OK, so this is a topic that our site is loosely related to (at the moment), but we’re going to try to branch further into it over the next few months in an attempt to grab a wider audience, hopefully some current members will take an interest!
The first new word for today is Gaijin! “What the hell is a gaijin?”, you might be asking. A gaijin is basically the Japanese word for a foreigner. Anyone from outside Japan is given this title. Strangely, the term is sometimes even applied to Japanese ethnics who were brought up outside of Japan. (Nippon, in case you hadn’t guessed, is in fact a Japanese word for Japan.)
Although the term itself usually has no derogatory meaning, it reflects how exclusive the Japanese attitude is and as such, the term has over the years been one that some foreigners resent, perhaps because they will never be able to “be Japanese”, even after obtaining a citizenship. It is after all a society known to be hard to integrate into for foreigners, especially if you’re a six foot, white skinned, big nosed westerner. On the whole though, the term “gaijin” is now widely used by foreigners referring to themselves and has largely caught on in the gaijin Internet community with many “gaijin blogs” popping up all over the place. Any foreigners in Japan who succeed in not making an idiot of themselves while over there will be lucky enough not to have a common preceding word being added on to the “foreigner” term. Baka Gaijin!
Next, we have the Otaku. Not necessarily someone residing outside of Japan, in fact, the term originated in Japan to describe youths (mostly youths..) who stayed indoors all day reading anime and playing video-games. Since the spread of anime into Western culture, the term has found it’s way over here and is being applied to people with similar lifestyles to the original hardcore otaku’s in Japan, who have since evolved into the elusive Hikikomori. That’s a story for another day. In the West, Otaku doesn’t so much describe someone who stays indoors all day, rather just someone who has an intense interest in Japanese anime and manga.
If you have never had an interest in Japan or never known someone who has, it might seem strange or rare for someone else to have an interest in the country. But if you look into it there’s actually quite a large community to be found online with plenty of information from different sources on different ways to get to the country to satisfy the wild urges some people have to go over there. If you take some time to look into what the country has to offer, I think most people’s interests are well founded. At this point, I have to address another certain term that sometimes gets dropped wrongly on your typical gaijin or otaku. That term is “weeaboo.” A word, I think, that has nothing but negative connotations. You will see why from the image below.
Urban Dictionary’s definition, which is tactful as usual: “Someone who is obsessed with Japan/Japanese Culture/Anime, etc. and attempts to act as if they were Japanese, even though they’re far from it. They use Japanese words but usually end up pronouncing them wrong and sounding like total assholes. You can find a lot of these faggots clogging up the forums of Gaia Online, hanging out in the international aisle of the supermarket, or crowding the manga section of your local bookstore. Synonym of wapanese.”
In short, someone with an unhealthy interest in Japanese culture and anime, and usually cosplay, often of the opinion that Japan is the land of milk and honey, being so much better than their Western counterparts. Weeaboos aside, Japan is not the land of milk and honey, by a long shot, but it is a country that has a lot to offer your typical adventure seeking foreigner.
Why do people have an interest in Japan? I’ll cover that next time! Check out the links below if any of this takes your interest, the last link (YT channel) in particular has an insane amount of videos on any and every subject to do with Japan!