13 May 2012 ~ 48 Comments

Why Do Gaijin Clash Over The Issue Of Racism In Japan? Pt. 1

OK, here we go, once more unto the breach, dear readers…

Before we get started though, please click on and read the following article from the Japan Times:

Yes, I can use chopsticks: the everyday

‘microaggressions’ that grind us down

…then watch the video below.

Negativity, Cultural Adjustment and Microaggression

OK, everybody up to speed on the issue at hand?

I was hesitant to even get into this, believe it or not, for a number of reasons. Prominent among them is that I happen to know and  respect two of the gentleman above.

I’ve read Debito Arudou’s blog quite a bit and  I admire and respect many of his positions on life here in Kawaiiland. We met once at a Writer’s conference in Tokyo where he was  giving an intriguing and ultimately influential workshop on the challenges of self-publishing (I would decide to do so myself not a few weeks afterwards). I don’t agree with everything he opines but he is consistent and clearly a man engaged in the issues that impact a number of non-Japanese who have, for whatever reason, made a home here among the native Japanese.

I’m an admirer of Hikosaemon’s work, as well. I find him to be one of those influential and fluent non-Japanese residents of this land capable of maintaining a balanced perspective while having fun and finding the funny. Clearly he doesn’t avoid serious issues, evidenced by his interviewing myself  and endorsing my book (see below) but his work is generally not opinion-heavy on social issues. He focuses more on entertainment (God knows we need it), as well as Japanese language and cultural information.

click photo to watch interview

I was also hesitant to dive in because it felt like one of those murky sensitive issues that I’ve endeavored to avoid lately, the kind where once you’ve sprung from the board and committed yourself  you might find that its murky surface has concealed a fairly shallow bottom. Ouch, right? Who needs that?

Readers of  Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist know that, though I never refer to it as microaggression, I’ve covered this area  pretty thoroughly, and continue to in most promotional appearances and discussions of my book…however, I had intended to give the issue a rest, at least as far as my blog was concerned…

Well, I guess recess is over…

Another reason I needed a recess was that I grew weary of the insinuations by well-intentioned and intelligent folk that what I and many others know to exist and experience regularly here in Japan may well be a figment of my (our) imagination, the result of over-sensitivity or being products of the racialized western world (a world I’d like to think is looking towards a Post-Race era; an era Japan has been exempt from some might say,) etc…

THIS is the issue that prompted the formation of Loco in Yokohama in the first place, as well as my writing of the original blog series: Hi My name is Loco and I am a Racist, and eventually lead to the writing of the book, as I explained in its introduction. It was the attitudes of a good number of (for the most part) “white” people living here in Japan that inspired me to undertake the unpopular and hazardous task of taking Japanese to task.

Before I go any further, and to clarify my position on this issue (for those of you who haven’t been long time readers of Loco in Yokohama) here is an excerpt from the introduction to my book:

“The dream of writing a book about life in Japan— which I would wager is shared by every writer or wannabe writer who has ever lived here — is one I’d put on hold until now. Why was the dream deferred? Well, because the Japan Book, written by an English instructor, whether fiction or non-fiction, is practically a cliché. So I told myself that if I couldn’t find subject matter related to my life in Japan that hadn’t been covered so thoroughly that I could cut and paste it from ten books written the previous year, then I wouldn’t do it.

Fast forward almost a decade.

A decade spent in Asia learning about myself and teaching about my world, tearing down shrines of ignorance and erecting temples of understanding, learning the true measure of love and the true meaning of loss, indulging hate and enduring what really violent thoughts can do to a mind reluctant to act on them, discovering the writer I had the potential to be and uncovering the obstacles that lay in-between living my dreams and having them deferred.

It’s been quite a ride so far. One I wouldn’t trade for anything.

During my time in Japan I’ve paid careful attention to the work of other foreigners living here- mostly the content creators- via the books they’ve written and the blogs they keep. I’ve watched their videos and vlogs, and listened to their radio shows and podcasts. I’ve run into them in person in the streets, and met / tweeted up with them at bars and cafes around Yokohama and Tokyo. They come in various flavors of humanity, different races, cultures and nationalities.

