September 15th, 2004 @ 12:10 PM
When I first came to Japan I lived out in Saitama along the Tobu Tojo line somewhere between Shiki and Kawagoe. Out there in the “country” it’s often rare to see an unknown gaijin (since we all taught for Nova) and if you should happen to see one it was custom to make eye contact and give a little head nod. This simple gesture conveyed that we hoped each other was getting along well in a land so different from our own and was a sign of respect. In effect it basically said, “Hey, you look like me and there are not many of us! So I hope your getting along well here and I wish you the best of luck.”
I then moved to Mejiro and have found that approximately 50% of you gaijins out there are inclined to give a head nod when passing a fellow foreigner and the other half make a bold and obvious attemt to NOT make eye contact. This is not by mistake and it should be obvious to us gaijins that upon passing another gaikokujin we have to make a deliberate decision to acknowledge or not acknowledge. It has only recently reached the 50/50 percentage when before I would put those who acknowledged other gaijins at about 65%.
Therefore, I would like to discuss the mindset of those that deliberately look the other way when passing a fellow gaijin. It’s not like they don’t see us since most gaijins stick out like a sore thumb. So is it that they want to try and fit into the society so much that they avoid all contact with other foreigners? Or is it that the number of foreigners are getting larger and passing another gaijin isn’t as rare now as it used to be? Or perhaps it is simply the city mindset where you’re not supposed to be polite to anyone and mind your own business?
As for me I usually pass 1 or 2 gaijins in a day and give the polite head-nod. But then again Mejiro is a nice residential area and not like Roppongi, Azabujuban or Aoyama with a ton of foreigners……..