May 04, 2004


If you come to Japan, you are called a “gaijin” or a gaikoku-jin. These words are used to describe people who come from another country. What do you think about the word `gaijin`? I have many friends from other countries in Tokyo. Some of them don’t like the word “GAIJIN”. Some Japanese people also think this word doesn’t sound polite enough for people who are interested enough to come and visit our countryJapan is a mono-racial society, so we see people from foreign countries to be quite different…..or quite special. Foreigners are often treated very differently to Japanese people. Sometimes in a bad way, for example, not allowed into an onsen, or turned away immediately by real-estate agents and potential landlords. One day, one of my friends showed me his GAIJIN CARD (A foreign resident's registration card) which is issued by the Japanese government. The English reads “Certificate of Alien Registration”. “ALIEN!”? It means a creature from another planet, doesn’t it??? I was shocked and embarrassed. I think it’s very bad that the Japanese government doesn’t use a more appropriate word. It’s been about 200 years since Mr. Perry came to Japan from America to open country, but our country still seems to have some closed doors. On the other hand, you can often feel like a model or sports star when you are in Japan. When this happens you can say proudly `I’m a gaijin`

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