Skip navigation

  1. You call yourself gaijin because you know it pisses off the newbie gaikokujin.
  2. You bow repeatedly when talking on the phone.
  3. You offer your business card before shaking hands with a visitor from overseas.
  4. You prefer Japanese Big Macs to American Big Macs.
  5. You can sing enka perfectly but Japanese colleagues still ask you to sing “Country Road” at karaoke.
  6. You freak out folks back home when you take off your shoes at the door.
  7. You automatically duck your head when exiting the subway.
  8. You ignore other gaijin, especially the tourists who make eye contact and smile.
  9. You have pretended you don’t speak English at least three times.
  10. You fold the paper wrapper for the chopsticks to make a neat little stand.
  11. You put chopsticks back into the paper wrapper AND rewrap the rubber band around the bento box when you’re done.
  12. You keep expecting restaurants back home to give you a nice hot towel at the beginning of every meal.
  13. You watch Sho-ten, Chibi-Maruko, then Sazae-san on TV every Sunday.
  14. You no longer wonder why Americans have such large asses.
  15. You still wonder why Japanese don’t have any asses.
  16. You recycle plastic bottles, meat trays, cardboard, and milk cartons.
  17. You have run outside and bought a yaki-imo during the winter.
  18. You find the McDonalds Mr. James stereotype to be mildly amusing and not worth getting upset over.
  19. You can name at least 23 Japanese prefectures.
  20. You have climbed Mt. Fuji more than once.
  21. You sympathize with gaijin tarento on TV even if you find their gei unfunny.
  22. You have impressed Japanese friends with a senryu, kotowaza, or yojijukugo once too many times.
  23. You frequent at least three izakaya where everybody knows your name.
  24. You avoid the American Club like the plague.
  25. You know everybody’s name at Tokyo 2.0 and CGM Night.
  26. You can tell jokes in Japanese that actually make Japanese people laugh.
  27. You can read/write kanji your Japanese friends can’t.
  28. You save the plastic bags from the supermarket to use as trash bags.
  29. You shake your head when you see people put out moenai gomi on moeru gomi day.
  30. You actually like natto, shirako, sazae-no-tsuboyaki, kusaya, or shiokara.
  31. You have a favorite brand of Japanese sake, shochu, or beer.
  32. You avoid Roppongi because they are too many gaijin.
  33. You have been inside one of those “oppai momi-momi” places in Roppongi.
  34. You think self-proclaimed otaku you meet online are just silly.
  35. You have carried a mikoshi at a local matsuri or danced at obon.
  36. You have published at least three photos of “Engrish” signs on your blog.
  37. You have a sake story, just as you have a tequila story.
  38. You have carried a co-worker onbu-style after a company party at least three times.
  39. You know which vending machines have the best prices.
  40. You are friends with all the obasan in the neighborhood and they always compliment your nihongo.
  41. You go to the gym and stoically pretend not to notice Japanese staring at your private parts.
  42. You bathe twice as much here than you used to back home.
  43. You prefer Japanese junk food to the stuff you can get back home.
  44. You go back home on vacation but wonder why things don’t work like they do in Japan.
  45. You know the back-story of Hachiko in Shibuya.
  46. You never miss the last train no matter how drunk you get.
  47. Japanese people are shocked to discover you’re gaijin when they meet you for the first time in person.
  48. You can do a passable regional dialect.
  49. You can name at least 17 Sumo waza.
  50. You can explain the difference between Kanto and Kansai styles of unagi.
  51. You have been to Nikko and can say kekko.
  52. You cry watching Japanese dramas on TV but never admit it to gaijin friends.
  53. You have at least three books on Japan/Japanese culture that you bought but never read.
  54. You have been inside the gates of the Imperial Palace on the Emperor’s birthday or oshogatsu.
  55. You don’t bother commenting on stupid blog entries about weird Japan.
  56. You know the difference between okonomi-yaki and monja-yaki.
  57. You no longer try to explain why you choose to live in Japan to friends back home.
  58. You think Tamori is funnier than Sanma.
  59. You think, “I should have written that,” when reading a weird Japan story in the New York Times


  1. Ne, Ne.
    Are all Gaijin from the US?
    Can all caucasian speak English?

    Rule #60: You start stereotyping foreigners as other Japanese do.

    • (1) No.
      (2) No.
      Re: #60 LOL. Excellent observation.

