Now Reports

Don’t be those guys…

People come to Japan for lots of reasons. Japanophiles, weeaboos, Pokemon trainers, gastronomists who love eating raw foods with minimalist preparation, English Lit majors who’ve realized how truly worthless their degree is… of all of them I’ve still not met a fellow foreigner who came to Japan because they wanted to interact with the local international community. Some people enjoy that part of living here; some people try to avoid contact with all other foreigners; and then there’s people like me who just go about their daily lives not really thinking about it one way or another, usually. Regardless, every one of us will come into contact with other foreigners eventually. It’s unavoidable, like the ‘chopstick question’ or death.

I work full time and I married into a fairly active Japanese family that keeps me exhausted with dinner parties, onsen trips, and occasionally hopping over to Korea (pretty much all of these are thinly veiled excuses to drink heavily). Between that, a dog, making YouTube videos, watching Game of Thrones, and cutting fruit on my iPhone I don’t really go out a ton so take the following anecdote with a grain of salt.

Last year a friend of mine was performing in Fukuoka Now’s Gaikokujin Star Tanjo talent show. I wanted to see him play live so I went down to Hakata to see the show. There was a great turn out and I got there a little early and set up in front of the stage with my camera to record the acts. The show started and people started migrating to the stage as the MC, who looked an awfully lot like Wesley from The Princess Bride, began to announce the contestants.

Now, I’m not a tall person, around 175 cm with shoes on, but I’m taller than a lot of Japanese people, especially the girls. As the stage area began to swell with people I let the shorter Japanese girls stand in front of me because I figured they’d enjoy watching the performers more than staring my shoulders and the oddly flat back of my head.

Half way into the first act is when some guys started pushing their way to the front. They were pretty smooth about it; they just kind of shimmied their way through like they were trying to pass by for a moment. But then they parked themselves in front of everyone and I was left staring at their broad backs as they towered over me and the Japanese people they had just displaced.

It didn’t end there. They turned around and called their friends to come join them like they had been saving spots for the whole time and soon my view of the stage was blocked off by a wall of my fellow gaijin.

I was pretty shocked by this. Occasionally they would look back at the shorter masses behind them, but my attempts at telepathic persuasion are still in development and they were probably just scanning the crowd for any of their friends they left behind. I debated confronting them, but loud places mixed with booze and d-bags tends to be the ingredients for a fight and I didn’t want to break any of my camera equipment or start a fight with a bunch of guys a lot bigger than me, at least without my nunchucks, so I stayed quiet and filmed the show by holding my camera as high as I could so I could get shots between their heads.

Now of course this was just one instance and show was literally filled with foreign looking people who just stayed back and enjoyed the show from a distance. Maybe if I had talked to those guys about their behavior they would have been gracious and understanding. Maybe that was the one and only time that has ever happened at a Fukuoka Now party. I don’t know for certain…

What I felt like was they were using their size and the fact that Japanese people are fairly non-confrontational to do as they pleased. And yes, there are worse injustices in the world like the things Japan puts on pizza, the new Star Wars movies, and Dane Cook’s existence. I’m sorry if you’re hitting your head a lot, tall people, but if you want good seats show up early. If you’re not going to think about how your actions affect the people around you then don’t get upset when I send ninja assassins after you and your family…

by Matt Schuellein
Kansas City, ALT/Ninja Assassin

Originally published in Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn168, Dec. 2012)

Fukuoka Prefecture
Fukuoka City
Published: Nov 28, 2012 / Last Updated: Jun 13, 2017

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