Giajin-People Problems

, , , , , | Friendly | May 5, 2019

I had the opportunity to study abroad in Japan while I was in college. During our orientation week, one of the staff volunteers mentioned that those of us who were taller might get some extra attention, but not to worry about it. I didn’t think much about it, because I’m average height by Japanese standards, until random events like the ones below started happening to the taller students in the group:

1) While visiting a Japanese onsen — public bathhouse — my friend, who was at least 5’10”, had just removed her robe and was about to step into the water — we’re both women, so we were on the women’s side of the onsen — when a tiny, elderly Japanese lady popped out of the water and hustled over to us, completely naked. I thought, at first, that maybe we had forgotten to do one of the pre-bathing steps and she was warning us, but when she reached us she stretched up as far as she could and patted the air somewhere around my friend’s shoulder.

“Takai!” she said, which means “big/tall.” She giggled, and then quickly hopped back into the onsen where her friends were all cracking up.

2) Another friend of mine in the group, a man, was over six feet tall, and had long hair down to his shoulders. One day, we were waiting for a crosswalk sign to change when a group of Japanese middle-school-aged girls ran up to me, asking if they could take a picture with him. I said they’d have to ask him, and he was usually a good sport about that kind of thing, so I ended up with five phones and cameras shoved into my hands to take pictures of them with my friend. I don’t know if they thought he was a celebrity or were just excited to take a picture with a tall foreigner, but they were so happy.

3) When the same male friend was going through the airport on a flight from Japan to Korea, he got pulled over to the bag inspection table, but when the customs agents pulled out a pair of his shoes they forgot about the check and instead spent a few minutes talking about how big his shoes were! That was it; they didn’t pull anything else out of the bag.

Overall, there were never any negative encounters for my taller friends, except for maybe not fitting comfortably in some spaces, and house slippers never fitting.

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Need A Worst Customer Of The Day? Hold My Beer

, , , , | Right | February 22, 2019

(It is fifteen minutes before I clock out and a few tables have just emptied, so I am cleaning up as much as possible before I leave the bar understaffed to catch the last train home. Three men are ready to order, so I drop everything to take their order of two whiskeys and a beer. They don’t ask for anything with their whiskey so I bring it to them neat and go back to cleaning up. The guy drinking beer calls me over and starts in on me angrily.)

Beer Drinker: “Is this how you serve in this place?”

Me: “Yes?”

(I don’t know what he wants but he is gesturing at the whiskey, so I assume ice.)

Beer Drinker: “This is horrible service! This is not how you serve customers! Where is the ice?”

Me: “You didn’t ask for ice, so I assumed you wanted it neat.”

Beer Drinker: “This is not how you should treat a customer! Where is the owner?! How dare you treat me like this! You are a horrible waitress! How long have you been here? You’re new. aren’t you?! You won’t be here for long…”

(He just continues on his tirade while I continue cleaning tables nearby. His friends who are actually going to drink the whiskey try to stop him but he isn’t stopping.)

Me: “If you have a problem with the service here, you are welcome to leave. I am not obligated to serve rude customers with a smile. You did not say, ‘please,’ or, ‘thank you.’ I gave you what you asked for, so if that’s still not good enough for you, then there’s the door.”

(The beer drinker at this point starts swearing at me, and his friends start to drag him away. At the door, he yells, “F*** off!” at me. Since they haven’t touched their drinks I yell back.)

Me: “Bye! Thanks for the drinks!”

(Staff got free whiskey and beer out of it.)

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An Ugly Opinion On A Beautiful Process

, , , , | Friendly | July 24, 2018

(I moved to Japan and met the love of my life. We soon got married and settled down, and now we are trying for a baby. This story takes place in a grocery store as I’m shopping for food to make dinner. I spot a female friend of mine — also a foreigner — and her husband at the same store, and I start chatting with my friend. She gets excited about the baby and asks what gender it is, and I tell her we don’t know because we want it to be a surprise. That’s when her husband pipes up.)

