|RANT 'N' RAVE
The Invisible Gaijin
Illustration by Dot
Nothing seems to phase us as we skillfully
skip past that seventh pool of vomit; not that mass of people racing towards us like
world-class athletes nor the high-pitched ringing of that bicycle trying to weave its way
through the unweavable. No, today we are invincible, we are gaijin gods strolling through
Tokyo. Invincible, that is, until we spot something horrific bobbing towards us on the
horizon. A sight that leaves every one of us completely void of all rational thinking; a
sight that is quite simply another gaijin.
As the problem strides ever closer, etiquette tells us that we must avoid eye contact at
all costs, so we proceed with zombie-like senses, eyes transfixed far ahead in the
distance puzzling over what it is that overcomes us when we pass another gaijin in the
street. Is it envy, is it fear, is it lust or is it simply just a basic loss of vision?
Whatever it is, it is clear that we are all somehow trained to ignore each other with
Now this ritual, although occurring almost instantly, is by no means immediate. Upon
arrival we are foolishly generous with our greetings - a nod of the head here, a slight
gesture with the hand there - small common courtesies that in addition to going
outrageously unnoticed, fully expose the exact number of days and weeks since our arrival.
Sadly, these early stages seem to be torturous. Invisibility, the new power we have
harnessed and a once desirable attribute during much of pubescent life, is suddenly thrust
upon us uninvited, leaving us doomed to wild motions of unacknowledged nodding and waving
until finally our battered egos can take no more and we, equipped with the knowledge that
our days of swapping pleasantries are numbered (as well as with a tinge of bitterness),
take to the streets to silently persecute that next unfortunate gaijin.
It seems existing ideology says we shouldn't squander our "hellos" on people we
don't know. The I-don't-do-that-kind-of-thing-at-home-so-why-should-
I-do-it-here attitude prevails. The fundamental problem with this school of thought,
however, is the huge amount of effort it takes to convince that passerby that we didn't
actually see them. I mean of course we saw them. Why wouldn't we? It was a western monster
after all. But still we work painfully hard fixating on the most acutely boring things as
if they contain the answers to human existence, until the victim has passed or until we've
momentarily slipped into one of those seven pools we were so skillful with earlier.
The bitter fact is that the road to invisibility is treacherous, but it is a path we tread
with relative ease. We accept invisibility as second nature, and why do we do this?
Because we are aliens and that's what aliens do.
Many thanks to reader Christopher Newlands for this Rant.
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