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Japan (Welcoming or anti-foreigner)
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25 / M / NYC Metro Area
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Posted 8/10/14 , edited 8/10/14
Alright, so one day I'd like to travel to Japan. A good friend of mine got married there a year ago to a local woman and I'd like to go visit him as well as another friend who is an English teacher there. So here is my question I keep hearing two different stories about Japan. One is the "country is racist" argument and that if you stay there for more than a few days you will be made to feel uncomfortable. However, on the other side of the argument my two friends that live there absolutely love it and tell me that people are extremely friendly and if you make the effort will be willing to share with you many things about the culture. So which is it or does the truth lie somewhere in between. Please also mention if you have traveled or lived there and for how long. Thanks
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22 / M / Los Angeles
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Posted 8/10/14 , edited 8/10/14
I can't affirm or disprove any assumptions based on personal anecdote alone, but from what you mean by "country is racist," do you mean in rural portions of the nation or as a generalization? Foreigners may get a few double takes outside of the cities. Although that doesn't apply to me, but I have visited during a 20 day stay for a Student Ambassadors program.
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21 / M / The Netherlands
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Posted 8/10/14 , edited 8/10/14
They like Europeans they dont like Americans and i dont blame them.
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23 / M / Ohio
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Posted 8/10/14
sega makes me think they hate them and ive heard stories about people trying to find places to live and when they found out they arent from japan they just got the phone slammed on them
Posted 8/10/14
You'll find racists and xenophobes any where you go, and Japan is no different. If I had to guess I'd say the answer is somewhere in between.
The only bit of possible xenophobia I am aware of is the way crime committed by foreigners is blown out of proportion by the news media and certain parts of the government.
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23 / M / Kaguya's Panties
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Posted 8/10/14 , edited 8/10/14
I bet they're anti-weeaboo.
Posted 8/10/14
Strongly anti-foreigner. The bodies pile up and mass graves fill. Pyres of dead Chinese and North Koreans everywhere. The Japanese flag waves over a bombed waste of maggoty corpses. Nothing can stop Nippon.
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22 / F / UK
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Posted 8/10/14 , edited 8/10/14
From what I've heard and seen, they seem very friendly to foreigner's. I've never been to Japan (although I would definitely want to in the future ) I'm simply going by what others have experienced. Apparently in the countryside, they aren't so warm to foreigners, but that doesn't mean you'll be attacked or anything. If you're going to a city, then you should absolutely fine. Try to learn more about the accustoms of Japan and hopefully you should blend in better. Also, this video might put you at ease a little https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEcDfLXz9Bo&list=UU4yqcgz49APdbgj0OMv7jpA
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25 / F / New Jersey, USA
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Posted 8/10/14 , edited 8/10/14
Racism is a universal thing. So it exist there still and the same goes for everywhere else. Yet not all of Japan is xenophobic and the same goes for the other countries.

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20 / M / Eng Land
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Posted 8/10/14
I've never been to Japan but I reckon the reason you're getting two different answers is because they stayed in different places. In some places racism and the like will be worse than in others, or so I'd assume.
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20 / M / Sweden
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Posted 8/10/14

kevz_210 wrote:

Alright, so one day I'd like to travel to Japan. A good friend of mine got married there a year ago to a local woman and I'd like to go visit him as well as another friend who is an English teacher there. So here is my question I keep hearing two different stories about Japan. One is the "country is racist" argument and that if you stay there for more than a few days you will be made to feel uncomfortable. However, on the other side of the argument my two friends that live there absolutely love it and tell me that people are extremely friendly and if you make the effort will be willing to share with you many things about the culture. So which is it or does the truth lie somewhere in between. Please also mention if you have traveled or lived there and for how long. Thanks


Japan is like any other country... Some are a**holes and others aren't. I wouldn't worry too much about it if I were you. Also, you can pick up some stuff whitout having to pay shipment and import costs!
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23 / M / Cambridge
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Posted 8/10/14
In my personal experience (2-month study program in Kanazawa, which is a smallish city a couple hours north of Kyoto), they're generally very friendly (and I'm an obvious foreigner, not like my Chinese friends who sometimes had to start talking before they figured it out).
Some anecdotes:
- My first day coming back from class I got lost between the train station and my host family's house; this passing old lady in the street asked if I needed help, went back to her house to get a map and made sure I made it back OK.
- My friends and I were looking for a specific restaurant but couldn't find it so we started asking people. Turned out they had moved, but this one guy was so determined we get to eat that okonomiyaki that he turned around from where he was going and took us to the new location.
- Some elementary schoolers were super-excited to hang out with me in our group visit to their school because I was the only non-Asian in the room. We played Monopoly.
- Any and every time I said something in Japanese I got a "sugoi" or "jouzu" or something back. They don't expect you to know any Japanese but will always be very happy if you manage at least a little.

