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If a longtime expat starts offering you advice, walk the other way

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By Trenton Truitt

I’m not sure why this is, but foreigners who have lived in Japan for a long time consider themselves experts about life here. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve been pseudo-“advised” or “educated” by an old-school expat. Tips have ranged from “Don’t drink tap water; the Japanese all drink bottled” to “You won’t be allowed into an onsen with a tattoo.” And those are just the most coherent nuggets of wisdom I’ve heard from long-termers.

Certainly, there is some insight to be gained from a wizened expat entering his second decade here, or a family man with the obligatory Japanese wife and mixed-race child. But what these sages too often ignore is that Japan is a dynamic country, one that’s constantly evolving. Big cities are different than small towns, Kyushu is different than Hokkaido, and Tokyo has a heart thumping to a beat all its own. The hard-and-fast rules espoused by these gurus serve, above all, to create a kind of expat mythology that thrives on anecdote, circumstance and generous helpings of stereotype.

Now, on to what set me off on this rant: I was recently approached by a manager at a foreign company I sometimes work with. He pulled me into his office—much like the disciplinarian at my Catholic high school had done circa 1996—to inform me that my blonde highlights were unacceptable in the Japanese workplaces to which I was sometimes dispatched. He indignantly explained that this hair lightening had a particular “resonance” in Japan, and he went further to suggest that if I didn’t know what this means, maybe I should “look it up.” Scoff scoff, wink wink.

So that’s what I did. I searched around for hours looking for something, anything, to give me insight about the offense I’ve caused by lightening my hair. Guess what? I couldn’t find a single thing. Sure, I’d heard that Japanese with brassy blonde hair and tattoos run the risk of being seen as yakuza-affiliated. But certainly the Japanese clients I worked for would not mistake me for a potential gang member? Even the older ones must have seen photos of Brad Pitt or David Beckham. Surely they wouldn’t go running in terror from the gaijin with blonde highlights?

Ever since this “talk” with my boss, I’ve begun noticing more and more people with frosted hair. Sure, most of them are youngsters who have not yet been roped in to the stereotypical Japanese corporate world of black hair, black suit and no soul. But they’re visible and they’re out there. So how shocking or offensive do you think it would be for a 50-something salaryman in a Japanese investment bank to lay eyes on a foreigner with blonde highlights? What was I missing?

Nothing. Old-school expats need to take a serious step forward. Perhaps when they fist arrived in Japan as (gasp) English teachers back in ’92, they were the rock stars of the local izakaya. But it’s time for an update. Contrary to the stereotype, Japanese society is a dynamic creature, and the tried-and-true “rules” are going by the wayside. What’s more, the mythology created by long-termers is collapsing thanks to the experiences of a new generation of expats.

I appreciate the advice, Master Gaijin, but let’s give the Japanese a little credit. Some of them use Brita filters instead of bottled water, and most could even stand being in an onsen with a tattooed foreigner. They know that highlights are a Western fashion thing; they’ve seen it and they can handle it. My highlighted hair has perhaps disturbed your notion of what the Japanese think, not the Japanese themselves. Like the proverbial old wives, your tales have reached their sell-by date. It’s well past time to bring that “Gaijin Handbook” into the 21st century.

This commentary originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).

© Japan Today

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157 Comments
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I agree there are 'longtime expats' who, even after their many years in Japan remain amazingly clueless about their adopted culture. You shouldn't blindly accept what they say.

But I think this is because some people simply aren't as perceptive as others. There are those who are so in love with Japan they fail to see its drawbacks, then others who completely dismiss Japan in a torrent of stereotypes and fail to admit there could be anything positive to say about it.

The truth is somewhere in between.

I have learned a good deal from many foreign friends who have been in Japan longer than I. Some of them are experts who write about and study Japanese society. By the same token I am often astonished at how others seem not to have taken on board some of the most obvious observations one can make about Japanese culture.

I guess it all depends on one's individual point of view. For instance, you say that Japan is "a dynamic country, one that’s constantly evolving." I can see your point, certainly with regard to Japanese faddism and pop culture, but it would be equally true to say that many aspects of Japanese society are ossified, behind the times and in dire need of reform. Isn't this why the economy is spiraling downward and successive governments have failed miserably to implement meaningful change?

I've actually found that many of my foreign friends have far more interesting and perceptive observations to make about Japan than the Japanese themselves. This is likely because westerners are less inhibited about airing their views, while Japanese are generally apathetic toward politics. But in the wake of 'empty suit' political 'leaders' like Abe, Fukuda, Aso and Hatoyama, who can blame them?

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I find myself in a reverse scenario, have lived in the U.S. as a Japanese for a number of years. And what continue to amaze me are the nexus and plexus of politics and personal connections. Often, what is perceived to be true turns out to be the reverse; or perception simply missed the underlying reality, totally. No one can or could have “clued me in” on the vast reality that eludes my perception. I can only remain humble of my ignorance, as, yet unperceived realities continue to unveil themselves to me when I am ready. I am grateful that I can be educated.

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@Trenton

Yawn. Someone sure has an envious chip on their shoulder, and is going through whatever phase of culture shock--good luck with that, Trent. How many times have we (long timers) heard all these rants? You think you know Japan and the Japanese so well, already. Hehehehehe--shin gaijin, you.

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Certainly, there is some insight to be gained from a wizened expat entering his second decade here, or a family man with the obligatory Japanese wife and mixed-race child.

Given your premise that the "long time expat" came here in his 20s as an English teacher, entering his second decade he may be as old as 45! Yep. Wizened is definitely the first adjective that pops into my head when asked to describe someone in their 40s. Otherwise, unless one hangs out at the American Club or works at the Tokyo branch campus of an American university, just how many "lifer" old coot gaijin does one ever encounter anywhere in Japan?

And while it's true that famous gaijin are certainly given greater latitude for less-than "conventional" appearance and behavior, as are Japanese entertainers and athletes to an extent, you aren't David Beckham or Brad Pitt and as perhaps the only foreign face of a firm, maybe they don't want you to look too hip (or silly?).

And just how long have you been in Japan? How many different cities have you lived in? Have you spent a bit of time on all of the four main islands? Have you worked in more than one business? Do you have a wide age range of both Japanese and foreign friends?

Unless you have lived in Japan quite a while, have a good command of the spoken and written language, a deep knowledge of the history and culture, and a wide range of "in country" experiences, your complaints about bad advice from old hands are just as likely to fall on deaf (and annoyed) ears as the warning of "Don't drink the water."

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why do they do it??... they need to justify their existence

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So the crux of the article is that this guy is mad someone didn't like his hair. I get it. It's not about Japan at all, it's about someone not appreciating his blond highlights.

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I’m not sure why this is, but foreigners who have lived in Japan for a long time consider themselves experts about life here.

Interesting hypocrisy here. How does the author qualify as an expert? From reading the article all I see is that he "searched around for hours" and suddenly he is an expert, too!

Yawn. Someone sure has an envious chip on their shoulder, and is going through whatever phase of culture shock--good luck with that, Trent. How many times have we (long timers) heard all these rants? You think you know Japan and the Japanese so well, already.

I agree, a better article would have been "take advice from others with a grain of salt". Instead it comes off as snotty, arrogant and hypocritical, written by a rebel without a clue.

