The other day Yasu, the J-List employee who keeps our site stocked with awesome anime artbooks, Japanese study supplies and those wacky “Food Drops” candies, brought his one-year-old daughter Kokoro to J-List to show her off. Kokoro-chan was a cute baby, but she took one look at me and started crying loudly, since she’d never seen a gaijin before and didn’t know what to make of this strange-looking creature. (Fortunately the Cat Bus plush toy I gave her made her feel better.) Before I started J-List I taught ESL for several years and I’ve had my share of kids who were nervous about meeting a strange foreign barbarian who spoke a funny language. This kind of thing is sho ga nai, as they say, meaning “it can’t be helped.” Since I was often serving as the first non-Japanese person these kids were encountering, I always did my best to avoid doing anything which might traumatize them or make them associate foreigners or studying English with anything bad. I usually wear sunglasses when outside, but since Japanese don’t usually wear them — I’ve been told that their darker eyes soak up more sunlight so the world doesn’t look as bright to them, although I don’t buy that for a second — I always take my sunglasses off when around kids to keep from scaring them.
Babies often cry when they encounter gaijin, since we’re new and strange to them.