Sunday, October 01, 2006

"I Don't Like You..."

I'm down in Osaka right now on business, and will be here for about a week. We flew down on Saturday, arriving mid-afternoon. As has become tradition for me, I dropped my bags, and headed downtown to check out the castle. Last year, in Kumamoto, I did the same thing, and really enjoy just wandering around a new town to get a feel for some of the sights and sounds.

The castle was incredible...of the 3-4 I've seen so far, this one was by far the nicest. I arrived just at sunset and closing, so I couldn't get inside, but I wandered the grounds and filled up my camera's memory card.

Towards the end of my evening out, I stopped at one of the little food stalls and got some meat on a stick and a beer. While I sat and ate, I just took in the happenings around me. There was some sort of high school or college aged group of kids there all dressed in the same outfit who looked to be some sort of dance team or something. At one point, they all got together for a photo and started yelling something. And then dispersed...strange, but that's just kind of normal here in Japan.

After I finished eating, I was throwing away my trash when a wierd thing happened. Normally, Japanese people are very polite, if sometimes reserved. Once you get to know them, though, they are really warm and friendly. In this case, it was not so...

As I was sorting my burnables from my cans from my plastics, a young man rode up to me on a bicycle and started talking to me. He seemed sort of mad about something, and possibly drunk. As he spoke, I caught the word "Gaikokujin," the Japanese word for foreigner, which is sometimes used as a derogatory term.

"Wakarimasen", I said. I don't understand...

"I don't like you," he said, emphasizing each word.

"You don't? Why not? I'm really a pretty nice guy." I replied.

"This is Japanese place. You go home now."

"Um...OK. But I live in Japan. It is my home right now."

"NO. You go home now!"

"Well, OK. I was going home now anyway...Bye! Have a nice evening!"

I walked off, and stopped to turn around and see if he was still there. He was, so I gave him another wave. He scowled, and started riding off on his bike.

I pulled out my mp3 player in the hopes he'd come back and start talking to me again. However, he didn't, so I started to leave. Finally, just as I started walking up the steps to the train station, he rode by as if to make sure I was really leaving. I waved at him again, and he waved back and rode off. I hopped onto the train, chuckling to myself about the encounter. By far, one of the strangest things that has happened to me since I've been here.

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