teaching English way too much. More like a professional clown than a real teacher (you know, the kind that gives grades and whose livelihood isn’t dangled around on a contract), PETs have been caught unawares that the Japanese English-teaching industry was long ago relegated to a sort of mercenary program for foreign refugees. Many unfortunate souls end up running the eikaiwa (“English conversation”) racket for the remainder of their lives.
If only they had found some respectable employment when they had the chance. Now, they possess portfolios stocked with English ice-breakers and conversation games, while their resumes are occupied solely by jobs that their home country considers the equivalent of mall Santa or amusement park choo-choo-train operator. Some luck into cushy university jobs where the conditions are slightly more respectable, but most end up content as a permanent pet monkey to Japan’s whip-cracking massa.

This is the focus of so much hate. Going back to the intro, many come to Japan to teach who should never had stepped into a classroom, and quickly learn to hate it and degrade the schools. There are some who enjoy it however, and there are plenty of entrepeneurs out there that merge their love of teaching to a business. The ex-ALT/ Eikaiwa instructor are usually the most bitter of the bitter and like to write lists like these or make Vlogs.

Here is another type gaijin, taken from a defunct blog… The Charisma man. Once again the following is not me, but a cut and paste… I will be at the bottom of it in italics

Back when I first started working in Japan, there was a young Canadian man working at Nova who worked the same morning shifts as I. He was only 20 years old and had come to Japan when he was 19. Somehow, he managed to get a work visa despite only having some junior college under his belt. (For those who don’t know, the minimum requirement for a work visa is (usually) a Bachelor’s degree.)

On occasion, I interacted with him either when no lessons were scheduled or in the conversation lounge when we were scheduled in there together. Unsurprisingly, he was sometimes pretty immature. Somewhat surprisingly, he was prone to emotional outbursts on the job. The main things I noticed were that he was prone to chatting with young female students in Japanese whenever the least opportunity presented itself, even when he was supposed to be helping them practice English.

As time went by, he developed a crush on a British coworker who I was friends with. He interacted with her like a lovesick puppy until she agreed to go on a trip to Tokyo Disneyland with him a few young Japanese women. Upon returning from this foray, my friend told me that his behavior was extremely childish and overtly attention-seeking and boastful. She said she was both embarrassed to be with him and as a witness to this behavior in front of the Japanese women. She also said that she was told by the Japanese girls that his speaking was very much like that of a Japanese schoolgirl because he’d honed his skills on young girls.

This young man didn’t tend to socialize much with the foreign coworkers between classes or at lunch time. He tended to spend most of his time chatting with secretaries or lunching with students. At that time, socializing with students was not prohibited, or, if it was, it wasn’t enforced. Eventually, he seemed to develop a superior and contemptuous attitude toward the other foreigners and wanted little to do with them, particularly after my friend was forced to overtly reject his interest in her.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I’d just had my first experience with a classic “charisma man” type of foreign male. This is the type of guy who lacks sufficient social skills and emotional maturity in his home culture that he would have a lot of difficulty cultivating a romantic relationship with a woman in his home country, but cross-cultural differences allow him to form relationships in Japan. His “foreignness” explains his awkwardness and lack of grace in a manner which allows Japanese women to forgive him. They can’t tell the difference between someone who doesn’t conform to their cultural expectations because he doesn’t know how to and someone who is an oafish dork. Also, Japanese people value tolerance and “enduring” hardship silently as a part of their culture so the women feel that part of being in a relationship is accepting the rough patches in their mates to a far greater extent than foreign women do. Previously, I talked about how Japanese women also generally have different expectations of a mate and that’s part of the situation as well.

Fast forward 12 years and the “charisma man” I worked with at Nova shows up as an employee at the company which bought out my former company. The interesting thing is that his arrogance, disdain for foreigners and tendency to suck up to the Japanese haven’t changed. He says he actually hates foreign employees over a decade down the road. I avoided him as much as possible and am relieved that he didn’t work in the same office as I, but rather in a branch office.

