When I do my self-introduction to my students, I claim to be an English-teaching superhero. I’m mostly joking, but my friends and I have found that living here does in fact grant us superpowers. Like Superman under a yellow sun, except it’s gaijin under the Rising Sun. So one night, we decided to catalogue all the superpowers we’d acquired. Yes, a lot of beer was involved.
Before I continue, I should explain exactly what a Gaijin is. In Japanese, the word for foreigner is ‘gaikokujin’. It’s formed by joining together three words: outside ‘gai’, country ‘koku’, and person ‘jin’. In colloquial Japanese, it is often shortened to just ‘gaijin’. Most closely translated: ‘outsider’.
Intentional or not, ‘gaijin’ is perhaps more accurate than ‘gaikokujin’. Westerners are outsiders in Japanese society, as the Japanese love to constantly remind us. Japan is one big in-group, and we Gaijin will always be on the outside with no hope of getting in. However, it’s because we are outsiders that we are able to exercise the superpowers catalogued below.
Gaijin Smash – I can’t take credit for Gaijin Smash; it was my friend’s creation. A Gaijin Smash is anytime a Westerner exerts inherent dominance over the Japanese people. We do what we want and they can’t stop us. They do what we want because they can’t stand up to us. It’s beautiful. The best way to define Gaijin Smash is through examples.
When we went out drinking one of my friends would buy the cheapest return ticket, just to get him through the gates. When we’d arrive home, his ticket triggered the gate alarms, but he’d just plow right through and keep walking. The station worker would look up, and he’d want to say something, he really did. But then he was confronted by a Gaijin walking quickly away from him. I can only imagine the thoughts running through his head. “Oh my God! Do I have to speak English? What if I make him angry? Will he eat my children?” Paralyzed, the worker can only stand there while my friend escapes. Gaijin Smash.
Or, take a look at recent current events. Japan has troops in Iraq. Japan barely has troops at all yet there they are in Iraq. Why do you think that is?
President Bush: Hey Japan, America’s gonna invade Iraq. We want you to send us some troops for support.
Prime Minister Koizumi: Um, but…we don’t really have an army, just a Self-Defense Force. And NOBODY here has anything to do with Iraq, the public is strongly anti-war, it’s kind of pointless for us…
Bush: I don’t care. Coalition of the Willing. You’re coming.
Koizumi: Ok. I’m sorry for my insolence. The troops are on their way.
Bush: Oh yeah. Gaijin Smash.
For the record, the first ever Gaijin Smash recorded in history was performed by Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853. Japan closed borders and was very isolationist. Then one day, Perry rolled up demanding Japan open its borders for foreign commerce.
Perry: Hey! Open up Japan!
The Japanese: That’s an interesting idea. Here’s another one. How about we shuffle our feet until you get frustrated and leave?
Perry: A’ight. I’ll be back.
7 months later, Perry returned with nine, count ’em, nine gunships.
Perry: Hey Japan! Open up. Or I’ll blast you clear into China.
The Japanese: Aaahhhh! Mr. Perry-san, welcome to Japan! Please do come in!
Perry: Gaijin Smash.
Lest I forget, I should explain that as guests in a foreign country, we’re supposed to learn and assimilate some of our host’s culture and tradition. So if you are ever in a position to perform some of these attacks, you should first strike a series of stylish and overblown poses, while screaming out the attack name with all your might. Anything less is just dishonorable.
Before you actually do that though, you should smirk and explain exactly how your attack works and what you did to get it. For example, for Gaijin Smash, one might say (I still love “one might say”), “Haha, I have already won this fight. I shall now show you the awesome power of my Gaijin Smash. I acquired this attack when I was born with a bigger body than you. Over the years, I developed it by keeping up a steady diet of McDonalds, and parking in the closest spaces to wherever I went. It is the perfect attack.”
Although the explanation speech works best if one of your friends who is watching gives it for you (while you maintain your smirk). In the absence of friends or onlookers you can say it yourself.
Gaijin Perimeter – This is the gaijin’s natural ability to just repel people.
