Gaijin Smash

Double Perimeter

Posted in Blog by gaijinsmashnet on September 18, 2008

Before I quit my job, one day I got on the morning train as usual. I managed to get a seat at my stop, and at the next stop, much like every morning, the girl I’ve nicknamed Slim (originally, she was Skinny, but I like Slim better) was one of the first on the train; her good timing and her Kate Moss-esque body volume usually allow her to find a place to sit. This morning, she took a seat next to me.
Then, something unusual happened.
Another black guy came onto the train. Why is this unusual, you ask? Well, black folks in Japan are rare, period. Having two randomly be in the same place at the same time, and not have anything to do with rap/hip hop or basketball, is kind of like winning the lottery twice. Black Dude #2 takes a seat next to Slim. …In case you haven’t figured it out by now, this makes Slim the cream in a black man Oreo. And while there are many Japanese women who would LOVE to be in this position (I’ve seen the videos…), not Slim apparently, as not long after BD#2 sits down…Slim got up and changed seats.
I suppose the double concentration of Gaijin Perimeter was just too strong for her.
Japanese people do sometimes change seats if they notice one person in a couple has managed to get a seat but the other hasn’t. I don’t think she thought that was the case here though. I’d never seen this guy before, he’d never seen me before, and aside from the obligatory Black Recognition Nod*, we made no signs of knowing each other. She was clearly just uncomfortable being sandwiched between so much raw, sexual power, that she had to change her seats. Or she thought we were both going to carry her off the train and murder her. Whatever.
It was kind of funny to see; BD#2 moved next to me and acknowledged it. “Man, she got up and moved in a hurry, huh?” We both had to just laugh about it. Gaijin Super Powers strike again.


*Some of you may be unfamiliar with the Black Recognition Nod, so please allow me to explain it. Basically, its a gestural greeting acknowledging the presence of another black person. It can be non-verbal, but it doesn’t have to be. For us males, it usually involves a slight head nod. “S’up” may accompany the gesture, but it is optional. I’m not sure what the female version is, but I imagine its something similar.
Though I can’t say this concretely, I believe the Black Recognition Nod only happens in situations where black folks are few and far between. So basically, everywhere except Africa and the American south. My university had only like 6 black people total (Asians actually outnumbered whites!), so the BRN was very prevalent. At first, I didn’t understand it either…
Asian Friend: Hey, do you know that guy?
Me: Not at all.
AF: Then why did you nod to each other?
Me: I suppose because we’re the only black people here? I don’t get it though, why are we doing this? Just because our skin color happened to be black? I don’t know that guy anymore than I know all the Asian and occasionally white people passing by me now, why did I have to nod to him? It’s kind of silly, isn’t it?
But as the years passed, I’ve been getting more in touch with my funky soul. It’s buried deep beneath layers of Dick Van Dyke show reruns and watching Gallagher smash watermelons and actually laughing at it…but its there. I find as I get older, I get closer to it. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll even like fried chicken. But anyway, closer to graduation, the above conversation became…
Asian Friend: Hey, do you know that guy?
Me: First time I’ve ever seen him in my life.
AF: Then why’d you nod to each other.
Me: Ah…my Asian friend…you just don’t understand. We’re brothers man.
AF: You are?
Me: In spirit, yes. We may have never met before, we understand each other plight, we’ve walked down the same road, we’ve cried the same tears when the Raiders didn’t make the playoffs again.
AF: I don’t get it at all.
Me: When you have your culture and your women stolen from you by the white man, then one day you too will understand.
AF: ….Allrighty then. I can’t speak about the culture, but I could tell you a thing or two about the white man stealing our women.
Me: …Point taken.
I’m not sure if the Black Recognition Nod exists among other races, you’ll have to tell me about that. While anyone not obviously Asian is in the definite minority in Japan, I can’t say I’ve ever seen the White Recognition Nod or the Mexican Recognition Nod (actually, I can’t remember the last time I saw a Mexican…), but in Japan all foreigners seem to secretly hate each other anyway (what’s up with that?) so I can’t use my experiences as a basis.
***
While I’m thinking about them, some updates on my Train Crew.
Missing In Action: Wreck-Gar, Massive Melon Tits, Tats. I’d see MMT every once in a while…maybe once a month or so. So I’m really not sure what she’s up to. At one point I thought she’d graduated from university, but if she’s working then she wasn’t riding my train, and if she was working, why did I still see her from time to time? Yet another for the Unsolved Mysteries file. This is what happens when she’s not around; I don’t get to gaze upon her magnificent chest so my brain is forced to actually think about things. Tats I haven’t seen in a while…don’t know what happened to her. So I’ll never have an answer to what the tattoo was, and where she was going every morning.
As its summer, Sub-Zero hasn’t worn the face mask in a while. …He’s still Sub-Zero though. Now he’s just the Mortal Kombat 3 version.
Shorty bites her fingers. I sat next to her one day and noticed that her fingers were all chewed up. So, that’s kind of nasty. I had thought that she was kind of cute, but I dunno…I lose desire towards women who are prone to bite on long slender objects that they put into their mouth. Wonder why…
Brandy still rode the train regularly up until when I quit my job. She’s still an expensive cutie. Except now I’m really poor, so that fantasy becomes about as plausible as a threesome with Jessica Alba and Scarlet Johannesson. Oh well…we’ll always have Louis Vuitton?
I actually saw Misty one day. It was on a late train coming home, and I happened to notice her getting off the train at the same time I did. …Yep, still looks like a Gorilla. Although this time, she was in her casual clothes. When I saw her in the morning, it seemed like she was going off to a job, so she was always dressed professionally. Not this time. She just looked like an awful mess. Like Tarzan had rushed her shit down in the jungle somewhere. Or as if Wreck-Gar and a gorilla had made passionate love and Misty here was the result.
Oh, and in the spirit of Misty, one last new player – a woman with a face that…well….there’s no better way to put it – she had a very canine face. She just looked like a dog. So I named her Augie Doggy Mommy. She was a train regular, and I guess its good that I quit my job when I did – after all, if my perverted brain did stray to think about hot gorilla sex with Misty, there’s no telling what sort of dastardly doggie dubiousness I would have dreamed up with Augie Doggy Mommy.
Come to think of it, now that I no longer ride the train. I have to wonder if the Train Crew is wondering about me in the same way that I wonder about them? “Hey, that big black guy who rode the train everyday with us isn’t here anymore. I wonder what happened to him? Did he go back to his home country? Get arrested for rape/murder?” If anything, they’re probably just happy that a whole two seats have opened up on the train.
I’m seriously considering just riding the train one day to see how everyone is doing. …How sad is that?
***
Thank you everyone for the donations so far! Using how much I’m having to pay for the pictures as a base, with the current donation level I will post up 35% of all the wedding pictures I get back.
To donate, PayPal to azrael@outpostnine.com, or click here.