Most of the successful and popular Japan-based creators tend to stick with “positive” stories and light material; shrines and temples, anime and language study tips, food, fashion, festivals and females. Others might delve into the creepy and the kooky, mysterious and spooky (of which there is plenty- some even fascinating), but the woolly mammoth in the room has often gone ignored; or worse, denied. Creative folk, either knowingly or not, seemed to be unwilling or unable to deal with what I felt to be the most glaring of issues here.

It made me feel a little paranoid, to say the least.

I questioned whether what I was seeing was real or a figment of my imagination. Was I suffering from delusions of persecution? They’re not exactly unknown among expats here, that’s for damn sure. Maybe that was the reason I saw the behemoth while many did not, or could not.

Some of these content creators would, on occasion, partially acknowledge it with their right hand, but somehow manage to dismiss it with the left. A post of theirs might read something like: “I sat down on the train today and this Japanese guy sitting beside me suddenly stood up and stormed off into the next car. That’s rather odd, I thought. But then my nose informed me what the issue was. I was wearing a new aftershave, and Japanese people are sensitive to foreign fragrances. I was also wearing blue jeans and a sweatshirt, and Japanese are very particular about these kinds of things. They prefer a more professional attire, especially when it comes to foreigners, and rightfully so. I’m glad I didn’t jump to conclusions like some other bloggers do. It was all my fault. I felt really bad for having disrupted this guy’s peace of mind. I hope I see him again tomorrow so I can apologize.”

Others, though, were either oblivious or in total denial; like contestants on a wacky game show where they’re made to wear blindfolds and try to guess objects from their feel. Hand one contestant a freshly used condom and, despite the “lubrication” and “ribbing,” they’ll invariably say it’s a balloon, inflate it and make a balloon animal just to prove their point. Hand another contestant a dildo, and they’ll stroke it like a sculptor does clay and say, “I know this shape, especially here at the tip and here around the base. It’s so familiar, Wait! I’ve got it! It’s an o-miyage (souvenir) from a Japanese Penis matsuri. I wrote my doctorate thesis on these fertility festivals. It’s a quirky time-honored tradition that dates back before America and its bloody Black Ships came and tarnished this great country! Am I right?”

It’s that kind of crazy up in here!

Well, in October 2008, I said “enough of this shit!” (I think those were my exact words), started blogging, and proceeded to give that neglected prehistoric pachyderm some overdue attention. Reaction was mixed, but the reception was mostly considerate. Over the course of several months I was fortunate enough to build a readership, practically one reader at a time. It seemed some people here had been aching to talk about the mammoth frankly and were ever on the lookout for a suitable venue. Loco in Yokohama came along and met this need head-on. I’ve been blessed with some of the greatest readers: thoughtful, intelligent, critical and challenging; a burgeoning writer’s wet dream.

Others were not so thrilled that I had the audacity to tell my stories. These Happy-Go-Lucky Guys (I call them) did not take too kindly to my negative words about their beloved Japan. They viewed and treated bitter malcontents (they call me) as a plague on two houses: That of the Japanese, and their own.

To be fair, some of these Happy-Go-Luckies were truly oblivious to the mammoth for, though they might occasionally smell the piles of dung it leaves everywhere, it did not reveal itself to them in its full glory. The Japanese would generally behave differently in their presence, for reasons that became clear the longer I stayed here, got to know people and observed the goings-on. One reason being that the reception Whites receive in Japan is a bit different than the reception some other ethnic groups receive, especially Chinese and those of us of a darker hue. (Invariably, these Happy-Go-Lucky types were Caucasians who think Japanese are colorblind and treat all foreigners equally). Some of these guys and gals will defend this notion by any means necessary.

The comments they’d leave on my posts would run the gamut, ranging from YouTube crude: “You niggers make me sick with your constant whining! Kneel and suck it like the rest of us, and be glad no one’s throwing a rope around your neck.”

To disbelief: “You seem like a nice guy, Loco-sensei, and pretty intelligent, too. So I just can’t understand how you can be so off when it comes to Japanese people. They’re so harmless and polite. Maybe you’re just a little over-sensitive, or misunderstanding them due to the language and cultural differences. Perhaps if you studied Japanese…”

To something approaching solution-oriented: “You apparently have an excess of energy, evidenced by your long, fascinating posts, so why don’t you put it to more productive use and do something about it? The onus is on you to change their minds. Writing blog posts in English just isn’t going to cut it. Get out there and show them that black people aren’t all the same. Some are really good people, smart and kind-hearted, like you. For God’s sake, Loco, be a game changer, not a complainer.”

