an Englishman in Osaka  

Friday, 12 December 2008

 the gaijin dilemma

It's the stuff of nightmares for the gaijin in Japan. The thought of it is enough to send them running to the toilet. The reality of it is enough to cause profuse sweating and the breakout of an itchy rash in the nether regions.
The dilemma is whether to acknowledge fellow gaijin walking along the street. Don't let any gaijin tell you it's not a dilemma. In fact, the ones who pretend not to notice their fellow gaijin are the ones with the loudest voice in their head and the biggest knot in their stomach. It's written all over their face.
Their internal dialogue usually goes something like this:
"Oh, what a nice day, I think I'll go and.....oh shit is that a gaijin up ahead? Or just a Japanese person with blonde hair? Shit, it IS a gaijin. What shall I do? Acknowledge? Smile? Completely ignore him? If I smile and he doesn't, I'll feel like an idiot, and maybe it looks like I've just arrived in Japan yesterday and I'll look all naive and lost, but actually I've been here nine years and I know everything.
But hey, I'm friendly, why shouldn't I say hello? Maybe he's nice. He probably won't even look at me; pretend I'm not even here, pretend he hasn't seen me.
Shit, he's getting closer. Hey, he's looking the other way in a most unnatural fashion - so he's definitely seen me! He's looking all over the place, everywhere except AT ME. So he's going through the same hell as me right now. Moving into the critical zone now...I'll go for it....Hello."
Other gaijin: "Hello."

A gaijin with a red T-shirt and a red face.

an Englishman in Osaka

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