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95 Responses

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  1. Sam said, on September 18, 2008 at 1:22 am

    About the white recognition nod…
    I was browsing a store in Akihabara when I was in Tokyo last year, and one of the white clerks came up to me and started speaking French to me. I guess maybe I look French or something? I don’t know.
    But it often seemed to me that the guys from other countries were a lot more open to approaching who they perceived as their fellow countrymen than the Americans were. In fact, I think I got along with foreigners who weren’t American a lot better than the Americans in Tokyo.
    Maybe it’s just the concept that if you look at someone the wrong way in an American city, people’ll think you’re a weirdo for paying attention to them. So the recognition doesn’t happen because we don’t want it to be misconstrued as aggressive behavior or something.
    …or I could just be talking out of my ass. There’re probably sociological studies about this kind of thing.

  2. FriendArtiste said, on September 18, 2008 at 1:57 am

    I know the exact head nod you’re talking about, even though I’m whiter than a bar of soap. I’ve attended inner-city schools my whole life, and as a result, I’ve artificially adopted the head nod (in my neighborhood, it extended beyond the black community to basically anyone who grew up in the inner city). Interesting story about that: about the time I was 12, my neighborhood experienced a sort of bohemian renaissance, so suddenly it went from being low income and a bad place to live, to low income with a rich and diverse culture heavily rooted in the arts. I went home to visit my parents this summer to find that its been completely overrun by yuppies… AND THEY ALL DO THE HEAD NOD.
    I actually find myself still doing the head nod from time to time, but the difference is now I live in an incredibly right-wing catholic/lutheran town in the middle of nowhere… it doesn’t work out so well…

  3. Louis said, on September 18, 2008 at 2:05 am

    I think the white-people-hating-each-other thing has to do with the fear that other white people will expose us for what we are, and what we’re here for. It’s also the fear of the default-friendship, and avoiding the idea that all gaijin are the same and all are friends. I believe there’s a facebook group to that effect- ‘just because we’re both gaijin doesn’t mean we’re friends.’
    And funny about you saying black men are rare. Last time I was in Tokyo I saw more black men that white men. I also saw mormons in Yoyogi Park.

  4. Andrea said, on September 18, 2008 at 2:16 am

    Yeah, I think I know what you mean about all the foreigners hating each other. When I was over there as an exchange student, whenever I’d see a fellow foreigner out of the corner of my eye or hear some non-accented English, I’d take a quick peek to see if it was someone from my school. If not, I’d look away quickly, pretend I didn’t know them, and hope that all the Japanese would not associate me with them because they’d invariably be doing something totally uncool that proved they didn’t know the local customs like totally awesome me did. Like, I don’t know, look for a public trash can.

  5. Ryan said, on September 18, 2008 at 2:19 am

    The whole racial un-diversity of Japan is pretty shocking at first. In the 3 weeks I spend there (in the Kansai area) I saw maybe 3 black guys and no hispanics. Haha, maybe one of the black guys was you. ๐Ÿ˜›

  6. Nigredo said, on September 18, 2008 at 3:47 am

    Lol “Black Recognition Nod” is so true and like you I have never seen the other races’ equivalent.
    Thanks for the writings and take care.

  7. Mos said, on September 18, 2008 at 3:49 am

    The recognition nod is only in the black and community (I did see some latinos do it but a lot lesser then blacks). Some foreigners don’t secretly hate you, they will tell it to your face. My friend who happens to be Caucasian was sent to Japan for a month to train some employees. He got along with everyone except with one employee who happened to be only white guy of the company. He told my friend and I quote “You are stealing the spotlight from me.” What’s the deal with that, when you are in the USA you are friends but in Japan you are competition? Wow.

  8. Lan said, on September 18, 2008 at 3:49 am

    It’s interesting you mentioned how foreigners in Japan seem to secretly hate each other. I don’t get it either. I am friendly toward others and have a genuinely pleasant disposition but when I see another foreigner, I swear, they act like they have been pretending to be Japanese and acknowledging they are in fact not by cavorting with a non-Japanese person would be the worst thing to happen to them that day. If their facial features could be read into a story, they would be saying, “Oh my God, what if that non-Japanese person wants to talk to me? What if that person thinks we should be friends now just because we are both non-Japanese? Do I have to acknowledge that person just because we are both clearly foreigners?” Then they drop their head or stare at an uninteresting building until we are far enough away from each other they can resume being the only gaijin within miles. I live in a city so I do see foreigners from time to time, but this city is in Tohoku; not like tons of foreigners come flocking up here, that’s for sure. I recently visited Kyoto and I saw more English-speaking people than I did in any major city in America, where the language of choice seems to be Spanish. So when you see a foreigner in northern Japan, you do tend to do a double-take toward them, as so many Japanese people have done to you. Interestingly enough, my friend who lives in a very rural area (SO need to stress the word “rural!”) says if you see a foreigner there, you are automatically best buds, no questions asked; it’s an obligation. Anyway, I have my own “bus crew,” much like you have your train crew and I enjoy your cute stories. Thanks.

