When you visit Japan you will look like a foreigner.
Sorry. That’s just the way it is.
Even if you’re Asian, you will sound like a foreigner.
This can be frustrating and I know that hearing about this can make you scared to visit Japan or any country in Asia.
You don’t want to look different or stand out but you can’t hide it.
Even if you learn to speak Japanese fluently, you will always be considered a foreigner. You can never truly fit in.
This is difficult to accept if you’re from North America or Europe where any person can come from another country and become a citizen in a society full of people from different races and backgrounds.
What can you do if you want to visit or even live in Japan?
Get rid of your need to feel comfortable.
For all humans, being comfortable is a major need in life. Everything we strive for can come down to our goal of getting, as my daughter likes to say, comfy.
Traveling to Japan, or anywhere for that matter, requires that you change your idea of what living comfortably means.
Remember these truths while in Japan:
-Everyone does not live the same way that you do and that is ok!
-You are in the minority; people will stare at you and treat you differently at times.
-You will not understand what people are saying but that’s fine. Use your eyes and pay attention to what is going on around you. If your face looks confused, someone might notice and help. Accept their assistance.
-People will be fascinated with you and maybe a little scared.
-Japanese people treat foreign visitors very well. They are normally friendly and excited to see you.
-If you are living there, it will take some time for them to get used to you so take things slowly. Keep quiet, smile and behave as politely as possible.
Many of these seem obvious but it’s amazing what can tick us off over time. Micro-aggressions can really drive you crazy if you cannot put them in the proper perspective.
You don’t need to wait until you travel to Asia to open up your thinking. Do it today when you’re running errands. Think about how you perceive people of different races. Are you being fair?
The more open minded you become, the easier your time in Japan will be.
Best of luck,