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The Gaijin TV Exclusion Paradox

Nikolai sayeth:
My friends/coworkers even get mad at me at work too when I change the TV to a Japanese channel, and not stupid AFN (Armed Forces Network or something, basically USA channels wherever there is a base).

I get this a lot, too and I’ve never understood it. The active hostility one often sees among gaijin to the sound of Japanese coming from rectangular boxes. They don’t just get annoyed: they get physically agitated; their voices and faces are filled with disgust.

In so violently rejecting and discounting Japanese TV, movies and videos (even stuff dubbed from English) a lot of gaijin seem to me to be going out of their way to prevent “free Japanese” from entering their lives. And then, in their drunken touchy-feely moments, they’ll sit there telling you about how hard Japanese supposedly is, how hard not knowing Japanese (while living in Japan) is, and how they would “give anything” to know it. If only they had “the time” and “the talent” and “the motivation”.

Really, Todd? How much motivation does it take to leave the TV on?

It’s like that guy who wants a clean sheets but absolutely insists on defecating on them 1 because it’s his “right”. It’s just…weird. And comically self-defeating. Why travel to the other side of the world only to do and see and say what you can you do and see and say “back home”?

And, no, drinking Asahi beer daily and eating sushi occasionally does not count any more 😛 .



Gaijin? Living in Japan? Feeling repentant? Wanna learn Japanese? Here you go, the 2-step magic formula:

  1. Turn on the TV at 9am next Monday morning.
  2. Turn it off 2 years later.



  1. (what’s that? you never had this friend? You’re missing out 😛 )

  6 comments for “The Gaijin TV Exclusion Paradox

  1. Thinker
    September 15, 2012 at 06:51

    I read the numbered list at the bottom as the #1 footnote.

    “…insists on defecating on them. Turn on the TV at 9am next Monday morning.”

    I was frightened.

  2. フレヂィー
    September 15, 2012 at 08:10

    So, I never doubted that I could learn from watching TV, I am from another country after all and english is not my first language, but when I was a kid it was natural it just happened. I’ve been tuning into MacKeyholeTV for quite some time now and I must say, at first it was so annoying so infuriating to not know or understand. But now, the weirdest thing happens, sure, I still don’t know or grasp what the folk on TV are saying because of their fast-native speech pattern, but, it’s so natural to my ears now, listening to them speak just sounds like an everyday thing, and here and there there are glimpses of me laughing, but not laughing and saying “haha, wow, I understood that” but laughing at the actual joke or topic being talked about because I can understand more and more as time goes by. So damn cool.

    ~ fv

  3. Ian Worthington
    September 16, 2012 at 15:33

    *read this whilst sat in osaka apartment. With TV on.*

  4. Jack Cotton-Brown
    September 17, 2012 at 19:40

    It’s not just that, I’m an exchange student in Japan right now and a lot of other exchange students have been saying that the Japanese TV is incredibly boring/shit. I find it to be the complete opposite. I find it hilarious and on average, fairly interesting. Probably much more so if I could understand more of it. The students saying this are the ones who can’t understand much Japanese at all. Just putting it out there, but this thing is definitely a psychological thing, perhaps an aversion to the language. It’s almost like a defensive barrier, where the mind does not like being reminded that it cannot function in Japanese. Better stick to English.

  5. Nikolai
    September 19, 2012 at 13:44

    Haha, great point: “they’ll sit there telling you about how hard Japanese supposedly is, how hard not knowing Japanese (while living in Japan) is, and how they would “give anything” to know it.”
    I hear this all the time. I learned Hiragana and Katakana on my own in about two months. Then got better just by reading everything around me, all the time! People put language learning on an impossible pedistal it seems.
    Also, while I was reading this article, right now, a coworker walked into my office, and said, “Why aren’t you guys watching ESPN? What’s with this Japanese crap?”. LOL!

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