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I can only speak for Tokyo where I have visited for many years. The gaijin I meet there run the gamut; Some live in their own small world and I take their advice with a grain of salt, and others I respect for their observations. But can't that be said for the same situation in any country? And by the way, I sometimes know more about what going on locally than the Nihonjin who also live in their own small world.

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he got bad advice from one longtime expat so he writes them all off...

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Rather pointless generalization from the author who clearly has a chip on his shoulder. Waste of paper and ink that was.

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Certainly, there is some insight to be gained from a wizened expat entering his second decade here, or a family man with the obligatory Japanese wife and mixed-race child.

Perhaps when they fist arrived in Japan as (gasp) English teachers back in ’92, they were the rock stars of the local izakaya

So complaining about stereotyping, and yet the article is....erm....full of stereotyping?

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Consider the source...

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a family man with the obligatory Japanese wife and mixed-race child

The 758, kirakira25, and smodgy,

My thoughts exactly. A stereotyping-is-bad rant that stereotypes. For example, his 'wizened expat' is male with the 'obligatory' Japanese wife. Wow. As I think about the 'wizened expats' I know, those that have been here the longest are female with the 'obligatory' Japanese husband. This seems to be another in a series of self-centered articles from Metro.

That said, I doubt if a company he has done business with (temp staff?) cares about his hair if he's cheerful, respectful, and speaks a bit of Japanese. If...

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"But what these sages too often ignore is that Japan is a dynamic country, one that’s constantly evolving."

Yes, Japan is well-known for its constant and rapid change. It's not like it is infamous for being slow and grudging to change.

Just because a few old expats said things that were not true does not mean that all of them are the same. Anecdotal experience is interesting, but ultimately meaningless. Is Japan Today so hard up for content that this is what passes as an article these days? Seriously, let's have some journalistic quality rather than taking whatever freebie content comes your way because Metropolis, as a free publication, will take anything thrown their way as long as they don't have to pay the writers. And, yeah, they will do this. I have an e-mail from one of the editors to prove it. It was accidentally sent to me and said, 'yes, we'll print anything because we don't make enough money for quality.'

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The author sounds like he knows everything so why is he asking for advice.

Bottom line mate is this. Don't want or resent advice, don't ask. Figure it out for yourself as many of the long term people have.

When I first came here I experienced a lot of time with managers and longer term expats sharing wisdom with me. A lot of it I took as strange or not so useful at the time. But years later a lot of what these older guys and ladies said has taken root. You just need to be here a lot longer before you will arrive at the same conclusions.

As for many expats who don't know much about Japan. Sure there are some. But I would argue that they are a visible minority. Ask someone with a Japanese partner, a long term work and life history dealing mostly with Japanese and no so insulated with English schools or big foreign companies and you will find solid advice.

But sounds like you know it all already so maybe you should just follow that overconfident nose of yours. After hitting a few solid walls, you will come to your senses and learn to respect the opinions of people who have more experience than you.

As for highlights in your hair. Trivial thing to freak out over. Truth is some people won't like it in Japan, that advice is sound. As for what you think about it, you will soon find that in Japan your personal western opinion will frequently be out of line with reality here.

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'yes, we'll print anything because we don't make enough money for quality.'

Does this surprise you? It's obvious that from quite a few years ago web site operators began to rate the 'quality' of articles by counting the number of responses generated from irate readers.

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""But what these sages too often ignore is that Japan is a dynamic country, one that’s constantly evolving."

And the world is flat and you will fall off the edge if you go to far. Japan is dynamic and evolving in some ways. Tech and development are quite active. But look more closely and you will see hard core entrenched belief systems, ways of doing things, ideas about the world that are not and likely will not change soon.

In my time here very little has changed in terms of how foreigners are viewed. In the last election it is even safe to say things are getting worst with how we are viewed as a part of society. But keep dreaming, hope is a good thing to have. I do. But I balance it with realistic thinking that makes dealing with life in Japan a lot happier.

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I searched around for hours looking for something, anything, to give me insight about the offense I’ve caused by lightening my hair. Guess what? I couldn’t find a single thing.

He likely searched in English, and didn't ask any Japanese person (can speak Japanese?).

I just think he is upset that no-one likes his highlights.

If you want this kind of freedom of expression, go teach.

It is not acceptable in many companies to be a distraction.

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A young American executive who I took around to several major clients had a serious problem with his English diction. This wizened old f**t took him aside and pointed it out to him, explaining why it was a problem and why it would be to his advantage to correct it. He stumbled a few times but by the end of the day he had rid himself an inappropriate colloquialism. I would like to think I did him a favour, but who knows?

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Dear Trenton...

You appear to be suffering from one of the most insidious diseases know to man that has proliferated the youth of the West for generations and has now a firm foothold here in the Japanese culture as well - "ENTITLEMENT"...

People afflicted by this disease never seem to accept advice - even though it's usually their constant whining about "how bad they have it" that is responsible for people with "wisdom" actually proffering it to them.

To tell the truth, you sound a lot like my eldest Son when he was 24 - luckily he eventually grew up and now can openly joke about just what an ass he was when he was suffering from that same affliction...

Here's hoping the same for you...

BTW - if you "live" here now - you are not a guest like Brad or Angelina so a different set of rules applies to you - this isn't student exchange or a business junket - so best you drop the arrogance before you look in the mirror one day and find yourself a "family man with the obligatory Japanese wife and mixed-race child"... Truth be told - I would rather be that, than would you would appear to be...

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I think the writer is confused about the difference between the stupid and the wise, rather than how much time they have spent or experience they have living here. Japan has a remarkably high percentage of western imbeciles within its borders; you'd be better off speaking to as few of them as is humanly possible.

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Certainly, there is some insight to be gained from a wizened expat entering his second decade here, or a family man with the obligatory Japanese wife and mixed-race child. - Just wow. Is this ignorant or what? What would I be then? The bitchy Western Woman with the non-obligatory Japanese husband and mixed-race child? This guy has SERIOUS sour grapes. His highlights probably look like shit as most highlights on guys do. He`s just pissed that someone called him out on it. Sorry Charisma Man, you are not a rock star.

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This "family man with the obligatory Japanese wife and mixed-race child(ren)" no longer has hair, so don't be asking my advice, son. Now get off my lawn!

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This only proves that he has no idea what is going on here. The advice about the highlights was absolutely right. Only gakkis do that thing...I guess the writer is a gaijin gakki. My advice: listen to your elders and respect them.

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As for the highlights, if his manager spoke up because he actually got complaints from those Japanese workplaces, then he's certainly right to speak up about it. But if it's just his manager's freely offered interpretation of Japanese culture, it doesn't seem right. Even if highlights are unacceptable among Japanese for whatever reason, I'll bet foreigners get a pass.

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JT is a blog now? When did this happen?

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Tips have ranged from “Don’t drink tap water; the Japanese all drink bottled” to “You won’t be allowed into an onsen with a tattoo.”

Both are correct... in small towns they use bore, so you can't drink it. 99.99% of onsens will turn you away if you have a tattoo and can't cover it up or something.

Looks like somebody just has a chip on his shoulder...

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I think you can probably tell just who got stung by this article by the comments.