To dismissively condescending: “Some people come to this magical and mysterious land with unstable minds and a certain amount of dung already encrusted in their nostrils. And, please forgive me for pointing this out but, particularly Negroes…ahem…I mean, people who are descendant from that dark, feral continent. Personally, I believe you people are born with trace amounts of dung in your noses, thus you smell it wherever you go. The further you travel from your own kind, the more pronounced the smell becomes. I’m pretty sure I’ve read a scientific study or two that has proven just that. So, I must conclude then that what you smell is your own stench! Why don’t you go back and live among your own kind, where everything naturally reeks of dung, cause then you’ll be more comfortable, no? And leave the Japanese to the people who understand them, accept them and love them for the adorable, unadulterated child-race that they are.”

With assurance that you’ll find yourself in the minority of a minority, and the target of baffling conjecture and derisive censure from the majority, I began to understand why people avoided talking about the beast. It was easier to just live and let live, and tread the dung-strewn path of least resistance with a clothes pin pinched on your nose.

But, I don’t get down like that.

So, I had a change of heart and, after three years of blogging, I dusted off that publishing dream and got down to business…and Hi My Name is Loco and I am a Racist was the result. Amazon may be bursting at the cyber-seams, and the shelves of your local library may be warped with the weight of books by expats living in Japan, but there’s NOTHING like the one you’re about to read now.

Not even close.”

Stay tuned for Part 2 coming real soon!

Update! Here’s part 2


PS: In the meantime, if you haven’t already, please check out the rest of my critically-acclaimed book, Hi! MyName is Loco and I am a Racist,  available here on Amazon. You’ll be glad you did!



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48 Responses to “Why Do Gaijin Clash Over The Issue Of Racism In Japan? Pt. 1”

  1. TJ - The Japan Rants 13 May 2012 at 6:09 pm Permalink


    Great post man.
    I want to say, that I sat on starting up The Japan Rants for quite some time.
    There was a lot that I wanted to cover and I wanted to make sure that it was done with the right frame of mind.
    Seeing pages created by guys like yourself, hikosaemon, and debito really helped me get into the right mindframe, and now I can’t stop writing.

    This is a huge issue in Japan.
    And its good to see you covering it so boldly.
    Hell, my post on Racism in Japan isn’t due to come out till summer~

    And while there are bound to be countless views and opinions on it flying at you at all times, its great to see you hold your ground and do your thing.

    Cheers man and thanks for the post.


    • Locohama 14 May 2012 at 8:10 am Permalink

      Thanks yo! Why so slow on the post?

    • freedomwv 14 May 2012 at 5:34 pm Permalink

      Big issue in Japan for sure. A lot of gaijin are afraid to bring up the topics of equality in Japan. A lot of Japanese have a real hard time understand the idea that race and nationally don’t really mean much at the end of the day. It really comes down to each person as individuals. I am glad folks like Loco have been able to bring racism into the conversation about Japan.

  2. Roadlesswandering 13 May 2012 at 6:48 pm Permalink

    I can’t believe the comments that you just posted. Particularly the last one about Negroes and dung. If the first half wasn’t full of insult, the last characterization of Japanese people just took it to a new level.

    • Locohama 14 May 2012 at 8:08 am Permalink

      Yep there are some haters out there but you shouldn’t be surprised haters are everywhere. Especially racist ones. Just gotta keep on keeping on, you know? Those were examples of some of the
      Easily dismiss able ones. The worst are the comments by haters that are actually balanced enough and clever enough to make even me scratch my head and wonder if I’m wasting my energy altogether. And they’re out there too. Evil Geniuses sitting around looking for some fairly bright individual to tear to pieces with an arsonel of dark pseudo psychology and logic. One time I read a comment so many times I could quote it entirely and it almost convinced me that I was demented. I had to dig deep and tell myself, “so what? So be it!”

