Mediabox
Lettering us have it
May 12, 2012 | Issue: 946 | No Comments | 1,134 views

Shane Busato


NICE TO GREET YOU

Regarding “What Are You Looking At?” (The Last Word, Apr 26): I’m a smile and nod to ANY foreigner kind of guy. I like to “punish” people who ignore me on the street. If I see someone is avoiding me, I go out my way to get eye contact, maybe even say “Hi!” to make them notice. I absolutely adored this article—[author Henry] Watts put into words something I’ve felt ever since I got here. 6 stars out of 5!—Charltzy

Ah yes, GaijinPot. I find Reddit’s Japan and Japanlife forums much more friendly. I am the “gentle nod and smile” type. All I’m looking for is the same back, but it’s rare. Sometimes I get the feeling it’s because—gasp!—I’m another foreigner. But we have something in common: we are both strangers in a strange land. And length of stay does not make one any less of a gaijin. Perhaps it just makes you better able to handle being in the minority. Or, in some cases, less able!—Meredith

I’m of a different mind. I find the unwanted advances of foreigners who want to bond with “their kind” creepy and racist. Trying to “punish” strangers on the street for not saying hello to you is not acceptable behavior. It’s creepy. I had one foreigner freak out on a train because I didn’t say hello and talk to him. He completely lost it. None of you have the right to dictate how strangers should react to you.—johnnyrabbit

When a resident foreigner avoids making eye contact, could it be that the person came to Japan to interact with Japanese and is not interested in the same old exchange of conversations in a fleeting moment on the train, on the street, in a convenience store? Or is just on a tight time schedule? Social etiquette is the question that remains unanswered.—Gerrit Slembrouck

Usually it’s others giving me a look after I offer a friendly nod or smile. It makes me feel like a sad panda.—@kissncry

ROOTED IN THE TRASH

Regarding “Waste Not” (The Last Word, Mar 13): “The concept of mottainai (waste not) is deeply rooted in Japanese culture?” Riiiiight. Thank God I get given up to three plastic bags when I buy one bread item at my local bakery. Always-hot toilet seats, water pots and rice cookers. Neon as far as the eye can see. Vending machines on every corner. Automatic insertion of disposable cutlery with every conbini food purchase. A near-total lack of secondhand stores or charity shops. Mass-produced plastic crap that goes from shelf to landfill. None of these things are remotely wasteful, right?—Daniel Robson

THE DOCTOR IS OUT

Japanese emergency rooms are not properly staffed at night. I had a friend who split his head open and we waited an hour and half while the ambulance called hospital after hospital to find one that would accept us. Apparently, there were “no doctors available.” Are doctors too rich, selfish, or lazy to work nights? Can doctors or government officials please do something before it’s your parent or child who has an emergency?—Bruce Benson

LOW-FI

I moved to Vancouver a year ago, and I am amazed at the simplicity of connecting via Wi-Fi everywhere. I wanted to get my girlfriend in Tokyo the iPad so we could Skype more often. She’s not tech savvy and is rarely home. But worse is the scarcity of public hotspots in Tokyo! Fon Free Internet is everywhere but they ask for daily passes and so on. Softbank 4G requires a two-year subscription and a not-so-friendly plan. Buying a Fon router for her seems the best option. Can you give me some tips?—Paul

TWOTTLE

I can’t understand why you guys never mention the Kichion Music Festival in Kichijoji every GW.—@TokyoDan

Is there an error with my copy? There’s a nonsensical amateurish mess where the usually clever & well-done cover should be.—@GMAlbright

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