Japanese Attitudes Toward Westerners (dating And Otherwise)

Discussion in 'Dating & Relationships' started by GoldenDalton, Mar 24, 2014.

  1. GoldenDalton

    GoldenDalton TAG Member

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    Jesus Christ.

    I'm never going to risk being out in public with a girl, if she's going to be blacklisted like that. Damn, that's shocking.

    No wonder my last gf was so awkward in public but would do just about anything in private. Lord.
     
  2. Wwanderer

    WwandererWwanderer is a Verified Member Kids, don't try this at home!

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    @GoldenDalton
    This is an example of why some say that Japan serves the purpose of teaching white people what it is like to on the receiving end of racism and racial stereotyping.

    And yes, if you have a J gf who will be seen with you in public in any way that makes it obvious you are a couple, especially if it involves even the mildest of PDAs (e.g., holding hands), your lady is definitely unusually bold, self-confident and non-conformist. Been there, done that...and seen the appalling attitudes and behavior that can result.

    -Ww
     
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  3. Kitty Carr

    Kitty CarrKitty Carr is a Verified Member TAG Member

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    I don't think this is as true today as it may have once been. There are so many J-girl/foreign guy couples in Tokyo now (not to mention half Japanese kids and babies) that it would have to be an ultra-nationalist who lives in a cupboard who would be shocked by some interracial hand-holding. Just go to Yoyogi park on a Saturday and see how many mixed couples there are. It's not really a big deal any more, which is a change even on ten years ago.

    What remains true is that sometimes the parents of the Japanese partner will resist the marriage (although this is usually remedied by the arrival of the kawaii first grandchild!). But I expect these attitudes to die out as the older generation die off.
     
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  4. bichan2

    bichan2 TAG Member

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    Could not agree with you anymore. You're right on the money.
     
  5. GoldenDalton

    GoldenDalton TAG Member

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    So these guys with wives- they avoid being in public with them?
     
  6. Wwanderer

    WwandererWwanderer is a Verified Member Kids, don't try this at home!

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    I partly agree and partly disagree. As you say, attitudes toward J-gaijin couples are certainly changing for the better, becoming more tolerant with time; that is very true. But in my experience and to my knowledge, it is far from true that it is "not really a big deal any more" in Japan in general and for the population at large.

    For example I have personal knowledge of a major international company located in Chiba which employs a large staff of (more-or-less) English-speaking young women (typically in their 20s or 30s) where those who date foreign men are an identifiable (by others and themselves) group and are socially ostracized and sometimes directly (in a J sense of "directly") criticized by those who do not. I don't mean to over-dramatize the intolerance and its consequences. It is not that anyone is getting beat up or fired or even much bullied; there is, however, fairly strong group disapproval and exclusion etc, and most Japanese people are *far* more sensitive to this sort of pressure to conform than Westerners. The situation I am describing is as of less than 2 years ago btw.

    I'd also point out that tolerance of J-gaijin couples depends a lot on location in Japan, not just the year and age group, and you really can't judge the situation accurately for the country at large based on observations in the center of its biggest and most cosmopolitan city, much less in one of its most international neighborhoods. Suggesting that Japanese attitudes toward mixed couples is reflected by the scene in Yoyogi Park would be like me saying that same-sex couples are "not really a big deal" in the US and offering as evidence the scene in a public park in NYC's Chelsea neighborhood or The Castro district in San Francisco, or how acceptable same-sex PDAs are in the UK by checking out a park in London's Soho district etc. It would be misleading, to put it mildly. Moreover, even in a place like Yoyogi Park, I bet my claim that only "unusually bold, self-confident and non-conformist" Japanese women have foreign SOs is correct, in that a *typical* (e.g., picked off the street at random) J woman would never even consider going out with a non-J man.

    If you want to assess the current level of comfort among typical Japanese re associating with foreigners in some part of the country, a better indicator than mixed couples is to note how often the last empty seat in the train car is next to a gaijin and how often you will see many Japanese standing when only such a seat or seats are available. This phenomenon also indicates a gradually more accepting attitude towards non-Japanese in Japan, but it is far from a thing of the past of course.

    -Ww
     
    #6 Wwanderer, Mar 25, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2014
  7. Wwanderer

    WwandererWwanderer is a Verified Member Kids, don't try this at home!