  3. Jay Dee 13 May 2012 at 8:21 pm Permalink

    Yeesh. Lovely comments you’ve received. But good for you for telling it like it is. Those people who write those comments are so “brave,” aren’t they? I’m sure they wouldn’t be able to talk like that in front of others. Were they anonymous, or could they be easily traced?

  4. Mandi Harris 13 May 2012 at 9:47 pm Permalink

    Amen, Loco. Not many people could have tackled these issues as well as you have. Many people seem to clash because actually confronting an issue like this means confronting something bad inside themselves. An illusion can mean everything to someone. Keep on writing Loco!

  5. Will 13 May 2012 at 10:21 pm Permalink

    “I questioned whether what I was seeing was real or a figment of my imagination.” Been there. Also been where ‘micro’ was a blatant understatement in terms of what I had to deal with.

    At the time, my beloved ‘half Japanese-American’ interpreter, in a quiet voice when it was just the two of us in the room, said something like, “Wow, had I known this was the way things worked when I signed on, I don’t think I would have come over.” Maybe she was just talking to herself.

    Never did get help or support I had naively assumed would be provided. It somehow all became ‘double-plus-good’. My take was that I may have looked too much like ‘the oppressor’ and that the Wellesley graduate was just payin’ it forward. Or somethin’. Who knows. Either way, I figured out where the shovels were, picked one up and started clearing some of the stuff that the big woolly mammoth was piling up… cause it stank. And if the custom in this land of harmony is to take one’s shoes off before entering, I sure as heck didn’t want to be stepping in any of that foul sludge. Wouldn’t want anyone else to slip either.

    Now, not too many years later, with just a few of the advantages of the cyber-world starting to be realized, it looks like it wasn’t just me who noticed the ‘shit’ either.

    I was told once, by an intelligent and fairly bilingual foreigner, “If you don’t like it, go home.” Well, I kind of like this place and done went and made it my home. Oops! My bad.

    Comments on my chopstick dexterity or taste for natto bothers me about as much as the innocent, “Can you eat Vegemite” kind of inquiries. Now, were I trying to rent an apartment, obtain citizenship, visit a hot spring with a full-back tattoo or some other trivial matter…the fact that there is little recourse other than listening to teeth-sucking sounds kind of…well…sucks.

    Just sat and looped through the Oyaji video.
    And found myself asking myself the following question and entertaining a thought.

    Do some people live to complain about people who live to complain?

    God, I want to drink some Kahlua while wearing a Super-Charisma Man uniform, but I think I would just end up embarrassing myself with the stuffed what-ever-it-is sitting next to the speaker.

    Now, please excuse me, I think my micro-aggression-ship just ran aground.

    • Locohama 14 May 2012 at 8:22 am Permalink

      LMAO! Answer: yes some people live to complain about omplaints. They think that by calling someone a complainer they have effectively Made his complaint illegitimate. And unfortunately that is exactly what happens sometimes.
      Thanks for the shout as always!

  6. AstroNerdBoy 13 May 2012 at 10:38 pm Permalink

    I see nothing has changed in the 21-years since I left Japan. I still love Japan and the Japanese people as a whole. For the most part, the two years I lived in Japan (’89-’91) were positive. However, some folks (black and white) took me on the noob tour of Japan to see the dark underside (signs on certain establishments that said “no blacks” or “no gaijin/foreigners,” and one that actually said “no whites”). Heck, I and a friend were once chased by a small, anti-American demonstration.

    Still, despite that, I met and befriended many great Japanese people, many of whom I’m still in contact with to this day. I’d never want to live in Japan permanently (for reasons other than microagression and being a gaijin), but I’d still like to come back for extended stays.

  7. Orchid64 14 May 2012 at 1:41 am Permalink

    The root of this isn’t in Japan or foreigners living in Japan, but among people in general. People disagree on things because they come from a place that is incorrect in terms of how they approach life. They assume that there is one objective reality and that it can be measured and proven as a “truth”. They do not account for the fact that life unfolds differently based on a massive number of highly fluid variables like who you are and who the other people are, the temperature that day, the moods of the respective parties, colors, smells, etc. They don’t account for the fact that a person who never had a conscious racist thought may have unconscious ones that they are acting on. The worst thing they do is assume that their perceptions and conclusions of reality are the objective and correct ones because they are somehow dispassionate and objective in a manner that others are not.