I get where this guy is coming from. The first time I came to Japan I relied on "experts" who had written guidebooks about life and social faux pas. I came to Japan to find that most of the advice was outdated and wrong and these things that were supposedly horrible faux pas that would get you banned from society were either unimportant or didn't really apply to foreign people. (As in, no one will have a heart attack if the foreigner selects the wrong flowers or accepts a gift with one hand.)

But you know, I do love hearing all "about" Japanese society from the various lifers I meet. It's funny because they're usually wrong. (See: Just about anything said about Japanese women.)

Then again, I also hear some pretty funky things from actual Japanese people. Things I know are wrong. I guess I would lump those knowitall gaijin in the same category. Somewhere between "delusional" and "misinformed."

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That's funny to hear such a remark from this guy, considering the number of suits these days that sport a good chapatsu.

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Wow. Don't know where to even start with this. I think the other posters have covered everything. I think it all boils down to, 'someone didn't like my lovely blond highlights'.

there is some insight to be gained from a wizened expat entering his second decade here, or a family man with the obligatory Japanese wife and mixed-race child

Second decade? I'm well into my fourth, and I'll rolling-pin the first fresh-off-the-plane, still-wet-behind-the-ears toerag, with or without highlights, who calls me wizened. Dunno who this bloke has been talking to, but we all know that you do not get jippy tummy from drinking Japanese tap water, and that there are filters galore to take the taste of chlorine out if it bothers you.

Blond highlights? Huh! My basic design is blonde and in my time I've had pink, green, blue, red and purple highlights (not all at the same time, that would be .... loud...) and so did a lot of my Japanese friends, highly respectable middle-class housewives the lot of them. It ain't fashionable now, though. Maybe Mr Truitt's boss was just trying to tell him in as gentle a way as possible that his coiffure was just not doing it. But you see young people with frosted hair, he whines... Yes you do, you also see those young people wearing knees-ripped-out tatty jeans slung at crotch level with knickers showing. Try wearing that fashion to work and see what your manager has to say.

As Canukle says, the Japanese husband is non-obligatory (though on a personal level, indispensable, of course....) and the kids....mixed race?? I've never thought of them as that. They're just Our Kids.

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Trenton:

Perhaps when they fist (sic) arrived in Japan as (gasp) English teachers back in ’92,

Interesting you choose the same year that Dave Berry Does Japan came out. You'd do well to cease writing and start reading. I know the expat type (only a sprinkling) you write about--I like to dub them the "Columbus syndrom" lot: "I got here first". Personally I've been in Japan since the mid 80s and insist that I have well over 8000 ONE DAY experiences in Japan, not some two decades plus. I can only offer you this advice: Don't include your rant above as a serious publication on your resume and good luck with your bad hair days.

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It's people like Trenton that made me decide to not offer ANY help, incite or plain old opinion. I now simply laugh when they make the most horrendous mistakes. Leave them to it I say!

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It depends- what kind of highlights do you have. Ugly Highlights Bad Highlights You've done yourself highlights If you highlights- haircut looks bad it's your managers duty to inform you. Your haircut is horrendous !!!!!

SO TRENT YOU HAVE TO ASK YOURSELF AND LOOK IN THE MIRROR IS YOUR HAIRCUT BAD FOR THE COMANY YOUR REPRESENTING ??? Is it fugly ? Cute for night clubs ??? Remember IMAGE is important factor in Japan...... I'm sad, I guess I've been here for 5 years. I guess I'm an old expat !!!!

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Did you do yourself ?the highlights ?

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If I had a really bad haircut, or ggrown out of those high lights and it starts to look bad. I want somebody to tell me. Maybe your co workers (Japanese) are afraid to speak about your horrendous haircut ????

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A dynamic country, one that’s constantly evolving...

Ha,ha, ha LMFAO... How long have you been here?

Not very long I bet.

Japan is a prehistoric country with regards to individuals values and change.

It is more likely that we will evolve a 3rd leg before the country learns to embrace and accept change(s). Ergo, in the vast majority of cases whatever applied 10, 20 or 30 years ago has a very high likelihood of applying or being equally important today...

An yes I fit the bill perfectly - "A family man in his second decade here c/w with the obligatory Japanese wife and mixed-race child"...

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Was this "report" created because the author is upset with a fashion advice on his hair color?

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This piece is a new low even by the generously undemanding standards of the Japan Today Commentary editor (who probably does not exist, but anyway...)

Actually, I can't say much that hasn't been said by the above posters. Obnoxious drivel.

I would just note that the same newbies who bash longtime expats whenever they try to give advice are usually the same ones who have absolutely no shame about coming to you for help with anyone of the million problems they have which require Japanese language ability to solve.

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sirgamble, living in Izu I could give you a list of 20 great onsens that will let you enter with a tattoo.Complete rubbish.

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Trenton, i am sure you are tired of being told what to do, but in reality words of advice can be taken, trashed, or just taken as food for thought. We all encourage you to be independent and experience and figure things out for yourself, but there are just some things in life better to be told then to go through all the rigormorals and save you the hassle and embarassment. And lately, I think young people these days have troubles listening to others and go way off course to their own demise. And my piece of advice to you, keep the highlights but don't recommend any tatoos. And no need to shun advice, take what you think is applicable and if you think they are wrong, then say something, don't just walk the other way, that is a cop out on your part.

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I guess my children are now "mixed-race" Geez, and I always thought they were just part of the "human race". Thanks for that dude. B.T.W. Can I call your hair "mixed-s t"?

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This guy is probably one of those "more-than-average-looking" (they call themselves that)guys who come over here and get girls going "kakkoiiiiiii" and it inflates their already over-inflated ego and they start to think that they are "the rock stars of the local izakaya". So they start to dress themselves up like "the rock stars of the local izakaya". We've ALL seen them, we've all laughed at them.

I bet this guy is an English teacher who thinks he's the only gaijin allowed to live in Japan too.

Just because you don't agree with someone’s advice, doesn't make it incorrect. Especially when, like this guy seems to be, you've only been here for a year or less, because you haven't been here long enough and experienced enough to know if what you've been told is true or not. I've been here 11 years and I'm sure there are a lot of people on here who've been here longer. I'd take advice from anyone on here who's been in Japan for longer than a few years, and especially from people like Cleo, who's been here longer than I've been alive.

This kid knows little and will learn little with an attitude like his.

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In a nutshell, the advice here is to ignore the advice of people with experience. An improvement might to ignore the advice of stupid people with experience.

The author seems to believe that by arriving in Japan years ago, the ability to notice change is somehow lost. Change, it seems, can only be noticed by someone who has just deboarded. I suppose one should ask those people for advice. The category of "drivel," suggested by senseiman, seems to fit.

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depends on the industry. if you work in fashion or entertainment, frosted hair is probably fine. if you work for with banks or the big trading companies, not so fine but that would also depend on how tasteful done it was. that being said gaijin are given a certain amount leeway but you shouldn't abuse it.

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Why does the writer think that having a Japanese wife is "obligatory". I don't have one - yet. And if I ever do, will be because she is fun to be with, nice looking and an asset to my life - pretty much like of she was a non-Japanese woman. Seems to me Trenton is a kind of Charisma Man in real life.

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and yes, tattoo is no obstacle to getting into most onsens these days.

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a family man with the obligatory Japanese wife and mixed-race child.

