Life in Japan

Do Japanese People Really Keep Staring at Foreigners?

It’s time for another post in the blog series “A German Alien in Japan“.

There are so many things I want to share with you, but I should have started writing about them right after I came to Japan.
Why? Because after a few years most things seem so normal to you although they felt so strange in the beginning.
If you’ve gotten used to things, you usually forget about them. They become routine and you certainly don’t write about them in your blog.

One thing that is always present and that most people living in Japan won’t be able to get used to is THE STARING IN JAPAN! [ insert horror background music]

I know that a lot of you are worried about how you will be seen or treated as a foreigner in Japan.
I’m sure you’ve heard a lot, but you shouldn’t trust everything you hear and just experience things yourself!

Of course it’s a good thing to get some information prior to coming, but always keep in mind that things are never 100% accurate and your own experience might be completely different!

Life as a foreigner in Japan: Staring in Japan

 

Staring in Japan is everywhere:

If you come to Japan just know that you WILL be stared at if you don’t look Japanese.
How intense, how often, how many people will stare .. all that depends on various things.

I expected to be stared at when I first went to Japan as a tourist, because that’s what I heard anyways: “Japanese people stare at foreigners.”
At that time I went to major tourist spots such as Tokyo and Kyoto.
YES, people stared, but not as much as I expected them to. I was almost disappointed. *g*

However, if you live in Japan for a certain time – NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE – you will experience a certain degree of staring.
Usually at the major tourist spots they’re used to seeing a lot of foreigners, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be less staring.

I have always only lived in the Japanese countryside where there aren’t many foreigners, so there is some staring going on – EVERY SINGLE DAY!
When I go to a bigger city, I usually expect to get less staring than back home, because … it’s a BIG city, lots of FOREIGNERS, right?!
Interestingly there’s often even more staring going on there!

 

Who will be stared at:

Personally I hate being the center of attention, so I try not to stand out.

In Japan I stand out no matter what I do … just because I look different.
And in my case I don’t even look THAT different, I’d say! I’m not that tall, I have dark brown hair and dark eyes.
From behind people have confused me with a Japanese person.
But it’s my Western face that seems to not blend in at all.

I can understand that people are staring when there is a super tall or big person. They literally stand out in a crowd of Japanese people.
Or if there’s a tall, blonde and blue-eyed foreigner.
Even I stared when there were two blue-eyed, blonde and apparently foreign children speaking Japanese fluently with their foreign mom on a train.

That’s something you don’t see every day!

Foreigners have become quite a common sight, at least in bigger Japanese cities and yet there’s all this staring!
As long as you don’t look Japanese they will stare. [Can I have the horror background music one more time?]

Another thing I noticed is: there might be less staring when you’re alone.
Simply because one foreigner doesn’t stick out as much.
You’re aware of the staring a lot more if you’re alone, though.
If you are with a group of foreigners, you’re usually busy talking to them and you don’t notice so much what’s happening around you, but there is in fact more staring going on.

 

The Daily Stare:

If you have to deal with staring in Japan every single day for many years it can get very exhausting. smilie

You can never really relax, because you know some people are watching every single step, every single movement.
You can’t even sleep in peace on the train without being stared at.

I’m sorry to tell you that, but you can’t avoid the staring in Japan!
Most Japanese people will look away the second you look at them (whereas Chinese people often keep staring).

While what I just mentioned might be true for adults, it’s a whole different story for kids!
Children can be very persistent and annoying when it comes to staring.
Kids stare at me every single day. And a glimpse is not enough! They want MOAR! Even when they pass by their head turns in my direction so that they can keep an eye on me. smilie

Speaking of Japanese children and staring there’s just one story out of many I’m going to share with you for now:
I was sitting in a Starbucks smilie and there was this little girl with her family right next to me.
The little girl turned over and had her face only a few centimeters away from mine.
She kept staring and staring … I couldn’t enjoy my coffee at all. smilie
I was waiting for her mom to say something, but despite being well aware of the situation, she didn’t do anything!