Friend’s Husband: “It’s going to be a girl.”

Me: *laughs* “I hope so. But I’ll be okay if the baby’s a girl.”

Friend’s Husband: “No, it’s a girl. I can tell; girls steal your beauty.”

(At this, he looks pleased by what he says. Meanwhile, my friend looks horrified and I glare at him.)

Friend’s Husband: “What? What did I say?”

Friend: “At what point during you thinking that and then saying it did you decide it was the right thing to say?”

Friend’s Husband: “But it’s true! Just look at her!”

Me: “Yeah, carrying the next generation of your family really does a number on you.”

Friend’s Husband: “It’s not that hard being pregnant, you fat pig!”

(Everyone in the aisle turned and stared, a few glaring women included. He stomped off, red in the face, as my friend hurried and apologized to me. She later divorced him, as it turns out he was a Gaijin Hunter, just using her for arm candy and for an excuse to say some downright racist things about Americans and Europeans. Joke’s on him, though; it turns out the baby was actually BABIES. Twins! A boy and a girl.)

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The Culture Barrier Doesn’t Have To Be A Barrier

, , , , , , , | Related | January 27, 2018

As a college student, I spent a year studying abroad in Japan. I chose to live with a family, instead of in a dorm, to really immerse myself in using the language, etc.

My host family was lovely, and I found the differences between our cultures interesting, especially with food. We had traditional Japanese foods for lunch and dinner, but my host mother would often try to give me “American” foods mixed with Japanese foods for breakfast. One morning, it would be one sunny-side up egg, a salad, and a bowl of miso soup. Another day, it was yogurt, an egg, and a piece of karage (fried chicken). Another day, a bowl of rice and a couple pieces of bacon with toast. The combinations were endless! I thought it was sweet of her to want to give me foods from my home country, so I always just ate what she gave me.

My host father also had a thing about persimmons. He thought they were nature’s magic fruit, and would have one laid out for me each day when I got home from school. It didn’t matter if I was hungry or not, I had to sit with him and eat the persimmon, for my health!

We still keep in touch, and I hope to go visit them again soon! Also, I now occasionally have a small salad and an egg for breakfast.

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Unfiltered Story #104097

, | Unfiltered | January 21, 2018

I had the opportunity to study abroad in Japan while I was in college. During our orientation week, one of the staff volunteers mentioned that those of us who were taller might get some extra attention, but not to worry about it. I didn’t think much about it, because I’m an average height by Japanese standards, until random events like the ones below started happening to the taller students in the group:

1) While visiting a Japanese onsen (public bath house), my friend (who was at least 5’10”) had just removed her robe and was about to step into the water (we’re both women, so we were on the women’s side of the onsen) when a tiny, elderly Japanese lady popped out of the water and hustled over to us, completely naked. I thought at first maybe we had forgotten to do one of the pre-bathing steps and she was warning us, but when she reached us she stretched up as far as she could and patted the air somewhere around my friend’s shoulder.
“Takai!” (big/tall) She giggled, and then quickly hopped back into the onsen where her friends were all cracking up.

2) Another friend of mine in the group (a man) was over 6 feet tall, and had long hair down to his shoulders. One day, we were waiting for a cross walk sign to change, when a group of Japanese middle school-aged girls ran up to me, asking if they could take a picture with him. I said they’d have to ask him, and he was usually a good sport about that kind of thing, so I ended up with five phones/cameras shoved into my hands to take pictures of them with my friend. I don’t know if they thought he was a celebrity or were just excited to take a picture with a tall foreigner, but they were so happy.

3) When the same male friend was going through the airport on a flight from Japan to Korea, he got pulled over to the bag inspection table, but when the customs agents pulled out a pair of his shoes they forgot about the check and instead spent a few minutes talking about how big big his shoes were! That was it, they didn’t pull anything else out of the bag.

Overall, there were never any negative encounters for my taller friends, except for maybe not fitting comfortably in some spaces, and house slippers never fitting.

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