I would "accidently" spill my drink on you if you said that to me in your uppity tone.

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There was probably a complaint about the highlights to his boss. The boss relayed the complaint in a way that didn't reveal that the client complained in the first place. The Japanese way.

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I am guessing this guy will not be in Japan long. I wouldn't want a guy with frosted hair working for me either. It shows a lack of professionalism. How can this fool be taken seriously in a corporate world where most guys wear suits and ties. yet, this young guy comes in looking like a surfer?

anyway, the guys that have been here a long time no how to make it here. and, maybe this fool should listen to their advice. How many gajiin do we all know that did not make it two years?

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What joker was given free rein to write this rubbish ? Must be one of the newbies who walks around with a pout and turns away when seeing other gaijin heading their way.I look at those types and feel sorry for them.Trying to make a fellow gaijin feel as miserable as you should not be allowed.

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Tut tut Mr. Trutt,

You certainly seem to be overreacting to a little bit of fashion advice. The simple fact is that this manager you talked to is your boss (when you're doing work for that company) and he has every right to politely ask you to groom yourself more conservatively. I have a beard and if my employer hinted it wasn't acceptable I'd shave it, just like I'd wear a suit and tie if I was asked (even though I detest ties, they feel like slow strangulation). I know plenty of expats who, without complaint, cover up piercings and tattoos. Your hair is no different.

Business dress in almost every country around the world is several steps more conservative than casual clothing simply because you never know how conservative your customers are, and the company doesn't want to risk offending anyone. Act like a professional Mr. Trutt and either do as your employer requests or stop working for that company.

As for advice from longtime expats, yes, sometimes they're generalising from a single bad experience, and like all advice it should be taken with a pinch of salt, but you're far better off listening than acting like you know it all and then finding yourself in a very sticky situation.

One of the things I always tell newbies in Japan is that the most important phrase is, "gomen nesai". 99% of the time an instant and (seemingly) sincere apology will make you appear to be a considerate and responsible individual and it'll smooth over any hurt feelings and avoid any further complications. The 1% of the time when this isn't a good idea is in car accidents (unless you're completely and obviously in the wrong) ;).

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Found him online (Google his name and he comes up for teaching English on S1エスワン), he's only been here since '05.

He says: "worked at NOVA for 1 and a half years, worked in an elementary school for 1 year and have been teaching Business English in various companies for the last year"

and

"Please try me! I'm relaxed and fun, yet challenging and will really push you to improve!

I am always open to your ideas and needs!"

"Always open to your ideas... unless you're another gaijin"

Also, by looking at his photo, blonde highlights would look hideous!

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I've reread this article and the author makes me laugh. What a tool... So what Japanese did he notice with highlights? And what was his observation of them?

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Maybe Truitt's boss didn't want to hurt his feelings by telling him directly that his hair looked ridiculous. To make it a matter of professional grooming was indirect and effective, or would have been if Truitt possessed any degree of self-awareness.

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yeah his precious blonde highlights are in danger....haha what a tool! Lots of people dont even have a job, and dude is complaining about his hair? Yeah like other people says he probably looks ridiculous and that was just a nice way to tell him. Probably would be unemployed except that English schools will hire damn near ANYbody.

Give me a break, when your despised old people sign your check, they also tell you how to dress and look at work. you wanna make the rules, become the boss. and yeah, since when did this place become a blog? They actually put "articles" like this by uninformed people into a magazine? Great, Mr. Blonde Highlights is in Roppongi saying he is a "writer" now too?

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Ah yes, the old "I know best, I don't take advice from others" crock. Mr Truitt, let me guess:

you speak no Japanese because you are a "native English speaker, so there is no need for me to learn Japanese—they should learn English".

you absolutely cannot accept the fact that Japanese society is based on other values than your own, and that a conservative "correct" appearance is a mark of respect for your clients (in fact, let me offer you a piece of advice, just because you don't want it: the impression that you give is HUGELY important in this country.)

if your boss asks you to do something (which he is entirely entitled to since he is your boss and he is paying you) you think you are entirely entitled to ignoring it, even though he just might have a good reason (maaaayyybee grounded in experience) for doing so.

Mate, spare us all, don't write anything more.

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Hmmm... odd formatting there, but I think my message comes through anyway.

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This guy sounds like he's straight off the boat. I gained a lot of good knowledge from senior expats when I first arrived. Downplaying such experience seems foolhardy.

Japan is a dynamic country, one that’s constantly evolving... Tokyo has a heart thumping to a beat all its own.

This made me laugh. Tokyo's bar scene is now worse than when I first arrived. There have been some new additions but they are mostly quiet affairs. Lots of new restaurants, but Tokyo is one hell of a boring city to live in, in my very humble opinion.

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Great, Mr. Blonde Highlights is in Roppongi saying he is a "writer" now too?

I can pretty much guarantee you it will be on his next resume under "Publications" :)

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Stupid people are just stupid. I would never listen to advice from groups of people telling me not to listen to advice from other groups of people.

hahaha

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I'm sure his job is not that good to make his business partners care about his blonde highlights and I think it's actually illegal in Japan to comment on the way one looks during work (please contradict if I'm wrong).

Now - there are jobs in Japan where one must look absolutely impeccable, and this means classy hair, suit, hand watch and shoes (among many others), and nope, no blonde, pink, green etc highlights. People out of those standards don't survive too long, even if the reason for firing them will not be "wears blonde highlights".

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I think it's actually illegal in Japan to comment on the way one looks during work

Even if it's not illegal, it must be very clearly specified in a dress-code rule (ex: wear a suit with necktie and appropriate attire, trim hair and beard and leave it at it's natural colour). If not specified the boss has no damn business making any comments - and yes, I lived here for almost a decade, so I know what I'm talking about, mm'kay?

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This is hilarious! I am one of the old expats...but I live in a thriving cultural city (Yokohama), and I have seen the changes. It just saddens me that the Japanese cultural is somewhat diluted by western influence. Other than that...yesterday's radical kids...are today's salary men, and fashion has come full circle.

Anything short of facial piercings is probably acceptible in most offices.

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Ever since this “talk” with my boss, I’ve begun noticing more and more people with frosted hair. Sure, most of them are youngsters who have not yet been roped in to the stereotypical Japanese corporate world of black hair, black suit and no soul. But they’re visible and they’re out there. So how shocking or offensive do you think it would be for a 50-something salaryman in a Japanese investment bank to lay eyes on a foreigner with blonde highlights? What was I missing?

The point that this guy is missing couldn't be more obvious if it had a trumpet announcing it.

If he is teaching "business English" which he claims to be doing in his S1 profile, he should be dressed appropriately. If he was teaching kids how to sing the ABC song, or whatever English teachers do that makes them feel so worthwhile, then looking like a fool is fine.

But teaching adults, and teaching them "business English" when you have hair that looks like a baby sparrow is inappropriate. The kids he noticed with "frosted hair" and KIDS, not adults who do adult things, they have the chance to look as stupid as they want till they get a job that doesn't want them looking silly.

And ebi, I'm sure that in his contract it will say something along the lines of having to be dressed "appropriately" for the job, which includes hair-style.

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Ok.. I couldnt decided on one comment so Ive give everyone three choices.. what`S it gonna be???