Eventually I asked the girl in Japanese if there was anything strange in my face.
A “normal” young girl would have probably turned away immediately, but this girl just shook her head and kept staring.
IT WAS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ANNOYING!
I tried to turn away from her as much as possible, finished my coffee very quickly and left.
Yes, there ARE days like that!

But things could be worse. After all staring is pretty harmless, right? It’s annoying, you might feel uncomfortable, but it doesn’t really do anything to you.

What if it’s not just staring, though?
I had kids point at me, screaming: GAIJIIIIN!!! (Foreigner!!!!!!)
Of course, everybody else immediately turned over to “look” at me. smilies
I was thinking about just pointing back, screaming: NIHONJIIIIN!!! (Japanese!!!!) smilie

In this situation as well the mother didn’t do anything about it.
Usually a mother would say: “Stop that! You can’t just point at people!”
I think that’s ONE reason why Japanese people stare so much. They weren’t taught that it’s a bad or rude thing to do.
If you ask a Japanese person about it, you often get the answer: “I thought foreigners are ok with it. It’s normal in foreign countries to stare at people, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, sure. Just like the flying pink elephants here in Japan …”

Sometimes the staring is accompanied by random comments. Luckily I mostly get nice ones, but to me it’s still annoying most of the time:
“Beautiful!”
“So tall!”
(I’m only about 173cm and I never wear heels!)
“Look, a foreigner!” (“Look! A three headed monkey!!” …)

People often tend to suddenly speak English or change the topic to something about America (because they think you are American) when they see you.

 

How to deal with staring in Japan:

Well, there are people who mind and people who don’t mind.
It might even depend on your mood on that specific day.
Even I have days where I just HATE being permanently stared at and then I have days when I barely notice it or just don’t care.

If you don’t mind being stared at at all then congratulations! smilie Tell me your secret! smilie

I have no idea about good ways to deal with “The Daily Stare“, but here are some ideas you might (NOT) want to try:

You can stare back.
You can just say something. Anything is fine.

  • “Is there something funny in my face?”
  • “Are you in love with me?”
  • “Have you never seen an alien before?” (“Michael Jackson was one, too!!”)
  • “I know I look like George Clooney, but in fact I’m a woman!”
  • “Could you just stop staring at me? Please?? PLEASE!!!!”

You can cover your face, start crying, start screaming or just make funny faces!

Why do Japanese stare at foreigners? - Staring in Japan

Photo Credit: Arni Kristjansson

Or you can get this awesome book cover for free!
The title of the book translates to: Why do Japanese stare at foreigners?”
I’d love to get it just to see what would happen! *g*
Obviously that only works when you’re in a train or sitting in a café, not when you’re walking through streets or in a department store.


Now it’s your turn! Please share your experience! smilie

How do you deal with the staring in Japan?
What’s your weirdest experience?
Do you have the ultimate technique to stop staring?
Do you even mind when people stare at you?

123 Comments

  • Interesting, I’m hoping I’ll get the time off work to go travelling next year. I am for certain going to explore Tibet, and yeah, looking around where I’d like to go after that and thats how I found you website on Facebook, yeah why not Japan for a few week.
    And I do always research how the locals react to foreigners from folk who have been. And this post from yourself, gives me mixed feeling. STARING, yeah, I think from your point, its become annoying the more you desire to fit in. If for instance I saw a Chinese lady walking by in my hometown of Accrington, England, which is indeed a small town, I would, not necessarily stare but look through the corner of my eye, so I can carry on looking hopefully without her notice, because Chinese in this town, is a break from the norm. When I get going on my travels to Tibet, then, hopefully, Japan, because you have described a wonderful country to visit, and get starred at, I’m going to sympathize with whoever looks at me, smile and go about my business. I feel, the way you described being some sort of curiosities, in Japan, and I guess we are, and accept such, as I said sympathize, they look at you as if they’d like to know about you more but too shy to approach, but since we don’t really understand why, we could just smile, give a wave and go about your business. I’m guessing :-)

    • Hello, Jason.
      I agree that it’s almost a natural reflex to stare at things or people we’re not used to.
      However, the second we realize we’re staring, we should stop – and many people here don’t. It seems some Japanese people think it’s not rude / ok to stare in foreign countries, so foreigners wouldn’t mind being stared at.

