Thursday, July 12, 2012

Gaijin in Tokyo


  [gahy-jeen; Eng. gahy-jin] 
noun, plural gai·jin [-jeen; Eng. -jin]Japanese .
an outsider; foreigner.

(Photo: "Style From Tokyo" by Rei Shito)

For any foreigner who has ever experienced much of Japanese culture, they probably feel the heaviness of the word "gaijin." Foreigners in Japan are still very much the minority, especially when compared to other urban areas in the world. Being an "outsider" can be both a positive and negative thing, depending on how you look at it. Recently, I've been kind of fascinated with the idea of foreigners who live in Japan, and how they are viewed not only by Japanese society, but people back home as well.

Types of "gaijin" range from (and are not limited to) the Tokyo Drifter-dudes, Anime-lovers, sushi connoisseurs, fashion freaks, wandering lost artists, European Lolita's, and a lot more. 

I really respect people that come from places outside of Japan, and choose to live there. The kind of people that stick to their dreams or have a vision, and continue to go for what they love, regardless of whether mainstream Japanese society gets it, or people from back home understand it.

I think in Japan, a lot of gaijin try to completely wipe away their "gaijin appearance", erase all of their history, or even their cultural background. I think this is because a lot of people feel the negative connotations with the word. The sense of always being an outsider is hard for a lot of people that really respect Japanese culture. I think there are even people that truly WANT to be Japanese as well, and must feel some sort of struggle when they finally realize they are still a foreigner. 

If you are gaijin, well..just be gaijin. Be happy with who you are, and where you come from, but continue to do what you love. 

As Japan continues to change, I'm excited to see cities like Tokyo and Osaka slowly become more diverse. With a potential increasing number of foreigners, and new respect for shared talent between locals and people from abroad, I believe a new boom of creativity is happening in Japan. Ganbarimashou!

Hat: Vintage 1950's Damaged Painter Cap
Necklace: Lactose Intoler-Art Onigiri Necklace with Reconstructed Japanese Geta Sandal Straps
T-Shirt-90s Map Print Shirt
Shorts: Vintage 80s Oversized Acid Washed Shorts
Socks: Christopher Nemeth
Shoes: Hand Drawn リメイク Jikatabi Toe Shoes
Cuff: Monomani White Spiked Cuff
Watch: Thrifted and Remade Broken Faceless Gold Watch

Style From Tokyo Street Fashion Blog by Photographer Rei Shito


Anonymous said...

Do you know what Rei meant in the latter section of his post? My japanese isn't good enough to understand it.

Anonymous said...

I always find the subject interesting as well.

One thing I think that you left out is that a lot of expats are trying to get away from their old life because they weren't happy with it. So, this shedding of their past/re-invention is as much about where they came from as it is about where they came to.

Lactose Intoler-Art said...

I definitely agree with you, and that is a very good point! I do think a lot of people move far away to get a fresh start, or to start something new. I'm personally very interested to see how this changes in Japan over the next 20 or 30 years, especially since the number of foreigners living in Japan is very low. (Especially when compared to Australia/The United States/The UK..)

I definitely think there are people that want a challenge or want to try something new though, and didn't necessarily have a life they weren't happy with previously. But I agree with you. I'd be curious to see what the percentage was of people that wanted a re-start vs. those who are truly passionate about a culture and want to live there simply for the love of it.

It would also be interesting to see how many of those people wanting re invention didn't actually get what they expected when they moved. I think a lot of people have different ideas of what a place is like before they visit for sure. Interesting thoughts! :)