  9. Shinkada said, on September 18, 2008 at 4:27 am

    Some Recognition Nods exist within culture niches as well, but they’re usually more conscious. I’ve witness the BRN, and it’s usually very subconscious. It’s something you guys usually simply DO, without really noticing it or making any forthwright attempt to show recognition.
    I myself, have received repeatedly the Trenchcoat Recognition Nod, the Dyed Hair Recognition Nod, the PSP Recognition Nod, the Yeah, That Girl IS Cute Recognition Nod (when we both catch each other mutually staring at the same girl), and the Guy With Long Hair Recognition Nod. I’ve given the Cool Band Shirt Recognition Nod, and at one time or another most of the ones that I’ve received.
    I’m yet to experience a WRN, but then I’ve never been to a place where the white man is uncommon. Maybe in Mexico or some Asian countries they have one. Mexicans, I imagine, less have a recognition nod as they do the distinct horn of the Ford Pinto.

  10. OvermindDL1 said, on September 18, 2008 at 4:42 am

    I am not so sure about the nod crossing all races (I am white/scottish), but it can cross cultures pretty easily. Seemingly anytime I pass another obvious IT (Information Technology, a computer hardware geek) person (and I am obviously one at the time as well) we have a nod with some form of ‘Hi’ although we have never met and may probably never meet. It is very common around, probably because there are so few of us…
    I have always thought of joining Jet, my first real opportunity would be this coming year, and quite literally the only thing holding me back is my paranoia of not being able to ship my computer successfully…

  11. threeleet said, on September 18, 2008 at 4:57 am

    I totally get the “all foreigners hate each other” thing… I think it’s mostly an issue of, we speak the language, we think we understand their culture and are good examples of our own culture, whereas anyone else here must be some obnoxious tourist who’s only looking to get laid & who will make the rest of us look bad. And maybe a little bit of “Hey, -I- was here first! Go get your own country!” I actually know a Japanese blogger who went through the same thing when she did a study abroad in the UK & ran into other Japanese people, so maybe it’s a universal thing. Only then it was probably “Sheesh, you’re gonna make everyone here think all Japanese people are terrible speakers who don’t know their Ls from their Rs & do nothing but take pictures of everything all day, shop for expensive designer goods, and order shrimp & mayonaise on their pizzas.” ^^;

  12. Mo said, on September 18, 2008 at 5:19 am

    Wow, great editorial. I have been reading your stuff since the OP nine days. As a black male I know all about the Black Recognition nod. I never really thought about why it happens, it just sorta happens.
    And good luck with the wedding, I wish you and your wife all the best in the future.

  13. Anonymous said, on September 18, 2008 at 6:31 am

    Long-time reader, first-time commenter. I’ve been here on JET for just over three years now, and I can totally attest to the inexplicable secret hatred that foreigners in Japan have of each other. It disturbs me; you’d think we’d have a gaijin recognition nod like the black recognition nod you described, considering we, as foreigners, are definitely in the minority here, and would want to acknowledge our shared struggle…but we just radiate waves of hate instead.
    My theory is that, while it often sucks to be singled out as a foreigner, I think that, at the same time, we also like the attention and the uniqueness, almost a sort of celebrity status. When we see a foreigner we don’t know, it’s like they’re pissing on our turf, challenging our status just by existing. We’re not so special anymore.
    Of course, I totally admit that my theory could be way off, but it’s the only theory I’ve got. Any others out there?

  14. Anonymous said, on September 18, 2008 at 6:31 am

    Long-time reader, first-time commenter. I’ve been here on JET for just over three years now, and I can totally attest to the inexplicable secret hatred that foreigners in Japan have of each other. It disturbs me; you’d think we’d have a gaijin recognition nod like the black recognition nod you described, considering we, as foreigners, are definitely in the minority here, and would want to acknowledge our shared struggle…but we just radiate waves of hate instead.
    My theory is that, while it often sucks to be singled out as a foreigner, I think that, at the same time, we also like the attention and the uniqueness, almost a sort of celebrity status. When we see a foreigner we don’t know, it’s like they’re pissing on our turf, challenging our status just by existing. We’re not so special anymore.
    Of course, I totally admit that my theory could be way off, but it’s the only theory I’ve got. Any others out there?

  15. Wakka said, on September 18, 2008 at 6:36 am

    We have the biker recognition nod… it’s when two bikers do when passing each other. Close enough.

  16. leidbag said, on September 18, 2008 at 7:19 am

    Oooh, more updates. Awesome.
    I do hope that you can somehow get out of your financial troubles, or that the donations are going to help to it. More to the point, I hope you can somehow take advantage of your Internet fame to finally support your income.
    Well, here’s hoping. Cheers!

  17. Mari said, on September 18, 2008 at 8:35 am

    Oddly enough, I’m an extreme right-wing catholic/lutheran and I do the head nod. Around here people wave. They wave at strangers. They wave at people who cut them off in traffic (not that kind of wave! just the friendly kind). They wave at old people sitting on their porches staring at the world passing them by. But I’m not a wave kind of person. So I do the head nod. I didn’t realize I was doing it for a long time but a friend eventually asked why I do the curt head nod instead of waving.
    I’ve noticed a few other people around town doing the head nod lately. But most of them are skinny little gangsta wannabes with wallets on a chain and britches so baggy a mild wind would yank ’em down. But occasionally you’ll run across another cool loner type person who does the head nod.

  18. Nakamura Yoshiro said, on September 18, 2008 at 8:38 am

    You know, I never realized it until now, but I do the BRN sometimes, too (I’m part black, japanese, costa rican and portuguese)! It just happens!
    Another great post!
    Note: Hopefully, I’ll be able to donate a little soon!

  19. Camille said, on September 18, 2008 at 8:43 am

    Memories from China: pretty much all of us foreigners would share the “foreigner head nod”. I also had a tendancy to yell “yang ren” which is a somewhat insulting term for white man when I came across obvious tourists.

  20. Emma M. said, on September 18, 2008 at 8:55 am

    I don’t know about a nod . . . I just spent a month in Vietnam, and whenever I saw another white person, I sort of glanced at them nervously and then quickly looked away. White people are damned ugly in the tropics (we go all red and sweaty and look like someone’s slowly suffocating us), and every time I saw one, I worried that I looked like as much of a pathetic tourist as they did. Almost made me wish I was Asian. (That, and the kids staring at me on the streets.)

