In the Fuji Five Lakes region of Yamanashi Prefecture, Paul Nehls asked interviewees whether they agree with the premise of Olga Garnova’s recent Foreign Agenda column, “Spare a thought for the Western men trapped in Japan.”
Assistant language teacher, 22 (English)
I haven’t personally noticed any major differences in prejudicial treatment or difficulties in how Western men vs. Western women are treated. I’ve heard of some instances of comments being leveled at women about how they dress, so maybe that’s an issue they deal with.
Unemployed/backpacker, 25 (New Zealander)
It’s really equal here for both men and women, in my experience, because living in Japan will be as hard as you make it. If you want to be a part of Japanese society, learn the language and the culture.
Yoga Instructor, 49 (Japanese)
It’s easy for young men because they can get better jobs than similarly aged Japanese men, and getting girlfriends is easy. You can be popular and many men feel they can live like a star — for a short time. The trouble is if you have a relationship and want to leave, most Japanese women don’t want to go.
High school teacher, 35 (American)
Japan’s great. It’s the best place to live for many reasons, but it’s not for everyone. You have to give up some personal freedoms and be able to adjust to expectations for the sake of the group culture here.
Teacher, 25 (American)
Reading the article didn’t necessarily open my eyes, but it confirmed some suspicions. Japan has peculiarities that make it harder to completely integrate. You can fit into your immediate community, but as soon as you leave it you can be made to feel you don’t fit in again. You need to try your hardest to make it work.
Restaurant and hostel owner, 61 (American)
It’s what you make of it. There isn’t anyone who’s actually living a stereotype. If you’re making a life here, it’s different than if you have the option of leaving when you want. Making a commitment to this country makes your relationships and responsibilities completely different.
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