Jun 24, 2019

Always an outsider

We love the area where we live in Niigata, in part because there's a large international university in our town. It means that my daughter gets to go to pre-school with other children who hail from all over the globe, and we think that's a pretty neat environment for a kid to be around!

One thing we don't like, however, is that we "foreign nationals" are always treated as such - as the outsiders. Here's a good example...

Always an outsider photo

My daughter's school had a field trip recently, and we had to obviously RSVP in advance if we were coming. The number of people attending was going to affect the cost per-head, as it was broken down as an average and you were charged accordingly.

Apparently some people couldn't come or had to cancel at the last minute, but it's the wording that grinds my gears. Firstly, I guess I need to make the distinction that I'm glad they communicate with us in English - that's very helpful. But I hate how any time something "goes wrong", it's the "foreign nationals" that get the blame.

You'll see on the notice we received there that it's worded as follows:

"There were a number of cancellations after initial applications, and a number of foreign nationals were unable to attend".

Why not just leave it at "a number of cancellations after initial applications"? Why draw the foreign national portion of it into the mix? I don't get why it's even relevant - unless it's to create the us versus them mentality.

Have you ever noticed these sneaky ways of being made to feel on the outer as an expat in Japan?



After spending the last several years in the beating heart of Tokyo, I will be spending the next three in the countryside of Japan. I adore this country and all it has to offer - and I'm always learning more and more about life here as I go along!


  • Tomuu

    on Jun 24

    Well, I don't know if this counts but I'll go with it -- during my time as an ALT the school used to conduct earthquake evacuation drills. All the teachers were assigned roles and they seemed to have everything covered. The organization and efficiency was quite admirable really. Except they always neglected one detail, me! Not only did I not have a role (understandable and welcome) but I was never give any instruction as to what to do in the event of an earthquake and no one ever checked on me. I always wondered if my name was on a register somewhere -- I think I could have just hidden in the toilet or something and no one would have checked to see where I was. Perhaps they expected that I was adult enough to just follow what everyone else was doing. Or maybe they just didn't like me very much!!!

  • genkidesu

    on Jun 25

    @Tomuu oh no! I wouldn't mind the no assigned role part (there are times when the gaijin card works in our favor, for sure) but the fact that they didn't even check on you or give you an understanding of what to do in the event of an earthquake is neglectful! Back home, someone would be getting hauled over the coals for an occupational health and safety violation if they did that!

  • edthethe

    on Jul 4

    My son's kinder is grinding my nerves because they are pretty passive aggressive about "us foreigners" not following and doing as everyone else does. I get eye rolls from the teachers, snide remarks like "I know you are not Japanese buuuuut" when getting scolded for something, or worse still laughed at to my face for not knowing something. I think 10 to 20 percent of the student populace is foreign, yet they provide no foreign language information. Yet we are supposed to know everything that is going on.....