    This lie about the nature of reality is fueled by a variety of things, not the least of which is the belief that anything can be objective and science in particular represents or can be used to obtain ultimate “truth”. This sort of thinking fuels political and social views and is one of the reasons you find people are so intractable. They believe in one truth and will not accept that there are multiple ones. Your truth is not mine, but I’m not an African American male living in Yokohama. I was a white woman with light hair and eyes who lived in Tokyo. Only an idiot would believe that our realities would be the same and only an arrogant fool would believe that our experiences were invalid representations of the experience of foreigners in Japan because they didn’t mirror those of a white male.

    • Locohama 14 May 2012 at 7:59 am Permalink

      Geez orchid, youve given them a teaser of part 2. You gonna spoil my spiel. Lol. But I just can’t not let your insightful comments through. You are an example of the kind of readers that loco in Yokohama attracted and was or truncate to retain. Thank you as always.

  8. Orchid64 14 May 2012 at 2:08 am Permalink

    As a postscript, about all of the blatantly racist and insulting comments you get, those efforts are applied to all bloggers who speak out and offend. I’m sure Debito gets similar ones about him based on his background and appearance. I have gotten them, too. I’ve been called a “filthy whore”, for example. These are efforts to intimidate and silence people. They figure that using aggressive language to attack people will shut them up. It only works though if your self-esteem is low enough to take what they say as a real reflection of who you are.

    • Locohama 14 May 2012 at 7:56 am Permalink

      Hey orchid. Thanks for the shout as always. Yeah I know what they’re up to. Trying to shame me into submission with a complainer label. They should be ashamed of themselves. And I’ve had several encounters with your hater. She’s a piece of work. I just ignore and spam the bitch. Surprised she hasn’t chimed in yet. She changes her name and tracker but her tone is always the same just this side of engaged so you actually are tempted to read the shit she spews through to the end. Touches a defensive nerve or two before she says something to indicate where her brain loses its balance. Usually when she gets around to talking about you. Filthy whore has come up. I responded once or twice but now her and the others can go to spam hell where trolls belong

  9. RMax 14 May 2012 at 4:13 am Permalink

    There are things that need to be said. Because it is not only a matter of Japan. It is something for the whole world. Brazil was never so racist. Europe too. And racist come along with other ‘phobias’ such as xenophobia, homophobia. Human beings never hated each other as we have been seeing right now. People don’t even notice how lost we are. Recently, I saw a Japanese old man telling to 2 white guys horrible things. In Brazilian TV, they showed recently a white man yelling racist words to a black movietheater atendent. I am shocked with all of this.

    • Locohama 14 May 2012 at 7:46 am Permalink

      Hi maxwell. Thanks for the shout. Must have been a nice planet where you’re from. Or youre rich or white or very sheltered Only then could one talk about the good old days. I mean brazil?? You gotta be kidding.

  10. Tom 14 May 2012 at 10:10 am Permalink

    Have you gotten any commenters who said something racist, not because they were indeed racist, but did it just to see what Your reaction is? I tend to do that with my friends.

    • Locohama 14 May 2012 at 10:53 am Permalink

      Yeah, but often those people are really racist and are just trying to see what the world would be like if they could express their true feelings and not hide them away in a closet in their hearts.

  11. Momotaro 14 May 2012 at 11:06 am Permalink

    Hey Loco, I hope you’re doing well up in Tokyoland.

    I can’t believe some of the racist posts towards the end, but a good catergorisation into the youtube category. Good on you for having a thick skin and keep doing what you do please.

    I still haven’t started your book yet (many things to read, you know how it is), but I am looking forward to cracking it open in the next few months. I am lucky in the sense that I live in the countryside and I fit into the suitable racial profile of a foreigner as you mentioned, so apart from the silly chopsticks/you can read kanji comments sometimes, I don’t get much trouble here, even the people at the immigration office are pretty decent and I have never been asked by the police for my card and so forth. Compared to the occasional race riot in Australia, where Middle-eastern or whatever race happens to be the hate flavour of the month is randomly beaten by a mob, I think I have it damn good here. That being said I don’t have any experience in Tokyo or Yokohama etc., and I imagine it’s another world out there.

