Why do only expats have foreign nannys in Japan?

I’d been wondering this one for a while, because it’s fairly common to see foreign kids with a southeast Asian nanny, but I thought it was visa restrictions that was stopping Japanese parents doing the same:

“Only diplomats and foreigners admitted as highly skilled professionals can currently sponsor visas for housekeepers from abroad”

Japan Times, 21 May 2014

Why do foreigners use the word keitai?

These are the Japanese words which from my experience are most common in conversations between two English speakers who have been in Japan for a fair while:


manshon/ apaato


kare raisu



Less common:


Some are quite easy to explain. For example, “apaato” and “manshon” aren’t strictly translatable into Japanese, and rice ball is a horribly clumsy expression for “onigiri”. “Konbini” is probably a combination of being easier to say than “convenience store” and the stores seeming somehow different to and/ or more common than those back home. Why “keitai”, though? It does seem to be the same with use of the word “handy” for English-speaking people in Germany, so maybe it’s something to do with the switchover happening while many of the expats who set the trend already being in the country.

Why do Japanese not sit next to foreigners on trains?

It’s probably not even a majority of people, but it’s very common in Tokyo that the only empty seat on a train is next to a foreigner, and you’ll quite often see someone heading rapidly towards the last seat only to realise that it is next to a foreigner and so remain standing instead. It’s very unlikely that everyone has just one reason, so here is every possibility that I could think of:

– They think that something the foreigner will do, e.g. speak to them in English or take up too much space, might inconvenience them

– The foreigner is making less space available, e.g. through having a puffy coat

– They think they might inconvenience the foreigner, e.g. they’ve heard that foreigners need more personal space

– They think other people on the train might wonder why they chose to sit next to the foreigner

– They are worried that something they do, e.g. fall asleep or fart, might get a negative reaction

– Like ryokan staff automatically reaching for the large yukata for a Japanese-sized foreigner (e.g. me) who is approaching the desk, they assume that foreigners are all larger and so there won’t be enough space

– It’s one particular group of foreigners, e.g. middle-aged men or youths, that they avoid, perhaps even the same group that they would avoid in general (i.e. also if that person was Japanese)

– They want to study English and will be embarrassed to do so next to a foreigner

– They know nothing will happen bad really but the stress of thinking it might make it easier just to stand, e.g. so they can concentrate on whatever they are reading

If anything I think this is becoming more prevalent, so it might be that more people have had or seen “bad” experiences with foreigners such as starting conversations, or taking offence at being slept on. My favourite theory, though, is a general fear of what the other Japanese on the train might think.

Why are there so many gaijin guys with Japanese girls?

I blame it on Tokyo Disneyland. In the parade all the prince-princess pairings are that way.

Why is the gaijin card system changing twice in one year?

Just had my gaikokujin torokusho (the fabulously translated “alien registration card”) updated to one with some kind of chip in it. It was a reasonably simple operation, despite the pain of having to go back to the ward office years before my old card was due for renewal, and was pleasantly surprised to see 2016 written on the new one. I was downright shocked, however, to be given a piece of paper saying that in the middle of this year said gaijin cards are being phased out. I still won’t have to do anything more until my visa needs renewing, but can you imagine a worse use of government money than introducing a new high-tech ID card 7 months before the whole system is being scrapped???

Anyone know how this happened? I’m imagining government agencies not talking to each other…

Why did the Japanese say “Southern barbarians” (南蛮人- nanbanjin) for the first (Western) European visitors?

Their ships were coming from Macao, south of Japan

It seems that whenever I find something I really like at a convenience store, they stop selling it. Why do products come and go so fast in Japan?

“Basically all conbini has security video camera right?… in Japan, these camera is for making private company database of which food is picked by customer. … If gaijin is eating some foods, they will discontinue because it must be too unhealthy or making everyone fat.” Read the rest of this entry »

Why do some people find Japan so annoying?

First, it must be said that I’ve met far fewer people who find living here annoying than I found in, for example, Spain. What I am wondering about instead how books that start off quite interesting and coherent but then just turn into an unconnected list of true and made up negatives about Japan like “Dogs and Demons” and “Shutting Out the Sun” get made: Read the rest of this entry »

Why are gaijin losers done good so annoying?

Even if you haven’t written a whole article about why foreigners who are sadsters at home but pass as normal in their Nova classes will soon see their comeuppance and should just learn their place, if you have never felt a flicker of annoyance at the guy who was a trainspotter at home but now has the stunning Russian/Chinese/Ukrainian/Brazilian/Japanese/Venezuelan girls queuing up to sleep with him when he DJs, then you are not a male and/or are some kind of saint.

For the rest of us, feelings at seeing such a lowlife done good that range from fleeting irritation to entire evenings of rage might not be commendable, but they are certainly understandable. Here are two reasons why we feel that way: Read the rest of this entry »

Why is the tap water in Roppongi so disgusting?

Honestly, not only does it taste so bad I’ve had to spit it out before, but 30 minutes after one cup of tea either in the school or in a cafe I have to go running for the toilet. I only live in the neighbouring part of Tokyo to Minato-ku, and I don’t have this problem at all. What is going on?? Does the government put bromide in the water to control the randy Roppongi gaijin??

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