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    No, probably not, but J wives of foreign guys do face significant social/group disapproval almost certainly.

    -Ww
     
  8. GoldenDalton

    GoldenDalton TAG Member

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    I managed to get in a semi-serious LTR with a J girl, but looking back she was quite the exception.

    What you're saying is fairly dire. Do you think that it's even worth it to look for a LTR in Japan, or is p4p and the occasional clandestine get- together all one can realistically hope for.

    I mean, I get the impression that j girls dress for each other, that relations are bad between Japanese men and women, so adding the foreigner issues, seems prohibitive kind of.

    Anyway, I wouldn't want to embarrass a woman publicly. I also wouldn't want to deal with racist haters maybe a little mild disapproval, but starting it up with me, no way. I'm thinking LH s exclusively from now on.
     
  9. TheDutchElm

    TheDutchElm TAG Member

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    I once dated a Japanese girl and met both her immediate family and her paternal 85+ year old grandfather who had been an officer in the Imperial Army during the War. We got on great and there was never a suggestion that I was a problem. This girl was western educated and would have told me if our relationship was a sore point with her family. 海外結婚 is the not the problem it used to be. Go to Yoyogi park on any given Sunday in spring and count the interracial couples. Racism is far from dead in Japan, but mixed couples are not anathema.
     
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  10. TheDutchElm

    TheDutchElm TAG Member

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    On a different tack, if you want a J-girl partner but you're going to let stereotypes and racism limit what you want, who's got the real power? The racist ultra-nationalists or you and your as-yet-unknown-but-accepting-girlfriend?

    Also, everyone should take note of stories like this:

    http://revolution-news.com/tokyo-ul...tors-overwhelmed-anti-racist-counter-protest/

    I complain to my friends a bit more than is probably warranted about the annoyances of being a foreigner in Japan (To paraphrase Louis CK, "I'm a middle class white man! You can't even hurt my feelings!"), but stories like that fill me with hope. Now if Japan can just get there before its economy collapses and it runs out of people...
     
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  11. Wwanderer

    WwandererWwanderer is a Verified Member Kids, don't try this at home!

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    No problem, GD...just stick to Yoyogi Park, and all will be fine! :D

    Seriously, I definitely do NOT advocate doing what you suggest. While I still maintain that a typical J woman is not going to date a gaijin, there are plenty of atypical ones, ones who are indeed "unusually bold, self-confident and non-conformist." These modern, liberated, cosmopolitan J women are the only ones who will date you anyway, and it is their call in their culture to endure whatever stigma, great or small (opinions clearly differ here), follows from being in a mixed couple in return for the extra freedom in their lives. Moreover, it is largely because quite a few Japanese women do date foreign men that it is becoming steadily more acceptable. It is not your place, imo, to deny them this choice.

    However, my advice is that you should be sensitive to these issues and follow her leads on things like PDAs, which of her friends to meet, when to meet her family etc. She may well be navigating waters filled with rocks that are invisible to you. As a specific example, I noticed that a J woman I used to see would hold hands with me in the street or even walk with my arm around her shoulders and hers around my waist on some occasions, but at other times she carefully kept a rather cool distance and quickly disentangled if I tried to touch her. For a while I thought it reflected when she was upset with me or something of the sort, but there seemed to be no correlation at all. Finally I asked her. It turned out that she felt comfortable with these mild PDAs in some neighborhoods but in others where she thought it quite possible that we would run into someone she knew, it made her uncomfortable. Explaining this to me made her apologize profusely, hang her head in shame and cry. I was NOT glad I asked and very much wished that I had been smart enough to figure it out on my own or had asked the opinion of some more J experienced friend.

    -Ww
     
  12. Kitty Carr

    Kitty CarrKitty Carr is a Verified Member TAG Member

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    On what are you basing this assumption? As you guys are all aware by now (!) I have lived here my entire adult life, speak fluent Japanese, have worked at a Japanese firm and have numerous Japanese girlfriends of various ages. Some of these women are married to foreign men, and rather than disapproval or censure are actually usually the subject of envy in other women at their workplaces, even when they're not there (key point, as Japanese people will never criticise you to your face). 'He takes care of the kids? He does the cleaning? いいなー。And he's tall and handsome? Where can I get one?' That's what I usually hear about foreign men.

