Mike45 - "newbie euphoria"? Not really - I have lived in Japan for only 2.5 years but I have been coming here for the past 6 years as part of a Japanese family. I had no illusions when I came to live here and I face challenges everyday like many other foreigners do. I just choose to get on with things and not sit around and say "poor me, poor me". I chose to make my life here, all of my colleagues are Japanese and the area where I live is mainly Japanese so, sorry to disappoint you but I won't be singing the "go home" tune any time soon if ever. Sounds like you are pretty jaded - how long did it take you to get to that point then? I guess the answer is probably more than 2.5, sorry 2 1/2, years then.
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In Canada, we never wore shoes in our house and we asked guests to remove their shoes in the porch so I think it doesn't just depend upon culture but personal preference of the family. I think that if you are invited over as a guest to someone's home, you should follow their wishes out of courtesy. If you don't want to take off your shoes, then you are welcome to leave - I think it would be rather rude to insist that you should wear your shoes in their house.
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To be honest, I haven't had the type of problems that some other people have reported on here. I have been in Japan for 2.5 years now and I have never been stopped by the police for my alien card or have been harassed by perverts on the street yet - that is not to say that other people haven't had those experiences or that it will never happen to me. I know that there is racism and discrimination in Japan but I haven't let it affect me or the quality of life that I have here - I accept that in Japan, I am the minority and that there will be people who have certain ideas about me based on the colour of my skin but there isn't anything I can do about that. I just carry on with my life and be friendly to people so that they don't feel intimidated or scared because I am not like them and they may not be used to foreigners. I have seen the signs that say "no foreigners allowed" but to be honest, I couldn't care less - if they are going to be so closed minded, then I wouldn't want to step foot in their establishment anyway. I have heard people make racist comments about other countries and the frequency or the strength of those comments are no more or less than those that I have heard in other countries that I have lived in (Canada, UK, Hong Kong). It doesn't mean that it is right to say those things but Japan doesn't have the monopoly on that kind of behaviour - let's face it, there are uninformed fools and bigots everywhere. My son is a "double" and I do wonder if he will face any challenges because sometimes he looks white and sometimes he looks Japanese. That's right, my son is not a "half" - he is a complete individual that has the benefit of two cultures and two languages. Some people are surprised that Japan is not as "polite" a country as people are led to believe - come on guys, are you really surprised that Japanese people act like normal human beings? Yes, Japan does have some way to go to be more accepting in some areas to foreigners but if you can't handle that reality, then in all honesty, feel free to return to your own home country.
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