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The Gaijin Nod, nod that we would be among foreigners in Japan. So here is this phenomenon that seems to be not so trivial as that.
You are foreigners in Japan, so you’re a Gaijin. You will be easily recognized because you do not have the same physical traits. Your eyes are not slanted, your build is not the same, your skin color is different and your eyes and hair were not the characteristics of Japanese black color. You are then a Gaijin.
In Japan, regardless of your country, you’re a Gaijin and you will stay a Gaijin. Whether you are Americans, Africans, Europeans or else you are and will remain a Gaijin. When you visit other countries of the world, including countries outside Asia, it is often the difference by country or continent of origin of the person. In Japan, this is not the case. There will be three categories of people: Japanese, Asian and non-Asian foreigners. This will play an important role in the Gaijin Nod.
The Gaijin Nod, what is it?
The term “Nod” in English means “swinging his head up and down slightly.” The term “Gaijin” in Japanese refers to people who come from outside. The Gaijin Nod therefore consists of a nod from a stranger.
It is therefore of little moment when two strangers, who do not know each other, intersect in Japan. Their reaction is to make a small nod, even a little smile or a wink. It is as if these two people were saying “You’re not alone, I am with you” or even “Yes, I too think everything is different here,” or even “Hey you’re white I, too, let’s be friends. »
The Gaijin Nod: why does it exist?
This little nod between foreigners in Japan is made instinctively between two people who do not know each other, because they have the same feelings and felt in the same way.
They are two strangers in a unknown land. They do not necessarily have their bearings on site and may feel a bit lost. So when they see something or someone they can recognize, or to identify with, it creates a sense of security and “normalcy”.
The Gaijin Nod is as a kind of camaraderie among foreigners living in Japan. It is a small code that can be done to reassure and say that one is not alone in a strange country, surrounded by a culture that we do not control.
The Gaijin Nod: do all foreigners practice it?
As I said a little earlier, the Gaijin Nod instinctively intervenes between two individuals who may feel a bit lost in Japan. Therefore there is a meeting, a meeting between two individuals, they do not know each other and besides, the two feel a bit lost, so the Gaijin Nod occurs naturally.
This means that if one of these criteria is not met the Gaijin Nod will not take place. For example, a foreigner living in Japan for several years will not necessarily tend to do, since he will not feel in a strange land anymore.
Indeed, some foreigners living in Japan may feel “offended or annoyed” when they receive this little sign from another foreigner who just arrived in Japan. They do not react to this signal, which can come back to say “Hey, I’m here for some time now. Nothing is different for me now “or” Please, do not embarrass us. “
The Gaijin Nod: my personal experience
I arrived in Japan in May 2011. Looking in my memories, I remember that I made this exchange of nod only once. It was the Yamanote Line in Tokyo. I was sitting and across from me was another foreigner. He looked at me, I looked at him, we smiled and that was it. No, no, I assure you, this was not the beginning of a Love Story, but a Gaijin Nod. We were both new to this country. I had arrived recently and he was walking with his big backpack.
I do not remember there were other situations of Gaijin Nod for me. But, otherwise, it is not rare that I do get foreigners asking me for their way on the street. Certainly because the communication is more easy or indeed want they to be reassured.
The Gaijin Nod: Is this typical Japanese?
The Gaijin Nod is the name we give to this moment, natural and instinctive, in Japan. But be aware that this is not practiced only in Japan. I think in every country in the world, when a stranger meets another stranger, who has the same background as him, there is a contact that is created. This is natural and human.
We instinctively need and desire to go to those most like us, those whom we identify with and that the speech will be the easiest with. So when we re abroad, we will search for it among people in our community (ethnic, religion, beliefs …).
In Japan it is called Gaijin Nod and practice between all foreigners, regardless of their background. In other countries, it will be much more specific. This is because in Japan, all foreigners are recognized and treated in the same way, which is not necessarily the case in other countries.
And you what do you think? Have you ever had to make a Gaijin Nod or a kind of small sign of recognition?