Are Japanese Racist?! "Gaijin" - [2021]

Are Japanese Racist?


Understanding the deep rooted culture of Japan, and how knowing Japanese culture is key while traveling there.


That is a question i am asked quite often in the comments section of my Instagram blog photos. Many people love Japan and the culture that surrounds it, but not many people resonate with some of the stories they hear around the community. I believe there is a negative correlation with the word “Gaijin” in Japan, which roughly translates to the meaning of “foreigner”. In many cases, my Japanese friends have called me a “Gaijin” in a humoring context and did not mean any harm, but in other cases I have heard that people (foreigners/ travelers) have been mistreated and felt harm with the use of slang.


Personally I do not believe that the word “Gaijin” itself is used in a predominantly offensive way. The use of the word “Gaijin” simply refers to the difference between Japanese and other nationalities. Though the word can be misinterpreted to be offensive, the actual derivative is not offensive. It is true, that people and customers who were foreigners traveling Japan, usually get treated different in certain establishments. This is not because Japanese people are directly being racist to others (“Gaijin”), though Japan in itself as a country has very strict rules and obligations. The culture itself is built off of the idea that each person within it’s community is to be productive and properly oriented individual. This makes the individuals in Japan very rigid when it comes to certain tendencies and culture references, making people who do not associate with Japanese culture seen in a larger degree of divide than other places in the world. That is not to say that there aren’t a few people in Japan who are racist, because no place is perfect. The conclusion though, is that Japanese people usually mind their own business and do not inflict strong outward opinion to foreigners. The “Gaijin” slang is said commonly as a meaning of “outsider” which is correct. We as outsiders and foreigners to every country we visit, must use the same level of respect as a visitor in someone else’s home. We shouldn’t expect to arrive in Japan and act as we do in our own country; the culture is too closely tied to each and every Japanese persons life.




There are cases in which establishments will not let you in because of foreigner reasons. This directly pertains to the fact that Japanese people have unspoken understanding of the conduct they will use around others and inside establishments. Understand that, if we do not understand the full rules of the land, we cannot expect to be a part of it. Individuals who would like to be a part of Japanese culture, should study about it and learn the language; this might help gain access to places where other foreigners may not be able to access.


I do believe that everyone should be treated equally. As an American, with over 7 different ethnicities, I feel strongly about having the right to do whatever everyone else is involved in. However, I have come to the humble conclusion that Japan, like many other countries do not hold the same principles that the western world has. The Japanese are very respectful people and work so well as a country because of their tight niche culture keys and community ethics. To expect to be accepted as if we were a local to the land of Japan, would be to speak out of privilege. We should all remain guests in the countries we visit, because we do not truly know the roots in which each country and their operating system works.


If you feel like there was a time that Japanese people were being racist to you for being a foreigner; you must also think of how you would react to foreigners in your home. Japanese culture is something we want to dive more into with you guys as an audience, and this blog will be a start to understanding the tight workings within Japan and their culture. I hope this helped shed light on your perspective of Japanese individuals, and that this helps you relate to them rather than judge from the outside.



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By Tankensuru Japan


  • Sagan Rios


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