A - Calm down Shirley. When I was young, my father was an idiot. Stuck in the old ways, while I was learned in the ways of the new, the ways in which the world was headed. He was stuck, poor bast.. It must have been my genius rubbing off on him because as I got older he got smarter. Now I think of him as very wise. Lucky him! So perhaps someday, these "longtime expats" will learn from your enlightened example.

B - Im here about a year less than you and live in Sapporo. I have a Japanese wife, I could not have been luckier to meet and I married her out of no sense of obligation at all. My kids will be a mix of races, to use your distinction, as I am a mix of cultures or tribes or nationalities, to use my own. (As I guess you are too) I look at my friends who have been here a while and find most of them to be "stand up" people. My wife couldnt believe the outpouring of help from the "longtime expats" when we had 12man stolen from us one night recently. I think you paint with too broad a brush and if you were as enlighten as you think you are you would not be prone to speaking in such broad terms. They are simple.. for the simple.

C - Am I really reading this on a news web site?? This "free-lance writer" as he likes to be considered, is obviously belly aching about one experience and using it to smear an entire group of people (quite poorly I might add). If Shirley were talking about Japanese would this have made it to the site.

So.. A, B or C... which is my response?????

There are idiots in every group, even in the ranks of free lance writers. LIfe would be great without them, but none of us, or very few, would exist, if any idiotic infraction were enough to make you disappear.

I found this article trite, pathetic and warranting a response, but completely not "news worthy..."

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My "obligatory" Japanese wife is anything but, or does this guy think all Japanese women are there for the service of foreign guys? Good thing I don't have any "mixed-race children" yet or I might really get angry. This guy is just another foreigner stuck in the "us vs. them" mentality. He gets a bad vibe from long-term expats precisely because of his grating attitudes. He might also like to know that in most of Japan the tap water is perfectly drinkable and actually quite tasty. Oh sorry the grizzled old expat here is spouting his nonsense again...

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Well, at least you are in japan. I wish I could be there . . .

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I've read the comments and all I can say is, OUCH! I wonder if the author is reading this? If you are, I hope you get the message and I'm sure your boss has been notified of this too, seeing you used your name and everything LOL.

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I could have sworn that it was a young woman writing this "article"...lighten up, creampuff!!

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"a family man with the obligatory Japanese wife and mixed-race child." To rail against stereotypes with this kind of misogynous (or is it perhaps misandrynous) certainly racist, nonsense is absurd. It is hard to tell who the author hates more: Japanese women or the men who are supposedly "obliged" to marry them. And woe be to those who dare procreate and whose children dare fall within his gaze. How have my wife and children transgressed against you? And how have I?

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The hard-and-fast rules espoused by these gurus serve, above all, to create a kind of expat mythology that thrives on anecdote, circumstance and generous helpings of stereotype.

Now, on to what set me off on this rant: I was recently approached by a manager at a foreign company I sometimes work with.

TRANSLATION: To show you how much I hate anecdotes, I will tell you about the time...

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a family man with the obligatory Japanese wife and mixed-race child

This is an affront to all the childless philandering divorcees.

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I think Mr. Bossman was just hitting on him and didn't know how. Wink wink.

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Japan is a dynamic country

Thanks for that gem. That said, if anyone wants advice, call me. I sell some.

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Well this long time expat still knows that I am a lucky man to have my Japanese wife (I guess I am the obligatory American husband) and that the author is a racist for calling my children mixed-race. My children are doubles, they have dual citizenships, dual passports and speak two languages fluently.

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The main points of this article are worth considering though, aren't they? Japan is not a homogenous country: customs and ways of doing things can differ widely; some long-term expatriates (in any country) can over-generalise about the country they are living in and make themselves into crashing bores in the process.

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And how long have you been in Japan, Trenton? You are doing a lot of stereotyping for someone who claims to dismiss stereotypes!

Sure, some things have been changing but many of the more ingrained values and belief systems are still alive and well today. Change at a deeper, fundamental level is much harder to find.

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diveit:

they have dual citizenships, dual passports

It seems your "doubles" are at the perfect age where they don't have to decide which passport to keep yet. The day will come when your doubles must choose one passport over the other, if they indeed have an American passport now

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"But what these sages too often ignore is that Japan is a dynamic country, one that’s constantly evolving. Big cities are different than small towns, Kyushu is different than Hokkaido, and Tokyo has a heart thumping to a beat all its own"

Yeah right,dynamic country ??!! That's hilarious.Japan is Japan wherever you go,that's why we all travel overseas any chance we can.This guy needs to get ou a little more.

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I have been in Japan for over 19 years, did not come as an English teacher been Married and divorced and raising 2 mixed children on my own.

When I first arrived I was given all sorts of advice by long term expats and I like many chose to brush their advice off only to later regret not listening or following some of it.

I am in my late 40s and have worked mostly for Japanese companies and many give some leeway to foreigners on their appearance.

I have an earring and most of my clients and Japanese companies don't care (only because I am a foreigner) but again that depends on the company and I recently got reminded of that when I went in to a new clients office with my earring only to have them call up my Japanese partner to complain about it.

So here is a bit of advice for an old hand, Japan may be "dynamic" as you say but MANY places and companies have not reached that point yet, so your manager's advice may not have been coming form his own feelings or knowledge but from a higher up or others in the office that felt it inappropriate or as is often the case unfair because regulations do not permit they to do the same.

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I love this article! I came here in 95 so I guess I fall into the old-timer catagory. My hair is light brown (with natural GRAY highlights)and I don't care on bit! I sport a beard and don't care what Japanese think of facial hair and I've never had anyone comment negatively about it. I don't have any tatoos myself, but I've been to onsens that had so many customers with full body art I thought I was at a Yakuza family reunion! Bottled water isn't cheap, tap water is (although I draw the line at drinking from rivers or lakes!) Have I encountered racism here? Yup! Has it kept me down or sent me home? Nope! Have I ever taught English? Nope! Do I have mixed race children? Yes, two and I love them very much (and their mother too!) Living in Japan is a challenge, truly entertaining, frustrating, and so many other things - but then so is living in any country. At least here I'm not worried about stray bullets!

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Oh no! Accept a more experienced persons advice? Eeeck!!! Come on, get over yourself. The reality is it was sage advice. Don't get all flustered Mr Highlightth. Be a responsible adult, not a narcissist.

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Doesn't this ...article...sound rather hetero-phobic? What's the problem with mixed race marriages and said children? Sounds like the writer has significant issues with family relationships.

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Wait a minute!!! Did the boss say his highlights will make Japanese think he is gay?!?! Oh, that is too funny!!!

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Maybe if he said "If a longtime expat starts offering you advice, listen gladly and remember it, while at the same time realizing what he tells you may not be 100% accurate or applicable all over Japan for all times". But walk the other way? Sounds like a teenager. The real irony is that this guy is also giving advice based on his ...extensive experience?

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I also guess this guy missed the article about beards on JT that had a little quote from several Japanese companies like 7i holdings that stated that they do not allow employees or contracted workers for having form men: beards, earrings, longhair or dyed hair for both sexes.

This guy is dispatched to clients and in Japan most companies have these rules and to have some pompous foreigner just walk in ignoring those rules is often rightly viewed as a double standards.