Among the men who fit the category lampooned in the cartoon above (and please don’t misunderstand, I am not asserting that all men who pursue relationships with Japanese women fit this category…they don’t, not by a long shot), I’ve noticed they tend to have certain things in common. Before undies get balled up in large, uncomfortable wads, keep in mind, sensitive male readers, that even if you fit every item on this list, I’m not saying you’re one of these losers. After all, I don’t know you so I can’t possibly be talking about you. I can only talk about the men I’ve actually met.
• Most of these men came to Japan at a relatively young age and had limited social experience back home. They tend to be here for the vast majority of their young adult socialization and maturation process.
• Most of them met their wives or girlfriends in Japan, not in their home countries. I’ve noticed a serious difference between men who meet Japanese women in their home countries and marry them then come to Japan as compared to men who meet their wives here initially. The former tend to be a lot nicer group of guys.
• All of them (in my experience) are good at speaking Japanese as it is a high priority to become proficient enough to chat up girls, but also they prefer socializing with Japanese people as they can easily impress them simply by being foreign. They also vigorously throw themselves into practicing as it gives them more interaction with women.
• Few of them have ever had a Western girlfriend.
• Most of them have extremely stereotypical and derogatory opinions about Western women. They tend to view them as lazy, pushy, controlling, demanding, and opinionated.
• Most of them have stereotypical and shallow opinions of Japanese women and emphasize the physical assets of Japanese women in opposition to their stereotypical views of the physicality of Western women. That is, they talk about how naturally (and eternally) slim, beautiful, nurturing (as in willing to do all the cooking and cleaning without complaint), and feminine (quiet, demure) Japanese women are whereas Western women are all going to end up fat and ugly.
• Most of them base their relationship from an emotional viewpoint on trivialities such as Japanese pop culture and light social activities like karaoke, pub crawling, travel, and sports. Few of them value deep or meaningful dialog with their significant other as an important part of a relationship.
• Most are very arrogant and have difficulties when their ideas, opinions or knowledge are challenged. Personally, I believe that is because debate where ones assertions are disagreed with is not common in Japan and since most of these men came here at a young age, they have never developed the ability to handle disagreement well, particularly if women have been a large focus in their socialization here.
• Most of them dislike other foreigners and tend to regard most of them with contempt. In some cases, part of this contempt involves constantly measuring other foreigners’ language ability, work type and status and cultural knowledge against theirs and smugly concluding they are better.
Personally, when I run across one of these guys, I try to give them a wide berth. I know they don’t have any use for me except as a stepping stone to boosting their egos when they size me up and find me lacking. I also consider that these guys from a social viewpoint have succeeded wildly in Japan and therefore aren’t likely to develop the type of social skills that would make them function well in a setting which includes other foreigners, not that they’d want to anyway.

In many ways, there’s nothing wrong with these guys as they are succeeding in a manner which harms no one and often makes the Japanese women they couple with (seemingly) happy enough. In fact, they have essentially traded in social failure in one country for social success in another. The only problem comes when you’re a fellow foreigner and are forced to work or interact with one of these sorts and put up with the attitude. It’s a real test of your better nature to be around one of them for any length of time and to not start returning the contempt they exude at you in kind.

This one kind of person I have little respect for. The Psuedo-scientist; For those who aren’t familiar with pseudo-science, it is usually when you conduct an experiment with the conclusion already formulated, so its decidedly unscientific. This post was very obviously written in that vein. This woman is obviously one of what was referred to ‘the bitter white woman’ but is using her pseudo-science to protect her emotions and explain away people who think differently than she does. It is true, that the whole dating game is different in Japan as one would expect from a different culture. More attractive women are attracted to men who are kind and a little nerdy, but not necessarily all of them. The author also seems to have a lot of hate towards Japanese women, and actually goes into a rather bigoted stereotype of Japanese women. I guess those are as much her enemies as the Charisma men. In her defense, however Charisma men do fall prey to their own egos and do become rather odd individuals, just not as extreme as this little pseudo scientist. A note though is that this was seemingly written when foreigners in Japan were a rarer thing than they are today. So I am to surmise that the extremes of both ‘Charisma men’ and ‘bitter white woman’ were both more apparent.  It is always easy to demean and belittle to feel superior and above it all, isn’t it?

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