Resolutions For Gaijin: 2014

Mark Guthrie

Stop Using Japanese When We Are Both Native English Speakers

So, you’ve been in the country for a while now, long enough to pick up some of the language. You’re pleased as punch with your little self, aren’t you? However, it’s pretty difficult to show off how well you have acclimatized to your adopted homeland in front of your gaijin friends, isn’t it? Well, what better way is there to illustrate your adaptability than to drop the occasional Japanese word into your English? “It costs sen man en. That’s pretty takai when you think about it ne.” Don’t you sound clever, eh? You’ve gone so native that you no longer can tell the difference between your mother tongue and your adopted language. So cool, right? Wrong. You sound like a cock, and you aren’t impressing anyone. English has more than one million words, and as we are both native speakers, there’s a good chance we know some of the same ones. You may think that you sound totally Japanese when you reply “そそそそそそ” to my Queen’s English statement, but you don’t. You just sound そそそそそそ bloody annoying!

Stop Dating Your Students

There are many reasons that makes people up sticks from their home country and descend on these ancient islands. It could be a lifelong love for Japanese culture. Maybe a wanderlust and a thirst for the unknown. Perhaps it is due to a sexual attraction for Japanese beauty. Or it could be that you are such a social and professional fuck up that you are so unemployable back home that the only way you can obtain gainful employment is by utilizing your native tongue and laughingly calling yourself a teacher. For those of you who fall into the first two camps, you can stop reading at this point. Everyone still here? Yeah, thought so. Of course you are likely all here as teachers who have a hankering after Asian flesh, and this is a dangerous combination as your professional life will often bring you into connection with students for whom you take a fancy. And so, with your Eikaiwa a fertile picking ground for sexual conquest, it is difficult to resist the odd dalliance. Well cut it out! Not only is it detrimental to the harmonious nature of the classroom when Yuko finds out that you have also been giving ‘extra tuition’ to Emi and Akiko, but your position of authority in the classroom is an ethical line that should not be crossed. Oh, and that goes doubly for those of you teaching kids.

Stop Getting Annoyed By The Chopsticks Compliment

Some compliments that you may receive from your Japanese friends and coworkers can seem somewhat backhanded: “Your nose is so pointy.” “Don’t you have big eyes.” “I was worried that your penis was going to be too big for me to take, but it definitely isn’t.” However, it is the oft-repeated reference to our supposed dexterity with eating utensils that seems to rile like no other. It really winds us up doesn’t it? It’s a patronizing pat on the head, it’s an affront to our perceived ability to blend with the locals, it is a continuous reminder that, despite your JPLT 1 certificate, your mastery of kendo and your status as SKE48 fan club chairman, to the Japanese you will always be little more than a gaijin who, like a dog that can walk on hind legs, will always surprise at your ability to act like the everybody else. “Look at him,” your complimenter seems to say. “He thinks he’s people!” Well, you can pack that idea in right now because, whisper it, chopsticks are actually quite tough to use. So tough that even many Japanese struggle with them. Go to any donburi restaurant, or any place where people eat alone, and glance around at your fellow diners. When they think that no one is looking, many of them will cease to use them in the correct manner, and will resort to holding their sticks in the same ham-fisted way they did as children. And so, as you are scooping up the last of your rice with the textbook style you learned on YouTube, that salaryman who just complimented you isn’t patting you on the head, he is commenting in serious wonder that you managed to do with ease in a few months what he has struggled with since infancy

Stop Complaining About Japan

If you pause for a minute, stand really still and listen carefully, you can probably hear a gaijin somewhere complaining about how much they hate Japan. Oh, we all like a bit of a whinge about our adopted country from time to time. You can’t buy decent cheese, there’s no central heating, and the women aren’t all desperate for gaijin cock like you were led to believe (when actually they are. The rest of us are filling our boots, it’s just you they don’t like), but some of you take this from a mere grumble to a fully-fledged bitching of thunderclap-esque proportions. And some of it is proper nasty stuff, far escalated above the usual gripes about institutionalized casual racism and the weather. I briefly knew an Aussie who, within five minutes of me meeting him, tried to trip an old man and called a shop cashier a “stupid prick” all because he hated “fucking Japs”. Well, if you hate it that much, why don’t you just bugger off? What’s that you say? You’re under-qualified and ill-equipped to function in your homeland? You’re stuck because you’ve got kids with a Japanese who dumped you when they belatedly discovered what a complete and utter axe wound you are? Well tough shit! This is your lot now, so suck it up and make the best of it, and stop making the rest of us look like total knobheads of the highest order!

Stop Making Xenophobic Generalizations

Okay, most of you aren’t quite as bad as all of that, but hands up those of you who is guiltless when it comes to making the odd xenophobic comment. Oi, you with your hand up at the back! Put it down and stop lying! We’ve all done it on occasion. “Don’t you hate the way Japanese slurp their food?” “Don’t you hate the way Japanese men stare at your boobs?” “Don’t you hate the way the Japanese tut loudly and look angry on the subway when I am trying to have a private argument with my girlfriend on the telephone?” Okay, maybe this is unavoidable, perhaps it comes with the ex-pat territory. But do us all a favour. Don’t go spouting off your half-baked bigotries around your Japanese friends. Just because they can speak English and spent six months at a homestay in Vancouver, it doesn’t mean they won’t be offended when you stand there badmouthing their compatriots. Can’t you see that their slight nodding and pained smile isn’t agreement, but actually a veneer of politeness, while inside their heads they are screaming:


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