"Tokyo" Top 5 Page for this destination Tokyo by kdoc13
Tokyo Travel Guide: 4,235 reviews and 10,680 photos
I love Tokyo. I can't say it enough, I love the place. Yeah it has its bad side. Being a gaijin (a foreigner, and specifically a white western foreigner) in Tokyo can be rough. There is a bit of racism agianst you. But on the other hand, there are a lot of people who can be friendly, and who want to meet you.
I have had the pleasure of staying in Tokyo on multiple occasions, and for long periods of time. So I got to know the place pretty well, and a lot of the people. Hopefully this page can help.
The first thing my co-workers teased me about when they found out I was going to Japan, was that I was headed for a country where the legal age of majority (for adult activities such as procreation) is 14. Thus the picture of Cafe Lolita was a joke for them. 14 is no longer the legal age. in fact, I believe it is now 18, just like in the US of A. The thing is, it doesn't lessen the fact that you will see things that make you wonder about how much it is enforced.
The first thing a westerner should know is that you will see sexual images everywhere. The first time I was on a subway and saw a little old lady reading an article in what looked to me like a prono magazine was freaky! Just get used to it. And understand that sometimes you will see in cartoon form what appears to youth or rape. I can't explain why, it is just out there, and for some reason enjoyed. In fact, schoolgirls play a big role in this. I didn't get the fascination with the schoolgirl uniform until having been there a while. Just remember, the country has a fascination with anything "cute".
The funniest thing I ever saw in Japan was actually a sexually related vending machine. Oh how I wish I had my camera with me in Kabuki-cho when the vending machie with the pink pair of spinning plastic panties was sighted.
I just chalked it up to it being a different cuture. There is no pressure on the westerners to take part in this stuff, in fact it is often discouraged. So, if you don't go looking for it, chances are that it won't find you, except for the accidental notice of it on a subway.
Racisim: I said it earlier, there is a bias against the gaigin. It is not uncommon to take a tour and go to a restaurant for lunch, and then attempt to go to the same restaurant at night, but be told that westerners are not wanted. It can be infuriating at times, just deal with it. There is a few thousand years of being a homogenious culture to work with, it is going to take a while to change it.
Money: Everything in Tokyo is expensive. Taxi's, hotels, sightseeing, even food. The picture shown is of a steak (not even Kobe beef) with rice, a coke, and some veggies. It cost me $80.
Chi: Chi is a strange thing. It is a feeling of contentment, of being a part of your surroundings, and a lot more things. If you are white, people on the subways will often say something along the lines of "this gaijin is messing with my chi." You cuold be doing nothing, it doesn't matter. Get used to it. Most tourists will never see them again. If you just moved there, eventually if you keep taking the same train people will get used to you being there and you will not be seen as dangerous.
Be kind: You can win over the locals. They may start off wanting to speak to you only to learn english, but this can change. I have many Japanese friends now, simply from being nice, showing respect, and remembering that I am a guest in their country. You can do this too, and it makes the trip a whole lot easier.
- Pros:It is the safest place I have ever been, and at times the most peaceful.
- Cons:It is also openly racist, expensive, and offensive to western ideals.
- In a nutshell:The good outweighs the bad, and there is actually a lot of fun to be had there.
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