If there is one thing you’re going to experience while hanging out with other gaijin in Japan, it’s complaining. After all, who doesn’t love to complain? Just look at r/Japanlife or practically any video from the sea of vloggers currently on Youtube. Half their content is complaining about living here.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been in Japan for over seven years. It can be frustrating, and people need to vent sometimes. However, after hearing the same incessant whine about daily life for the umpteenth time, I just don’t really care anymore.
5. Being Stopped By The Police
Nearly every foreigner has a story about being stopped by the police. It’s almost a right of passage at this point. If you’re at a pub or a party, it’s a guarantee that you’ll run into someone, probably named Jeff or Becky, who will share with everyone how some racist power hungry cop had the nerve to ask them for their I.D.
Obviously, there are some big problems with the police in Japan. What’s not a problem is every Chad in Tokyo turning every routine stop into a human rights violation.
For every actual horror story I hear in Japan about someone being detained by the police, I have heard a whole lot more about someone comparing it to being stopped for a whole three minutes before being sent on their merry way– except for all the times they decided to be a martyr for gaijin everywhere and make a stand against oppression.
If you were paying attention to the names, you may have noticed a trend– white people.
I cannot stress enough how much cringe you excrete when you are a white person in Japan complaining about being stopped by the police. Every other minority in the room is side-eyeing you with shade. It’s a full kuuki yomenai eclipse. It’s like it’s your birthday and you’re mad that you didn’t get to eat the whole cake. The cake being the world.
4. Japanese People Not Understanding Your Japanese
You’re confident in your Japanese. You’ve been living in Japan for a couple of years, you got a cute Hanako who gets your witty sarcasm. Heck, you even know how to properly kiss ass at nomihodai.
Then it happens. Your kacho has just walked into the room. You’ve been preparing for this your whole life. You see an opportunity, and with all the confidence of a lion, you roar “Nama biru kudasai!”
Then, silence. Confusion. The waitress tilts her head and gives you a sharp “eh?” but in your shock, you can only muster an impotent cough before meekly repeating yourself. Not a roar, but a whisper.
You spend the night quietly nibbling edamame, crestfallen that your promotion was squandered by a bitter racist.
Did that insane and clearly exaggerated scenario hit a little too close to home? The only thing worse than someone getting upset that the little old lady behind the counter at Lawson made them repeat themselves is telling other people about it.
It’s not a grand racist conspiracy to undermine immigration whenever someone doesn’t understand you. Moreover, nobody cares.
3. Stares On The Train
I was once at a party for startups at the Seibu Roof Beer Garden. I was standing in a circle of other foreigners making small talk when someone interrupted the current topic to bring up the time they were practically assaulted on the train after a woman had the gall to stare at her.
“I finally called her out and started staring right back!” the party-goer said proudly as the others nodded approvingly. Everyone then proceeded to one-up one another for who had the greatest comeback for the time they were also stared at.
The conversation started to get a little top-hatty and pinkies-out if you know what I mean, so I said to the group, “You guys know we make up less than 1% of the population, right? I mean, you could just look at your phone like a normal person.”
Afterward, I was banished from the world of startups. Exiled to teaching toddlers English and dodging fingers going up my butt.
2. Other Gaijin
Uh oh. Complain-ception. There are two types of foreigners who like to complain about other foreigners— those who complain about foreigners who love Japan, and those who complain about foreigners who aren’t as Japanese as them.
The former is simple enough. Some guys are just really terrified of being compared to weebs— people obsessed with Japanese culture, and they will speak at lengths to tell you just how over the whole “Japan thing” they really are. You might not actually have met these guys yet because they’re not actually ever invited to anything. If you’d like to learn more, visit Japan Circle Jerk.
The other group of complainers is more complicated. You see, living in Japan is a cutthroat world. Whether it’s working in a Japanese company, dating in Shibuya, or something else entirely, it’s tough for foreigners to get ahead. You’re always going to be a gaijin— an outsider.
If someone comes along who doesn’t really care about being fluent in Japanese, bowing to the culture, and depends entirely on lady luck for money and love— it makes people angry. You know Jason from your company? The guy who does marathons around the table to top off all the Japanese workers’ beers? That guy hates your guts.
Maybe the lady complimenting you on how you hold your chopsticks is just trying to be nice.