I Was Interviewed for a Podcast And Asked, is Japan Xenophobic?
The other day I was interviewed by a podcaster in Austria, who asked me questions about what it was like to run a company like J-List. One surprising question was, was it difficult to get Japanese to work for a foreigner? The answer is that literally no Japanese would care about having an American as a boss — though it’s always interesting to see the surprise on their face when they meet me for the first time — as long as we’re a proper company, which we are. It can honestly be a challenge for us to find the right Japanese employees for our staff sometimes, but mainly because our needs are so unique. We’re located in a semi-rural part of Japan, perhaps analogous with Akron, Ohio, yet need Japanese employees with excellent English skills, which can be rare.
I imagine we’re like the Blend S anime, about a cafe owned by a blonde Italian named Dino. He’s an emotional otaku who loves all things Japanese and who’s prone to geeking out randomly, just like me. This goes against our Japanese staff, who were drawn to English for their own reasons, not least because it’s kakko ii (cool), and who sometimes don’t understand why the world likes Japan so much. For example, J-List’s Sailor Moon buyer taught herself English through American shows like Family Guy, and has never watched a Miyazaki movie.
Another question I was asked, “Is Japan xenophobic?” which was frankly surprising. I’ve written before about how difficult it is to make out the true “personality” of a country when it’s far away from you, either geographically or culturally, and seen from central Europe, Japan is very far away indeed. If you asked me to tell you my impression of, say, Scotland, I’d have very little to go on except for a few historical tidbits and pop culture references, so I’d be better off keeping an open mind and reading up on Scotland before forming an opinion.
So is Japan xenophobic? My answer would be that everyone is human and has a certain wariness about unfamiliar things. That said, Japan has an extremely well developed tradition of welcoming visitors from the outside, which is going into overdrive as the 2020 Olympics near. The only time they might lose their famed politeness is when confronting a large of foreigners with poor manners, such as mainland Chinese who do things like climb sakura trees in the spring or fail to follow proper bath etiquette.
Megumi has a gift for everyone who orders using EMS shipping from Japan! Make an order and you’ll randomly get one of the following gifts included with your order:
- Level 1 gifts include cute plush hats, Japanese snacks, hachimaki headbands with interesting messages in kanji, or New Year’s “wishing boards” to bring you good luck in 2018.
- Level 2 gifts include awesome anime calendars, as well as popular kanji study cards for learning Japanese.
- Level 3 gifts will include high-end items, such as figures and other cool items.
- All additional shipping or weight charges for the gift items we send you will be covered by us.
What awesome stuff will Megumi give you? Make an order from J-List or JBOX.com and you’ll find out! Make an order now!