A little attention.

While I’ve heard of foreigners being given dirty looks or rude comments in Japan, especially from older people, I have yet to experience it myself. Most everyone seems fine with my gaijinity.

For instance, I was at the post office the other day, just finishing up at the counter, when a little old lady came up to me and started to show me the little crafts attached to her pushcart. She had made them all herself, and was very proud of each one. I made sure to use proper 相槌 the whole time and didn’t rush to exit the conversation. My mother told me long ago that what the elderly often want is simply someone to pay a little attention, so I did.

As I was walking home — not two minutes later! — I heard an old man on a bicycle ahead of me crooning an old song in English. “Mr. Sinatra?” I asked in his direction, and he stopped to talk. He told me how much he enjoyed the old singers like Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, and Andy Williams (occasionally switching to English for a few words). He then asked where I was from, and when I told him America, he nodded and said he thought so because I seemed to be in a good mood. We parted ways there, but I did run into him a couple days later and briefly discussed 和製英語.

I know I can never fully belong here, but little things like that help me feel like less of an outsider.


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