    These are girls I've known for years, so it's not like they're editing or censoring what they say because I happen to be white.

    Again, I really don't think this stigma you're talking about exists any more: particularly when the two partners are matched in age and the foreign man has made the effort to learn Japanese to a degree of fluency, or at least displays a basic understanding of Japanese manners and cultural values.

    I have dated Japanese men extensively, and never got a bad reaction from the friends of the guy. Sometimes it would be a case of 'Wow, you scored a foreign girlfriend!' and I would feel rather 'on show'. One boyfriend from the deep countryside told me his parents (in their sixties, had never spoken to a foreigner in their lives) told him to take care not to catch diseases and that he should date a nice Japanese girl. Then he took me home a year or so later and they absolutely loved me. His mother sends me gifts to this day.

    While I agree about the limits on PDA, that is not limited to mixed couples. Japanese couples do not make out in public. A hug or holding hands is about as far as it goes.

    Anyone wishing to date a Japanese woman or be in an LTR with one: don't limit yourselves with preconceived stereotypes or get too hung up on what you think 'society's reaction' will be. Yoyogi park may not be a microcosm of the entirety of Japan, but as a large public space which attracts a wide swathe of the metropolitan population on weekends, it's a more useful indicator than some country backwater of what the reaction to mixed couples and families actually is in Tokyo.
     
    #12 Kitty Carr, Mar 26, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2014
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  13. Wwanderer

    WwandererWwanderer is a Verified Member Kids, don't try this at home!

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    This is common. If you find a J woman in a LTR with a foreign man or married to one and get to know her, VERY often you will discover that there is something else unusual in her background or personality. Quite often it is that she has lived some significant part of her life outside Japan or was raised in some environment in Japan that brought her and her family into far more frequent contact with foreigners than most Japanese. Other times it is that there is something in her personal or family history that already causes her to be (or feel like) an "outcast" to some degree, so in a sense she has "nothing to lose". Or maybe she is just one of those people with a rebellious personality that instinctively resists rules and authority in many or all contexts throughout her life.

    You do not say in what sense this "semi-serious" SO of your was exceptional, but I do not doubt that she was...very much so probably.

    TDE illustrates this point perfectly, if unintentionally:

    DTE, do you have any idea what a small fraction of J women are educated in the West or what a small fraction of Japanese families would support/allow their daughter to go abroad for an education? You were already dealing with a family with an unusually international/cosmopolitan outlook, for whatever reason. Moreover, if she had come from a family that would have had a big problem with her dating a foreigner, it is quite unlikely that she would have ever gone out with you in the first place. (This is called a sampling bias in statistics, btw.)

    As for Yoyogi park, see my reply to Kitty above. It would be like me telling you to evaluate the tolerance of same-sex couples and PDAs in the US by observing street life in The Castro district in San Francisco! In other words you have picked a park in one of the most international and progressive areas in the center of Japan's largest and most cosmopolitan city. It could hardly be any less representative. Ever notice how oddly some people dress in nearby Harajuku; is that representative of Japan at large?

    -Ww
     
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  14. Wwanderer

    WwandererWwanderer is a Verified Member Kids, don't try this at home!

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    If it were an assumption, it wouldn't be based on anything (excuse the mathematician in me talking) of course. It is a conclusion based on my own experiences and observations in Japan, which I readily admit are considerably less than yours. So, I could be wrong...definitely wouldn't be the first time! However, I do know how easy it is for all of us to fool ourselves via anecdotal impressions, especially re somewhat unpleasant facts.

    Here's something to consider - roughly 1.5% of the population of Japan is non-Japanese, and less than 1% are Westerners. And of course many of them have a foreign partner/SO or none at all. So, if significantly more than a fraction of a percent of your Japanese girlfriends (how many total do you have anyway) have a Western SO, then you are definitely not basing your conclusions on a representative sample of the population. For whatever reason (did the company where you worked have significant international activities, for example) a higher fraction indicates that you are looking at a biased sample.

    That the family of your boyfriend from the country loved you after they met you surprises me not at all, having met you. Who wouldn't love you!?