  21. code monkey said, on September 18, 2008 at 10:18 am

    The recognition nod must more obvious if you’re in an area where you stick out like a sore thumb.
    Oh well…
    Hey, I’m finally coming back to Japan in October after four long years. Maybe I could count how many times I see the ?RN.

  22. Anne said, on September 18, 2008 at 11:24 am

    The South Asian Recognition Nod exists, although it isn’t a nod as much as it is the South Asian Disarmingly Friendly Smile.

  23. jay said, on September 18, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    I’m so glad AfroRomance has decided to grace your page with its ad. All these years of the bling wearing and basketball pracise was for naught.

  24. giniro said, on September 18, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Hmm well I dont have any kind of nod or anything like that, but.. it kinda depends. Because say its in the morning and there arent a lot of people and youre walking past someone, sometimes I dont know if I should acknowedge them or not.. cause sometimes if I do, they dont return it, which feels weird, and if I dont, sometimes they look as if I’m being rude of something.. ๐Ÿ˜„ I dunno if its just me but im get confused as to when to acknowledge people and who to acknowledge… (I miss nyc.. down there everybody pretty much minds their own business without repercussion… >_> )
    Oh and reading this brought to mind some family I have living in TN, I remember when I visited them for a while and they wave at EVERYONE down there.. while driving they wave at random people who drive past on the other side (even the police), at people they walk past… like wtf.

  25. Patrick A said, on September 18, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    The BRN was quite common at the inner-city high school I attended, although it wasn’t entirely exclusive to black guys. I have, however, yet to see it exchanged between women.
    By the way, when I saw it, it was actually a raising of the head slightly followed by a slow lowering to normal level, rather than the more common opposite. Is this what you all generally experience?
    And, finally, typekey isn’t working for me. It keeps giving me an error:
    “The site you’re trying to comment on has not signed up for this feature. Please inform the site owner.”

  26. Aunti Kathy said, on September 18, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    In Colorado I’ve definitely seen the hispanic recognition nod. Around here it’s not really a nod, though.. just the upstroke of one. Two inch chin lift kinda thing. If verbalized, it’s ‘hesse’ and then movin’ on.
    Maybe you can rent yourself out to newcomers in Japan to teach them the way of the Gaijin Smash.

  27. Phelps said, on September 18, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    FWIW, I’m white, but I grew up in a black neighborhood and acquired the nod. All the black guys I’ve thrown it at have reacted appropriately… and about 75% of the white guys. So we’ve taken that too, bitches!

  28. CatRope said, on September 18, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Haha, I just realized…
    What if the Train Crew all have names for you?

  29. FlyingFish said, on September 18, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    “Asians actually outnumbered whites!”
    You didn’t happen to attend UC Irvine, did you?

  30. OvermindDL1 said, on September 18, 2008 at 4:21 pm

    Your PayPal link is not working for me. I have tried it with three different browsers on 3 different computers at two different locations, they all give “General PayPal Error” page. We can still send based on your email, but the link needs fixing… ๐Ÿ™‚
    (Az’s Note: Should be fixed now.)

  31. ItAintEazy said, on September 18, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Feh, expats, What can you say about them? They couldn’t adjust in their own countries so they bring their pathologies and sense of entitlements abroad (not saying that you fit the mold, Az, just most expats)

  32. Bolinoak said, on September 18, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Ahh the Black Recognition Nod. I know what you mean. I’m a black that lives in a mostly white city so any time I see another black guy I nod at him. I don’t know him, and chances are I will never see him again, but it’s nice to see someone like me out there.

  33. Mel said, on September 18, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Riding the train just to see them isn’t sad!
    It’s kinda sweet.
    I mean, you’ve known them for this long, having this one-sided relationship and all.
    I say do it, Az.

  34. Anonymous said, on September 18, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    The Mexican nod is just two Mexicans staring at each other maybe because we try so hard to act tough

  35. Anonymous said, on September 18, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    The Mexican nod is just two Mexicans staring at each other maybe because we try so hard to act tough

  36. Kyle E said, on September 18, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    You mentioned not seeing any mexicans… I gota say, when I was in Kyoto this summer I went into a hyaku en store and actually ran into a mexican. Granted i suppose its a lil presumptuous to think she was mexican but I live in so cal… I know my mexicans.

  37. commodorejohn said, on September 18, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    “I’m seriously considering just riding the train one day to see how everyone is doing. …How sad is that?”
    I say go for it. It couldn’t be more awkward than, say, a class reunion; I mean, at least on the train you can pretend you have some other reason for being there if you get too many hard stares.

  38. Azrael said, on September 18, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    Again, thanks everyone for the continued donations! At the current level I’ll be posting over half of my wedding pictures. At this rate I might just have to put up the whole thing!
    Thank you everyone.

  39. hi0 said, on September 18, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    since when the hell is everyone mexican? its freaking hispanic.there way tomany hispanic countries to call everyone mexico(try from central America to south America)

  40. Koji Otaku said, on September 18, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    Funny, because where I live, there’s usually always a nod of recognition or a simple “hey”. By the way, where I live, we had a population of 350k in the 2000 census, if that gives you an idea of the area, so the nod to me is less special.

  41. Alien said, on September 18, 2008 at 8:04 pm

    I’m sure at least ten people have posted this already, but the WRN does exist, at least where I live. It’s actually a really sad WRN. Since I live in the center of the country, there are very little white people here. We have about 1000 foreigners for 10 million people (gross estimate). In fact, when I see a white person I don’t know, I get kind of excited like the chinese do. they normally scream “wai guo ren! wai guo ren”, and I have been known to whisper that and to point them out to even OTHER white people. but when I see one I always nod. We have this unspoken idea that if the other person doesn’t nod back that he/she is an asshole ๐Ÿ™‚
    So this may come across as racist, but I honestly did not know you were black until you were talking about the other black guy on the train. I always thought you were very articulate and intelligent, so good on you for being an amazing writer! again, sorry if that was racist.. having lived in China for a few months, it really brings out the inner racist in people ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  42. Anonymous said, on September 18, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    We (Black women) have our own BRN: we smile at each other, mouth the word:’HI!’ or just flat out say hi.
    But more than likely, we just smile, lol.

