What Big Eyes You Have!
Teacher, writer, performer and Mum, Wendy Horikoshi has lived, breathed and worked in Japan for a little over 13 years. Taking a left turn from tarting up medical journals and wedding speeches, she explores the traffic hazards that gaijin present as they walk the streets of Tokyo with their big noses, eyes and boobs.
Living in Tokyo, the first thing that strikes you as a foreigner, is you stand out. This is a very homogeneous culture. One race, one religion, one language. As a gaijin, you get looked at intently where ever you go. Really intently. Like people are trying to memorize your face so they can tell the cops about it later.
I live in a town that has about 80% of it’s people over the age of 65. They are a special breed of Stare Bears, right here in Kodaira. Every day, I have little old ladies point at me and say “Oooo, what a big nose you have!” and “Oooo look at your great big eyes”. On the odd occasion, they will come up and goose me on the boob, and comment on my “gorgeous bosom”. It gets more bizarre. I am often guilty of the crime “Walking While Gaijin”.
First summer I was here, it was hellishly hot, and over 90% humidity every day. I stripped down to cut off jeans, and a white T-shirt to stroll out to the shops. I was waiting to cross the road, and I saw an old man on a bicycle, stare at me so hard, he almost turned backwards, trying to keep me in his line of sight. Not looking where he was going, he crashed into a hedge, and I raced over the road to see if he was OK. I pulled him out of the bushes, and instead of “Thank you” I got “Ookii Oppai, ne!” (Look what big boobs you have).
This was not to be an isolated event.
Walking while Gaijin also includes making a Japanese person trip and fall on their @ss when you are on the back of a motorbike. My sweetie used to pick me up from University in the afternoon on his Uber Scooter so we could spend some time together at lunch.
Every Spring for about 3 or 4 years running, we would stop in traffic, and people staring would invariably trip and fall, smack their heads into poles or walls, or just randomly crash into other people on the foot path coming the other way. At least one or two people a week came a cropper like that. Heads totally swiveling on their necks. Mouths hanging open at the sight of a stacked white woman on the back of a motorbike. Just like in the cartoons.
I NEVER KNEW I was so fascinating.
While crossing the street in front of my University last year, a little old man driving a ginormous Jeep, (while looking THROUGH the steering wheel and I imagine he was probably sitting on a phone book as well) was at the intersection I was about to cross, obviously he was waiting to merge into the main street. He had his head turned almost behind him while he stared out the window at me. He then TOOK HIS HANDS OFF THE WHEEL to gesticulate that I had big boobs and a high nose (these are apparently standard gestures amongst Japanese people. Do they teach them this in school!?), while his car drifted forward into the oncoming traffic! I made the mistake of waving and yelling at him to stop, but this mesmerized him further, and by that time, he was out in the middle of the road, with about 8 or 9 cars blowing their horns at him, some narrowly missing crashing into one another.
Now, this is in THE MIDDLE OF TOKYO where there have to be at least 10,000 pointy nosed, funny looking aliens walking around EVERY DAY. I am a walking, riding traffic hazard. Perhaps Stare Bears are very accident prone? Maybe there should be an added question on the Japanese Drivers Education exam;
“Are you easily distracted by the sight of foreigners?”
I blame this on the complete lack of decent sized breasts in this country. There are hundreds of strange products you can buy at the drug store and super market here to enlarge the size of your boobs, change the shape of your eyes, and try to make your nose “higher”. A “high” nose (one with a prominent bridge) is considered a thing of beauty here in Japan.
I wonder if I will spend the rest of my life in Japan trying to get Japanese men AND women to look me in the face when they talk to me, and NOT comment on the size of my eyes/nose/breasts?
And as I write this, my Number Two son (aged 3) still sings a song that he made up himself, “Boobs! Mummee’s got big, biiig boooobs!” quietly in the background….and I have never been able to stop him.