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Getting Ignored by the Japanese...

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Getting Ignored by the Japanese...

Postby Takeshi » Sat 09.23.2006 7:12 pm

well, i know there are other threads like, a recent one "do the japanese hate me"....this is similar in some ways. but not....

so i went on a website where you can find japanese penpals, i contacted several japanese people, and they were happy to make a friend from america. as soon as they would write i would write them back right away. however as soon as they found out that i was japanese american, they would stop writting me and ignore all my emails.

so next, i decided to put an ad up for myself, expresssing how i want to learn about japan and the language. i got a lot of replies. i did not mention that i was japanese american....and there were a lot of emails exchanged between us. i even got to use instant messenger with a lot of them. however, as time went on, they would learn that my last name is japanese....then bam! the emails stop. and i don't mean it slowly stops....it just totally stops! like a hitting a brick wall. i ask "did i say something wrong?" no response.... i don't think i'm imagining this, becuase so far this has happened at least 30 times.

so it's sad, yesterday i just lost another japanese penpal. now i have none :( it is very discouraging because i have been so kind to them, even willing to send them things from america if they wanted. it makes me think that they are interested in everyone around the world except japanese americans. i don't know much about japanese culture, and that's why i'm here too...to learn. so do any of you know if this is true?

on a side note: i once went to a sushi bar, the worker started talking to me in japanese. i said "i don't understand japanese" he called me stupid, right in front of my date, he said i should learn it and was talking down to me. i laughed it off, because back then i could really give a rats ass about japan. but that was back then. i wonder if they (japanese) look down on asian americans who don't know about thier culture..... ???? :|
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RE: Getting Ignored by the Japanese...

Postby cybermat » Sat 09.23.2006 7:59 pm

It's interesting that you brought this up. As a Canadian chinese, I have similar experiences with Japanese penpals. I am not trying to generalize, but my theory is the majority of users on those websites have one purpose and are very specific, to meet a true gaijin. If they are interested in meeting a true gaijin, then obviously they will not waste time on you. I am not trying to discourage you, but this is the reality and I am plenty sure there are others who are not like that. You just have to keep trying and find them.

As for your experience at the sushi bar, I think it's a bit rude and unacceptable. It's definitely none of his business. I would just say a few words to him and leave immediately.

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RE: Getting Ignored by the Japanese...

Postby Schattenjedi » Sat 09.23.2006 8:30 pm

I sympathize with you. You seem to be in a rough situation. Cheers for persevering though. I'm just speculating, but perhaps they take offense at you calling yourself an American although you have Japanese ancestors. Something like a feeling of betrayal. Perhaps this can be averted if you refer to yourself as a Japanese who grew up in America. If that doesn't solve things you can always beg to them to teach you the language of your ancestors so you can truly be Japanese. I can't imagine that someone wouldn't sympathize with that. (I'm aware that that is desperate and a bad option.) My first impression was that they are just immature/ bigoted but 30 is a lot.....
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RE: Getting Ignored by the Japanese...

Postby SteveSCU » Sat 09.23.2006 10:01 pm

A lot of times (most of the time actually), when I try to do language exchange, I always get female partners, and after I say けっこんしています, that will be the last time I speak with them. I think a lot are looking for a boyfriends/girlfriends, and are looking for people with Western looks.
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RE: Getting Ignored by the Japanese...

Postby kanadajin » Sat 09.23.2006 10:37 pm

I think it may be the sites, or we're just unlucky.. Becuase it happens to me too.. A few e-mails and BAM.. No more, and it's not like I told them anything.. We just say hi how are you, blah blah, Im from quebec canada, OH reallly hows the weather? Good... and no more.
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RE: Getting Ignored by the Japanese...

Postby Murdoc Murdoc » Sat 09.23.2006 11:11 pm

I've had bad luck too with trying to get a pen pal.I've only had two respond at all and the first time I only got one email back from them and it was about two months after I originaly contacted them on the site I used to try and meet people for a pen pal.And the second time I had used half english and half japanese to email them to show that I had already been puting effort into learning japanese,and the only response I got back was them correcting the 3 mistakes I made and to tell me they had been learning english for a long time but they were a lazy student.And then I never heard from them again.Those two people were the only ones to give back any kind of response.
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RE: Getting Ignored by the Japanese...

Postby Shibakoen » Sun 09.24.2006 12:11 am

Killsville? なぜ? Sorry, i've got friends in Greensboro so I'm curious.

