An interesting discussion on why foreigners have bipolar views of Japan:

“Living here in Japan has really opened my eyes to the hearts and minds of the minorities here in Japan (myself included), and the immigrants back home in the States.

Before living here in Japan, I would from time to time make a wise crack or two about certain minorities back home due to how they always “stuck together” and always spoke their foreign language in the presence of “us Americans”. “How rude of them to speak that language so loud in public when we can’t understand”, I remember myself saying to my friend in that grocery store line not too long ago. Now I am in the “ethnic minority” category, and I find myself doing the exact same type of things that those minorities were doing in the U.S. which annoyed me and my friends so.

When I realized this, I felt terrible, and decided to alter my thinking to a more proactive and positive disposition. Only through blood and sweat can one realize fluency in reading, writing, and speaking Japanese. Once one has come to terms with this unalterable reality, then half the battle is won. Effective communication in all its forms within the Japanese construct is the only key for 99% of those who strive for a fruitful life here.”

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