henna gaijin do not fit the mold -- they creep out the Japanese
by acting too Japanese, even though they blatantly look like foreigners.
Henna gaijin can speak Japanese, use chopsticks, eat natto with
relish, know more about Buddhism and garden landscaping than most
Japanese people, and even use the elevators correctly. They blur
the distinction between gaijin and nihonjin, raising all sorts
of the disquieting questions about what it really means to be
Japanese. Surely it cannot be merely a question of physical appearance,
now can it?
And the sad part is
that someone who looks like a foreigner can never, ever become
more than a henna gaijin...
your definition of
and we will post it here.
Wild and Crazy
Jo M. Seattle, WA
Its a weird
white person who wants to learn about swords and stuff.
Mark B. St. Louis, Mo
who stays in Japan longer than 3 weeks and doesn't have a job
CeceF. Kobe, Japan
YOU KNOW YOU'VE BEEN
IN JAPAN A LONG TIME WHEN..... you PUT YOUR SLIPPERS ON TO GO
THREE STEPS to the tatami room on the other side of the hallway.
....COLD TOILET SEATS
....you know which
side of the car to get into.
... breakfast is incomplete
without NATTO !
....(in the Snow Country
winter) grownups in bright colored RUBBER BOOTS NO LONGER LOOK
SILLY, but sensible.
- we all know these - let's add more! Send yours to
and we'll publish it.
Your site is hilarious!!
It reminded me
of the summer of 1994.
I took my product
group in the U.S. to Japan that summer, for both business and
fun. My boss was a funny guy and he wanted to make T-shirt that
said "Crazy Foreigners" in Japanese and wear it there.
We told him "Crazy Foreigners" would be a little too
harsh and I recommended "Henna Gaijin".
We made about 20
T-shirts that had "Henna Gaijin" (in Japanese) in
very big letters in the front. Some people chickened out but
my boss bravely wore it when we went to Akihabara in Tokyo.
I had great time watching people walk by, looking at my boss's
T-shirt and giggling. He had a great time having people's attention.
He was, in fact,
a strange foreigner. :)
-Katsuhiro Alex Namba
I arrived in Japan,
without a clue, I could never figure out just what to do
The culture was strange to my innocent eyes, around every corner
was some awkward surprise
I was telling myself everyday that Id try, to be very,
very careful and somehow Id get by
But no matter my efforts, somehow in the end, Id cause
all the locals to start shaking their heads
he doesnt know the rules here
well have to give him a break
Cause hes a henna gaijin
doesnt quite fit in
Just a henna gaijin
hes bound to make some mistakes
Well, I did my best
to try to fit in but somehow my blunders always happened again
So I asked a friend to teach me Japanese views, he said he would
coach me, tell me what I should do
I followed his words
and tried out all his advice, he showed my just how to bow and
to appreciate rice
He taught me how to use chopsticks and polite Japanese
I studied intensely cause I didnt want to be another
doesnt know the rules here
A henna gaijin
no I didnt want to be
who doesnt quite fit in here
wont be a
just you wait and see
Well, in a few years,
I could fold paper cranes, I was an expert at chopsticks and
I slept on the trains
I could pass for a native when I talked on the phone
I took a bath every night and made my office my home
I was excited to show that Id adapted so well
That I was not from their country, surely noone would tell
People marvelled at me, at all my Japanese ways
They were so much impressed that they offered this praise
They called me henna
he knows all the rules here
Yes, hes a henna gaijin
Isnt it strange? He
knows what to do!
Quite a henna gaijin
why is he pretending hes Japanese?
Hes a henna gaijin
just what is he trying to prove?
So now Ive lived
here for quite a long time, Ive come full circle in these
habits of mine
I pour the sauce on
my rice and wear sweats to the store
I never bother sending New Years cards, and Ill tell you
When I think of all the things I tried to do to fit in, Im
not sure if Id ever want to try them again
Yeah, you can suffer through natto till youre blue in
But when its all said and done, and even if you like the
a henna gaijin
I know all the rules here
But Im still a henna gaijin
Im gonna break
Yeah, Im a henna gaijin
so just what do you plan
to do about it?
Just call me
go ahead and make my day
by Mickey Molnaire
(C) Mickey Molnaire,
1997, Bainbridge Island, WA, USA; (206) 842-4916
(Sung to the tune
of CHATANOOGA CHOO-CHOO)
Pardon me, sir, is
this the teriyaki take-out?
Please, step in line. We'd like to save you some time.
Well, it's not gonna
be just another fast-food flake-out--
Some sushi with rice. It oughta taste pretty nice.
They bring dashi-no-moto
and udon to a boil,
Put in some tamari and some sesame oil.
Well, it's really sure a
Super lunch if you're a
Fan of vegetables, they've gotta great tempura!
Bring a tomodachi
'cause it's not very far.
Stand up at the counter, eating eight to the bar.
If you're in a hurry,
You don't have to worry,
Have some shabu-shabu -- or a chicken curry!
There's gonna be
A certain something waiting for me.
Lift up the lid.
There's octopus and fried squid.
Maybe for me
Onigiri with toasted nori.
Grab your hashi or fork
Have some donburi with pork.
Sashimi made of salmon
and a gyoza or three,
Add a bowl of miso for my baby and me.
Say "gochiso sama."
Eat your bowl of Ramen.
It will make you feel like you're a Yokohaman!
Gobble up your bento
but in your haste,
Don't forget the ginger
and thewasabi paste.
Sit on the tatami
With your dad and mommy.
Take it home and eat it in your own pajamies.
I'd like to try a
teriyaki takeout for my own!
Oh, teriyaki take-out,
I want to carry you home!
And some rice...
Would be nice.
Oh, teriyaki take-out,
I want to carry you hoooooome!