Anyway, back on topic -- All I can say is keep trying and just try not to be too eager. Don't flood their inbox with "Why won't you email me???" and "Are you still there??" stuff. If they don't want to write back, forget them. I mean some people just aren't good at keeping in touch and sometimes I find myself being a little skiddish[sp?] about staying in touch with some people (sometimes for really strange reasons).

I must say, though, that when living in Japan I felt I was ignored by other gaijin. That was weird. I'm used to the way it is in the South -- you make eye contact and then nod or say "hello". In Japan, if I made eye contact with a gaijin I hadn't met, they'd act like they were looking right through me and ignore me. It might be something subconscious that someone who's trying to fit in or making an effort to learn about another culture will ignore others perceived as too much like themself. That sounds rough about the worker at the sushi bar. That was really rude.
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RE: Getting Ignored by the Japanese...

Postby keatonatron » Sun 09.24.2006 12:40 am

Shibakoen wrote:
I'm used to the way it is in the South -- you make eye contact and then nod or say "hello". In Japan, if I made eye contact with a gaijin I hadn't met, they'd act like they were looking right through me and ignore me.


What part of Japan are you talking about? Maybe in the southern United States you can acknowledge people, but try doing that in New York City; you'd have to nod and say "hello" 60 times per minute! It's the same in Tokyo or any of the big cities. So, if you decided to acknowledge other foreigners and not every single Japanese person around them, that's a form of racism. Many of those foreigners will know you're only paying attention to them because they're foreign; why else would you choose to acknowledge them out of the 50 other people around you?

I personally have met a lot of foreigners with the "scared outsider" syndrome :D For example, if you go to a party and you don't know one single person, what do you do? You usually look for the one other person who doesn't know anybody and stick with them. It's the same with foreigners in Japan who feel alone and scared and can't make any friends (usually because they don't speak Japanese)--they search for other foreigners (who don't speak Japanese) and cling on to them so they don't have to be alone. Whenever I see another foreigner acknowledging me simply because I'm a foreigner, I'm afraid they're trying to cling simply because they can't handle it here.
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RE: Getting Ignored by the Japanese...

Postby keatonatron » Sun 09.24.2006 12:49 am

Anyway, about the original post.

I think what you're experiencing is very true! I have often met people who think foreigners don't understand Japanese culture, and want to introduce things to foreigners and watch their "OMFG I simply can't comprehend it" reactions (this relates to the "westerners can't comprehend Japan" mindset that was mentioned a while back in another thread). So, whenever I first meet someone, they are very interested in me. But when they find out that I speak Japanese well, love Japanese food, and know more about Japanese religion than they do, they often lose interest really fast. I guess as soon as they realize that they can't introduce anything to me, then I'm basically just another Japanese person... who doesn't speak Japanese perfectly :D

I guess the goofy "gaijin" image that we all hate is actually what most Japanese people are interested in. Unfortunately, there's not much advice I can give you. I think it's true that most people on penpal sites are looking for true foreigners whose backgrounds match their nationalities. If you're of Japanese descent, then all you are really is a Japanese person who doesn't speak Japanese (in their eyes).

Really the best thing to do would to be to find someone who isn't all that interested in meeting foreigners... but those people usually don't speak much English.
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RE: Getting Ignored by the Japanese...

Postby Frumious Boojum » Sun 09.24.2006 12:56 am

Seems like I've had a bit better luck with penpals. Well, one at least, so far... been e-mailing one every day for several months, mostly in english for a long time (she had to use her cell phone and for some reason, the Japanese text wasn't encoding correctly -- might've been my e-mail's fault).

But maybe that's because I'm a white american?

Most others, though, have severe ADD when it comes to e-mailing.
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RE: Getting Ignored by the Japanese...

Postby firescorpy » Sun 09.24.2006 1:47 am

haha I am a Chinese-but-Japanese-citizen-American and my last name is Endo. I am actually writing to 2 of my penpals out of 6 or so penpals I started out with. They know that my full name is Satoshi Endo and they really doesnt seem to care. I would tell them about US and they would help with some Japanese. So, there are always bad apples in the batch.
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RE: Getting Ignored by the Japanese...

Postby Ezrach » Sun 09.24.2006 4:25 am

It's just the website you're using. The Japanese on that site must just be looking to meet a blonde-haired, blue-eyed foreigner.

My co-worker in Japan was a half-Japanese half-Chinese American who spoke absolutely no Japanese, and plenty of people were happy to seek conversation with her and inquire about her life in America. Don't take it to be that the general population will totally ignore you if you go to Japan.
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RE: Getting Ignored by the Japanese...