    In any case, I very much agree with the first sentence of your last paragraph which I made bold. Whatever the current level of stigmatization of mixed couples might be, great or small, it is surely not desirable to feed into it and reinforce it by making it into a self-fulfilling prophesy. Imo, it is also best not to be blind to the possible problems for your J partner though.

    -Ww
     
    #14 Wwanderer, Mar 26, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2014
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  15. GoldenDalton

    GoldenDalton TAG Member

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    Well, I suppose a little rationalization has been going on in my mind. In reality she wasn't typical at all. I just met her so early and we got it off so quickly I didn't have much time to see her as unconventional.

    Her father was a chef who was trained in French cuisine and educated in France, part of why we got along so well (im fluent in French) and her mother was Zainichi, with her Zainichi grandmother playing a big role in her life. Come to think of it, she loved me quite a bit. When she was young her mother was about as attractive as a woman can get so I guess her father didn't care about the Zainichi stigma.

    She was big on French " anything" herself. Several of her friends were now that you mention it. Several of them dressed goth also.

    Also, she was slightly heavier than the bone skinny japanese norm. She had the perfect physique for me though. Maybe that played a role?

    I don't know. It's late. Good convo though. I appreciate the knowledge.
     
  16. TheDutchElm

    TheDutchElm TAG Member

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    We are talking about actively seeking a J-gf for a long term relationship. You'd certainly be setting the bar high to start off looking for one in some backwater inaka shithole that's never seen a white or black person. 20% of all Japanese people live in the Tokyo Yokohama metro-mess and that is the market of availability for someone like GD. The fact that 80% of the population live far away from the more progressive cities and don't hang out in Yoyogi is a moot point. The analogy is "I'm a gay man in the market for a partner. Which US city should I move to, knowing that The Castro exists?" In a word, "duh".

    The fact that few Japanese women date foreigners can be just as attributable to a fact that you yourself brought up: there are very few Western men. So it could be that the low incidence of Western/Japanese couples is not entirely (or even mostly) due to active discrimination, but logistical difficulties of meeting a suitable partner. It's also ignoring the possibility (which I have my own strong cynical opinions about) that many of those Western men in Japan (especially the younger ones) are undateable weirdos and military dude-bros. Unless these factors are separated, it's too strong a statement to say that racial bias is the common factor here.

    Yes, my example is an anecdote, and the plural of "anecdote" is not "evidence". But it, along with Kitty's story, should show you that the generalizations you're making are not a hard and fast rule. If anything, they are what older people SAY they would prefer until they actually MEET a nice foreigner who wants to date their son or daughter. It's really hard to hate someone who's nice to your face and defies your preconceptions, no matter what you've been taught.
     
  17. TheDutchElm

    TheDutchElm TAG Member

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    At any rate, my advice to any guy wanting to get a Japanese girlfriend is to stick to your Western instincts and not give a shit what other people think about you dating that J-girl. If it matters enough to her, she won't let it get that far.

    Whether you'll ultimately be happy in the long run is a whole other can of worms that I think has been adequately addressed elsewhere. ;-)
     
  18. Wwanderer

    WwandererWwanderer is a Verified Member Kids, don't try this at home!

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    What I have to say on this topic is about played out, and I think we are all actually in better agreement than it might seem on the surface (more on this below), but there are two simple/apparent misunderstandings of my points that I'd like to correct:

    I did not mean and don't think I said (see the sentence of my post you quote) that the small number of Japanese women with gaijin SOs (or of mixed couples in general) is a result of racial prejudice; it is clearly in major part because there simply aren't that many foreigners in Japan.

    Rather my point was that if significantly more than a fraction of a percent of the couples you know (of) in Japan are mixed, then you are making observations of and basing your conclusions on a population where mixed couples are more common than average and thus most likely more accepted. And, of course, no one is likely to know an unbiased sample of the population; we all move in our own particular social, economic, educational, professional, local etc circles.

    This point was really in response to Kitty's comments which appear to suggest that she knows a fair number of mixed couples well enough to judge whether or not the Japanese partner catches significant disapproval from those around them for having a foreign SO. I'm just saying that unless she knows thousands of couples that well, the mere fact of knowing a fair number of mixed couples implies that she is basing her conclusions on a population in which mixed couples are unusually common and thus probably unusually well accepted.

