We have been here for over six months now. We are starting to feel comfortable and somewhat at home. It is still very interesting and exotic to be here, but a lot of the “gee whiz” has faded. Sometimes when we are walking down the street, we feel that we had adapted to Japan and no longer feel like such a foreigner in a foreign land. “We’re hip,” we tell ourselves, “We live here. We ain’t no dorky tourists…” We might even feel that we are starting to blend in…
Then we see another foreigner, usually a westerner like us. And it is startling, almost shocking, too see that person. They stand out so much among the Japanese, especially if they are dressed in the westerner tourist outfit, as compared to the usually well dressed locals.
Then, with a sinking feeling, we realize that’s us. That’s how we look. There’s no blending in.
The Japanese are very polite. You will rarely see them checking you out. You might catch a pair of eyes glancing away if you turn that way. The illusion that you are just cruising along, blending in as a “foreign local” is just that – an illusion.