Jan 3, 2013

The gaijin stages

This post will be about the stages of moving to Japan and what you might feel when you get here. Of course everyone is different but in general most people tend to follow the same pattern of feelings.

Stage 1 : OMFG I AM IN JAPAN!!! (*゚Д゚*) [approximately lasts 2 weeks - 1 month]
- Fresh off the boat and in a paradise. You can't take your hands off your video camera. A constant facebook update every hour to your friends and family of all the new things you are seeing.

Stage 2 : Look at me now Bitches! [approximately lasts 1 - 2 months]
- Feel great because you can order something by yourself
- Only been here a short time but feel like you own the place
- Your friends back home in your home country start to get annoyed with the fact that all you ever talk about is Japan and how much cool stuff you are seeing.

State 3 :  Withdrawals [approximately lasts 1 - 5 months]
- I call this withdrawals because its almost like someone is coming off drugs. The feelings of excitement were away, you stop taking pictures of random things (trees, stop signs, cars, buildings). 

Stage 4 : The dark ages [approximately lasts 1 - 9 months]
- This is the time where you are putting lots of effort into understanding everyone around you, but still no one is able to understand you yet. You have not made any real friends, and perhaps you have even lost some friends because they thought you were too strange and too different to handle.

State 5 :  Acclimation [approximately takes 1 year or more to happen]
- You have started to get an understanding of the language
- you are able to go out on your own and perform normal everyday tasks with little struggle.
- You accept the cultural differences and understand them.
- You are making regular friends

Stage 6 : Home country sick [can happen at any time, coming and going]
- You have settled into your new life in Japan however you start to get cravings for foods, visits or something that is back in your birth countries. You start looking forward to trips back to see your friends and family.

Stage 7 : URUSEE!! [can happen anytime, can last forever]
- This is the stage where you start to realise the small things that bother you about Japan. Weather it is the annoying questions you get asked by the locals or one of the cultural differences you have not got accustomed to yet. You start to complain and get stressed out about it, you might even get defensive and start to build resentment of the people around you.

Stage 8 : I am a more Japanese like gaijin than you! [usually happens after stage 7]
- This is the stage where you start to feel so aware of the Japanese culture that you start to feel better than the other foreigners around you. You walk around and when you see someone else, you might judge them. You avoid hanging out with other gaijin because you don't want to be seen as one of them. You try to speak Japanese loudly so that those around you know you can speak Japanese.

Stage 9 : Regular resident [approximately takes 2 years or more to happen]
- You are just like a regular Japanese. You consider Japan your home and you understand the culture. You don't get excited when you see something new because you have seen it all before. You have stopped resenting gaijin and just see people as people, without any care in the world about them. You go about your daily activities as you would in your home country. You don't have to brag to the world that you live in Japan.

Feel free to add any of your own stages in the comments. :)


  1. This is really accurate :D

  2. lol loved reading this. Just a guess, but maybe some of the food you were missing were perogies? Or possibly poutine? I seen that you are from Canada so... Could possibly be it.

    Anyways, hope you are in stage 9 or past it.

    1. Tim hortons, Doritoes and sour cream dip, jerk chicken, real subway, taco bell!!!, chilli, torstitoes chips, real good spaghetti sause....the list could go on for days

  3. Hi :) I read on twiter that you go to school now in Japan^o^ do you mean as in University?

    And how can you afford it as the tuitionfees are super high :)

    1. Nope, language school.
      Its 6000$ a year.
      I afford it by saving money, and saving more money.

  4. Maybe I hung around on the wrong websites, but it seemed to me like rather a lot of people get stuck in stage 7 forever XD.
    It even put me off going to Japan long-term (well, that and breaking up with my Japanese girlfriend, so I had no reason to do it). I'd hate to keep running into these commies everywhere who will assume I'm an "ally".
    Mind you, it's not all fun 'n games being non-straight yet non-communist in Britain either XD

  5. I feel like people who get through Stage 8 (I am a more Japanese like gaijin than you!)are the most pathetic ones. Avoiding foreign people because you think you're better than them just because WOW you've been living there a bit longer is quite absurd, thing is, you've also been a newbie, and yeah sorry to tell you this but you're not Japanese, you may have gotten used to the culture and language, but denying people who are foreigners just like you is denying who you TRULY are...yeah a FOREIGNER too.

    Living in a country for one year is not that of a big accomplishment, many people have traveled, lived in different countries, and learned how to speak ten thousand languages, yet this only seems to be happening in Japan where all the f*ucktard foreigners seem to be getting watermelon heads after being there for a year. Sharing your experiences with others and helping them is not going to kill you, don't avoid them because of their race and origins, do it only if you feel like the person is not trustworthy, a jerk or a bitch (you know like you would do in your OWN country before you came in wonderful Japan).

    Yeah you are having a hard time with Japanese people, running away from foreign people is not going to help you feel any better.

    I just needed to let this out, not targeting you (I don't know you and which stage you've been through, but about all the idiots I've met so far)

  6. weather....I think you mean whether. and realize is not spelled with an s.

    1. In British english, is is indeed spelled with an s. ;)

    2. Similarly, the word "wear" should not be spelled "were".

  7. Went through all those stages but still cannot get use to being stared at like a zoo animal every where I go and the the resentment from japanese men who seem very jealous of any gaijin male and give you the stare or talk shit about you when you can hear them on the train especially when your with your japanese partner

  8. very interesting analysis. I feel like this could be applied to everyone who just joined a new social group/community/club,etc. There are all kinds of different subcultures among different groups, and it always starts off being very exciting at first, and then that excitement would continue to drop lower and lower once you know more about the people in the group but not completely know them by heart yet.

  9. Just a comment to say awesome blog. Read a few entries and you seem really down to earth, and your posts are insightful! :)

  10. I totally agree! I lived in Kyoto as an exchange student (only for 6 months though) and went through pretty much all the first stages, but then after my half-a-year when I had to leave I was right around stage 8 :D I hope I get to come back one day to work in Japan (or to visit or anything!).

  11. How do you make friends in a different country? :s

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