    I totally agree, and I certainly did not intend to make any claim of a hard and fast rule of any sort. (Imo, there are very very few, if any, hard and fast rules about human behavior.) The ONLY claim I want to defend is my statement that a J woman with a foreign SO is "unusually bold, self-confident and non-conformist", where I mean unusual wrt the Japanese population at large. I strongly suspect that even today and even in central Tokyo, the majority of Japanese women simply would not date a foreign man. It appears to me that most would not even sit next to foreign man on the train or subway unless there were no other seats available and sometimes not even then. So, I don't think my claim is much of a stretch.

    In reflection of your point about your and Kitty's anecdotes demonstrating that there are exceptions...right you are! But my anecdote and others I have not related (so far) should show you that there are at least some current day, cosmopolitan, educated, 20/30-something social circles in Tokyo where women dating foreign men are ostracized to a noticeable degree by the larger group. I have detailed personal knowledge of at least one such situation. My anecdotes also don't constitute unbiased evidence of course, but like yours, it does prove that such things happen, even in today's Japan.


    Beyond those two issues, we are in general agreement. Yes, there are lots of Japanese women, a substantial number, millions of them in metro Tokyo alone, who would be happy to have a LTR with a foreign man. Yes, these are the only ones that a gaijin guy needs to concern himself about since the others self-select themselves out of his reach anyway. Yes, there are areas and social circles and age groups etc where there is little or no significant disapproval of mixed couples. Yes, these are exactly the situations in which a foreign guy is most likely to find a Japanese gf. Yes, Yoyogi Park is a particularly good spot for a mixed couple to stroll along holding hands from the point of view of minimizing any discomfort for the Japanese partner. Yes, gaijin guys (and gals) should not feel inhibited by whatever social disapproval exists of mixed couples (which would only serve to strengthen it). Etc.

    -Ww
     
  19. Kitty Carr

    Kitty CarrKitty Carr is a Verified Member TAG Member

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    [quote="Wwanderer, post: 17241]
    This point was really in response to Kitty's comments which appear to suggest that she knows a fair number of mixed couples well enough to judge whether or not the Japanese partner catches significant disapproval from those around them for having a foreign SO. I'm just saying that unless she knows thousands of couples that well, the mere fact of knowing a fair number of mixed couples implies that she is basing her conclusions on a population in which mixed couples are unusually common and thus probably unusually well accepted.[/quote]

    I don't claim that a small population sample should suggest the larger national trends, or that my own personal experience will be everybody's. I do say however that your assertion that mixed couples aren't accepted is as valid as mine is that they are more accepted these days, in that neither of us knows thousands of Japanese people well enough to provide the evidence to back up our statements. We're both stating 'facts' based on our own experiences, which simply illustrates how different two people's experiences can be of the same place.

    I do take issue with the blanket statements you're making about 'Japanese women', which I think, with respect, are based on your own experiences as a non-resident Anglophone foreigner and are affected by your age and social class (though I don't presume to know anything about these) and will not reflect every foreign man's experiences.

    I just hate the idea of a foreign man being discouraged at the idea of dating a Japanese woman based on prejudice that he may not even encounter.

    I addressed the 'majority of Japanese women' issue above, but the 'won't even sit next to a foreigner' thing is just nonsense, and potentially damaging nonsense at that! Japanese women, particularly Tokyo women, are not all delicate flowers who are entirely too nervous and sensitive to be in close contact with a hairy foreign barbarian even for a fifteen-minute train journey. I think you underestimate just how used Tokyo is to foreigners at this point, with the thousands of tourists we get every week in addition to the resident population.

    I have never in my LIFE seen a subway seat left conspicuously empty next to a foreign man, and have never met anyone that it has happened to. Of course this doesn't mean that it has NEVER happened, but it definitely is not standard practice, and people would look askance at it (before someone grabbed that seat, that is!).

    Reasons why people leave a seat open in Tokyo: if the person in the adjacent seat is a) fat or extremely large so the seat next to them is uncomfortably squished; b) smells bad; c) talking to him or herself; d) asleep and lolling on to the next seat; or e) drunk. I really think a) has been misconstrued as racism in some cases. I have left a seat open despite wearing massive heels (those who have met me know of which I speak) and dying to sit down because the dude was a huge American guy and the sliver of seat left would not have made for a comfortable ride.