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Looks to be written by a stereotypical young "FOP". (fresh off the plane)

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Chances are the boss was passing on complaints about his hair from clients...and he's been here long enough that he did it indirectly, as a Japanese would. He just might possibly have a touch more experience than you, and while you must judge for yourself, you might find it useful not to ignore him automatically, Trenton, m'lad. Even if he is a crotchety old dodderer of 45 or more years.

And as for the "mixed-race children" comment...don't let me hear you say that within earshot. You will acquire a quiet and discreet injury which no one will notice happening. And I presume you would not marry a Japanese woman for fear of miscegenation. No letting native blood pollute a good English bloodline like the Truitts'.

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It's natural that every experienced expat may be long or short termer(but definitely senior by duration in Japan) comes eagerly to give advice to a newcomer. Always the best thing is using own newly learnt experience and common sense, anyone can get the joy of expat life.

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"So how shocking or offensive do you think it would be for a 50-something salaryman in a Japanese investment bank to lay eyes on a foreigner with blonde highlights? What was I missing?"

News flash! Most of my clients ARE Japanese investment Bank, financial institutions and Trading companies,and none would allow me to dispatch someone to their offices with: dyed hair, visible tattoos, visible body piercings, long hair on men or earrings on men (some employees have them but they and I must take them out before arriving at the clients).

Welcome to Japan and reality!

And:"I’ve begun noticing more and more people with frosted hair. Sure, most of them are youngsters who have not yet been roped in to the stereotypical Japanese corporate world of black hair, black suit and no soul."

More news flash: these people don't work in an investment bank and are probably students or work in some boutique in Shibuya at 1,000 yen at hour or worse they are your notorious "freeters"!

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Agreed. One of the larger groups who "have not yet been roped in to the stereotypical Japanese corporate world of black hair, black suit and no soul" fall under the classification of "Unemployed". Companies set dress-code standards which can include how the hair looks. "Trenton" needs to realize he's not Brad Pitt's stand-in who needs to keep his highlights in order to keep working.

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Everything has already been said I guess. Very poor article indeed. Come on JT you can do much better than this.

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I also guess this guy missed the article about beards on JT that had a little quote from several Japanese companies like 7i holdings that stated that they do not allow employees or contracted workers for having form men: beards, earrings, longhair or dyed hair for both sexes.

Eyebrows at 11:00.

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oh, common cut 'n' paste is easier than writing real "news" :P

paste more like this, funny stuff :)

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Nessie your quips are way much better than this article. The only thing worth reading here. Keep 'em coming!

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Nessie; nice one! I can't stop laughing!

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matty, i think h wrote it because he may be adverse to "family life" in the manner as we recognise. Spoilt boy with dubious traits who should not be heard on places such as this.

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"I was recently approached by a manager at a foreign company I sometimes work with. He pulled me into his office—much like the disciplinarian at my Catholic high school had done circa 1996—to inform me that my blonde highlights were unacceptable in the Japanese workplaces to which I was sometimes dispatched"

I understand reluctance to take the advice of the self-appointed 'old Japan hand' but I also instinctively recoil from any adult still getting back at those who tormented him in high school 2 decades ago and thousands of miles away. But that's just me.

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Did a search for his published works, found a few from "Tokyo Notice Board", etc.

Said that all his articles were very similar in style and importance of topic.

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"Katakana Kid"—nice one. Right up there with "nama gaijin" ie 生外人.

LOL!

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Maybe he was just highlighting your highlights - I mean, anyone who's tasteless enough to have highlights done needs a quiet word, in my opinion :)

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poor article indeed...

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i maybe wide of the mark here but M Truitt comes across as a wannabee in his new japanese environment.........I could be wrong of course

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I had to look up 'frosted' hair...duh

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"old-school expats... when they ( first ) arrived in Japan... back in '92"

Ha ha ha, those people aren't old-school expats, they're young whippersnappers.

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"Don't drink tap water"

Ha ha, that must have come from one of the young whippersnappers who arrived in '92!

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I think he in fact had learned from the Japanese how to politely criticize you indirectly. I think what he was saying is that guys with dyed blonde hair look absolutely stupid. Well that's what I think anyway.

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I gave it some thought and came out empty esp after space_monkey's comment :(

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But what these sages too often ignore is that Japan is a dynamic country, one that’s constantly evolving.

Really? Well I'm in my second decade here too...and I think whoever wrote this article is either completely deluded or just plain wishfully thinking they can change Japan! And yeah...seen plenty of you idiots come for a year or two actually believing that!

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I've been drinking the tap water for more than 6 years, what's the problem?

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The title doesn't quite match up with the body of the text, which the core is about the advice of a Japanese manager, not an ex-pat.

But what these sages too often ignore is that Japan is a dynamic country, one that’s constantly evolving. Big cities are different than small towns, Kyushu is different than Hokkaido, and Tokyo has a heart thumping to a beat all its own. The hard-and-fast rules espoused by these gurus serve, above all, to create a kind of expat mythology that thrives on anecdote, circumstance and generous helpings of stereotype.

Ok.....so, the advice that an ex-pat who has been living in Kyushu or Tokyo for 20 odd years should not be taken too seriously? And because there is change, the ex-pat is too stupid to know about it or to take this into account? Don't get the logic here.

But our young hero here does not understand the first thing about corporate Japan and so reacted badly to being passed gentle information. This is Katakana Kid syndrome, and is a beginner's error. When Trenton directly asks his Japanese buddies about hairstyles etc., they agree with him, because they don't want to disagree with loud, bolshy Americans. That is Japanese culture 101 in a nutshell.

Bingo! If you are going to be with a certain crowd, then you have to dress like it. If it is a gang, then you dress like a gang member. If you are in corporate Japan, then, by God, you are going to dress like one. This guy just doesn't want to follow the rules. Now, to be fair, I actually think this is a good thing, because he is setting a precedent, and maybe in 20 more years, there might be a tiny more tolerance for "individuality" in Japan Inc. But really, the "talk" and "advice" by the manager was something that he should not have just out of hand dismissed. These rules, are like, NOT written down!!! So, his "punishment" for not changing his hair will be subtle but very real! More assignments, more business trips, more grunt work, etc! As an ex-counselor, I know that most people do not care about advice because they think that they (a) know it all, and (b) are able to break the rules with inpunity--the rules do not apply to them, and (c) do not just flippin care. Such people, in the end, lead very superficial lives. Just my two bits.

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Patrick Smash is correct, and unfortunately there actually is no comprehensive guideline no matter what expats or an individual Japanese will claim. But there do exist explicit as well as unspoken dress codes, and they vary greatly from business to business. And you really can't even apply the dress code from one company to another.

The article makes one good point, and that's that expats often give advice of which they are poorly informed. But that's also a stereotype and not a solid rule to go by. For example I've met countless expats who could barely even speak Japanese (their work/life revolved around other foreigners), or barely knew the basic customs of Japan. But that isn't representative of the diversity here in Japan.

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Wow, I really hope this young lad doesn't come to JT to see how people liked his article. In the words of his generation, he sure got owned!

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If a short term expat offers to write an article for you, walk the other way.

