The first time I sat foot in Japan was nearly a decade ago and even in this relatively short time span I’ve seen massive changes. It’s kinda hilarious how out of touch some articles on Japan are. Even though many of those articles were written in the last year it feels like they were meant for 2005 or even worse 1995.
Myth #1: Being a foreigner is a novelty in Japan, japanese people stare at foreigners
So not true anymore. This was definitely case a few years ago and certainly the case back in the 80s(going by hear say, I’m not an old timer). But walking around in Tokyo or even 2nd tier cities in Japan will not result in locals staring at you, 99.9% people won’t care about you. Both tourism and the foreign population in Japan has increased dramatically, I can barely remember the last time I walked around in the city without seeing another foreigner. Haven’t been the only foreigner in any mainstream bar or club in the last decade. You probably still get stares deep into the country side but outside of that, not really.
Myth #2: empty seats next to you on the train because japanese people are afraid to sit next to a foreigner.
In all my travels and all my time living in Japan, guess how many times I experienced the infamous empty seat next to me phenomena? Zero. Nada. Never happened to me once. Maybe because I spent most of my time in Tokyo so people don’t care who they sit next to since everybody wants a seat but this is probably one of those rumours that is exaggerated 100 fold. It did probably to foreigners a few times back in the days and the internet posters exaggerated how common of occurence this really is.
Myth #3: Japanese women love foreign men, Japanese men don’t give any attention to foreign women
I’m not going to lie, there was definitely some truth in the rumour that japanese girls are fond of foreign guys making it easy for them. But this certainly is not true today, if you’re unsuccessful with women in your local country you most likely will be unsuccessful here too. If you do fine back home, you will probably do fine here too. This topic really deserves a seperate post so I might revisit this topic and make a lengthy post about the whole dating dynamic between foreigners and japanese. There is still a niche of women go for foreign guys but they are a small percentage of the population and with the ever increasing amount of foreigners in Japan you won’t exactly get women throwing themselves at you simply because you’re foreign.
Go to a club as a foreign girl and you will get hit on by japanese guys… a lot. I saw it happen multiple times to my german, italian, american and french female friends. In fact, at this point I almost think that foreign women have it easier than foreign men when it comes to dating success with the locals.
Myth #4: Japanese people love English and would love to live in the west
Most japanese people have no interest to live anywhere else than Japan and most japanese people don’t care about being able to speak english well. Either people study for professional reasons or occassionally it will because of genuine interest in the english language. Your average japanese person isn’t impressed by eigo speakers or eigo teachers.
Myth #5: Panty vending machines
Yes, it’s true that panty vending machines existed but the way western media potrayed made it sound like they were in every corner when reality it was they were extremely rare, I’m not even sure if they even exist today. In all my time in Japan I saw exactly zero panty vending machines but I didn’t exactly go looking for them.
Semi-Myth #6: High tech society
In some ways it’s true that Japan is a high tech society. If you ever seen japanese toilet you know what I’m talking about. But they’re surpringsly old fashioned in other areas. For example it’s still standard to use fax machines in japanese firms. A common problem foreigners in IT industry complain about is the outdated software japanese firms still use when the western world has already moved on.
Myth #7: It’s difficult to migrate to Japan
This is a semi myth as well, a common misconception is that Japan has one of the hardest immigration rules in the world. It’s not really anymore difficult to migrate to Japan than United States. In fact, when it comes to high skilled immigration, it’s actually easier to migrate to Japan than USA. Japan however doesn’t offer the same type of career advancement for career sharks the same way US does so that could explain why most high skilled foreigners would rather work in Silicon Valley than Tokyo.