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Being talked about 2010/8/18 16:39
I lived in Japan for about a year, and I have a chance to go back, but first I would like to ask for experiences and maybe advice from people that have been gossiped about by Japanese people that think you don't understand them just because you are foreign.

Those of you living in Japan or that have lived in Japan, did you ever have that type of experience on a train, while waiting for a train, just walking down the street etc where a Japanese couple or a group of Japanese start talking about you because they think you simply can't understand them because you are not Japanese? How did you deal with it? Did you react, or did you teach yourself to tune them out? If they found out somehow that you understood them, how was their reaction?

Those of you who have experienced this, can you state where and the situation?

I'm genuinely curious, because as stated before I may go back, but now that I remember how it was while I was there, I am hesitant to go through all of that again because it happened to me constantly, and in Tokyo, too. It shouldn't have bothered me but it did lower my spirits and make me feel somewhat invisible and paranoid on occasion. Surely, the correct response is to ignore and move on with your life, right? Honestly, people are going to talk no matter what and no matter where you are, so should one just get used to it? Develop a thicker skin, deal with it and carry on?

Any comments or experiences are appreciated! Also, if anyone knows of any threads about this topic anywhere on the web, please direct me to them if at all possible. TIA.
by charafa (guest)  

not unique 2010/8/19 09:11
This is hardly a problem unique to Japan. People often assume that speaking in a foreign language gives them license to say things they ought not say. I think you are being too sensitive, possibly as a side effect of culture shock.

by Tilt (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2010/8/19 12:27
I worked for a Japanese company and was in charge of 5 American coworkers and 30 Japanese subordinates (we were training them and I was Dept. Manager). In the office, I could hear them talking about us and they thought we understood nothing they said. They always used "Gaijin" when in private, but "Americajin" in person. They were very direspectful and rude to us by doing this. I expected more manners from them after we tried to learn their customs and manners. It hurt our feelings and we didn't renew our contracts and as a result the work program was a failure when they took over because they didn't have enough experience.
This is not unique to Japan. I have had people speak Portuguese and Spanish in front of me thinking I didn't know what they were saying. They were surprised when I answered back!
I think if you must gossip, do it away from coworkers. People aren't so stupid that they can't understand the feelings if not the words.
by . (guest) rate this post as useful

.. 2010/8/19 16:56
it happens all the time. usually it doesnt bother me since people say mostly positive things, compliment my looks etc so they dont mean anything bad. i might say something depending on who the people talking about me are. guys and older people i usually ignore, but if it's young school girls i often say ''thanks'' or something like that. they do get a little embarrassed when they realize that i understand what they say. but at the same time they get really excited and usually repeat the compliment.

the only time i got pissed off when i was on an elevator to toho cinemas with my japanese friends. other people didnt realize i was with them so one girl said to her friend ''kono hito kawaisou''. i was so puzzled i couldnt come up with a response. instead i just said something to my japanese friend so the person who was talking about me would understand that i speak japanese AND i vwas there with my japanese friends.
by darine (guest) rate this post as useful

smile or talk back? 2010/8/20 03:21
I am not foreign here in Japan, but I've seen foreign people (not only in Japan) respond positively to that kind of an attitude. Just smile back. Or I've also seen people actually talking back but talking about a whole different topic. For example, if someone is gossiping about you in Japanese, you can talk to them about the weather or something, in Japanese.

On a related note, I think sometimes people (regardless of their nationality) gossip in purpose, just because they want to connect with the person being gossiped but don't have the guts to talk to that person directly.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

yes 2010/8/21 15:16
i agree with uco.

im a half japanese and half western guy. i was sitting in yoyogi park and a group of chinese tourists were talking about me in chinese.... i speak chinese, so i walked up and said "oh you guys are chinese, cool, we should speak chinese together..." and i laughed and walked off when i saw the look on their faces.

rather than retaliate angry, just be a smartass in a discreet way ;)
by zuoteng rate this post as useful

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