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Being black (or otherwise darkskinned) in Japan

Discussion in 'Japan Practical' started by kura-blue88, Mar 15, 2018.

  1. kura-blue88

    kura-blue88 後輩

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    Before you comment, I'm aware that just Googling this question does come up with a lot of replies. But a lot of those articles are a few years old at least and might not be completely accurate anymore. And I do get a lot of differing opinions. From one source I can hear that the Japanese are open and friendly, from another I can hear that they're still xenophobic and think everyone non-Japanese are thugs and terrorists.

    So I'd like to hear from those here: most recently, what seems to be the the Japanese opinion of black foreigners in particular? I've heard that if I have natural hair (eg afros, dreadlocks) they will try to touch it. I've heard that, especially in smaller towns, I might get a lot of blatant stares. I've heard that there are stores who won't allow me to enter at all. From what those who have visited Japan have experienced, is any of this still true?

    I am black with kinky hair, but I'm small, quiet, and, in my opinion, not very threatening. I'm hoping to become a teacher in Japan(long time, not just JET), in a preschool if possible. What are my chances of getting such a job in Japan?
     
  2. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    Getting a job has virtually nothing to do with your skin color, IMO. Having taught here for almost 20 years, I know (and know of) several black teachers. You are judged fit to teach based on your academic credentials first and country of origin second, in most cases. So, your avatar says you are a 21 year old female American. Tell us about your educational credentials and language fluency.
     
  3. Petaris

    Petaris Sailing away...
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    You might want to try to connect with @thejapanguy as he is in Japan and has taught English there. I'm not sure that he visits the forum very often but you might be able to get a hold of him through his website as well ( Welcome To The JapanGuy.com! - The Japan Guy ). Keep in mind though that no matter what anyone says that "Your Mileage May Vary".
     
  4. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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  5. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

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    Zero, if you don't even try because of obsessing over BS. You want some guarantee you'll never have any less than pleasant experience in Japan that might be related to your skin color? Do you have that kind of guarantee where you are now?

    I'm lily white. I've been stared at. It didn't kill me. It won't kill you.
     
  6. kura-blue88

    kura-blue88 後輩

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    I'm currently working on a Bachelor's in education. I'm also self-studying Japanese. I know that no matter what I look like, I'm kinda screwed unless I speak the language.
     
  7. kura-blue88

    kura-blue88 後輩

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    I see! I'll be sure to check this person out, thank you ^^
     
  8. Lothor

    Lothor Sempai
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    Been meaning to reply to you but wanted to hold fire until I'd asked a black (Jamaican/British) friend your question. He's been living in Tokyo for 3 years and has had very few problems. He agreed that being stared at was a bit of an annoyance when he first arrived, and occasionally Japanese people have made dumb comments based on ignorance more than anything (the Japanese media do a good job of giving the impression that Britain, other European countries and even America are entirely white). However, he has happily worked with a large number of Japanese people who have had simply treated him as another person. I asked him about being stopped by the police, which I'd read is a problem for black men in Japan, and he'd been stopped when on his bicycle rather a lot (something other foreigners and also Japanese people experience, it's happened to me 3 times but it had always been to check that the bike was his.
    He has a positive attitude towards Japan, and his interests in the language and the food help him to form warm relationships with Japanese people. If you go over with a similar positive attitude, I doubt you will encounter more than minor irritants.
     
  9. JuliMaruchan

    JuliMaruchan 後輩

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    Stereotypes come from experience, whether real-life or fiction. If everyone is terrified of going into what they want to do because they don't fit a stereotype or are afraid of stereotypes, no stereotype will ever change. Conversely, what people initially think of you based on your appearance doesn't matter if you override their expectations with your actual behavior.

    For this reason, I find it very frustrating when people ask questions like the one you're asking. If you want to be a teacher in Japan, jump through whatever hurdles may be there and do it. By asking what your chances are before even trying, you are showing either that you're really more interested in identity politics (specifically your skin color) than teaching, or that you accept the false idea that your skin color makes you unfit for the job.
     
  10. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

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    I get the impression she doesn't want input from white people.
     
  11. OoTmaster

    OoTmaster 先輩

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    #11 OoTmaster, Mar 20, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2018
    I met a black teacher when I visited a university in Japan. The students and other staff seemed to treat him just like any other teacher. That doesn't speak to his everyday experience outside of the university but at least in his daily work environment it doesn't seem to effect anything at all.

    Also any stares or being treated differently isn't going to be because you're black. It's going to be because you aren't Japanese. As a white guy in Japan when I visited I got quite a few stares and a few people that treated me differently. I have a feeling it's like that anywhere you don't look like the majority of the population.
     
  12. TaeDenise12

    TaeDenise12 Registered

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    Honestly, you can't base your opinions off of what negative things people tell you, especially if you haven't been to Japan. I think people like to exaggerate the xenophobia in other countries (especially in Asia) out of fear and ignorance. (I'm not saying it doesn't exist, because it does.)

