Why did the Japanese say “Southern barbarians” (南蛮人- nanbanjin) for the first (Western) European visitors?
Their ships were coming from Macao
Why are there so many Koreans in Okubo, near Shinjuku?
It was the cheapest inner city area, and near the Shinjuku red light and pachinko district where many Koreans worked.
Why do so many Japanese ask foreigners if they have four seasons?
I read an argument that it was because the Japanese used to make such a big deal out of changing their wardrobe 4 times a year, but I’m not convinced. It mainly comes down to education, where the fixed syllabus of both kindergartens and primary schools emphasises starting all topics with a connection to the local area and then expanding out, and making all topics seasonal. The obsession with the changing of seasons is also yet another one of those things that was borrowed from classic Chinese literature (although it was originally classified as many more than four). My usual reply is to say “We actually do have four seasons, unlike the six here in Japan.” (the usual plus rainy season and typhoon season).
Why do the Japanese ask “Can you eat raw fish?” instead of “Do you like sushi”/ “Have you ever tried sushi” etc?
Although there might be a lack of understanding about how common sushi is outside Japan, more often it’s a direct translation from Japanese
Why do blonde gaijin women get so much more attention?
If you are going to go for Western women, you are going to be looking for something really different from the Japanese. There is also the influence of imported porno.
Why are the Japanese police so obsessed with checking if foreigners have registered the ownership of their pushbike?
It’s not just foreigners, of course. Stealing of bikes is actually fairly common, and if you add the people who can’t be bothered re-registering their bike when they sell it or give it to someone, I’m guessing the arrest rate is high. Like the British police, the Japanese police are set arrest rate targets that don’t set what kinds of crimes they have to catch people doing.
Why do some people handing out leaflets or tissues in the street avoid giving gaijin any?
With a dedication to a crap job rarely seen outside Japan, they are giving them only to the specific people the advertising is aimed at. With foreigners it can be an assumption you will not be able to read the Japanese script written on it, but it is more often that you are not in that market segment, e.g. not a young lady who might be looking for a job in their hostess bar.
Why is Japanese deodorant ineffective for most Westerners?
The Japanese do tend to avoid strong smelling toiletries, but the imported roll-on I buy in Nissin in Azabu-juban works perfectly and has little smell, whereas the reasonably common Ax deoderants can really stink.
The classic explanation is that the Japanese do not sweat or smell as much, and the second might be true in some cases. More importantly, the Japanese equivalents of P&G (Kaoo etc.) obviously have some kind of monopolistic hold on the drugstore market because this is one of the few sectors where Japanese companies produce such rubbish products that not even people in most other Asian countries will buy them.
Why do gaijin (foreign) guys who could never score at home always link up in Japan?
Popular theories usually mention how sad the average Japanese salaryman is and the gaijin boyfriend being just a fashion accessory, free English conversation partner or novelty item for a Japanese girl to impress her friends with. Other possibilities include the Japanese girlfriend feeling freer due to not being restricted by the Japanese language (no way to say I love you in normal Japanese conversation!) and his family being several thousand miles away. I believe the main reason is that the gaijin male quickly convinces himself that he can throw off his lack of success at home, and so he does- i.e. pure self-belief. Any unusual social skills can also be passed off as being a foreigner or other cultural or language misunderstanding.
There is also the more general question of why outsiders instantly become better dating prospects in almost any society, which is possibly tied into the desireability of bringing other genes into the limited gene pools that the often isolated groups of early humans would have been.
Why do the Japanese, especially girls, stare at foreigners?
As a foreigner, you are outside the system and so people feel free in a way they wouldn’t usually (and being out of the loop, you are free too). Also, staring at guys is not seen as a come on as someone who is interested would act coy and avoid eye contact, e.g. you can tell when a guy in the office fancies you when they never address you directly during work drinks. Finally, I think you’ll find that Japanese girls are fairly unsubtle when it comes to looking at and commenting on anyone unusual, not just foreigners.
Why do some foreigners shun other gaijin, even avoiding eye contact?
Some are wanting to do the whole total immersion thing and/ or trying to make themselves Japanese (good luck being accepted as a local, guys!) Others might come from places where greeting strangers is pretty much taboo. There are a few who think greeting people who just happen to be the same colour as you is racist. There are others who have been here forever and are tired of greeting newbies. Then there are the many who are confused about what they should do and think it is better to not greet and regret it than to greet and look like an idiot.
Why do some Japanese choose their hostess bar by nationality, e.g. Filipino bar or Korean bar?
They had good experiences in that country they want to reproduce?? (Although it’s less famous than Thailand, they both had and still have fairly big sex tourism industries).
Why are the Japanese particularly prejudiced against Koreans and Chinese?
Because some of the second or third generation kids can actually pass as Japanese and so ruin all the national myths. A kind of reverse Stockholm syndrome also seems to make all nationalities detest the people they have colonised.
Why did Roppongi become the gaijin bar paradise?
There used to be an American army base there and it is fairly close to lots of embassies