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I am looking into traveling to Japan this fall, but just have one concern. I am a Canadian female of Filipino decent. I have heard/read that some Japanese tend to look down on foreigners, especially people of other Asian ethnicity. Has anyone encountered or heard of instances of racism in Japan? Do I have anything to worry about? Thanks in advance for any feedback.

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1. Re: Discrimination


Speaking as an american born person of Japanese-American heritage I would say that 'racism' is always present-- in every culture.. In my opinion, I think this becomes a smaller and smaller issue as the Japanese population becomes more multicultural in background.. Only a few generations ago it was rare to find a mixed Japanese couple or children.. Today, it is much more common..

I also think some of the 'racism' exsists as a result of WWII issues, past governmental policy and practices.. This is not meant to say these policies were correct or otherwise-- only a recognition that they exsisted-- for good or bad..

I think that today's youger generations-- those born after WWII-- have a different view of other asian races and peoples..

In the end, I really don't think you'll directly experience any ill-will or 'racism' in Japan being a female of Filippino decent in today's urban Japan.

west australia
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2. Re: Discrimination


My daughter went to Japan last October on a school excursion. She stayed with a japanese family.

My daughter is half Chinese half Australian. I too had heard about the Japanese not so keen on the Chinese and wondered if she would be okay with the host family.

Well....I had no need to worry- they loved and spoilt her .. so too did everyone who met her. She has a wonderful personality and the Japanese really warmed to her. She had the most amazing time.

She is learning Japanese and she never felt any hint of racism. She had so much fun even today she still talks about Japan.

Have a wonerful time

Destination Expert
for Tokyo
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3. Re: Discrimination

As a traveler you are less likely to encounter it.  Anycase, discrimination exist in every country in different ways.  As a foreigner living in Japan with many foreign friends, I have not personall experienced any discrimination (to my knowledge) for just being a foreigner.  I know of many Chinese, Korean and Filipino people living in Japan with no problems whatsoever.

Honolulu, Hawaii
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4. Re: Discrimination

It will be no different than an American's reaction to migrant laborers. The human reaction is universal but probably more noticeable in Japan only because of the single race-culture factor. If you go in with this expectation and perception, you probably will feel it, psychologically.

As others have said, times have changed and it's up to you to make it positive and open-minded, rather than being worried.

Hong Kong, China
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for Hong Kong, Osaka
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5. Re: Discrimination

As a visitor, you are not likely to experience racisim. Japanese are typically very helpful and polite to short-term visitors. There is nothing to worry about.

Aoyama Dori and San...
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6. Re: Discrimination

As a visitor to Japan the only discrimination you will experience is going to be self-induced. If you dress conservatively, act normally, behave and don't get out of line and have a pleasant demeanor, you will have no problems whatsoever.

This assessment totally changes if you are a resident, though. Even then, the discrimination is subtle and difficult to pickup unless a Japanese person with you picks up on it and lets you know it's happening.

Tokyo, Japan
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7. Re: Discrimination

<This assessment totally changes if you are a resident, though.>

Giggle. :-)

Once upon a time, when I was studying Aikido, the men sat in the front and the women sat behind them at the beginning and at the end of the class during the proper "bow time." As a rebel, I found the concept to be discrimminatory in nature - equal opportunity on where we sit and stand, I protested! I was told that it wasn't "discrimmination," but rather, "differentiation."

And since then, I quit protesting and learned to suck my teeth (and bow a lot). After all, those of us who are residents are "aliens." And we know how ET upset the "wa" (harmony) -- even in Hollywood.

BTW, those with "reentry permits" have a separate line at Narita. At first I thought it would be "negative differentiation," when in fact, it's actually a PERK! Like, it's the fastest line! Residents rule!

Ms. Redtomato, if you smile and are polite, you will be just fine. :-)

west australia
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8. Re: Discrimination

ha ha mamajelli.... rebel,

Hmmm me too, not sure I like the differation. Sounds like an excuse to me.

I hope I don't come accros any "differation" but as they say "when in Rome"

My Neice and Nephew just came back both half Chinese half Burmese.....not a single problem.

I truley expect to visit a country with helpful, polite and respectful people. Have never heard anything other than that.

Melbourne Australia
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9. Re: Discrimination

I wouldn't call the Japanese response to gaigin racist.

if you want to use a disparaging term and to make sweeping generalisations it would be that they are slightly xenophobic - but that is more cultural.

On the whole the Japanese believe that they are a horizontal collective and also because they are mono cultural, "outsiders" are treated differently - because of their race but not due to their race - if that made sense.

We had lots of fun travelling with an Australian girl who could speak fluent Japanese and she would intrepret the things that some Japanese would say to each other about us - usually harmless, but they would have died of shame if they had have know the gaigin knew what they were saying.

Travelling on trains was also interesting, many would actually get up and move if you sat next to them. We also got some funny looks because we were gaigin not wearing masks after swine flu had broken out.

But all this is tempered by the amazing acts of kindness I encountered by many varied Japanese - ranging from young women to older businessmen.

Dont be put off by what you hear, any reaction from the vast majority of Japanese could not be construed as racist.

My daughter is going for a homestay with a sister school in Nagoya in September and if I thought she would be discriminated against I would not be happy to let her go. However I am more than happy.

It was actually a good learning experience for me. As a white male (i.e. the dominant majority) in my country, it was an experience to be treated as a minority. It gave be a greater empathy to other minorities in my multicultural country.

10. Re: Discrimination

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