As strange as this may sound, the thought of some foreigners in a country like Japan thinking they are better than others is indeed true. Not true as in some foreigners ARE better than others, but true in the sense that there are some actual non-Japanese goof-balls living in Japan who think they are better than others.
This is a topic that has been flogged like a dead horse on in both blogs, editorial sections of English language newspapers and on YouTube. This is also a topic I have flogged before online, but I’m going to flog it again because it simply feels like the right thing to do.
Some of you might think, “Hey Kevin, this topic isn’t anything new or groundbreaking!” To you I say, “I know.” To you I also say, “I don’t care. Show me your groundbreaking stuff and….nothing….cause I don’t care.”
Back to the topic…
As juvenile and junior high school as it may sound, there are some foreigners who come to Japan who think they are superior to others. Who knows why? Maybe it’s the “Big in Japan Syndrome” thing. They went unnoticed back in their home countries and now that they are in Japan they want to re-invent themselves as “super awesome” which of course normally results in them being super jerks!
This form of Gaijin Elitism manifests itself in many ways. There are people working outside the education industry who think they are better than those working as teachers. There are those who were teachers, but “elevated” themselves to non-teaching jobs and now fancy themselves as something special. There are those who have “better” teaching jobs than others therefore feel their feces smells of roses and orchids. There are those who find some level of Internet celebrity status and suddenly become “special.”
Of course there are also the foreigners who come to Japan on some really sweet corporate packages who are oblivions to all of the other foreigners and this silliness in general. Maybe those ones are the “special” ones since they don’t have to deal with this sort of child-like drama.
Nonetheless, the concept of some gaijin thinking themselves better than others is alive and well. It might not really make sense for adults to behave this way, but if those “adults” are coming here directly from university and a life time of schooling without real-world experience, that sort of makes sense (now I’m being judgey…a new word?). What’s confusing is when those “adults” are in their late 20’s and older. I’ve even spotted and unfortunately interacted with some middle-aged gaijin who act this way. It’s both bizarre and sad to meet a middle-aged person acting as if they were in junior high school. I suppose studies could be done on this!
At the end of the day we all come to Japan for different reasons, we have different skills and histories and should honestly be too busy in life to go around being all “judgey”!
Honestly, if you have enough time in your personal life to walk around Japan being “all high” on yourself and thinking you’re special, shouldn’t you focus that time and energy on something more productive? Shouldn’t you be volunteering in the community? Shouldn’t you be helping fix environmental issues? Shouldn’t you be writing a blog where you complain about stuff? Come one! There are many better things you can be doing.
Gaijin elitism is a real thing. It’s a ridiculous concept, but sadly for a small and irritating minority of foreigners in Japan it is a thing.
If you ever meet up with a gaijin elitist you’ll know. It’s sort of like rubbing up against a large cactus that smells a little like cow manure. It’s an experience that’s certainly not pleasurable and you soon won’t forget it.
Brave on and carry on. They are a small part of life in Japan and normally you can avoid them!
Kevin O’Shea is the host of the Just Japan Podcast and the Just Japan News Podcast. He is also the guy behind JustJapanStuff. Kevin is a Canadian educator who lives in Kobe, Japan with his family.
Follow him on Twitter: @jlandkev