Of course, this is just my experience; I'm sure there are racists just like there are racists everywhere else, and the experience may be different if you're trying to live there, but I definitely found Japan to be a very welcoming place.
Jonexe 
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30 / M
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Posted 8/10/14 , edited 8/10/14
Personal experiences: Several months on Okinawa, several days in Tokyo. I'm big, dumb, and about as white as an American can be.

People typically range from friendly and welcoming to indifferent. There was never once a time where I felt like people were excluding me, or being mean/cruel. The worst I got was people who would just kind of ignore you unless you spoke directly to them.

Most of the time people were much more helpful than I expected. Often times people would walk up and help even if I didn't ask for any. One particular time that sticks out in my mind was the Tokyo subway. I was attempting to figure out how to get from Minato to Asakusa via the railway. Well, those two places don't directly connect, so I was studying the map to figure out the best and shortest route, and where to make the connection for it. This older lady, probably in her 50s or so, sees me studying the map. She asks where I want to go (in English no less), and then shows me the best way to get there. I said "Thank you very much" in Japanese, and she was so excited that I knew the right words that she gave me a bag of cookies. She then proceeded to show me to the right train, and even waved as it pulled away. This was from a random stranger in the middle of Tokyo.

On Okinawa, there was an anti-Osprey (American military helicopter plane hybrid). They walked right by my friends and I (who are military, and probably look very military) without a single issue. We got handed a pamphlet that explaining their cause and... well that's it. Not an issue at all.

If you maintain an air that you're attempting to be respectful of their culture you will not have a single issue. If you try to use Japanese where you can, people tend to open up quickly. If you don't understand something, ask someone. Don't just assume you know what everything means and what is expected. The people who deal with the "anti-foreigner" sentiment are the people who act like jack asses, and expect everything to work like their home country.
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24 / M / Osaka
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Posted 8/10/14 , edited 8/10/14
1m90 black caribbean/white guy with an afro talking here. I can only really speak for Osaka, which is according to seemingly everybody's opinion one of the friendliest, most open places to be in Japan. In this respect I'd say it's very much on the welcoming side in social environments. Quite a bit like this:


Luggage10 wrote:

In my personal experience (2-month study program in Kanazawa, which is a smallish city a couple hours north of Kyoto), they're generally very friendly (and I'm an obvious foreigner, not like my Chinese friends who sometimes had to start talking before they figured it out).
Some anecdotes:
- My first day coming back from class I got lost between the train station and my host family's house; this passing old lady in the street asked if I needed help, went back to her house to get a map and made sure I made it back OK.
- My friends and I were looking for a specific restaurant but couldn't find it so we started asking people. Turned out they had moved, but this one guy was so determined we get to eat that okonomiyaki that he turned around from where he was going and took us to the new location.
- Some elementary schoolers were super-excited to hang out with me in our group visit to their school because I was the only non-Asian in the room. We played Monopoly.
- Any and every time I said something in Japanese I got a "sugoi" or "jouzu" or something back. They don't expect you to know any Japanese but will always be very happy if you manage at least a little.

Of course, this is just my experience; I'm sure there are racists just like there are racists everywhere else, and the experience may be different if you're trying to live there, but I definitely found Japan to be a very welcoming place.


While things might seem a bit cold on the street level, if you're in a bar, an izakaya restaurant or something similar chances are people will definitely come out of their shells to try talking with you. It certainly helps to have someone who speaks Japanese with you if you don't though, hehe.

saksiss wrote:

I bet they're anti-weeaboo.



Though actually they will likely be mightily impressed if you know about Japanese culture, history, anime/manga or whatever. Just yesterday an otaku chap I met at a bar a couple weeks back showed me around the Osaka equivalent of Akihabara and got me a parfait at a maid café we went to - all of this despite having had to wait for me for 40 minutes because I got lost on the way there (still hating myself for that). That night I went to a really small bar where I teach the owner English - several people came in and I discovered that I shared a lot of passions/interests with a closet-otaku there. I stayed there for about six hours trading broken sentences with them, they offered me drinks and intend to celebrate my birthday there with me next week...

^These are examples of the kind of treatment you can get, though it may just be the Osaka brand of hospitality. I've found that even if there's a big separation between the big/mainstream animes and everything else (the latter being kind of lumped into the otaku sphere), lots and lots of people have some knowledge/interest in it and you can talk about it with them. Or at least try to if you don't speak Japanese, like me...
5992 cr points
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22 / M
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Posted 8/10/14
Depends on the area, but most are indifferent.
I can say for sure that if you visit anywhere in Kyōto, you'll meet many nice people.
Obviously, in any nice establishment (be it at inns or restaurants), you'll be treated kindly.
Basically, you'll get welcomed by many, or treated as an outsider.
I can say that I'm not too welcoming, but if you're making an honest effort to respect our culture and the differences between our lifestyles, than I will--no more, no less--treat you with the same proper respect.

I hope this kind of answers your question.

If it isn't made obvious already, I was born and raised in Kyōto.
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