Posts Tagged homogenous society

July 1, 2017 part 1 – Daddy, why is there a foreigner at the playground?

Today is our last day in Japan. We have some family coming to visit in the afternoon, but I wanted to get Tiny Dog out for some fun during the day. The Penpal’s father dropped off TD and I at a nearby playground.

The playground was near a large park, and had a big fun play structure that was full of kids. TD had been here before, and quickly started climbing and playing among the other kids. He kept trying to talk to the other kids in English, so I had to keep reminding him to speak Japanese.

At the playground there was one little girl who kept staring at me every time she walked by. Eventually her curiosity got the better of her, and she asked her father loudly in Japanese “Daddy, why is there a foreigner at the playground?”. Her father, embarrassed, tried to shush the little girl as I tried not to laugh. A few minutes later after I said something in Japanese to TD, she went back to her father and excitedly told him “Daddy! The foreigner is speaking Japanese!”, again followed by her father trying to get her to be quiet.

I find that in Japan, TD does a pretty good job of blending in with Japanese people. He has some Asian features to his face, although his hair is brown instead of black. When he speaks Japanese he sounds like almost any other 3 year old speaking Japanese. He doesn’t look completely Japanese, but he looks much more Japanese than I do. I have wavy blond hair, a large nose, a goatee (not common in Japan), and am usually wearing at least one item of clothing with Canadian flags on it. I am easy to notice in a crowd of Japanese people.

In my 3 years of teaching English in Japan, I got used to people staring at me because I was different. Adults would try to sneak a look, but kids, having no filters at all, would be happy to stare or say something to friends or family. This happens much more often the further you get away from major cities and into the smaller towns where it’s less common to see gaijins.

The whole experience was a funny reminder of my previous time in Japan. I’m curious to see how people react to TD and I as he grows up!

 

 

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March 14, 2004 – Too many foreigners in Japan!?

Jackie Chan

I worked overtime at Oomori school today. This was my first time teaching outside of Kawasaki (not counting a few post training classes in Yokohama). It is amazing the difference that a more relaxed schedule and less teachers makes in creating a totally different work environment. Seeing different students is a nice change too.

Since NOVA schools are basically just glass boxes next to each other, it is easy to see and hear what is going on in nearby classrooms. During one of my lessons, the neighbouring classroom’s teacher was doing a lesson about good and bad things about Japan. When asked “what is bad about Japan”, his student responded “There are too many foreigners”. She was also of the opinion that Japan was a dangerous country, but did not offer an opinion if the danger was due to the abundance of foreigners.

To be fair, there are likely about 1.5 – 2 million foreigners living in Japan. Most people would consider that number to be “a lot”. If you asked me to make sandwiches for 2 million people, I would say that the number is “too many”. However, compared to the 125 million ethnically Japanese people living in Japan (98.5% of all residents), 2 million is a pretty small number.

I also question the wisdom of complaining about foreigners while you are talking to foreigners in an English school that proudly advertises that all of it’s teachers are foreigners. But that’s just me 🙂

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