    The article that Debito wrote is an interesting one and he is on the mark, the problem is is that for example not putting a san on a foreigner’s name can be condescending, but on the other hand it can be a sign of affection too, just how a mother does to her children. It is really hard to tell sometimes, so being reactive to it can close doors, where as being open to it can result in you being disrespected. A bit tricky really.

    Anyway, if things get too rough up there, there are tons of abandoned rural properties out this way you could buy for a steal for a nice retreat. Mountain views and a bit of farming might be good for your writing.

    Anyway take care of yourself.

    • Fernando 16 May 2012 at 1:04 am Permalink

      There was an interesting discussion I had with a lady co-worker. She would address me as “Ramo-chan” in front of the students and, in the interests of keeping harmony, I played along in the class itself. Then I brought up the point after the class was over and said that I didn’t personally care that she addressed me as such, but I thought it was best to not so in front of the children. We had a mini-debate.

      “Why do you want to be called the called the same as other teachers?”

      Before anyone else gets upset, keep in mind that was a volunteer English supporter. An eldery, educated, fluent lady taking time out. She prefers to be addressed by her given name for the sake of accustoming the children she teaches to the Western convention of calling others by their first name. I prefer my last name simply because it’s easier to remember than my first.

      To make a long story short, I made the argument that I don’t personally care what I get called (I really don’t), but, for the sake of OTHER foreigners and for the sake of making an example that teachers, regardless of origin or subject they teach, deserve basic respect, to at least not go to “-chan.”

      That was the last that the issue ever came up. We remain good friends to this day. My point is that, yes it can be tricky but sometimes you gotta bring it up in the name of the greater good.

      • Momotaro 16 May 2012 at 8:55 am Permalink

        Interesting story, most people are pretty good when you approach them like that. Glad it all worked out.

  12. Billie 14 May 2012 at 7:43 pm Permalink

    Hello Loco – I haven’t read your book yet but I will. I’ve always been interested in the “Us and Them” mindset. I appreciate what it takes to say something when you are faced with the “little prejudices” that are so prevalent. I’ve never been very good at it though. I haven’t written a book but have said something to the face of the people who show their true opinions.

    Let me explain, I’m a white female from the south and I’ve found that I’ve been put in the awkward position of being a representative of ideologies or behaviors that I find repugnant. I’ve often told people if you want to know if a person is prejudice/racist or not, put me in a room and once they find out I’m Southern they will likely say something racist/homophobic/etc. But I have to tell you it’s never pretty because I don’t know how to react to it in any other way than to be openly offended by it. I get a series of reactions from shocked disbelief (they seemed so certain that I would be receptive), emphatic denial that I could possibly be a Southerner and not racist, to outright anger and resentment as if they’ve been duped into saying something that they normally wouldn’t.

    This has happened to me so often that at one time I decided that it is somehow a flaw in my personality. I actually get a little agoraphobic when I go someplace new and can’t hide my Southern accent which is btw subtle since I’ve traveled about for school.

    This type of confrontation happens for me with a variety of topics including the times when someone will tell me the joke “Yeah I had a southern girlfriend once, she said I kissed better than her father” or when another wanted to know why I was so depressed over my 11 year old sister being molested by our next door neighbor saying “but I thought that’s what you people do here”.

    I don’t know why some people believe stereotypes but they do. They can be as nice as they want to be about it but it’s still wrong. So in a person to person context how do you deal with it?

    I’m looking forward to the read. Good luck with your next book and many more.

  13. zoomingjapan 15 May 2012 at 11:13 am Permalink

    great post as always!
    I’m still in the middle of reading your book. Once I’m done I’ll make sure to write about it. It already got me shocked here and there. I didn’t expect that.

    It’s interesting that you say that most successful / popular bloggers write about positive stuff. Personally I don’t care. I like to write about the “bad sides” as well as it’s reality anyways.
    I just started a new series in my blog called “A German Alien in Japan”.
    I think my experience is quite different from yours in some ways.
    All the more I like to read about other foreigners’ stories and their opinion and experience with living in Japan.

  14. Billy 15 May 2012 at 3:23 pm Permalink

    Someone above said, “Many people seem to clash because actually confronting an issue like this means confronting something bad inside themselves.”

