Unfamiliarity

When I sit at a seat on a train, I usually end up sitting alone. Sometimes I catch people staring at me. This also happens to my halfie friends. And especially if I speak Japanese. Its when strangers are scared of you.

I am not saying I’m a terrifying person to look at or that I purposely scare people away, it just that people just don’t naturally sit next to me, especially elders. Some elderly people pass judgement on white people sometimes here in Japan. Its a little unsettling when some old man wont stop staring at you or and older woman is giving you dirty looks.

Whenever I would get on a bus or a train with my mother who is white, people would stare, a lot. Maybe its because she has blue eyes or maybe its because we don’t look related. When I speak english to her on a bus for example, it turns heads sometimes. I get that speaking english is a big deal here and that it still is uncommon, I just never thought it would be necessary to stare.

Once I was on the bus with two other friends. One was fully Japanese, the other was fully American. We were sitting down on two separate rows, talking to each other in english. And behind us was one full row across the bus, there were two older women sitting together and a seat away was a middle aged man. My friends and I were talking until I hear behind me, one of the older women saying to the middle aged man,”エアコンとめてって言って” (which means “tell them to switch off the air conditioner”). And the man responded “どうせ外人だからわかんないよ” (which means “they’re foreigners why they wouldn’t understand”). So the man thought it was a great idea to force his hand next to my friends face to turn the air conditioner off. My friends and I were all taken aback and extremely confused. My Japanese friend and I got really upset but we didn’t have the guts to tell the people in the back that “yes we do understand what you’re saying please don’t do that”.

Some Japanese people can be judgemental sometimes. And it is unfortunate. But it is what it is.

Have you experienced anything like this before?

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