      It would probably be a good thing to go to every single Japanese person who stares at me and point out that I consider it to be extremely rude, but seriously – who would do that?

      Just like you suggest, smiling is probably the best thing to do – but when you’re annoyed it can be hard.

      Thanks for your comment, Jason! :D

  • I never been in Japan actually, so I can´t contribute to the topic of being stared in Japan. But I lived a year in Spain, 4 years in Italy and since three years I´m in Switzerland. I´m german so I actually look like a normal european so I´ve never really been stared at. (Beside that in Spain all guys would talk to me adressing me as “Rubia” which means blond, even though I have dark brown hair).
    But still I can get how you feel over being singled out as an outsider, I feel also very much like this in switzerland (which is my neighbour country!), because I don´t speak switzerdütsch (dialect from the german part) everyone knows immidiately when I talk that I´m german. When I´m in Tessin(italian part of switzerland) I´m talking italian and strangely everyone assumes I´m english. People actually don´t even ask me if I am english, no, they just ask me where from England I´m from and how it was there.
    And while swiss people are very friendly to tourists they can get quite annoying if you live there, because I hear at least once per day some comments over me being german and therefore somehow inferior.
    Lately on work I´ve been talking over a course I wanted to attend in switzerland and sayed ” I really hope the practical part is good, I need to know how this works!” And my coworker replied” Of course it´s good, we are not in Germany”. And I´m sure he didn´t even realize what he just sayed to me and meant no harm, but unfortunately it gets hard to tune out this comments if you hear them everyday.
    – I guess it is rather the same with the staring.
    And most of the persons which mouth their opinion over my country have never lived there, they have been there once a weekend and it´s all they need to obviously know everything about it. So, to make this story short, I can´t imagine how it is in Japan, since your face makes you already stand out, but if this makes you feel any better: Even if you are in your neighbour country you can be singled out and treated as an alien.

    • Nika,
      thanks so much for sharing your experience.
      It doesn’t make me feel better to be honest. It makes me sad. Two of my friends also work in Switzerland (they are German) and they told me pretty much the same as you.
      I know that “passive racism”, “discrimination” or whatever you want to call it happens everywhere, but I think it’s really tough when it already happens “at first sight” because you “stand out”.

  • I just found your blog after doing some research on sightseeing in Japan. It’s amazing how much I can relate to your frustration, except I encountered plenty of staring when I lived in Germany. I am of Asian descent, born in Japan (as a US military brat). I was raised in Japan for 9 years until I moved to the US. My mother then received a job promotion in Germany and I spent my preteens years living in the Frankfurt area and going to an American middle school in Darmstadt. Living in Germany, which made it easy to travel to the other European countries and enhanced my cultural perspective, was the worst 2 years of my life. I got stared at all the time because I did not look distinctly Caucasian. One example is this: back when Germany had WalMart retail stores, I recall being at one for the first time and having the locals literally stop walking to stare and gawk at me when they saw I was different from their typical German neighbor. They did not even bother to be discreet about it; they followed me with their eyes and even turned their heads! It may have been out of mere curiosity, but some of the stares felt a bit hostile. This was back in 2003. Fortunately, not all the German people I met treated me that way. We lived in Seeheim-Jugenheim and our German neighbors were for the most part friendly to us. However, when we traveled to northern Germany (Edelweiss area) I encountered way more staring, especially from the older folks. One lady in particular looked at my mom and step-dad (who is a Caucasian-American) in disgust and I felt uncomfortable the whole trip. I felt very insecure and fearful in Germany as an Asian. As a preteen, I spent most of my days at home because I didn’t want to have to go out and deal with all the stares. I’m sure by now Germany might have become a bit more multicultural since then. But still, being stared at was extremely frustrating.