    Couldn’t agree more with the statement…

  15. dwayne2d3d 16 May 2012 at 2:24 am Permalink

    Sup loco…
    ummm…Orhcad64 basically summed up all i was gonna to say….
    She pretty much on point..
    What i wanted to add though is that you have a canny ability
    to take hard issues and make em palatable. You do good stuff
    Sir, making the world a bit better in your own little ways.
    I commend you for that

  16. Hiko 16 May 2012 at 5:25 pm Permalink

    Hey man, just catching up on these fully now.

    Only thing I’ll just comment on at this point is, don’t pull punches if you want to call me out on anything at all – I’ve got mad respect for you because I know that we see and experience things different but can talk (and enjoy talking) about it anyway.

    Looking forward to seeing the next parts of this.

    Cheers mate


  17. FollowTheGaijin 18 May 2012 at 8:02 pm Permalink

    I’m French and I don’t know where to buy “croissants”, please stop asking me !

    Umm, yes, I understand microaggressions now.

  18. Robert Walsh 18 August 2012 at 4:59 pm Permalink

    I’ve been here nearly 10 years and I have to say this idea of racism existing in Japan is a joke.
    Microaggressions? You mean getting annoyed because people try to make conversation with you? God damn get over yourself, if people pay me a compliment and say thank you, actually I’ve been here for a long time.. and so a conversation starts and we all go home happy, why the BS? Why the hate and the anger?

    So many foreign people here are so quick to jump to the racist word when what they are actually feeling is a mix of home sickness, cultural shock, isolation and various other emotions that are involved with living in a country that is VASTLY different to our own.

    There are of course racist elements in Japan as there are in EVERY country in the world, if I get asked not to come into a baths I take my business elsewhere, I’m not offended, I think to myself he probably had some foreigners in the past cause some fuss and he doesn’t want to deal with that shit again.

    There are very thin lines between racism, business choices, personal choices and cultural differences.

    What WE have to do as the foreign element is take it on the chin… yep, I actually just said that. I know foreigners living in my home country right now who don’t get the same rights, pay, and certainly don’t get treated the same way if they walked into a local bar or club.

    It sucks, that’s the way it is, suck it up, deal with it and with time Japan will learn to understand that not all foreigners are loud drunk assholes who don’t give a fuck.

    Japan isn’t perfect, I’m not in denial, nor am I an apologist, I’m a realist and if I don’t like living here I’ll go back home.

    Some people need to grow the fuck up.

    • Locohama 18 August 2012 at 11:32 pm Permalink

      Oh Robert , puhleeeez…knowitalls, think they know what a conversation is about and respond to the ill informed notion in their heads instead of to the point being made. Grown folks talking here…people who read and listen. You should just read and learn. It couldn’t hurt and might help. Or take your superiority complex back to the people who look up to you.

      • Zen 4 November 2015 at 4:11 pm Permalink


  19. Ru 20 August 2012 at 11:45 am Permalink

    Re-reading this, this is one of my favourite posts. It’s incredibly insightful. Sorry Loco nothing new to add just that I love your shit something chronic and hope you keep writing forever and day.

  20. Nana 4 November 2012 at 5:09 pm Permalink

    well, from all the varied perspectives of this place there is one thing I think everyone can agree on- Japan definitely seems like a place you have to judge for yourself. And though you don’t want to pull the race card, people of color in particular, not just Blacks- but others as well, tend to have interesting perspective especially in regards to how the different countries show respect towards them in general.

    I haven’t been to Japan as of yet but on another site- actually an anime site Crunchyroll- there was a forum topic where Racism in Japan came up a while back. To sum it all up, many people (several of which were Asians their selves) felt that the Japanese showed favoritism to lighter skinned people and treated ALL none Japanese, even if they were technically Asian, like 2nd class citizens. Considering I’m black myself, I found this to be rather unsettling and very contradictory. On one hand there’s a lot of people who love to say the Japanese are very welcoming and kind, but on the other they like to warn you that they have no qualms treating you like garbage.

    Either way, I like that you’re speaking out on the obvious elephant in the room. Many people love to shy away from this kind of stuff, and if they do speak out they censor their selves for fear of upsetting the general public- (which from your comments- quite a few people need to cool it a few).