  2. 60. You fall asleep in the train and always wake up just before the station you have to get off.
    61. You are extremely upset about ‘weird Japan stories’ in the news back in your home country.

  3. wait. so…how many of these do you have to qualify for before you can be sure which one you are?!

    • 0-5 You’ve been here less than a year. Gambare!
      6-20 You’ve been here a while but keep trying.
      21-49 You’re qualified to call yourself a gaijin.
      50-59 You’ve been here too long and can call yourself anything you please!

  4. 25. You know everybody’s name at Tokyo 2.0 and CGM Night.


    Fantastic list.

    • Hi Paul,

      Now about 25a. Everybody at Tokyo 2.0 and CGM Night knows YOUR name.

  5. Fantastic list, indeed but it is mostly applicable for US citizens.
    Not all “gaijin” come from US.

    • Good point! I’m revising the list now into different categories (including one specifically for U.S. citizens), adapting the ones that are too “American” and seeking out more non-U.S.-centric examples, so please let me know if you’ve got some!

      • Hey Thanks!
        Let’s see. I’ll check it later, anyway it’s hard to compile a standard gaijin-origin-non-dependent-list 🙂

    • You know you’re a U.S. Gaijin when you insist upon speaking in English to Caucasians even though they only speak French, Spanish, or Tunisian.

  6. funny list!

    • Thanks! I’ll bet you’ve got some stories to tell. Will check out your blog later tonight.

  7. Great list. I think the grading list is a great addition!

  8. Cool list man!

  9. I barely made it! I counted 21 that I could identify with!

  10. Great list. Here are some I would like to add.

    -When Japanese riding the trains no longer avoid sitting next to you.
    -When you go back to your home country and are shocked that the staff working minimum wage jobs are so rude and have no sense of pride in what they are do.
    -When you used to be annoyed when school kids yelled “Hallo, how aw you?” but now you answer back and test them to see how far they can take the conversation.
    -When you feel the first drops of rain and worry about whether or not you have clothes hanging outside.
    -When you instantly know if you are eating quality rice or not.
    -When you realize that no one is actually buying those 10,000 melons and eating them.

    • You’re in the next round!

    • How do you get them to no longer avoid sitting next to you? Is it just some sort of subconscious sense of integration? Nothing one can do to accelerate the process I bit, because it sure feels weird when the last free seat is the one next to you and there are *plenty* of people standing.

      • People don’t avoid sitting next to me anymore. I think it’s because I act just like everyone else on the train now. I don’t pretend to be like them on the train, I actually am like the Japanese on the train.

  11. lol. spot on for almost all. Some are more Nihonjin than Gaijin though. XP Which is the measure of Gaijin I suppose.

    #60 by Thorsten is a great one too.

    I’m gonna add:
    #62 You know when to leave your house with an umbrella and when not to. (figured out the Tenkiyohou)

  12. “You can sing enka perfectly but Japanese colleagues still ask you to sing “Country Road” at karaoke.”

    Haha hilarious! I guess I better brush up on my “Country Road” singing.

  13. Hilarious.

    I only hit about 20, which means I need to “keep trying” after 4 years here…

    I just prefer to think I’m a lazy, antisocial gaijin, and that’s why I didn’t do better 🙂

  14. nice list, a little bit tokyo-centric, but nice all the same.

    • Great fun article. I’m on dangerous ground….

      Of course, I’m happy just to be a guyjin….

  15. I got a 26. ^_^
    Definately loving the number 60 suggestion

    Are all Gaijin from the US?
    Can all caucasian speak English?

    Rule #60: You start stereotyping foreigners as other Japanese do.

  16. Great post!
    As a fellow blogger about the Korean nation, I actually wrote a series of posts about how you can tell Korea has become your home. Hopefully the Korea in-jokes make sense coming from Japan 🙂 (links to the first four parts are of course linked on-post)

    • Louis Fattorusso
    • Posted September 14, 2009 at 4:51 pm
    • Permalink
    • Reply

    Thank goodness you didn’t have “wears traditional Japanese clothing”…Foreigners always look like the are wearing their pajamas.

    • Better than wearing someone else’s pajamas! Thanks for the comment.

    • Hey me I have something of interest for you..

      A concerned family member.

  17. 61. Random Japanese people on the street have asked you for directions.
    62. You have actually been able to provide these people with instructions.