Down here in Kansai, getting on a train is not as simple as you’d think. You’re standing by yourself on the platform out in the middle of Ka-bum-fuck, Japan, waiting for the train. When it finally rolls up, you turn and find yourself absolutely surrounded by old women and businessmen. I swear, they just teleport in out of nowhere (at least they don’t yell “Breasts!” at me, though). The doors open, and it’s literally every man, woman, and child for themselves in a battle to get a seat. They’ll viciously push and bump you out of the way; they just don’t care.
Now, keeping this in mind, there are times when a gaijin is riding on the train, and yet no one, no one will sit next to him. There’s plenty of space, we don’t stink… but they just won’t do it. So basically, Japanese people will elbow each other in the face to get a seat, but they won’t sit next to us. Nice! It’s easy to become discouraged by this, but we just have to remember that we are naturally spreading our Gaijin Perimeter.
It can be useful, though. Imagine you are walking down the street one day and see an old lady faint from heat exhaustion. A crowd of onlookers begins to gather around her. That’s no good, but don’t panic! Just jump in and spread your Gaijin Perimeter, give her the space she needs until paramedics arrive on the scene. A tense situation averted!
Gaijin Telepathy – Our co-workers and supervisors don’t tell us anything. Literally. One day, I came into work at the ghetto school and found a straw hat and pair of garden gloves on my desk. OK. I sat in the teachers’ room kind of waiting for an explanation, but one never came. Eventually I noticed it had become really quiet. I then noticed that I was the only one around. Odd. I went outside to find the whole school, teachers and students, picking weeds in the soccer and baseball fields. Ah, so that’s what the garden hat and gloves were for! However, no one ever actually told me this.
I can only assume that they expected me to somehow divine the meaning of the hat and gloves with my Gaijin Telepathy. This kind of thing happens all the time, and sometimes with really important stuff (“Hey, why didn’t you come to my class today? What? No one told you?”). I think the Japanese must have watched the movie X-Men/X2, and thought, “Wow! Captain Picard is a telepath! All Gaijin must be telepaths!” Maybe they also expect me to control the weather too, which would explain why they’re always saying, “samui ne?” [it’s cold, huh?] in the winter and “atsui ne?” [it’s hot, huh?] in the summer. I guess I’m supposed to fly up, tilt my head, and say something like, “Gods of the weather skies! Expel this cold front and give us good weather for golfing!” I will draw the line, however, if they ask me to use my adamantium claws to slice their sushi.
Gaijin Power – I was in a local bar with two male friends, American and Japanese. This bar is kind of known as a pick-up bar, especially for Japanese women and foreign men. Anyway, our Japanese friend spotted a cute girl. We told him to go talk to her, but he refused, saying it was pointless because he’d only fail. We tried to tell him he wouldn’t know until he actually tried, but no go. “You guys don’t understand,” he said, “You have Gaijin Power so you have no problems getting girls.”
Gaijin Power? The hell is that? This wasn’t the first time I’d heard this from Japanese men, so my friend and I tried to find out more about this “Gaijin Power.” We both set out and, working as a Dynamic Duo (Holy Japanese sluts, Batman!), we found pairs of girls and tried to talk to them. We were pretty unsuccessful, which leads me to believe our Japanese friend was full of shit. Or maybe we just suck.
Gaijin Optic Blast – This is usually more of a counter-attack. We foreigners get stared at. A lot. Gaijin Optic Blast is the wonderful technique of staring back. It’s so easy, yet so effective! As soon as they realize we’re staring back, they look away. It’s like a projectile version of the Gaijin Smash. The only thing is, you have to keep up the Gaijin Optic Blast, because as soon as they think you are looking away, they resume staring. Do it right though, and once is a charm.
On bad days, I’ll spread my Gaijin Perimeter, and combo a Gaijin Optic Blast into a Gaijin Smash for 70% damage. And when I have meter… watch out, cause then I can cancel into Super Gaijin Smash, and there’s just no coming back from that.