    God knows I'm the first one to point the finger when Japanese people are casually racist, but it goes both ways. Japanese people are not all the same, and they don't all think the same, despite what you may have read in 'The Chrysanthemum and the Sword'. And how Japan thinks about foreigners is also changing, albeit slowly and perhaps more out of necessity than volition, but for the better.

    In short: GO FORTH AND DATE WHO YOU LIKE, non-Japanese dudes of TAG. There are a ton of issues that come up when dating a Japanese person who was brought up here, but becoming a social pariah ain't one of them.
     
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  20. Wwanderer

    WwandererWwanderer is a Verified Member Kids, don't try this at home!

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    @kittyotodoke
    Let me emphasize the points on which we agree. The most important one is this:

    > I just hate the idea of a foreign man being discouraged at the idea of dating a Japanese woman based on
    > prejudice that he may not even encounter.

    and

    > In short: GO FORTH AND DATE WHO YOU LIKE, non-Japanese dudes of TAG.

    I completely agree with this and have said the same in most of my posts above. Moreover, I do it myself! In the last 4 years I have dated (seen multiple times) 7 different Japanese women, ages ranging from their mid-20s to late-40s. In fact much of what I have said in this thread is based on what some of these women have told me. (In case you are wondering, four of the seven were or are sugar dating situations, and the other three totally np4p situations.)

    > I don't claim that a small population sample should suggest the larger national trends, or that my own
    > personal experience will be everybody's. I do say however that your assertion that mixed couples aren't
    > accepted is as valid as mine is that they are more accepted these days, in that neither of us knows
    > thousands of Japanese people well enough to provide the evidence to back up our statements. We're both
    > stating 'facts' based on our own experiences, which simply illustrates how different two people's
    > experiences can be of the same place.
    >
    > I do take issue with the blanket statements you're making about 'Japanese women', which I think, with
    > respect, are based on your own experiences as a non-resident Anglophone foreigner and are affected by
    > your age and social class (though I don't presume to know anything about these) and will not reflect every
    > foreign man's experiences.

    Yep to all of the above. Both of our personal experiences and everyone else's will give a biased and incomplete impression of the overall reality. That's one reason it is useful to compare them in discussions like this one. Neither of us is the typical TAG male member/reader interested in dating Japanese women and so neither of our experiences will be the same as theirs, as you say. However, perhaps "a non-resident Anglophone foreigner" fits a lot of them pretty well...including GD whose question started this discussion.

    As for blanket statements about 'Japanese women', my whole point was that Japanese women who have foreign SOs are at least a bit atypical, i.e., that all Japanese women are definitely not alike in this regard. So again, I agree.

    And yes, I agree that the social disapproval of mixed couples in Japan was worse in the past, much worse. I have been spending significant time in Japan for just short of 25 years (and some time before that), and the situation has changed enormously for sure.

    It is also worse outside the centers of major cities with relatively large gaijin populations; it is worse among older folks than younger ones; it is worse among less educated and less traveled socio-economic groups; it is worse in blue collar than in white collar work places; it is worse in less affluent than more affluent communities etc. In other words, a well-educated and traveled 20-something white-collar professional working/living in a relatively affluent area of current-day central Tokyo is probably seeing the phenomenon at its very minimum, perhaps at a level where it is neither noticeable nor important.

    > God knows I'm the first one to point the finger when Japanese people are casually racist, but it goes both
    > ways.

    Fwiiw, I don't see the disapproval of mixed couples as primarily racist, at least not in the sense of racism as it exists in many Western countries (definitely including mine, the US). Rather I think that it is mostly a matter of pressure to conform to group norms. This exists in all cultures of course, but it is hardly original or controversial to note that the emphasis on being "like other people" in Japanese culture is exceptionally strong and, in many cases, harsh. In other words, if you are the only one (or one of the few) in a group of Japanese women who has a foreign SO, it is going to set you apart a bit from the others (in their minds and yours), just as it would if you dressed or behaved in some way distinctly different from the others. And in Japanese culture standing out from the group in nearly any form tends to garner disapproval and produce some discomfort.

