Wednesday, June 16, 2004

It doesn't bother me that Japanese people ignore me. In a city as inundated with English teachers from abroad as it is with convenience stores, fast food restaurants and language schools, I'm not exactly an unusual sight these days. Anyway, I believe they think it's polite to ignore me, and that's acceptable. I stopped worrying long ago that not everyone could recognize my greatness, even if I was brimming with it. It is much easier to get something accomplished when I don't have to worry about my approval rating, which has, at various times, been a distraction.

What does bother me, and really only as a curiosity, is that other foreigners (mostly of the male variety) don't notice me, don't acknowledge me when we pass in a shop, on the street or subway. We ignore each other or, at least, they ignore me. Perhaps, I have misguided perceptions about the aura that surrounds me, but I generally try to make eye-contact when I see someone like me. My gaze is rarely returned. Sometimes, our eyes meet, but the other person usually continues on seemingly unaffected or simply looks back toward the ground. I suppose, as with the Japanese, it's fairly common to see foreigners in random places and that's, as I mentioned above, nothing special in itself. Still, Japan is not our native country and we share the common experience of being here out of our element. I expect friendly human accord.

I was much more naive about it when I first arrived here, assuming others like myself would greet, say hello, nod or otherwise acknowledge me, but I guess people are really just the same anywhere you go. They only care about themselves.

I still haven't gotten over it and, after two years slanging English, I'm still conducting my informal eye-contact experiments wherever my adventures lead me. Recently, while watching a couple of foreign dudes chat up some lovely Japanese lasses on the train, I settled on a theory about why it occurs. They know I know they're just here to steal Japanese women, especially susceptible, I hear, to our blue-eyed variety. It's that or they just love raw fish.

No comments: