Gaijin cooties

As I got on the train on the main line today, I was surprised to find two empty seats. It isn’t a problem standing, but of course after a long day and with the effects of jet lag, it is kind of nice to be able to sit down. The two empty seats were on either side of a woman, near the poles that support the seat and offer something to grip for those standing. This can be seen in the initial condition diagram below.

Initial Condition

All is well on the train

I was faced with the decision of choosing where to sit. Neither location was perfect, as no matter where I sat, I would squeeze in between two people. I chose the closest seat to where I entered the train. This, apparently, did not please the woman who I sat next to, as you can see in the intermediate condition.

Intermediate Condition

Uh oh!  It's the foreigner

All foreigners have gaijin cooties, which makes them undesirable to stand or sit next to on a train. Apparently the big, hairy, sweaty foreigners are dangerous. Many times people choose not to sit next to a foreigner. The woman next to me decided that the danger of catching cooties from the foreigner was just too high risk. Fortunately, there was another seat just to her left. Better to squeeze in next to your own kind, right?

Final Condition
Safe at last

This did not make me happy, but what can you do? I just looked at her. At the next stop, more people got on the train and I swear this guy contemplated the seat and then opted out. At the next next stop, the person next to the woman got off, and she moved down one more seat. Maybe she was trying to position herself for the coveted “next to the hard barrier” seat by the door. Who knows.

Just another day in Japan.

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