I am a foreigner in Japan, a so called alien.
Yes, you are reading correctly! Alien!
Because in Japan we, all foreigners, must have a so called “Alien Registration”. Which is actually nothing else than an ID card for foreigners. A song by Sting “I’m an Alien in New York“ always comes to my mind, when I think of the Alien Registration! Well, I’m an ALIEN in Tokyo!
Sometimes I wonder, if the Japanese government does not consider to change the naming? Japan opened its borders in 1853 again after approximately 200 years of isolation from any foreign influence and so many years have passed since then. Being an isolated country for such a long time is probably the reason why the Japanese have differentiated themselves from other nationalities so much, and started calling the outsiders ALIEN.
Usually I blend in here perfectly by speaking Japanese very fluently, loving so many things here dearly, and most of the time forgetting the fact that I have a long nose (means foreigner) !
But in some points, I feel I can never blend in. One is the obedience, with which the Japanese people follow every rule strictly without questioning it. Of course, some things you have to follow, but I think it's healthy to question things once in a while and try to understand the reasons behind.
That's one of the main reasons why we didn’t send our son to a Japanese school. We wanted to raise a person with a vivid mind, being able to think and come up with his own conclusions, being able to discuss and exchange his opinions with other people, not only remembering his viewpoints out of a textbook. In short, I think that’s the essential difference between Japanese and German education.
My husband, a Japanese, says I come from the country of…BUT.
While in Japan it is impolite to question something or someone in a very straight way. I am sure that I often, without bad intention, have insulted people here, but they have always been polite enough not to tell me, beside my husband!
It’s true, sometimes it would be better to keep my mouth shut and don’t say „BUT“, but for me it is and always will be a process to conclude, which is called a healthy discussion where I come from.
But, I hope my Japanese friends know me by now and won’t hold it against me!
German KimonoMaedchen in Tokyo