    • Hey Micki!

      Right after reading the first few sentences I knew you were not talking about the present situation. Germany, it seems, has changed a LOT in the past few years.
      The top 3 countries with the most foreigners are USA, Russia and Germany – but only Germany is a super tiny country. With the EURO crisis more and more people come to Germany. Since I have left my home country the number of immigrants has increased drastically.
      I remember hearing (not! seeing) more foreigners than German people when I walked around our small city last time I visited. So, I think the situation has changed a lot. Maybe in a few more years, people will stare at German people who live in Germany because there are more foreigners than German people. *g*

      No, seriously, I really wonder why you had such an experience. It has become so hard to tell who is a foreigner and who isn’t. Just by looking at someone we can’t tell, so why all the staring? I’m sorry you had such a horrible experience, though. :(

  • I travel a lot, and i realy think this “Staring Problem ” is a Global one, cause if you re not fit in,
    because of your Size, Colour or whatsoever the Reason might be,
    they will stare at you regardless in wich country you are at that Time, this is not a typical Japanese phenomenon, its a Stupid Global one, sadly.

    And No ( Sorry ) there is No Formula to prevent that. :stressed: :sweatdrop:

  • I read this and I chuckled. This is not a Japanese problem as some of the other commenters have said. I’m an Asian American living in Switzerland. I get stared at all the time. Especially when I travel to smaller cities around Europe. I’m EXOTIC in Europe just like you’re EXOTIC in Japan. And I like it. :bleh:

    This is a long thread on English Forum (an expat message board in Switzerland for English speakers). Guess what, therere’s this 200+ message thread on Swiss people staring at foreigners!

    http://www.englishforum.ch/other-general/54020-sport-staring.html

    You’re not alone.

      • Hi!
        I love reading about everyone’s experiences and comments and seeing that basically , no matter where we are from and where we currently find ourselves, we have some very common experiences. And the bottom line seems to be that ultimately everything is relative , isn’t it :-)
        I’m originally from Toronto, Can, and of mixed Asian decent , and I have been living in Germany for 27 years. I totally understand your frustrations because after all these years, during which time I consider to have put down roots here, I don’t feel really at home deep down. Not for any other reason that , despite the explosion of cultural/ethnic diversity in Germany esp. In the last 15 years, I don’t German. But more than that, I don’t look like what Germans think Canadians look like, which remains basic ally „white“. And unless an Eurasian can pass for completely white, you are basically assuned to be Asian. So, it was funny reading your description of how Japanese locals grill you on „where you are really from“. I get word for word they exact same conversation. The other person just won’t give up until they fish outthe one piece of information that in their minds makes their world all „right“ again. And like you, it pisses you off (especially when you run into such incidents 3-4 times in a week), because after all these years, despite speaking German fluently and being integrated into the society, you get the feeling that people are not seeing YOU as a person, but seeing you only in terms of your racial features. (The best one I have ever had was the student who just wouldn’t give up trying to guess where I was come and finally popped up put of nowhere after 30 min, wagging his finger satisfactorily, saying „na, Eskimoblut, Du hast bestimmt Eskimoblut!“ (You must have Eskimo blood). I couldn’t make that up! That is what disturbs me, and would disturb me anywhere that happens in the world.
        By the way, I probably get as much stares as you do in Japan. My husband (who is a 6ft.4 inch blond German btw), doesn’t get as much stares as I do when we are in Japan, which he is always pointing out. So go figure. But the mixed Asian experience experience in Asia is another blog :-)

        • I’m actually really surprised your husband gets less stares than you in Japan. ;)

          I’m also surprised to hear about your experience in Germany. I don’t know if that’s a regional thing as I haven’t travelled in my home country at all, but I know for sure that people where I live don’t ask others where they’re from, assuming someone is not German. I grew up with immigrants in my class, but for me they were German … and not German at the same time. But it never occurred to me, to ask them where they’re really from.

