Best Way To Deal With The Staring

GoldenDalton

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How do you guys hack the staring? Or did I just imagine it last time I was in Japan. Love the place, minus that element.

Any guidelines on how to best deal with it? Why do people stare? I plan on going back and find this an interesting issue.

Also no offense to any Japanese person. Could be in my head after all.
 
Have been here for over a year and have never noticed this and travel to and from work via public transport every day.

By and large the Japanese people are extraordinarily polite and staring at foreigners and anyone in general would appear out of place.

Not even the best looking local girls that I could stare at all day long appear to garner more than a passing glance.

Now I could see someone with uncommon physical characteristics, e.g. very tall or a stand out blonde girl, maybe getting some extra looks, but again I would think staring at them would be unusual.

SN...
 
And it is not like foreigners are a novelty in Japan.

I have traveled in some remote parts of China and felt highly visible but not here.

SN...
 
My experience is that I am not stared at in Tokyo much at all, that there is a moderate amount of staring in other cities (more in smaller places) and that there can be quite a lot of staring if you are out in some small village or rural area where gaijin rarely appear.

And, of course, children are much more likely to stare at you than adults. I once (decades ago) walked down the streets of a small Japanese village/town (pop maybe 5000?) with a (fairly) tall blonde American woman followed by a small herd of grade school age children at a distance of maybe 10-15 meters, all chattering excitedly and staring at us in disbelief! We thought it was hilarious fun, actually.

-Ww
 
How do you guys hack the staring? Or did I just imagine it last time I was in Japan. Love the place, minus that element.
Any guidelines on how to best deal with it? Why do people stare? I plan on going back and find this an interesting issue.
Also no offense to any Japanese person. Could be in my head after all.

Where do you go in Japan? Here in Tokyo, I don´t notice any staring at all, in 2013. If you are out in the boondocks and walk past an elementary school; sure you are going to be a sensation. But not here.

Maybe this is mostly in your mind? Often people experience what they want to experience.
 
Some of the looks are probably nothing special. What I mean by that is, think about walking around in your home country. People look at each other all the time, whether they are the same nationality or not. I could walk around my home town today and get looked at by dozens of people. I don't stand out at all, it's just what we all do.

That said, you probably aren't imagining it all. I have noticed times when I'm clearly being looked at because I'm a foreigner. It all depends on where I am or what I'm doing. As others have said, in smaller towns and villages there is definitely more interest in foreigners. And of course little kids do sometimes seem to find us fascinating. But even in Tokyo there are times when people will keep trying to snatch glances at me.

But I just find it all quite fun. If I see something looking at me and catch their eye I'll often smile at them. Sometimes they'll look away but sometimes they'll also smile back. And there have been a few cases where they have then said something to me. So use it as an opportunity to see if you can get a random conversation from someone.
 
Thanks for all the replies.
I didn't notice it much, but in small town Shikoku I sure did. It wasn't hostile, I just am a little awkward at times. I'm 6'2" so I am not freakishly tall. I use to play football so there is some bulk in me. Some of it is fat not much, but I'm still not large enough to garner stares. Maybe people are just curious. Thanks again.
 
Goldendalton, your post reminded me of my thoughts, and what I have dealt with over the years here.
I live in the relative countryside and have been dealing with this for years. I still find it strange that people will stare at you as you walk towards them, but if you acknowledge them with a Konnichiwa they tend to get embarrassed and ignore you. As others have pointed out, it rarely if ever happens in Tokyo and I feel so comfortable there. But if you just go 90 minutes out of Tokyo, it is a whole different world where tall non-Japanese men are objects of interest. It isn`t you that is imagining this, it really is happening. You really are being stared at. Not all the time, but often enough. Sometimes the interest is intense.

If you have lived in Tokyo or another major city your whole time in Japan, you may not understand what I am talking about.

I usually just ignore the stares. Every so often I try to make it more friendly by nodding, but often my friendliness is met with a blank stare or a quick look away from me. Sometimes I wait for them to bow then I say konnichiwa. Actually saying Konnichiwa
first is usually too much for them. A bow sometimes works then they say konnichiwa. That`s worked the best for me. The police too, will stare at you out here. That used to really annoy me, a guy with a gun, staring me down. (Don`t they know me by now, I have lived here for years?!) Now though I look right at them, give a small bow and a loud Ohayo Gozaimasu or Konnichiwa and they respond in kind. I am over 200 pounds and 6` 1" so to them I am a giant, even to a policeman who has a gun but is only 5` 8".

The Japanese women can be fascinated by us, or intimidated by us. We are BIG to them. We move differently. Our hair colour is different.

This also leads to chances with women. So I try to take the good with the bad, and find the staring and other issues only really bother me when I am tired. I use it as an indication, I need to have a beer or a nap or get laid! Hope this helps! Just my two yens worth.
 
Bob.

Thanks for your reply. And turning uniqueness into a plus is something I am going to try when I get back over there. I love rural japan. The scenery is amazing in places.
 
It would be even more clever and funnier (though a bit mean) if the Japanese on the fake book cover actually said "Please stare at me while I read this book" or, better yet, expressed something vaguely provocative or intriguing sounding in such mangled Japanese that people would stare at it while trying to figure out exactly what it said or meant (sort of the way English-speakers stare at the mangled English t-shirts that one frequently sees Japanese people wearing).

-Ww
 
It would be even more clever and funnier (though a bit mean) if the Japanese on the fake book cover actually said "Please stare at me while I read this book" or, better yet, expressed something vaguely provocative or intriguing sounding in such mangled Japanese that people would stare at it while trying to figure out exactly what it said or meant (sort of the way English-speakers stare at the mangled English t-shirts that one frequently sees Japanese people wearing).

I think you forget that sarcasm really does not work in Japan.
 
My intent was not to be sarcastic to the Japanese starters but rather to play a trick ("head game") on the poor uncomfortable staree, such that displaying the cover would only make people stare more. I was imaging the person using the book cover could not read Japanese themselves.

-Ww