A Japanese in the Land of the Gaijin

by LiLBlueEyes, the HSM special guest contributor

GAIJIN – That’s the Japanese word for outsider or foreigner. Literally, it translates to “outside person.”

So what happens when a Japanese enters the world of the gaijin? It’s fairly well known by now that there are Americans and others who have Japanese Home accounts but very rarely do we see Japanese citizens visit the other Home regions.

I would like to introduce you to Tomo; he’s a former Professor of Physics at the University of Tokyo who now works for the more lucrative private sector. He also frequents North America Home.

LBE – When did you first join Home?

Tomo – Early 2009. Some of my coworkers spoke of a new application on the Sony game console; I purchased a PS3 and found the service to be most enjoyable.

LBE – You mean to tell me you’re Japanese and you didn’t have a PS3?

Tomo – I played video games as a child – this is Japan and everyone had Nintendo – but when I became [an] adult, I did not see any advantage to playing video games, so I no longer played them.

LBE – Well, welcome back to the world of video gaming.

Tomo – Thank you!

LBE – So tell me: how did you come to find USA Home?

Tomo – I began to see avatars speaking English in Japan Home; not only English but other languages. Most Japanese do not speak English or other languages. My English was acceptable, so I approached one of the foreigners and asked them how they came to be in Japan Home.

LBE – What did you think of these foreigners?

Too – Many of my friends did not like having foreigners in Japan Home, [but] I was not disturbed by it. There were many rude guys in the beginning, but now most have come to understand Japanese culture and behave more appropriately.

LBE – You seem to spend a lot of time in USA Home; why?

Tomo – Japan has a limited selection; USA has many apartments that I enjoy buying, [and] I also find the American culture most interesting. There are many impulsive and funny American people – in Japan, people are traditional and orderly.

LBE – What are some of the things you don’t like about USA Home?

Tomo – I may never come [to] understand why so many in USA Home will like to argue. I find it to be crude; I sometimes will become embarrassed for the people involved. Also, the scrutiny of avatars in USA Home is confusing. In Japan Home, I can wear whatever I wish and it matters to no one. But if I dress in a female avatar in USA Home, I will receive a wide spectrum of responses; if I wear bright male clothing, I am called homosexual, if I wear the funny costume I am called [a] loser – so many unnecessary labels.

LBE – How do you handle the aggressive nature of USA Home?

Tomo – I do not take anything personally, so I do not involve [myself] in the drama.

LBE – What do you like best about Home in general?

Tomo – I like that when you enter Home it is the same, but it is never the same. I’m sorry; I don’t know the English word for the meaning.

LBE – Unpredictable or spontaneous.

Tomo – Yes; I have now confirmed the meaning using my dictionary.

LBE – Do you use a dictionary a lot while in USA Home?

Tomo – People from the US speak in different colloquialisms. Someone from the East Coast will speak different words and meanings then someone from the South. I can understand most of what is said, but it is the slang that confuses me the most. Slang words I cannot find in the English to Japanese dictionary.

LBE – I have some bad news for you. Americans are always inventing new words and phrases.

Tomo – I will continue to see if my American friends laugh or argue when they say these unknown slang words, and then I will act accordingly.

LBE – Do you ever get involved in your friends’ drama? You said you avoid drama. But with your friends, I am sure you have to pick a side once in a while?

Tomo – Sometimes it is unavoidable for me to put my two pennies into the situation between friends. I do not wish to gossip about my friends, though; you may ask another question, please.

LBE – Fair enough; where do you see PlayStation Home in its development in a year from now?

Tomo – There will be new advances in mini-games and in our avatars, but the regions will remain separated.

LBE – So basically the regions will still be gaijin or strangers to one another?

Tomo – It is Sony’s will, but the people [also] have a will, and thus will continue to reach each other.

LBE – Straight up, and thank you for your time.

Tomo – I know that slang meaning, and you are welcome.

It was an absolute pleasure to interview Tomo, and I was fascinated by his viewpoint of American behavior and our version of Home. The cross-cultural communication — the differences in social mores and behavior patterns — is fascinating. And, just as we often think the grass is greener on the other side, it’s worth noting that people in other Home regions think the same of us.