  43. Anonymous said, on September 18, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    We (Black women) have our own BRN: we smile at each other, mouth the word:’HI!’ or just flat out say hi.
    But more than likely, we just smile, lol.

  44. Justin said, on September 18, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    You should totally take the train and see how they’re doing. I’d donate another fiver for that.

  45. Sfork said, on September 18, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    The Paypal link has never worked for me

  46. bbnflpn said, on September 18, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    i know the “insert recognition nod” here thing.
    my dad had several, one for people driving the same motorcycle as he was, or any motorcycle actually, or if they were driving the same type of vehicle (his old truck, or his bus since he was a bus driver) although he would actually wave at all bus drivers no matter what he was driving. all those years i thought he knew all those people, since he drive the buses for 2 places (city and school) and he was in a motorcycle and truck club, but he said that it was the kinship of ownership and employment. nah i think my dad just knows everyone we could go in to the bfe of no where and someone will come up to him and know who he is, no hes not a rock star lol.
    then my sister tells me that in nebraska they have the one finger flip, which is when you pass anyone on the road (since there is rarely any traffic) you must acknowledge them by raising your index finger off the steering wheel, and after a while its just habit to do the one finger flip no matter who is coming at you, tractors, regular cars, trucks, trains, cows lol.

  47. Dave said, on September 18, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    Wooo, all the pictures huh? Maybe we can deduce what your superstar-cashcow kids will look like. ๐Ÿ˜›

  48. Patrick said, on September 18, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    “She was clearly just uncomfortable being sandwiched between so much raw, sexual power, that she had to change her seats. Or she thought we were both going to carry her off the train and murder her. Whatever.”
    I had to laugh at this one. And I, too, have seen the videos. Some of them are very interesting.

  49. Francisco said, on September 18, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    you have got to be kidding me, recognition nod in mexicans is used by every mexican towards any body who is or looks mexican. damm just watch george lopez. it basically substitues hello for us a lot of times fuck sometimes the only communication i have with another mexican in the same room as me is the nod.
    It is also used by mexicans ages ranging between young as a small child to a old wrinkled man you basically the only time amexican does not do the head nod is when he dies.

  50. Ivan the Terrible said, on September 19, 2008 at 12:27 am

    I’ve gotten the recognition nod here in Taichung, but I’m not sure if it’s because I’m white or more broadly because I’m a ๅค–ๅœ‹ไบบ. I’m guessing the nod would happen regardless of skin color, so long as neither of us happen to be Taiwanese, but I can’t say for sure; I honestly can’t even remember the last time I saw a jan-u-wine black person, in the flesh.
    Actually, I got more than a nod today; walking down a side street, where the foreigner is a rare and exotic breed, I ran across another white guy who gave me a forced ‘Hi!’ as he walked past, apparently purely because I’m another foreigner and maybe I could understand what the hell he’s saying. I’m tempted in those circumstances to break into Cantonese, just to screw with their heads.

  51. Joe said, on September 19, 2008 at 1:38 am

    > I lose desire towards women who are prone to bite on long slender objects that they put into their mouth. Wonder why…
    Funny, I only lose it towards women who are prone to bite on long, THICK objects ๐Ÿ˜‰ But that’s just me…
    Oh, and I thought it was more a ‘guy recognition nod’, because I’m white and I always do it. But I thought it was more a “I know you’re there, but we don’t really have anything to talk about and I don’t want to pretend that I do want to talk unless there’s a reason” nod.
    Though I could be reading too much into that.

  52. Krystle said, on September 19, 2008 at 2:36 am

    Totally know the Black Recognition Nod. I’m currently in Japan studying abroad, and I have recieved the nod on a few occasions. An Asian friend actually witnessed it once and it blew her mind! After explaining this phenomenon to her she wanted to see it over and over again.
    I think the nod is the same for both females and males. Just a quick recognition of our blackness and our struggles!

  53. Brett said, on September 19, 2008 at 2:56 am

    The secret is, there is no “White Recognition Nod”. All White Men are fundamentally rivals in a kind of Code Geass, Darwinian, “Let’s Kill Our Way to Kingship!” type of way. ;D

  54. Sakari said, on September 19, 2008 at 3:16 am

    Actually, though I’m white, I’ve had noticed the general “foreigner nod” quite a few times, though only in places where there are few foreigners.
    For example one time I was walking from my school which is in a very uninteresting area, and had a similar conversation with a Japanese friend who wondered how I knew the other gaijin who walked past us.
    “in Japan all foreigners seem to secretly hate each other anyway (what’s up with that?) ”
    Ah yes. I think it’s a sort of greedyness that you dont want anyone else sharing on the perks of being a foreigner here. I’ve noticed myself that now that I’ve got aquainted with Japanese culture, I have a sort of involuntary contempt towards ignorant tourists. heheh…

  55. Yasmin said, on September 19, 2008 at 3:40 am

    I am a white girl and live in the sticks of northern japan. Seriously – the sticks. There are all of about 75 non-asians in the entire city and almost all of us do the nod. Well, most of us know each other…but even the few that we only recognize or don’t know (i.e. the Mormans), we do the nod.

  56. Randy said, on September 19, 2008 at 3:42 am

    While it definitely seems most prevalent with black guys, I’ve seen all sorts of nods. It looks to me to be most prevalent in groups other folks normally wouldn’t want to make eye contact with, like bikers or Scary Black Men, and when they run into each other it’s an event of enough note to acknowledge. I’ve got my own recognition nod, despite being white as the driven snow – a few years back I picked up a big ‘ol scar across my face in a tussle, crosses the bridge of my nose and under both eyes and it kind of makes me look angry all the time. Any time I run across somebody as ugly as me, it usually merits a nod, and it’s kind of a relief when they don’t cross to the other side of the street to avoid me.
    It was handy the only time I was ever in Japan, though. I’m 6’8” and about 280 pounds, so I thought I’d have trouble fitting in trains and stuff. Turns out, being a 6’8” gaijin with a huge scar on your face means Japanese people will make room for you. All the foreigners I met there were polite enough, though, I’m not sure what you guys were talking about there.