          And from my visits in the past few years in Germany, I have noticed the super increased number of immigrants living there now. I don’t need to ask them where they’re from. They’re all speaking their native language all the time, barely any German, so it’s easy to figure out. I think that’s a completely different story, though.

          Thanks so much for sharing your experience. It was really interesting and surprising. :D

  • Hello, I’m Iranian and I’ve been living in Japan since October last year. Unfortunately for me, I am not dealing with the staring well. There’s the added pressure that I look middle-eastern, and people from that area do not have the best of reputations here… I have certainly been treated differently than more western looking gaijin’s because of it, so I’m extra paranoid when in public.

    I’ve had days ruined after trying to ask someone in a convenience store to help me with food labels (I’m vegetarian) only for them to just slowly back away and ignore my existence. Or just yesterday a bunch of schoolgirls started staring at me and talking loudly about the gaikokujin from across the street, I got frustrated and said “fuck you” with a kinda-loud voice which I immediately regretted :<

    Right now I'm trying to distract myself as best as I can when outside but it isn't working that well, I'm afraid I'm going to turn into a social recluse because I can't deal with this haha

    • I totally understand your frustration, TRUST ME, but I think the way you’re dealing with it is not a good one.
      I know it can be very hard and I understand that you get angry, because I have times like that, too.
      But you said it yourself, you regretted what you did.

      How good is your Japanese?
      Instead of screaming why don’t you go over and try to talk to them in a polite way. You can tell them how you feel. They probably didn’t even intend to hurt you at all!

      It’s very hard, but you’re not alone! *hug*

      • My Japanese is fine, I understand most basic conversations and I can make myself understood pretty decently. I am weary of approaching others because I’m too scared they’ll run away and leave me looking like an idiot. I don’t usually scream or even react, but that day I was already having a bad day and I guess it took very little for me to lose my cool.

        Thanks for the reply, cheered me up :’)

  • It’s funny how you speak about staring at foreign people as a thing that only happens in Japan. I am latina and I currently live in France (i have live here for 6 year by now) and people stare as well. It just get worst when I open my mouth. As soon a they hear you speak( in french) they just know and always say ”You have an accent, where do you come from? or the one that never get old ” What did you came here for?”
    If not distant french people are downright hostile. Not even talking about the crude jokes or how they always start speaking in some mocking Spanish as I pass by in the street.
    No matter of how long I have lived here, for them I will be forever an outsider.
    It’s is just the karma of any person in a foreign country, not just in Japan.

    • Hi Casca!
      Thanks so much for joining the discussion.

      Well, that’s because I haven’t been to many countries yet – only to a few European countries and Japan.
      So, naturally I tend to compare Japan to my home country Germany and the few other countries I know.
      I don’t doubt that staring exists in other countries as well. In some more, in some others less.

      I’ve never been to France but I heard a LOT of stories from friends who went there several times and France has a certain “reputation” within Europe, so I’m actually not surprised about what you say.

      I’m sorry to hear that you face that kind of treatment in France and I’m glad you’re so honest and told us all about it! :D

  • I had this situation when riding my bicycle to the train station in the morning. A group of elementary or middle school pupils just went by, saw me and one of them said “Hello” to me.

    Well, I just replied “Ni hao” :D After that he was mocked by his fellow classmates „ハハ、中国人!!“ Usually they get silent after that.
    Or once, when a jung boy called me アメリカ人, I shouted 中国語人 at him.

