What is a Gaijin and why forever?


Gai外 –Koku国 –Jin人 is the Japanese word for foreigner and can be literally translated as outside 外 –country国 –people人. As everything in Japan gets streamlined and shortened when it is not reverred and given polite respect, e.g. personal computer → pasocon, pocket monsters → pokemon, etc. the Japanese often shorten gaikokujin to simply gaijin, i.e. outside people.

Whether intentionally or not, this expression captures something true about the attitude of many Japanese people towrads foreigners, namely that of an insurmountable difference.

The outsider, in the extreme, the alien is outside of humanity itself, which some define as uniquely Japanese, and is so otherworldly, so impossible to integrate that on some level they will remain so forever, no matter how well they learn and adapt to language and culture.

The Japanese national identity values the group above the individual and the swarm mentality it creates – drilled into consciousness by the great homogenising force of schooling where even a naturally dark brown shade of hair is considered too rebellious to permit and requires children to already dye their hair black – demands a physical uniformity that is unattainable to other ethnicities and who are therefore eternally excluded.

Yet this position outside, with none of the social pressures and expectations and no actual threat of predators that seems to drive the fearful conformity, is a comfortable one and the view from outside bears a lot of insights invisible to those within. Like an external consultant, the forever gaijin like me can be highly valuable to Japanese society and may provide useful insights to help improve the conditions of those stuck within.

This what gaijinforever.com is all about, so please excuse the regular criticism, it is done with love and the intention of improving life for the wonderful people of Japan.