Foreign misfits find that Japan may not be the answer they hoped it would be
By Desmond Campbell
It seems to me there are two types of people who come to Japan; those looking to explore a new country and those trying to escape their own. An amazing percentage fall into the latter category. No, they aren’t criminals fleeing justice; they are social outcasts looking for a place to belong. And the reasons they choose Japan have become almost cliché, reading like some overdone recruiting advertisement.
Tired of women in your home country pointing out that you are fat, ugly and lack a personality? Want a career but have no discernable job skills and no motivation, and even McDonald’s won’t hire you? Sometimes wish that you could just disappear, start over, reinvent yourself? Then Japan is the right country for you! Be the Superstar you always wanted to be! Become one of the elite, the special, the Gaijin.
But the truth is, Japan rarely fulfills its promise to the Charisma Man. Many foreign misfits who come to play find themselves stuck on a merry-go-round of disappointment. The fairytale ending in Japan is just that: a fairytale.
Nova is a perfect example. Formerly the top English school in Japan, it would literally hire any English speaker who showed up. And while many normal and intelligent people worked there, Nova was an especially great opportunity for those with no career plans or marketable job skills. Thousands of foreign teachers were hired, many imported from their home countries. Nova then cheated them out of pay and time before closing its doors forever. Many of those thousands of gaijin hired and brought to Japan who now have no job, no place to live, and no ticket home.
Of course it is true that many attractive young Japanese women will date foreign guys even though they may look like they fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. In fact, this may be the main hold Japan has on many gaijin. Women in their home country wouldn’t touch them if their lives depended on it, but Japanese women act like the sun rises and sets in their pants.
And thanks to the language barrier, these women can’t tell that the foreigner doesn’t have a personality.
The trouble is that, in the end, a loser is a loser no matter which country he lives in. Flittering from girl to girl, many of these guys came to Japan in their twenties and ended up staying into their thirties. They begin looking for a deeper relationship and become disenchanted with the Japanese dating scene.
Often such men wind up marrying a woman with a skewed idea that she’ll take care of their every need, but find reality to be quite different. The girlfriend who cooked their food and cleaned their rooms has now become the wife who expects help around the house and complains about their foreign ways. The relationship that at one time sizzled with passion has now become cold and distant.
For many, the original elation of being different and special can eventually turn into feeling like an outsider. Just ask any foreigner who has gone through the nightmare of trying to move house in Japan.
When the party ends, life can become harsh. And for those who now wish to go home, it may be too late. After teaching English for years, it becomes difficult to get a job doing anything else. And a move home means buying a car, finding a place to live, and starting at square one. With no job to go back to and no security, the onetime fleeing misfit who wishes to return home can find himself trapped. The fantasy land vanished, leaving him wondering how it happened.
While Japan is a wonderful country, it is not a miracle cure for personal deficiencies. Come and explore, enjoy the culture, the food, the people—but don’t come here trying to become something you are not. There are times that a change of location can help people be free, allowing them to grow and become who they really hoped to be. But more often than not, those who hope to reinvent themselves by coming to Japan are just deluding themselves.