Postby kaze89 » Sun 09.24.2006 10:32 am

I've tried to exchange emails with a japanese girl once and ended up having a similiar experience. In her first email she asked me how christmas was celebrated here in Germany and I told her. In her response to that she taught me expressions like "merry christmas" and "happy new year" in Japanese and included romaji of every kana she used. After I told her that she didn't have to through the trouble of including romaji because I could already read the kana she never wrote back.
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RE: Getting Ignored by the Japanese...

Postby Shibakoen » Sun 09.24.2006 6:13 pm

keatonatron wrote:
What part of Japan are you talking about?

Tokyo
Maybe in the southern United States you can acknowledge people, but try doing that in New York City; you'd have to nod and say "hello" 60 times per minute!

I see your point, but I generally don't make eye contact with everyone I see. When I do make eye contact, which is no where near 60 times a minute even in Shinjuku, I nod/smile/say "hi" something, and generally people acknowledge me (even in the big city).

It's the same in Tokyo or any of the big cities. So, if you decided to acknowledge other foreigners and not every single Japanese person around them, that's a form of racism. Many of those foreigners will know you're only paying attention to them because they're foreign; why else would you choose to acknowledge them out of the 50 other people around you?

umm... I never said I'd only acknowledge foreigners. I'd make eye contact with Japanese, too, and generally they'd at least smile. 99% of the time other gaijin, on the other hand, would glance away quickly and completely ignore me.

I personally have met a lot of foreigners with the "scared outsider" syndrome :D For example, if you go to a party and you don't know one single person, what do you do? You usually look for the one other person who doesn't know anybody and stick with them. It's the same with foreigners in Japan who feel alone and scared and can't make any friends (usually because they don't speak Japanese)--they search for other foreigners (who don't speak Japanese) and cling on to them so they don't have to be alone. Whenever I see another foreigner acknowledging me simply because I'm a foreigner, I'm afraid they're trying to cling simply because they can't handle it here.


I know what you mean here, too, but nodding or smiling or even returning the "hello" is decidely less rude than just ignoring people. I think the main point your missing is that it's not that I would acknowledge someone just because they're gaijin. And when I say acknowledge, I'm not talking about stopping someone in the street and trying to strike up a conversation. Since my eyes aren't staring at the ground or the backs of the people in front of me as I'm walking around, I often make eye contact with other people (whether they're Japanese or gaijin or smashing hot actress). In Japan, other gaijin were more likely to ignore me or quickly look away than Japanese.
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RE: Getting Ignored by the Japanese...

Postby AnyOtherDay » Sun 09.24.2006 6:46 pm

IRT Takeshi:

Given that you've already tried the penpal route with disappointing results, might I recommend something different?

Start visiting blogs and commenting regularly.

At first, I'd particularly recommend the blogs of Japanese people practicing English, who are often quite pleased to have a native speaker stop by and help out or offer a different perspective on some topic. Unlike a penpal relationship, where once someone drops the ball and doesn't reply the whole thing might fall apart, on a blog someone can reply to your comment one day, ignore you the next, reply another time when feeling more in the mood or when you say something more interesting, and so on. It's much easier to keep things going over the long haul, because there's almost no pressure TO keep going.

Likewise, start your own blog where you practice Japanese, and if you seem to be hitting it off with some people on their blogs, invite them to visit yours. (Or let them find their way there by linking to your blog in the appropriate field on comment forms.) In your blog profile be sure to mention that you're Japanese-American so that it won't be a shock to anyone later on, and I'm sure you'll quickly and easily weed out anyone for whom that would be a problem.

I have my own blog with a mix of both regular visitors and less frequent, and we meander between one another's blogs reading and participating according to time and interest. It's great to have the input of different people with varying viewpoints and conversation styles, and my knowledge of Japanese language and culture has improved much though my practice and their feedback. Plus, one of my visitors has also become a good friend and penpal of mine, and I just spent a wonderful two weeks with him and his family in Tokyo when I visited Japan last month. They also plan to visit me when they take a holiday to the US next year.

If you decide to give it a try, I'd recommend hosting your blog on a Japanese site, whether that's Goo or Ameblo or whatever, as it's helpful in getting exposure. (Of course, make sure that you can understand or figure out the admin features well enough.) Other people who use those sites or search them may stumble across your blog. Also, reward your visitors by linking to their blogs. Besides being a nice thing to do since it helps bring them more visitors and improves their rankings, it also tends to bring more people your way too. Fellow bloggers may link to you, or search engines will associate you with other blogs and send you some visitors. Over time, as long as you update your blog regularly and try to keep it interesting, you'll probably end up with a nice group of regulars and probably a few friends to boot!
Last edited by AnyOtherDay on Sun 09.24.2006 7:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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