  57. Ihmhi said, on September 19, 2008 at 4:04 am

    Any chance on you just saying how much you need to cover your pictures and/or wedding? For all you know there’s a rich guy who reads your blog and would pick up the bill just because he can.
    Sorry, no, I’m not that guy. ):
    (Az’s Note: The pictures alone will cost us $1000. …We went with the cheapest pictures option there was.)

  58. Barry said, on September 19, 2008 at 8:26 am

    Az, you might be surprised, but the American south isn’t devoid of black folks – not by a long shot.
    http://www.censusscope.org/us/map_nhblack.html
    And for that matter, the American south, at least in the cities, is better integrated neighborhood-by-neighborhood than much of the north.
    http://www.censusscope.org/us/map_segregation_black.html

  59. Liv said, on September 19, 2008 at 8:48 am

    I’ve seen the “gaijin recognition” nod from time to time. I tend not to look into other foreigners’ faces, though, because I hate running into people I know and, as you note, foreigners are rare enough here that there’s a good chance we might actually know each other…

  60. emi said, on September 19, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Dude i felt so offended when you said Mexicans don’t do the head nod. The way that we say hi is by nodding our heads. We do it only if their is one or two other Mexicans around or if we are to lazy to say hi.

  61. jazzorion said, on September 19, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    I feel the black recognition nod. Being black, it almost feels like you’re obligated to do it when you see a fellow brother walking down the street. The women’s version is really ambiguous, I think it’s more of a smile and a polite “Hi” and that’s it.

  62. Jonadab the Unsightly One said, on September 20, 2008 at 7:45 am

    I’ve encountered a thing I can only describe as a Male Recognition Nod, in certain contexts with a high female-to-male ratio. Conferences for librarians are a good example. You don’t see it at library-related trade-shows (e.g., OLC Expo), because there are lots of vendor salesmen at those. But it shows up at the professional conferences and things. (I suspect you’d probably see it at nursing conferences too, though I have no personal experience with that.)
    > I’m yet to experience a WRN, but then
    > I’ve never been to a place where the
    > white man is uncommon. Maybe in Mexico
    > or some Asian countries they have one.
    Africa. Rural sub-Saharan Africa.
    I suspect the main reason you don’t see it in Japan is because almost all the white people there are relatively recent arrivals, previously accustomed to being in the majority all the time. To get in the right mindset for a recognition nod of this kind, you have to get into a mindset of thinking of yourself as unusual, but someone who does belong there (not a visitor or tourist) despite that. Like black people living in an area that’s 98% white, for instance.
    The black people in Japan are mostly recent arrivals too, but they’re previously accustomed to being in the minority, so the recognition nod is an existing behavior that they bring with them. I suspect that if you saw a black man in Japan who had come from a mostly-black country, he wouldn’t do the nod, at least, not at first.

  63. Amazingu said, on September 20, 2008 at 9:38 am

    I’m surprised to read some of the comments here.
    I’m a white guy living in Osaka, and I get the “recognition nod” from both White AND Black foreigners.
    In fact, I have the impression Black people are more likely to nod to me than White people, go figure.
    Still, it happens with plenty of caucasians too.
    Since Black people also nod to me a lot, I doubt it has anything to do with sharing a cultural/historical background, but I think it’s mostly the fact that ALL foreigners in Japan are pretty much in the same situation, and that there is some kind of sense of “togetherness” derived from that.

  64. gumpy said, on September 21, 2008 at 4:45 am

    I don’t know about anyone else, but the reason I “hate” other gaijin in Japan is for very utilitarian reasons – because they don’t speak Japanese, and therefore make my day to day life hell as I have to explain to every bloody Japanese clerk/policeman/housewife/etc why I speak Japanese better than “any gaijin I’ve ever met”. That shizzy gets real old. Why can’t I just ask for direction/order a hamburger in normal straightforward Japanese without having someone scream and grab their children to shield their eyes from the talking pandabear? Well, because of the countless Gaijin who have spent 10 years in Japan and don’t speak a single word of Japanese.
    Man I hate English teachers… They are a shocking embarrassment. Granted, being the only gaijin at any given moment who actually speaks Japanese does tend to have major bonuses, so I guess in retrospect to the previous paragraph, I should thank English teachers for sucking ass at the Japanese language. Thank you, young young sirs, you no Japanese speaking goofy ass eigo monkeys! Thank you! I stand upon the shoulders of shameless broken Japanese pidgin speaking giants! “Let’s asobi! Let’s nomimasho girl!” indeed.

  65. Ljufa said, on September 21, 2008 at 9:36 am

    “I’m seriously considering just riding the train one day to see how everyone is doing.”
    -I’ve totally done that before with people that I saw every day but never talked to. Considering I don’t talk to anybody though I am quite inclined to feel some sort of connection to such people..

  66. Simbera said, on September 21, 2008 at 9:44 am

    I think the [Group] Recognition Nod exists pretty much anywhere a rare commonality is found, but usually only between guys. I’ve seen the Car Enthusiast Recognition Nod before, and the Hometown Recognition Nod (someone you’ve seen around/went to school with, but have never spoken to. Happens in the most random places).
    But the example that most jumps to mind for me is the most basic one of all – the Guy Recognition Nod. Having taken a lot of classes and so on with mostly girls, there’s generally some kind of nod exchanged between the two or three guys in the room.
    Also: I’ve found that it’s usually a raise of the head, as someone said before; like an upwards nod. I’m Australian, though.

  67. Dave said, on September 21, 2008 at 6:18 pm

    For the white recognition nod, in Northern England anyhow, when I was in Yorkshire some of the places had a mostly Asian(not East or West, but from places such as India, Pakistan etc.) population, and in those areas you’d kinda just lift your head slightly(like a reverse nod) and say “ya’right?”(compact version of “Are you alright?”) to each other as we passed. I think anyone’ll do it given they don’t see someone their own colour very often.
    Man, don’t I use brackets a lot?