    Great blog, and I’m telling everyone I know about your book! :DD

    And like I said, race card works for anyone. Why do people always assume only blacks use the race card? The race card is good for any person of color, Hispanic, Middle-Eastern, darker skinned Asian, etc… Unless a non-PoC has lived in a PoC’s shoes, I think it’s very closed minded to assume we’re always crying wolf when there’s Race involved.
    Heck, a non-Poc can use it – if they really want to go there.

  21. Hairygaijin 17 October 2013 at 7:18 pm Permalink

    Loco, keep up the fight man. I have experienced racism allot in Japan so I get it. I have learned to deal with it, in my own way. My lattest dilemna is dealing with the apologist. Its weird because I have heard people from the old South in the U.S. talk in a nostalgic tone about those days; there was less crime or people had their place, and blacks competed with blacks, all in all a good thing. If you listen to them, you could be forgiven for thinking, well it must of not been so bad. Its when you look closer, or even experience racism yourself, that you see it for what it is. Whites only drinking fountains, positioned at hip level while the ones for blacks were at knee level, clearly to indicate rank. Blacks refered to as boys. Whites only establishments. What are the white apologist to say about these things?Things were better for them in those days..we dont have the trouble we have now? Does that make an injustice right? I ask the Japan apologist the same thing. Yes, there is order in Japan, clean streets, and a job for every japanese. But when I, the foriegner, am called temae or omae, on a weekly basis, (same as boy or dog) should I just dismiss this as an insignificant experience? When I call to see if I am elligible for a job, only to be answered with, gomen, Japanese onri, should I just chalk it up to, “well, every country has this” excuse? Its if the apologist are racist themselves. They apologize for Japanese behavior, because perhaps they think the Japanese arent as advanced as others, require more time etc. Or perhaps they dont want all the multicultural “ills” they experienced in their own country. Perhaps they see Japan as a model country they cant have.

    • Locohama 17 October 2013 at 7:28 pm Permalink

      I’ve had and have many of those same thoughts sir! Thank you for sharing yours. It’s nice (and way too rare) to hear folks living here voicing ideas like some of those you just put forth. Please check out my book if you have a chance. It covers all my ideas on such in depth and I’d love to hear your thoughts afterwards.


  22. Hairygaijin 17 October 2013 at 7:26 pm Permalink

    Also at Loco:

    whites also get shunned here. I know I have experienced it, it depends on the Japanese. One japanese told me that some Japanese dont like whites, some dont like blacks, some asians. I actually feel it allot, perhaps because of the war, or some point to prove. Your right, some Japanee feel comfortable around whites, I get that. Dont be mislead to think they all do.

    • Locohama 17 October 2013 at 7:34 pm Permalink

      Don’t worry…I don’t get it twisted. Thanks for your concern though (-;

    • Zen 4 November 2015 at 4:07 pm Permalink

      Haters hate…it is what they do!

  23. William 5 February 2014 at 1:28 pm Permalink

    Loving something means seeing it’s dark side as well as light side. Anyone thinking Japan doesn’t have racism is simply delusional. That said, if someone truly hates living here they should consider relocating to their home country as an option. Perpetuating one’s own unhappiness is a bad idea.

    • Locohama 5 February 2014 at 4:27 pm Permalink

      Thanks William

    • Zen 4 November 2015 at 4:03 pm Permalink

      Well said Willaim!

  24. Edward 11 August 2014 at 11:58 am Permalink

    GAIJIN looooooooooooooooool

  25. Zen 4 November 2015 at 4:02 pm Permalink

    🙂 I love reading the comments, some are quite amusing, some are dumbazz and ignorant, some are right on, but yeah people are like that…everywhere. We all live in the same now, but the perception of reality is not the same. Sort of like “Monday’s suck”, but Monday is a day off for some, a work week end for others, and the beginning for others. It is the perception of it that makes it the reality for that person. Monday is just Monday, the real deal is it is just a name, it is all the same day.

    Anyway, I have been a reader since the “get go”, keep speaking the truth as you see it Homes, let the “chips” fall as they may. Haters will continue to do what they do best…Hate. Those in the light will continue to see, those in the dark will stub their toes or step in sh*t.

    As for me I met everyone with a respectful blank page…they start the story, I write the ending. _/|\_

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