spent my entire senior year of high school in Nagoya, and overall
it was one of the best experiences I've had during my life. I was largely
treated as a sort of a celebrity, receiving lots of attention from boys
and girls alike, and so I felt completely welcome and accepted. I
love Japan and her people, and have dedicated my life to the study of this
beautiful land. However, before I came to Japan, all I had heard in my
Japanese class was praise about how safe a country it was. I was
completely unprepared for what awaited me there.
a petite girl, and have naturally
golden-blonde hair and blue eyes, so despite all the lovely girls there
now with their colorful
contacts and hair, I still stood out like a sore
thumb. I couldn't believe how much attention I got at the high school I
attended and from people on the streets. People would always tell me I was
cute) which in America doesn't exactly carry
such a nice connotation, conjuring up images of immaturity and naivety.
But in Japan, cuteness seems to be everything, from girls to cars to
appliances to computers. Shopkeepers would even say, "kawaii desu ne" and then give me stuff for free, despite my protest. It was like being a
princess in a foreign land, something I never anticipated. I also never
anticipated the downside to being "cute" and foreign in
Japan-being a target for assault.
Chikan in Japan
It first began on the crowded
when I was going to and from school. The first time, someone casually
grabbed my behind, which I immediately dismissed as an accident. Well,
then it happened again a few seconds later. I looked around to see
who did it, but the faces of those around me were like stone - not a guilty
one in sight. I pushed my way through the crowd to where some girls were standing, and the groping stopped. I was in utter
shock that someone would take advantage of me on a crowded train,
especially among all these seemingly high-class people. No one told me
this sort of thing was a fact of life on trains in Japan, but apparently
it is. I come from a pretty small town, so I had never had such
experiences in America. I couldn't give up riding the trains, but from
then on when I did, I made sure to stand in corners or around other women.
Sometimes among the bustle though, a sneaky hand would manage to get me
On the weekends, I would often hang
out with my friends until late at night. I love reading Japanese fashion
magazines and wear clothes I see in them that make me look and feel good
about myself, but I do not dress as provocatively as some of my friends
did. Nevertheless, I was offered money more times than I can count.
One time, when I was on my way home from school, a salaryman wouldn't stop
propositioning me, even though I told him to leave me alone. He even
grabbed me by the arm and started to pull me along with him! At first, I
thought about using some of the judo I took at my school, but an image of
this headline in the Asahi Shimbun popped into my head: "Salaryman
Badly Injured By Violent Gaijin Girl." So, instead, I screamed at the
top of my lungs, and he let go. I ran as fast as I could the rest of the
way home, and told my host parents about it. They wanted me to find out
who it was, but there was nothing I could do - the man disappeared and I
never saw him since.
To all those ladies who wish to visit
Japan: Japan is not an evil place. It's probably one of the safest
countries in the world, but you must keep in mind you are at a higher risk
of incidence there because you are different; it's like wearing a T-shirt
with a bulls eye painted on it.
Despite the bad experiences I had in Japan, I still love the country
deeply and wish to live there someday. So, go, enjoy Japan, but stay