    I have to admit, maybe not so nice towards young children, but this usually has a nice effect. I wonder if they start hating foreigners in the future, though :D

    • I guess it depends on HOW you say it to them.
      I think it’s important to “educate” them, because I know that many of them don’t learn about that kind of stuff in school or from their parents.
      Even among my students who come to our school to learn English after ‘normal’ school, only a few are truly interested in foreign countries. Some have done a homestay or student exchange. I’ve even had one high school student who came back as a complete different person after 1 year in America. For him, it was a life-changing experience. He seemed much happier and decided to move to America after he graduated.

      A lot of kids these days don’t even know in which countries people speak English. It’s just easier for them to categorize all Western foreigners as American.

  • I’m planning on going to Japan as a tourist either next summer or the year after that (depends on when I have time) and I was wondering if japanese people stare at South Asians (I live in Canada, but my parents are from Pakistan so I don’t look Western). It’s ok if you don’t know, it’s just that so far I haven’t found any blogs or youtube channels where people who are Western but look South Asian have been to Japan.

    Like you, I hate people staring at me. Then again, since I’m not planning on moving there, there probably won’t be staring, plus I also have black hair, so I don’t think most people will notice.

    • As you know, I’m not Asian, so I really can’t tell you anything from experience.
      What I know for sure is that you will blend in more easily, but that doesn’t necessarily mean nobody will stare at you.
      You’ll probably get less staring than me, but it doesn’t only depend on how you look, but also where in Japan you are.

      Maybe other Asian people living in Japan can answer this question. I hope somebody will read and reply to your comment! ^__^

      If you’re only here for a short time, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. ;)

  • I don’t read all comments yet so someone may replied already though, this staring issue is not only a problem for foreigner. As a japanese, we always stare(rather say “a glance”) each other. At the same time we all know being stared is an annoying and it is not recommeded, I mean, schools or parents will advice not to stare people.

    I think the reason why we do that is based on our closed culture in an island and idiosyncracy of prefering “Galapagos” way. Try to eliminate what we never know, never meet, never understand in our brain, unconnscciousnessly we do that. Staring is not straightly and act of eliminating but it is an act of “see through”. Therefore the staring phenomenan tend to occcur a lot in locals rather than urban area, as latter have various kind of people(Japanese) who can not or don’t have to know one deeply. As minority hate to be violated their way of living by alien which have greater culture. This has both good and bad aspects, you can see that in our business policy like seniority system(not most co-worker works there long time, so a newbie who joined by changing job is “stared” alot. can’t happen this in a firm without the policy). Consequently, Japanese staring is not a expression of disgust but frightened. I hope every foreigner don’t misunderstand our true mind.

    PS, kid is just grown up in this odd culture and it is tend not to be occur when you are not alone, those 2 are true.

    • Hello Mana! :)

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. I think it’s very interesting for others to read what a Japanese person thinks about this. ^__^
      I don’t think most of us consider it as a sign of disgust when Japanese people stare at us, but being stared at just makes most of us feel uncomfortable.
      A lot of people don’t like being the center of attention and if you’re stared at all the time, there’s just always this strange / annoying / uncomfortable feeling, I guess. ;)

      • Thank you for your reply. I agree with your opinion of being stared is uncomfortable.
        I just hope Japan become tolerant for various ideas and comfortable place for foreigner who understanding our way of seeing.

  • On a family vacation to Rome many years ago we suddenly noticed that a group of Japanese tourists, one by one, tried to sneak up on my mum to take pictures next to her (she’s 182 cm tall and Scandinavian). Initially she hadn’t even noticed since she had her back turned at them. When the rest of us started laughing, she turned around to see what was going on and the poor Japanese guy who thought he was being super stealthy did a double take before ever so slowly walking backwards away from her.
    Such little incidents are fun when they are few and far between, but I can imagine it would be really bothersome if it happened weekly in a random supermarket.