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I find this article a bit laughable, but of course these kind of generalizations does have its truths and falses. I myself try to give advice about do and donts in Japan to other people coming here, but often its japanese themselves who are telling people what the do and donts are. Sure are are a lot of things that stay the same in Japan, but in a way because of the pop culture and trends in society changing, there IS a lot of dynamical things also. For example there are more and more young couples who want to share responsibilities for raising children and sharing housework, and i hear more and more company people complaining that the young japanese who start working in a company doesnt wanna drink with the seniors working in a company. But in generel an advice are given on basis on an individual persons experiences about things, and of course other people may not share that viewpoint. If i asked an american for advice about mentioning about american politics or why the US seem like such one-sided country, then i might get the advice that there are certain things i should not talk about. On the other hand if you meet a liberal type from california or New York, or even a liberal from the mid west, then you probably would be advised differently. Basic point...get the advices, but dont see them as holy truths.

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"But what these sages too often ignore is that Japan is a dynamic country, always changing"

WTF???

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i find the statement that Japan is "a dynamic country" to be a laughable offense to good journalism.

Indeed. When I came to Kitakyushu 15 years ago, it was really still stuck in the 1960s. The entire infrastructure, even the mindset. Now, admittedly, it has climbed its way to the 1990s, but there is still very little 21st century about the place. Solar panels are still unaffordable, and traffic is still as bad as it was 15 years ago. Wages have not gone up, and living conditions have not improved, indeed, have gotten worse. So, like, where the hell is the dynamism. Indeed this guy is a MAJOR newbie to the country.

furthermore, i think it's pathetic that this article was even reproduced in JT at all.

You can not really blame JT so much. They need material everyday. If I knew they were this desperate, I could have written something for them. Now, that my exams are over, maybe I will, but it will not be this DRIBBLE!

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TheRat: Now that your exams are over I'd suggest learning the difference between "drivel" and "dribble" before trying to impress us with your brilliance.

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IfeelImust at 07:44 AM JST - 6th August I've been drinking the tap water for more than 6 years, what's the problem?

The history behind this, and you do have to be something of a "wizened" old hand to know this (meaning you had to have been here well before the Bubble), is that you used to commonly see notices in the hotel rooms to not drink the tap water. It was not because it was fouled with fecal chloroform or heavy metals (okay, probably heavy metals if you were in Kawasaki), but because it was so heavily chlorinated. Mind, this was city water. I never encountered this in the 'burbs or the countryside or noticed that tap water tasted "off" when outside a big city.

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Be careful of the know it all "new guy" who thinks he knows it all also. You see them all over the place, got off the plane yesterday getting laid already and immediately thinks he knows it all. The type that would rather learn from a computer and can't stand to be told anything face to face, very low opinion of everyone type.

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Old-school expats need to take a serious step forward. Perhaps when they fist arrived in Japan as (gasp) English teachers back in ’92, they were the rock stars of the local izakaya.

This guy seem sour because he was told he was wrong everytime he opened his mouth and tried to give advice about Japan to the wrong guy in a bar. Maybe assuming automatically that he knew it all and found the guy at the bar has lived in Japan longer than he has been alive! I noticed the "new" gaijin that wants to be the authority would like the old timers to just disappear.

1992? Some I know have been in Japan from back in early 1960's. I think this guy has had his bubble busted by a long time expat. I've done it many times to these wannabe's.

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what's worse than a know it all expat? some douche that thinks he knows it all. Everyone has a different experience, If anyone gives me advice I'm grateful enough that they care to share their personal experience. Doesn't mean you have to live by it right?

As for the tattoos and onsen thing he mentioned...some allow it, some don't. simple as that...just a matter of covering yourself or going private.

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Well, looks like everyone pretty well covered it. I have a couple of favorite quips about experience and advice that are apt, especially in light of what MrDog was able to dig up on this guy.

It's not the years, it's the mileage. I have met plenty of boring people who have no really good advice because they have been too busy trying to get a single job going, or dating and dating and never committing. No matter how long those people are here, they really will always seem to be fresh off the plane. Evidence: this guy is about 40 and is apparently putting his crummy job in jeopardy because of a teenage girl fashion tip.

Have you had 20 years experience, or the same experience for 20 years? Here is a guy who has changed his mode of employment twice in 20 years, but not his job tasks, and he still seems to be at the bottom of the heap in terms of pecking order. And apparently he is not so busy that he can't freelance for Metropolis.

This is a guy who needs advice from some older person with experience. As we can see, though, he won't be listening.

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"back in ’92" Newbie!

Who've you been talking to anyway, Tren? Monolingual barflies?

You probably haven't met any of the sager old hands: they see people like you coming a mile off. :-D

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mixed-race child

Trent get out of the trench and into the 21st Century.

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Dear Mister Trenton Truitt:

When you get called out by your manager, it is not a good idea to publish your angry reaction in a major paper, using your real name. Nor is it a good idea to sign away your right to reproduction of the article, so that it gets picked up by other news sites and blogs.

Managers, even old, set in their ways longtime expat managers, do read Metropolis from time to time - especially if one of the staff they dispatch to teach Business English is a contributor. Look forward to your contract being dropped.

Oh, and incidentally: you can now also look forward to being treated like nuclear waste by future employment prospects.

See, when someone does a google search on your name: "Trenton Truitt" all of your future employers until the end of time will be able to see this article, and what an utter joy you must be to work with.

Interestingly, thanks to the comments section here, a search for "Trenton Truitt" and "drivel" (or dribble) brings you here. Likewise teacher, business english, customer, and a whole list of things that future employers might search for.

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I bet he wished all the guys who been in Japan longer than him would disappear so he could be the "go to guy" with the "knowledge". In Okinawa there are a few guys who are still living here and came here during the war invasion. I like old expats, it's the smart ass new guys who think they are gods gift of the island I don't like. Get off the plane last month, get a local girlfriend (because he is attractive because he is a new puppy and they can mother him by ordering the food for him on the menue and teaching him what yakisoba is...he's soo cute) and he thinks he knows it all and is "one with Japan".. these clods need to get their noses out of the clouds and deflate their big heads and chests. I'd much rather talk to an old expat, even if some of his info is outdated, I like history and these guys know it.

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Nothing. Old-school expats need to take a serious step forward. Perhaps when they fist arrived in Japan as (gasp) English teachers back in ’92, they were the rock stars of the local izakaya.

Therein lies your problem, stop hanging around with old English teachers(or most English teachers for that matter), the only reason a lot of them are still in Japan, is due to lack of employable skills anywhere else in world. They can't leave so they become closed, jaded and unwillingly to move on, stuck trying to hold on to their bitter beliefs. Hate and self-loathing warp the mind over time, you become so focused on the tree, you can no longer see the forest.

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Hokkaidoguy, I think you did Trenton a big favor. Now that he has burned his bridges, he is free to pursue his first love: writing about Japan.

I have often hoped for a book to tell me about the REAL Japan. I look and look for books about Japan and can't find any. I shun textbooks and don't want to learn the language because that won't tell me what I really need to know about this mysterious country. Maybe Trenton can fill that huge void on the pop bookshelves and give me the inside scoop about the land of the rising sun.

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@Trenton, my JAPANESE employer said it was unacceptable to change hair color, add highlights, etc., while employed. Such "hair modification" was for the younger generation who had not yet entered the mainstream work-force, not for this company's employee. Does it matter? Yes, it does. OK in western society or not, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

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Sure, most of them are youngsters who have not yet been roped in to the stereotypical Japanese corporate world of black hair, black suit and no soul. But they’re visible and they’re out there'.

