I had a wonderful evening and went out with friends in the city. We ended up heading for great pizza in Yakuin, a place called PizzaRevo. I rode the Nanakuma line for the first time (it is so nice compared to the Kuko line!) and got to experience some amazing pizza. I also had great conversation with great people and then after the pizza we headed to Starbucks for some more conversating, some excellent advice and all-in-all, a great evening.
But that’s not the point of this point, what I want to talk about is one of my pet peeves: Living in Japan as a foreigner, and the expectation that I should move out of their way.
This bothers me: every. single. day.
This happened a lot when I was living in Osaka, and almost every day I deal with it here in Fukuoka. I know it’s slightly stereotypical of me, but as I’m still in a bit of a bad mood, I just want to be honest.
Any time I walk somewhere, even if I walk on the correct side of the sidewalk (left side, in case you were wondering), if someone is walking in the opposite direction, towards me, they expect me to move out of the way. This even extends to bicycles. I have been almost plowed over many times by people that will blatantly ignore my existence and expect me to move out of their way.
In America, usually I had a 50/50 rate when I was in someone’s way. Half the time, I would politely scoot over and half the time, they would scoot over. It’s a wonderful system. You normally just look up, give a slight head nod or lock eyes and it’s like a silent signal is exchanged; the decision of which one of us is to move.
Here: haha. I’m foreign, so I have to move. I’ve been here for over a year now and not once has anyone ever gotten out of my way. It’s either move, or be run into. And then, if you take too long moving, usually I get a stare and occasionally angry words.
I don’t know why it’s expected that foreigners move out of the way. I don’t know if maybe it just keeps happening to me, though I have talked to others and they seem to have had the same issues. I could understand if, like many first-time foreigners to Japan, you get easily confused because everything is opposite in Japan. They drive on the left side of the road, so naturally they also walk on the left side of the sidewalk.
But, like I experienced this evening, that doesn’t even matter sometimes. I was walking on the left side of the Tenjin underground mall. Left side = the correct side of the walkway. And there were people walking toward me that refused to move out of my way. One woman, in a pink jacket, walked so determinedly, that when I tried to pass a group of slow walkers, I brushed up against her jacket as I tried to quickly turn to the side to avoid being plowed over. Well, I think I would have plowed her over, instead of the other way around. But that’s not the point of this story. I did the look up, the head nod and even the eye contact. She stared right through me and continued to walk on her pre-determined path.
I know there’s such a thing as: give and take. I wish many Japanese people would learn what that way.
In honor of this post and finally talking about one of my main pet peeves here… the song that I sing every time this happens. The clean version! 🙂