    • A lot of Japanese people are actually very polite and don’t try to sneakily take photos of you. It has happened to me in the past and when I was super annoyed I told them to stop in my local Japanese dialect. They were so surprised. *g*
      I’ve noticed that other Asians, mostly Chinese, are a bit more aggressive when it’s about taking photos of people. Although again, I had one Chinese boy come up to me and ask me politely in English if he could take a photo of me. I rejected him nevertheless. ^^;; …

  • I stumbled upon this website while looking for tips to deal with staring people. And funnily enough, my situation is just like this but the other way around. I’m an American (but ethnically Southeast Asian), have lived in Berlin for the past 5 years and am stared at like I am terribly unwanted on a daily to at least weekly basis. And that, of course, really bothers me because I didn’t know that would be the case. I didn’t notice all the staring when I was here as a tourist and first moved here. And it actually really hurts my feelings because no one likes getting death/disgusted glares in the bus for no reason or being treated less friendly in shops depending on whether or not she is with her German partner. Living here, working here and speaking fluent German doesn’t matter because I look different. :whyohwhy: My previous method of combatting stares was staring back. But I’m going to try the advice of saying, “Have you never seen an alien before”. It’s much more lighthearted. Hopefully it works. :peace:

    • Hm. That’s strange.
      In Germany (at least in recent years – or so I heard) there are so, so many immigrants that it’s become very multi-cultural over there.
      It’s hard to tell who’s German and who’s not, so I’m surprised you still get stares.
      But then again, I’ve never been in Berlin, so I don’t know how things are there.
      I’m sorry to hear that you have to deal with that in my home country. :(

  • hi. My name is thisuri and I’m from sri lanka (a country close to india) I am sooo glad I found this, cause I thought I was the only one who got stared at. I felt as though it was a bit worse for me, because I’m not even european-looking, have a somewhat dark complexion. And I can only speak like 2 words in japanese. There was one particular little girl (about 4 years old)who was staring at me with the most horrified expression, one day and I just felt like dying, or wishing I could turn invisible.

    • Hi thisuri!

      Don’t worry. You’re not alone.
      I know it can make you feel awkward and extremely uncomfortable if people stare at you, even if they’re just little kids.
      Unfortunately that’s not really something we can control, but we can control how we handle it.
      Good luck to you and don’t despair! :)

  • I think it’s funny how you complain about being stared at as an immigrant and then complain about sooo many immigrants in Germany. I am Italian, I live in Germany and I am currently in Japan. I get stared at in Germany too. Quite annoying. And I speak German and even changed my clothing and hairstyle to fit in. I got stared at anyways so I gave up. I am a hard working, nice and kind person, no matter where I go. Luckily I know that. Other people don’t know me and it’s just too bad for them.

    • Do you mean me or Germans in general?
      I do not look very German myself, but I’ve never experienced any staring in Germany.
      Also, I cannot tell if someone is German just by looking at them. I do notice once they open their mouth and speak a language I don’t understand.
      I’m sorry to hear that you were stared at, but it seems you have a really healthy and positive mindset, so I’m not worried at all.

      Keep it up that way and thanks for your comment.

  • I’ve just discovered this blog today and I really like your articles and the way you present things.

    Regarding staring, I did experience it a lot at each trip…and I am not that tall either…but I am blond…one of my friend warned me about the Japanese “blond foreigner fetish” but it exceeded my expectations… I am not used to it but I decided to ignore the stares completely…or I tried to…when I felt I couldn’t take it I just put my cap on thinking that it would conceal my face…the result was that people were even staring harder trying to see what was under the cap and was this “tall” (1.70m) blond girl really a foreigner?

    I think that my most “star like” experience was when I was going around Tokyo with my sister and a friend. We were asked to be photographied and the girl was insisting that my sister and I were models…I wasn’t particularly flattered… more like annoyed to be noticed too much and that she was being noisy attracting more people attraction…and like you I consider that I have a normal face and moreover I am 35 yo…

    That was my experience :)
    Thank you for your articles !

    • Hi Jud,

      Thanks for sharing your experience with us.
      I see you partly experienced similar situations just like I did.
      And I also think that the more I tried hiding things, the more people stared. *g*