The most viewed community stories of 2013

A majority of the most read community stories addressed timeless issues. These were stories about issues that naturally spark debate and will no doubt continue to do so as Japan’s multicultural landscape continues to shift and shape.


10.  If you’re jōzu and you know it, hold your ground


Should he abide by Japanese manners and deferentially deny his jōzu-ness (skill)? Or accept the praise with a “thank you” and a smile? I suggested he should not only say thank you and accept the accolades, but also claim the part-Japaneseness. Yes, lie about it.

9. Medical bills mount for ‘fired’ Tokyo English teacher fighting cancer, HIV


“Their cutting me off seemed incredibly harsh — basically, they were saying I either stopped having the treatment that was preventing the cancer coming back, or I lost my job.”

8. Think before you ink if you work with kids

The full monty: Osakan Rie Gomita could have trouble landing an ALT job in Japan with this irezumi ensemble.

It is advisable not get a tattoo in a place that is likely to be seen by his charges — or their parents, for that matter. It is guaranteed that his fellow teachers and the local board of education will also take a dim view of an ALT with a visible tattoo.

7. Ink doesn’t always cause a stink at the onsen

Gangster chic: Models show off works by tattooist Horiyoshii III at the Foreign Correspondents

In response to our Nov. 6 column (“If you need to bring drugs to Japan, sort out the paperwork — or else”), regarding how to find tattoo-friendlyonsen, a few readers wrote in with their public bathing experiences.

6. Returnee livid after ugly treatment at TBC beauty salon in Tokyo

Ubiquitous: Bicultural model and  TV

“They tried to ditch me, insisting that without a translator or proper Japanese reading skills, I was unable to enroll for their services. I then asked if they had either an English form or if someone could possibly help me by reading the kanji I didn’t understand. They simply refused.”

5. Student seeking Kyoto flat told: No foreigners allowed

Barred: Belgian student  Victor Rosenhoj on Ryukoku University

“Well, the very first moment I was told that, I thought I had misheard something. But it soon became clear that it wasn’t a misunderstanding.”

4. Prove you’re Japanese: when being bicultural can be a burden


Japanese television shows and commercials might be full of cute “half” young adults, but back in the real world, being a bit “different” isn’t always such a good thing when you are trying to make your way in this country.

3. ‘Yellow fever; and the fantasy of the Asian female


Any cultural interaction can trigger fantasies, a pushing of buttons in the collective unconscious. Few of these fantasies, though, seem as keen as the one Western males have of Asian females.

2. There is more to my son than the fact he’s a ‘half’

Glass half full: Japanese TV shows are full of cute

. . .the “half” classification seems to stick. It is forever associated with a person. It becomes a label. People have referred to my son’s “halfness” and then have not been able to remember his name.

1. Japan: no safe country for foreign women


I’ve lived in Japan on and off for several years, and I’ve always felt safe on my bicycle here, particularly as I often see young and old women alike biking at all hours of the night. But after an event a few weeks ago, I feel as if this false sense of security has been stripped away.