  68. Kalle said, on September 21, 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Gumpy’s got a real good point there. A major reason to loathe other foreigners is the fact 99.9% of the foreigners living in Japan tend to not speak a word of Japanese beyond the basic basics, which leads to those who do speak Japanese being constantly bombarded with incomprehensible English responses to perfectly fine Japanese questions and such.
    Does get old.
    In fact, the occasional one of those foreigners who do not speak a word of Japanese actually get *angry* at waiters/clerks in restaurants/shops for *not* speaking *English* in *Japan*. (Lots of stars, but emphasis is justified.) How fucking retarded isn’t that? (How do I know this? Girlfriend has personally seen it happen at the cafรฉ she works at.)
    Another major reason I believe, is the fact that especially white people aren’t entirely comfortable with the whole “race division” deal. After all, we’re at the top of the Atrocities Via Racism Throughout History charts. This probably goes hand in hand with what “Jonadab the Unsightly One” said about (most) white people not being used to being a minority.
    Personally I’m quite indifferent towards foreigners here, but I must admit I don’t feel any kind of “bond” with them just because we are NOT Japanese. This is where we walk out on that rope stretched over Niagara Falls. To recognize another gaijin as a “fellow” would be akin to saying the Japanese are somehow excluded from this fellowship, and that would insinuate that the Japanese are somehow different from us. Which they obviously are, but saying so as a white person would label you a racist. The Japanese society in turn, has a variety of racist elements embedded into it, from innocent little things you can easily dismiss to “no you can’t rent an apartment here cause you’re a foreigner” kind of show-stoppers, to “we are Japanese, therefore we understand this and you cannot comprehend this concept”.
    Sorry, this turned quite big.

  69. Iron Chief said, on September 21, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    As far as I can tell, Hispanic people have their own recognition nod.
    Much like the BRN, it’s a simple and quick upward nod of the head sometimes accompanied by a curt “hoye” or “que bola,” roughly translating to “s’up”(the latter mainly by Cubans, and I’m mentioning them since I’m Cuban myself).
    And if you do see a Mexican there, he’s likely Peruvian instead. I have a Peruvian buddy in the marines stationed somewhere in Japan, so who knows, he might be the only Hispanic guy in Japan, hehe.

  70. Renan said, on September 22, 2008 at 9:37 am

    just to clarify… according to science, the only race there is is the Human Race. great entry, Az! won’t you do anymore texts about your opinion on movies?

  71. ArcherHawk said, on September 22, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Seems like there’s a bit of that recognition sign between Koreans too — I’m half Korean but most people who can tell the difference would see me as “Korean” (or occasionally think I might be Japanese). Anyway I was at an archery event some time ago and this guy (imagine your stereotyped “Bubba”) had married a Korean woman and brought her, the kids, and apparently, a lot of the in-laws with him.
    Me:
    Korean Wife:
    In-Laws:
    Bubba: Ya’ll know each other?
    Korean Wife: No, just saw a fellow Korean.
    Bubba: How ya know?
    Korean Wife: She has a Korean face!
    Me: I could tell too, just by gut instinct.
    Bubba: I can’t tell ya’ll apart from Chinese and Japanese, I guess I gotta practice more!
    So yeah there’s a bit of that recognition response in locations where we’re away from others of our own kindred!

  72. Nils said, on September 22, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Oh, there’s one thing I noticed: I”a goth, and whenever I weet some other gothic looking person, we make eye contact for the fraction of a second, just long enough to make sure we noticed each other. Not noticeable to any bystanders, though.
    And speaking of stealing Japanese women… yeah, I’d probably do that, too, if I got the chance. I experiencend the sweet pain of unrequited love for a Japanese goth girl living in Germany a few years ago.

  73. ty said, on September 22, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    My brother I know the nod so well. My first day at college, after my parents dropped me off, I felt like a black dot on a white shirt. Its was like 2 hours before I saw another brother. Man when I saw him we gave each other the ILL head nod. Had us looking like bobble head dolls. Its was like we KNEW.
    *does obligatory single fist bump to chest*

  74. alteralias said, on September 23, 2008 at 4:26 am

    Quite the list of nods at this point. One that vie for the title of most specific nod, the tall-people-on-London’s-public-transport grimace. Used primarily when taking lines like the Northern and Victoria which require anyone of six feet or taller to stoop significantly due to the carriage not offering enough headroom.

  75. lara said, on September 23, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    White gaijin nod (hakujin nod?) exists, at least in japan. I got it a lot while living in Tokyo.
    I think the reason a lot of gaijin hate each other is because they don’t want to be associated with the negative gaijin stereotypes that they themselves may have come to believe. Also, there seemed to be this weird subconscious competition for Japanese approval between the gaijin I knew.

  76. Onyx said, on September 23, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    “the obligatory Black Recognition Nod”
    So funny that you bring that up. Ive pondered the reason on why only black males do this. Although while i was in Japan the nod came into play with most non Asian males (except for areas like roppongi)

  77. Genghis Kong said, on September 24, 2008 at 6:23 am

    I’ve definitely been involved in a few incidences of White Recognition Nod, although it may just have been part of a broader Gaijin Recognition Nod.
    On one occasion there was even a White Recognition Nod accompanied by White Recognition Peace Sign when my train passed another train and I caught the eye of a Gaijin on the other train! It was a slightly surreal moment.
    I haven’t shared a Gaijin recognition nod with any black guys yet, because pretty much all the black guys I’ve seen here have either been businessmen or pimps, and as a college student I fall into a scruffy little category between those two poles.

  78. j said, on September 25, 2008 at 5:42 am

    We black women do it too! Usually when I see a black guy though it’s just the head nod and maybe a smile if he’s cute. With the women though haha there’s the head nod,smile, and sometimes we stop and chat like we have known each other for years. I have yet to meet (knock on wood) an unpleasant black female here!

  79. Andrea M said, on September 25, 2008 at 10:05 am

    In Texas, it’s not so much of a recognition nod as a hospitality nod. The way the word “y’all” was created to mean “all of you” so you could address a crowd at a party without some people feeling left out or sounding like you speak english poorly (like that’s ever been a problem for southerners).
    All over Texas, people of all origins give these nods … assuming they’ve been in Texas long enough to have received a few and ken what they mean. I have, however, noticed a distinct Hispanic greeting. It’s almost the reverse of a nod. You raise your chin instead of lowering it, look the person briefly in the eyes and widen your eyes a bit or arch your eyebrows. The nod says, “I’m here and aware of your presence” more than anything.
    Where it gets confusing is on the border, where you don’t know whether to do the hospitality nod or the hispanic nod in a given situation until the other person has already passed you by ….