      • utsunomiyadailyphoto
      • Posted October 11, 2009 at 2:51 pm
      • Permalink
      • Reply

      LOL! That was funny!
      Happens to me a lot here in the countryside.

      • Thanks for reading and commenting! If you have any good ones for Utsunomiya, please feel free to let us know!

  18. That was some shizzle teh black black ness gdawg snake dawg G^^


  19. I’m a bit late to this, but that’s a great list! I have recently done a similar type of list on my page, but this one is “you know someone is new in Japan when…”

    If anyone comes by here, come take a look, it’s a new blog site with many stories and columns coming up in the future.


  20. Hilarious list – thanks!

    You know you’re a British Gaijin working at an English conversation school in Japan when… you no longer know how to pronounce ‘tomato’. Do you say tuh-mah-toh (the way you were brought up and the way the Japanese say it), or do you say tuh-mey-toh, the way your English conversation school insists you say it? As a result, it comes out different every time… 😉

    • Tomato, Potato, McDonalds – there are some words I just can’t pronounce in katakana correctly!

  21. Good list, but definitely American 🙂 As for #6, where I’m from, people would freak out if I didn’t take off my shoes. I can’t imagine walking around on the carpet in a Canadian winter. The sidewalks and streets have sand or salt on them, and it would result in a very messy floor at home.

    Here’s another one. My local 7-11 knows me quite well. They keep asking me if I want fried potatoes or fried chicken, because I usually buy it.

  22. When you can have a discussion regarding which conbini has the best fried chicken/onigiri, etc. and WHY said conbini’s items are superior.

  23. #28 is somthing we do in the uk lol but great post ;>

  24. I am confused as to your definition of “gaijin” versus “gaikokujin” here. It’s certainly a hilarious “you know you’ve been in Japan too long if…” sort of list, but to my mind, the stereotypical gaijin would be quite the opposite. To my mind, if I were to make a list like this, and call it “59 Ways to Tell if You’re Acting Like a Gaijin, not like a Nihonjin,” I’d include things like:

    24. You hang out at the American Club all the time.
    27. You can’t read or write even some of the most basic kanji.
    32. You hang out in Roppongi all the time – after all, that’s where the best clubs and bars are, right?

    Anyway, like I said, great list, but I really don’t understand the particular way you’re using “gaijin” vs “gaikokujin”, or the logic behind it.

    • The original list was sparked by a debate about the political correctness of “gaijin” vs. “gaikokujin,” i.e., “gaijin” was argued as pejorative, where “gaikokujin” was seem as more PC. I saw myself as a “gaijin” – if you’ve been in Japan long enough, you embrace your “gaijin-ness” and use it to your advantage. it struck me that new arrivals tended to find “gaijin” offensive, thus was born #1 on the list, which triggered a creative burst of copywriting. The intent was to skewer the silliness of the “gaijin vs. gaikokujin” debate.

      Also note that “gaijin who call themselves gaijin” tend be long-timers who speak Japanese and “get” Japan, not short-timers like ex-pats or visitors.

      Please let me know if you write the “you’re behaving like a gaijin when” list – would love to check it out.

  25. Excellent post, made me laugh :o). I am a British Gaijin, and found i’d do some of the things mentioned above when I last came back home to England :).

  26. I would add: “When you forget something in the train or subway, you’re not able to recover it and you don’t understand how in Japan that doesn’t happen”

    Great list

4 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] 59 Ways to Tell if You’re a Gaijin, not a Gaikokujin « InvisibleGaijin – view page – cached #InvisibleGaijin RSS Feed InvisibleGaijin » 59 Ways to Tell if You’re a Gaijin, not a Gaikokujin Comments Feed InvisibleGaijin Death of a Salaryman Crasher Squirrel: “I rode the UFO with Mrs. Hatoyama!” — From the page […]

  2. By Japundit on 09 Sep 2009 at 4:06 pm

    Story added…

    Your story has been featured on Japundit!

    Here is the link:

  3. By gaijin complex on 26 Feb 2010 at 8:54 am

    From Invisible Gaijin: 59 Ways to Tell if You’re a Gaijin, not a Gaikokujin…

    Reposted with permission from a fabulous blog: Invisible Gaijin Perhaps this will be me some day… You call yourself gaijin because you know it pisses off the newbie gaikokujin. You bow repeatedly when talking on the phone. You offer your business card …

  4. […] Traducido y editado libremente del post de Invisible Gaijin […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: