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If you are seeing this, your browser is not loading the page correctly.Please try pressing Control-F5 to force reload the page.These little backhanded compliments are referred to in sociology by the relatively new term of “Microaggressions.” Essentially, when a Japanese person compliments your basic chopstick use or your above-average pronunciation of rudimentary Japanese phrases, asks, “When will you go back to your home country? ,” these people are essentially re-affirming your “otherness;” Confirming their own stereotypes about foreigners while at the same time presenting it in a complimentary fashion that feels difficult to refute or take offense to.

There is a whole category of Japanese people that foreign exchange students and long-term expats refer to as “Gaijin Hunters;” Japanese that go out of their way to befriend foreigners, typically for self-serving purposes like free English lessons, street cred, or Hollywood movie-style romance, whether that’s a fair label or not.

Comparatively rare, however, is the Japanese person who will treat you like just another human being.

Foreigners must constantly endure having their “outside-ness” “discussed openly in conversation, and I’ve had more than one friendship crumble upon learning a Japanese “friend” had actually been keeping me around for the free English lessons.

The constant praise On the surface, this seems like something everybody would want.

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