  80. kumquat said, on September 27, 2008 at 1:19 am

    I have been guilty of hating other foreigners, mostly because
    A. They suck at Japanese and don’t try.
    B. They are pretty good at Japanese and laud it over everyone else. This includes being more “into” Japanese culture in ways that “you just can’t understand”. Elitism in general.
    C. They represent aspects of myself that I’m trying to forget or change and I’m afraid that they see that in me.

  81. Triton College said, on September 27, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    I go to community college, and we have the “other smart person in class recognition nod.” We nod to each other, and sometimes we’ll talk about how easy the last test was. Also we’ll thank god for the dumb people who make the curve so extreme. It was 83-100 for an A on my last psych test.

  82. NeN said, on September 27, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    Hm. I live in Canada, and where I am, white people are mostly outnumbered by both black and middle eastern people.

  83. Anonymous said, on September 29, 2008 at 10:38 am

    White folks here in Japan studiously ignore one another at all costs unless they already have met in a social situation. Is staring intently in the opposite direction kind of like our version of a recognition nod?

  84. Anonymous said, on September 29, 2008 at 10:38 am

    White folks here in Japan studiously ignore one another at all costs unless they already have met in a social situation. Is staring intently in the opposite direction kind of like our version of a recognition nod?

  85. ulyssesdraco said, on October 1, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    “…but if she’s working then she wasn’t riding my train.” Tee hee.
    Mexicans have something similar to the Black Recognition Nodยฎ. We tilt our heads back just a bit when in similar situations.

  86. Anon said, on October 1, 2008 at 11:42 pm

    I’m about as white as they come. Where I grew up there were two ethnic groups. Whites and First Nations. No animosity. also a few east indians.
    I do the head nod. to anyone I know. it’s basically hi, I recognize you and acknowledge you but I don’t nessecarily want to talk to you.
    at least that’s what it means when I do it.

  87. Carl said, on October 2, 2008 at 4:16 am

    I see Im not the only one who picked up on the fact that other gaijin seem to hate each other. I could never get it either because I was like dont we all need each other? I can get pretty lonely out there and there is strength in numbers. Ive noticed that some Japanese will verbally attack one foriegner but will act their shy, sterotypical self when there are many. Ive come to realize, over the years of residing here, that most of the gaijin who hate other gaijin are fresh off the plane, or English teachers. Both groups are, of course, full of jealousy or other insecurities. I guess this is natural, being that there is limited employment opportunities for this group of people at first. As the years go by, they go home, or stay, and the ones that stay sometimes come around and start socializing with their own kind. There are a few that believe they are Japanese, and going as far to shed anything that might suggest they are a gaijin. The problem is they cant change their face, which the Japanese know and laugh at them behind their back. Ive come across some real goof balls out there, for example asking one of these people a question in English and getting an answer in Japanese. Some even go as far to make all kinds of gestures that Japanese do. Its no mystery why Japanese think gaijin are weird, we have ourselves to blame as well. If we would start sticking together, you probally find that you will get more respect from the Japanese instead of going at it alone. What I have learned about Japan is that things usually work out in opposites here. What you learned back home doesnt always work here. There is no PC or cultural sensitivity ciriculum taught here because I think it goes against their combative nature. If you stand up and be yourself, I think youll get more respect than acting a fake.

  88. heejung said, on October 3, 2008 at 7:01 am

    Haha. Where I live in south korea, they have a Bus Driver Recognition Nod/Wave/Honk. It’s kinda funny to see. ๐Ÿ˜€

  89. J said, on October 6, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    I’m white, and still in high school (in Seattle). It’s a nice high school, but I still do the head nod. It’s only to people I know, and/or people I can identify with. (For example, going to the mall with my girlfriend and seeing another guy in the exact same position. A quick nod of understanding, and then the torture resumes).

  90. Sandmich said, on October 7, 2008 at 8:23 am

    “AF: ….Allrighty then. I can’t speak about the culture, but I could tell you a thing or two about the white man stealing our women.
    Me: …Point taken.”
    Umm, *cough*
    I think you’d have an issue making that same point again ๐Ÿ˜‰

  91. NotSoSuperMario said, on October 8, 2008 at 5:00 am

    I’ve discovered the people-with-outrageously-colored-hair head nod, which was sort of startling since it just started one day when I turned my hair red. Also from seattle, also white like bleached bones, but it carries across cities and races, and gets more and more pronounced the more stuffy people are around.

  92. Rob said, on October 23, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    I had to explain Black Recognition Nod to my white fiancee when we first started dating. She finds it kind of insulting that they will recognize my presence but completely ignore her, and in a way I see where she’s coming from, but at the same time I’m so powerless against it. I even consciously refused the Nod once just to see what would happen and I just felt like a total asshole afterwards.

  93. shena said, on October 31, 2008 at 2:43 am

    I believe I know The Nod that you mentioned. However, I don’t think that it is exclusive to certain races or countries only. I think it is a worldwide phenomenon. It probably differs just a little, but otherwise it is the same. A nod to acknowledge others, strangers and known alike.
    I, myself, have used it several times with my friends, male and female. I learned The Nod years ago from watching my father.

  94. AapoAlas said, on October 31, 2008 at 10:46 am

    For some reason, I can’t say anything else but: “Awww…” at your thought of wanting to ride the train just to see how the Train Crew is doing *laugh*
    As a side note, has Az seen the movie Kumo no Mukou, Yakusoku no Basho? Listening to the OST, damn am I loving it *grin* Makes me quite nostalgic.
    -AapoAlas

  95. Steven said, on October 31, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    That’s really interesting. I’m white and find that I use the black recognition nod. Only in Canada black folk do it back despite my being white. I have no clue why I do it though, it’s like a reflex to making eye contact with a black person.


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