Mr.World Traveller- They type that've to every corner of the earth and back and are probably only in Japan for a brief money-making sabbatical from their usual grind of living on a shoestring as they work their way from port to port. You can't help but respect the balls of these Beatnik types who can't stand to be settled in one place for long, but I often wondered how these people could live such a lonely life of insecurity and upheaval. No doubt any conversation with them is interesting and amusing, and these people often leave a lot of potentially very close friends in their wake. I had a couple of mates like this in Sapporo, and they always seemed like strong characters who had more self-assurity and common sense than most of the rest of the people I've encountered in my life. Some people might look down on those who drift, but it takes far more courage to choose this way of life than to take the normal path of the 2.4 kids, 9/5 working week stuffy well-bred businesspeople who seem to think running the rat race is the only way to live this life and find it necessary to dictate how the rest of us should exist.
Ex-Pats- They came, they saw, they stayed. You might think that by the way I've described it, Japan is some idylic paradise, but for most people is a short-lived one, as negatives aspects such as Japanese ethnocentricity and complex rules of society creep into their daily lives increasingly each-day until finally it drives them away. It's fair to say that most of the gaijin heading out there with the intention of becoming permanent residents only end up paying lip-service to their dreams as they find starting a life in Japan simply an impossibility due to language and cultural barriers. A lot of guys go over there but get bored after the novelty of getting laid left, right and center wears thin, and then decide to go back to reality in the West. There's even the term 'gaijin burn-out' to express the feeling that a lot of foreigners get after the 6-7 month mark in Japan, where they feel an intense desire to go home. Taste, but don't swallow ladies and gentleman.
But occasionally you will find those willing to fashion themselves to the extent that they find Japan perpetually comfortable and homely, and stick around for good. Some of us desire a little bit more than fish+chips and Coronation Street, and crave for the exotic, spiritual and challenging. Japan is a breeding ground for the strange and unique, so those who only desire simple lives and creature comforts probably won't find themselves happy over there for long.
For sure, some of the long term ex-pats'll shock you. Some of them are so Japanese, you won't believe it. I once met an American who'd been living there so long he could hardly remember English. And wait till you meet your first Gaikei-jin (I guess that's what you'd call them?), a foreigner born and raised in Japan. Man do they freak me out, they look like you, they're the same height as you, they've got blue eyes, but they're 100% Japanese. There's nothing more bizarre, I swear. A lot of them can't even speak English. Bii-zaaarre
Whingers - Probably the largest cause of complaint from those that live in Japan and love it are the whingers. These are the normal Westerners that, after hearing that they can make big bucks teaching English in Japan, come over and pretty soon later find themselves suffering from culture shock and homesickness, and so decide to spend out the rest of their contract time in foreigner bars complaining about how much they hate Japan and how they should be treated like the masters-of-the-universe they think they are. They curse their students, they curse their landlords, they curse the ground they walk on, and they make it their job to let the rest of us know it the second we encounter them. There's a web-site called Big Daikon out there that's choc-full of them. Go home early guys!. One good advantage of the Japanese economy worsening is that this kind are thinning out, and leaving Japan to the rest of us that are there because we actually love the country and not for selfish, financially motivated reasons.
Mr.Middle-Age-Crisis- The kind of condenscending bank-manager types who quit or were fired from a good job in their own country, taught English for a couple of years until they were promoted, and feel that it's then they're God given right to make life a pain in the arse for newcomers to Japan. I swear there's surely nothing more irritating than going to Japan, getting a job and finding you're under the authority of a bloody gaijin with a power-craze. Fully settled for a few years, and probably married to a Japanese, they really feel (mistakenly) like they've been 'accepted' over there as 'one of them', and you, the newbie, are a young cub trying to piss on their turf. They wont give you an easy time, and if you work with them, expect to be insulted, back-stabbed, ignored, misinformed, your hard-work discredited, and your Japanese ability mocked. Deep down Mr.Middle-Age-Crisis knows he's a loser that should've stayed in the West. He knows he can only go so far in Japan but it's too late now that he's married and has a couple of kids. And he knows without a shadow of a doubt that he can be as rough as he likes to newbie foreigners without fear of recrimination from higher authority. Don't say I didn't warn you.
The Orientalist- Anyone who's ever taken a Basic Japanese class will know who I'm talking about. "I'm not saying that my Japanese is good but---". Yes, these are the ones that know the kanji for toenail and come into class wearing getta shoes and wouldn't dream of sleeping on a bed that you couldn't fold up in the morning. You can almost feel them itching in class to correct your Japanese teacher when he/she writes a kanji character, "(cue mocking little chuckle and nodding head)Well actually Mrs.Takahashi I believe there's an extra stroke in that kanji radical..".
These people really aren't the worst of the types in comparison to the Whingers, and Mr.Middle-Aged-Crisis, but they can sometimes unknowingly be extremely patronising to others making the effort to live in Japan, and are misguided in believing that the Japanese won't also believe they're total dorks when reveal they know the history behind soya bean fermentation.
Far-Away Fred-Oh you know old Fred, alias
Billy-No-Friends, Pikey Pete, Tommy Dipsh*t, because he was that guy, the one who used to sit in the corner of the class-room alone. You forgot his name, but
you'll always remember how the nastier kids in the class used to play tricks on him because
he just didn't seem to have enough brains to do anything. Although he took inscrutable notes and always seemed like he was studying hard, he was probably just thinking about why slugs die if you pour salt on them, and why when you buy tins of evaporated milk they still have milk inside.
He was that dude that your friends you to meet on the way to school and jokingly say "Hey Fred, there's no school today! didn't you get the letter from the teacher in the mail this morning?", and the poor guy was so thick he'd actually start walking right back home...amen. Then Fred quit school at 17 to go work in his family printing company after he failed all his O-levels and dissappeared for good. Ten years later you're watching American Pie and thinking about your past and you wonder..Hey, wasn't there a dip-shit in my high-school called Fred?..I wonder what he's doing now.
Present Day: Well guess what? One day Fred picked up a book about Japan..He thought the girls looked pretty, sweet and kind and wouldn't bully him like every woman in his life. He thought he could finally lose his virginity before his 30th birthday. So Fred quit the day job, borrowed money of his over-protective mum, who made him promise to write home every day, and headed off to the Land of Uki-E. Now the god-damn place is fulla Freds! And the sad thing is, they sort of fit in, I mean, hell, they don't care if he's dumb, he's foreign!!.. Walk into any English school in Japan and you'll find at least a couple of Freds talking about stamp-collecting or some boring shit with their half-asleep students, but at least he has some of their attention, which is enough for our man Fred. Anybody remember Revenge of the Nerds..when that jock guy is on the roof watching the bookworms moving into the Residential Halls, and he's like:
And then everybody else joins in, in the chorus..