    > I have never in my LIFE seen a subway seat left conspicuously empty next to a foreign man, and have never
    > met anyone that it has happened to.

    This is probably too much of a side issue and red herring to be worth much pursuing here, but fwiiw, this is the part of you post that most baffles me re differences in our personal experiences. Having "the seat next to the foreigner" be the last one taken or even left open is not only incredibly common in my experience but is something on which I have heard numerous other foreign visitors comment (without me bringing it up). It is even discussed extensively online; try googling something like "empty seat train japan foreigners". Here are a few of the many links I found (not that I have read the material at these links beyond a glance):

    http://thisjapaneselife.org/2012/05/23/japan-microaggressions-racism/

    http://setouchiexplorer.com/empty-seat-train-gaijin/

    http://japanexplained.wordpress.com/2012/12/03/japanese-next-to-foreigners/

    I am fairly sure that the topic has been discussed in other TAG threads too. So, whatever the correct explanation for the behavior/phenomenon, I don't think that I am imagining it or that it is something that has anything particular to do with me. I am simply astonished that you have never seen/noticed it.

    -Ww
     
    #20 Wwanderer, Mar 28, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2014
  21. DJV

    DJV TAG Member

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    Not to spill oil on the fire, but I experienced this "seat in the metro" issue. I know it for sure because I like to sit next to (not ugly) people, and the only way to make it happen more is for me to take a seat next to someone, rather than waiting for someone to sit next to me.

    Maybe people have a 6th sense I have this kind of secret "fetish".
    Funny thing, it's completely different when people are standing. I tend to attract people without even moving (really).

    I feel that Japanese people sitting next each other in the metro is a collective/social thing, like informal team-building micro-events, and it's not certain that mixing foreign people on the benches keeps the experience as effective.
     
  22. GoldenDalton

    GoldenDalton TAG Member

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    Did people just get up and walk away? That's super rude.

    I experienced the seat thing many times. I tend to stand to avoid it becoming an issue.

    What I can't take is the constant staring. Again, it's something that maybe only a small percentage of foreigners have to deal with but it is definitely not just in my mind. I will need to figure out how to get used to it.

    And it's not because of curiosity. Ten foreigners can walk by and the eleventh will still get stared at. I believe they do it to make you feel unwelcome.

    Of course, I don't really care. Their country, they can do what they like. I am interested in finding a way to deal with it in a positive fashion.

    Of course, I already made a thread about this. So I'm just bringing it up for the sake of the current argument.
     
  23. bichan2

    bichan2 TAG Member

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    TAG Mgmt can this be separated into two different subjects as it seems to be getting a away from the main subject of Elevator Access? Thanks.
     
  24. meiji

    Global Moderator

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    Done and done!

    The way that I explain it is that it's a harmony thing. Most Japanese know and obey the 'rules' of Japanese society, and when they break these rules they are causing disharmony. It can weird people out. Now imagine you are a member of a society based on a lot of implicit rules, and someone comes into the society who probably doesn't know any of the rules, much less the language. That person is a totally unknown quantity. People get up and walk away on the train, or refuse to sit next to you because, at least for some Japanese people, a foreigner being in their presence is enough to disturb their 'air' (right or wrong). I don't see it as standard racism, although there's a lot of standard racists out there as well.

    I think white Westerners are especially sensitive to this because they've in the vast majority of cases never experienced any sort of adverse reaction to their presence in their lives before. I certainly notice it sometimes, but I don't let it bother me.
     
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  25. TAG Manager

    Executive Leadership

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    Hmmm.

    Those of you have actually met me, know I'm obviously white, but dark hair and light eyes.

    Kids love to stare, but otherwise, nothing I notice. I sometimes forget I'm not Asian since I don't get any reaction usually.

    Now, what aggravates me, is sales people. If I'm shopping for a new camera, someone will come up and tell me that the menus are in Japanese only. Well, no shit? You don't say? Funny thing, half the time time I show them that there is a English menu. Ha.

    Sorry, haven't read this thread in full. Just some highlights. I'm approaching long-timer status in Japan. Not much here bothers me anymore.
     
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