Sigh. Anything after this was just muda....

The whole article just drips with condescension. You've all done a wonderful job telling His Highness what's what. You've made me proud :-D

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Himajin,

Well said. This Trenton Truitt twit lost credibility with his liberally applied disdain for anyone who would stay in Japan for any extended period of time.

But the cincher is when the article boiled down to little more than a spoiled brat pouting because his boss told him to present himself more professionally.

Boo frackin' hoo, Trenty. Newsflash: Most Japanese bosses would have told the very same thing.

Either man up, Mr. Truitt, and take a place at the grown-up table with a modicum of self-respect intact, or go crying back to home and ply your frosted highlights to a more appreciative crowd.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This Trenton Truitt can write about Japan all he wants, as long as it's free I will read it so it can remind me to talk smack about him. If he tries to sell something like he wants to be the next, "Boye De Mente" I will not buy it. If he doesn't have it wrapped in plastic, maybe I will thumb though all the copies and bend the corners on the covers!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I'm from "granola-belt" cities in the USA where a man frosting his hair or a multitude of other expressive displays is fully supported and enjoyed. Wish that open, healthy attitude would take root here in offices. Really, it is a lot of fun. That said, it won't happen with temper tantrums from TT.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Trenton Truitt made fun of my face piercings. Glazing? He's soooo yesterday.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I wonder if Asian immigrants to the West bicker with each other as much as expats in Asia do.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There is a reason why "Frosted" hair went out of style about 3 months after it appeared back in 2002. Although I'm told you can still see glimpses of it in certain areas of Shinjuku.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Def,

Indeed, there appears to be both bitterness (Trenton) and "hollier-than-thou"-ness (from just about every post that followed).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

He pulled me into his office . . . to inform me that my blonde highlights were unacceptable in the Japanese workplaces to which I was sometimes dispatched.

Perhaps he was too polite to say that blonde highlights look ridiculous on men over thirty?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

def, they do. Nothing worse actually than a 18 yr old Japanese girl who goes to study abroad for 3 months or a year and comes back to argue to you about what American is all about like a self appointed expert. Her friends actually gather around her and look at her in amazement when she "teaches" about America... or wherever she went.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

On the balance, I've had a lot more benefit from the advice fellow gaijin have given me than frustration.

I think the author just considers himself to have been patronised, which is perfectly possible. There are some know-it-all people out there whose only way of feeling good about themselves is by claiming that their number of years in Japan alone deserve respect, regardless of how they've been spent.

I've met a few people who've fitted a hell of a lot more experience and learning into their first year or two in Japan than I ever did, plus some who seem to have been here forever but wasted their time, going nowhere and learning very little. It's all a matter of circumstances and motivation.

As a general rule, however, I regard most advice as usually well-intentioned, even if it sometimes proves to be wrong.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

i cannot stand the Japanese want to be gaijin. I am fluent in the lingo but maintain my NY City accent on purpose, and just love it when a Japanese wanna be tries to correct my accent. Muah. If they can make people laugh in this language and dream in it too, then I might show a bit of respect.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

TheRat: Now that your exams are over I'd suggest learning the difference between "drivel" and "dribble" before trying to impress us with your brilliance.

Well, I actually thout it was dribble and a bit of dribble. Oh, dribble, ben, if you check the sources, is--

dribble - saliva spilling from the mouth slobber, drivel, drool saliva, spittle, spit - a clear liquid secreted into the mouth by the salivary glands and mucous glands of the mouth; moistens the mouth and starts the digestion of starches

The point is--the article sucks.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That's right, don't listen to anyone who might just happen to be in the know.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

and what constitutes as an expat? If your in a rented apartment paid by your company in Azabu and you hang out every night in Roppongi and always meet the same dudes at the same bar then I guess you must be the stereotype expat who doesn't have a clue about Japan. You could spend 30 years in the same international community quite happily never having to become accustomed to Japanese life or even speak a word of it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well each person can only put together a piece of the puzzle on "real Japan". The best source is actually blogs. People who write to share interesting experiences, rather than preach.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

One of my friends wanted to go to a hot spring here in Tokyo, he has a HUGE tatoo on his back, and I told him before we entered that people with tatoos are asked to stay away, so my friend at first was sad, I told him, people here means, Japanese people, YAKUZA, the Japanese MAFIA who have tatoos, they do not care of gaijin who just happened to tatoo his family name on his own back, plus my friend is way, way too dark to ever be confused for a Japanese, so I told him thanks to his crazy sun tan, a real Mexican, never to worry about jumping in a onsen in Japan. BTW I am the old fart gaijin sempai who has been here in Japan way too long and I love the hot springs here! If you younger gaijins can not handle being butt naked around other folks, well, then just keep staying away from Japanese hot springs and let me enjoy and enjoy!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Certainly, there is some insight to be gained from a wizened expat entering his second decade here, or a family man with the obligatory Japanese wife and mixed-race child.

I missed THAT memo. I had to have an obligatory Japanese wife?! Geez! Dropped that one. My wife is Filipino-American! Does she still count?! Are my kids mixed race too, Trenton? Talk about stereotyping, and I have been here 17 years. And Ben, I did mean "dribble" as this is the kind of stuff you will hear spitting out of a mouth of a drunk! Just saying, but it is also drivel too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Its been very interesting to watch the comments section develop here. This could quite possibly be the most disliked article in JT history. Seems the comments are about 95% critical (most extremely so) with even the remaining 5% for the most part acknowledging that it is a bad article but also saying that the underlying point the author seems to be trying to make is a valid one.

Plus its been up for almost a week and people are still commenting on it, which almost never happens.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The guy that wrote this must have been 20 years old greeny... Traditional Japanese companies wont even allow beards.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have read many articles similar to this on a range of topics in a variety of free publications here in Toyko, or on japanese news blogs.

Sad to see to many people are not open to new cultures and willing to adjust to standards besides the ones the grew up with. Hint: Another thread on JT that also shows it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This article challenges common sense, ignores what is clearly accepted normality and is contrary to the "listen to those who know" mentality amongst the lifers here.

Loved it.

Keep writing articles buddy, let the 英会話族 nim-witts keep whining about them!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bottom line: this article is written by someone who considers himself a longtime expat, so if you want to take his word for things, ignore his advice.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Zenny11: The saddest thing about this article is that it pretends to be the norm, and not some flaky weekly BARELY excepted article like East meets West for Japan Times. It is written by someone who wants attention the same way they pretend to reject attention-getting by this article. Sad sad sad.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We called those guys "Mr. Japan." If they were really over-the-top, they earned the title of "Nihon-sama."

Taka

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This could quite possibly be the most disliked article in JT history.

No, I think that might have been the article by the (?Aussie?) idiot in a purple shirt, who got arrested after a punch-up with a Japanese chap and spent a week in jail, and then got given column space in Metropolis/JT to rant about it.

But this runs that a close second. This guy's boss was just trying to give him a heads-up before the fashion police came round to dye his hair back to a single colour and make him sign a binding commitment to stop subscribing to the George Michael style bible.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Beginners rarely take advice from veterans in any endeavor (unless it affects their paycheck)....That's just life.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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