Quote Japan

Interesting, odd, outrageous or informative quotes about Japan

Gaijin- Quotes about foreign countries and foreigners in Japan

“The English teachers that you send here, in your country they’re not good for anything more than pumping gas” Japanland pg 196

“Just study Japanese etiquette for the next thirty years, speak through a ventriloquist, and wear a paper bag over your head” The only way for a foreigner can fit in in Japan, according to Karin Muller’s Asian Studies professor, Japanland pg x

“Chicken Namban… [is] ‘Barbarian-style Chicken.’That’s right, barbarian. You may want to pause a moment and wonder what sort of reaction you might get in the West if you opened a restaurant offering ‘Jap Noodles’ or ‘Yellow Menance Sushi’… Mind you, I suppose it could have been worse. They might have named it Big-Nosed, Round-Eye, Butter-Smelling, Couldn’t-Make-A-Car-To-Save-Their-Lives Chicken” pg 52

“In Japan, people are often referred to not by their name but by the role they play…As a foreigner, you in turn play your role as the Resident Gaijin, like the Town Drunk or the Village Idiot” Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 45

“Looking back, the biggest culture shock about Japan was not the chopsticks or the raw octopus, it was the shock of discovering that no matter where you go you instantly become the topic of conversation. At first it’s an ego boost. You feel like a celebrity… But you soon realize that in Japan foreignersare not so much celebrities as they are objects of curiosity and entertainment. It is a stressful situation, and it has broken better men than me.” Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 45

“the annual flock of newbies who once found me impressive now look on me as an expatriate lifer, a concept that, like running off to join the circus, smacks of extremism and, because there is no return home, seems to defeat the whole purpose of going abroad to begin with” Getting Wet pg 10 

 ”A person needs to be not only ready to leave Japan, but ready to be somewhere else”Being a Broad in Japan pg 463

“Narita, Tokyo’s international airport, was big enough because Japan wanted to limit the influx of foreigners.” Patrick Smith, quoting a typical 1990s American conspiracy theory in Japan, A Reinterpretation

“A man has freedom as a man. It is dream,love…and everything else. Black Man is pursuing it forever. Black Man makes you to be free. It is nice taste.” The box of “Black Man Super Bikini”, as quoted by Japanzine, Feb 02

“The Japanese have ever since (they started copying their culture from China) taken a lively interest in copying the material culture of others while resolutely rejecting their principles” Patrick Smith

 “It was called a “university” but its proper name was a school of languages. The Japanese had very primitive ideas concerning the fitness of men to teach… Anyone who could speak English could evidently teach it. The idea of a trained professional foreign teacher was never entertained by them… The “Professors” at first obtained were often ex-bartenders, soldiers, sailors, clerks, etc. When teaching, with pipe in mouth, and punctuating their instructions with oaths, or appearing in the classroom top-heavy, the Japanese concluded that such eccentricities were merely national peculiarities.”

 William Elliot Griffis, visiting the first Meiji era university in January 1871. Not much has changed!

Quoted in “Learning to be Modern” by Byron K Marshall

“Charley is a shy boy, and I wondered if he had glimpsed a country where his own character might be seen as admirable myth”Peter Carey in Wrong about Japan

“Japan’s long and unfortunate neurosis in its relations with the outside world: borrowing balanced by a defensive brand of nativism, the seesaw of admiration and xenophobia” Patrick Smith

“Narita, Tokyo’s international airport, was big enough because Japan wanted to limit the influx of foreigners.” Patrick Smith, quoting a typical 1990s American conspiracy theory

“…one is, in this country, free of one’s own mores and still more or less immune to those of the Japanese…” Donald Ritchie in “Tokyo”

“The foreigner was stared at for well over 150 years… You became used to it, and eventually irritation turned to need. No matter what the people truly thought, you were treated like a star.” Donald Ritchie

“As Kurt Singer has said, let the Westerner try to sincerely live by Japanese customs ‘and he will instantly feel what a cell endowed with rudiments of human sensibility must be supposed to feel in a well-coordinated body” Donald Ritchie

“Why, I suggested, don’t we all eat… inside a mosquito tent…? The idea was accepted, though I gather discontinued after I left and there was no foreigner present to provide a legitimate excuse for such bizarre behaviour” Ronald P. Dore

“The people of Shinohata had never been much aware of being Japanese because no other kind of people had much impinged on their consciousness” Ronald P. Dore

“It was great because I was able to reevaluate myself as a Japanese” common remarks after foreign holidays, according to George Fields in “From Bonsai to Levis” (1983)

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