    People honestly don't care that much, and they're friendly. Major cities (especially Tokyo) are full of foreigners and there are a lot of people who are half black/half Japanese, so you won't stick out all too much. Depending on what you look like, some people may assume you're half. I'm not saying everyone is gonna be tolerant of you, but generally, people are kind and respectful. Typically, if someone in Japan just flat out doesn't like you because you're Black, they'll just leave you alone. (and that's mainly older people) If anything, foreigners (depending on where they're from) may be more rude to you than Japanese people.

    In the countryside, you'll get stares. You'll get a lot of stares because there aren't that many foreigners. (People are just curious.) People may ask where you're from, and kids may come up to you and stare and ask questions.

    If you can speak Japanese, people are more receptive to you, and willing to talk to you.

    Younger people, I've noticed, are really interested in Black culture from all over the diaspora, and are just interested in Black people in general. Also, the way that Black people get treated in the States is different than how we're treated in Japan. People don't follow you around stores because they think you're stealing, and the police don't see Black people as predatory.

    I think some people DO have different experiences, though. While no one tried to touch my hair, someone may try to touch yours. But out of all of the other Black people I met while I was in Japan, none of them (including me) had bad experiences.

    You don't have much to worry about tbh. Just keep learning Japanese, and you'll be okay.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  13. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

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    Actually, I've had that happen to me in Japan. As noted earlier, I'm white.
     
  14. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    You said you want to be a teacher. How are you screwed? The BA degree you are pursuing is directly related to the visa needed for that type of work. I know a few black teachers, some in K-12 and some in university. None have complained that color made a difference in anything work related.
     
  15. kura-blue88

    kura-blue88 後輩

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    Thank you very much! I'll keep that in mind!
     
  16. kura-blue88

    kura-blue88 後輩

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    Okay, I see. I was planning to try my luck in Osaka, so that's good to know. Thank you!
     
  17. kura-blue88

    kura-blue88 後輩

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    The people I don't want input from are those who are going to be unnecessarily rude when I'm asking a simple and honest question.
     
  18. kura-blue88

    kura-blue88 後輩

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    So you're saying it's a bad idea to get an idea of what I'm going into before I start? You're saying it's better to skip merrily into a new situation, assuming everything will be sunshine and rainbows? Screw informed decisions, I have optimism? Thank you, I'll keep that in mind!
    I'm not "terrified", I'm trying to get an idea of what I may experience. It's very naive to assume everywhere in the world will treat someone exactly the same, and that any goal can be accomplished with enough plucky determination and elbow grease.
     
  19. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

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    If you found my comments encouraging you to come to be rude then yes, your skin will cause you trouble in Japan.

    Not the color, but the thinness.
     
    • Funny Funny x 1
  20. marley'sghost

    marley'sghost 後輩

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    Don't worry about the language at first. The folks hiring for entry level jobs would of course like it if you spoke Japanese, but your lack of it won't get you written off instantly with many employers. Short-term, not a deal breaker. Long-term, then yes you'll be screwed.
     
  21. JuliMaruchan

    JuliMaruchan 後輩

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    I would appreciate it if you would apply your own standards to yourself. Replying to an honest piece of advice sarcastically is the pinnacle of what I would call "rude".

    In your rush to be hostile and sarcastic toward me, you also completely misinterpreted the advice I gave. No, I didn't say anything about "assuming everything will be sunshine and rainbows" (as you put it). I said that you shouldn't refuse to put in any effort because there are challenges ahead, or because there may or may not be challenges ahead. If you never even try, then your chances of failure are 100%. If you do try, you can beat the odds.

    Or, to put it another way, how do you suppose a member of a minority group can make it into a job where no one of said minority group has ever made it? By asking what the chances are, and becoming distraught because it's never happened before? No. What is going to get them that job is pushing forward anyway. Consider people like Jackie Robinson, for instance.

    I'm not just pulling this out of thin air, by the way. This advice I am giving is based on personal experience. The only difference is that what I did wasn't such a trivial thing as getting the job I wanted to get; it was escaping from lifelong depression by making the most important decision I ever made in my life. I'm still struggling because of that decision, by the way, around two years after I made it, and my only regret is that I didn't make that decision sooner.

    But ultimately, you can take it or leave it. If you choose to give up your ambitions because they're too much effort, so be it.
     
  22. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

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    Number of Japanese people in Japan doing what I do? About 830,000.

    Number of white people in Japan doing what I do before I started doing it? Zero, as far as I am aware.

    Number doing it now? I think there may be three of us.

    Skin color is no barrier to getting the most stereotypical foreigner job there is in the whole country.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  23. AmerikaJin5

    AmerikaJin5 Sempai

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    From what I've seen in this thread, if anyone in Japan doesn't like you, it's because of your attitude, not your skin. Good luck.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  24. melokaan

    melokaan Kouhai

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    I've now been a little over 6 months in Japan so I can share my experience. Generally I don't notice a difference of treatment between me and other foreigners. I have an Afro but no one tried to touch it.
    Of course there are some negatives: some people won't seat next to you on the bus or subway, you'll get a lot of attention in small towns, and sometimes the question they ask can get pretty annoying as they don't know much about black and African cultures but overall it's fine
     
  25. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

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    If it is any consolation, those same things also happen to white people here.
     
    • Agree Agree x 3

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