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Getting stared at in Udatsu

Saturday, December 23, 2023

A traditional Japanese street lined with old houses and warehouses and a man in a modern mobility scooter riding away
The old town in Udatsu harks back to older times

The visit to Udatsu was marred a little. A few kids saw me and started commenting about "The Gaijin." I wasn't bothered, but Mrs H got quite worked up about it.

My view: Japan's a pretty homogeneous society, and there's a bit of novelty in seeing foreigners wandering around, particularly in the less urban areas. Mostly, it's just that: harmless curiosity rather than outright hostility.

OK, sometimes it goes a bit far. Like the old dude in a restaurant who stood staring at the end of our table a few weeks back. That really hacked Mrs H off.

A traditional well in a town square, with a pulley hanging over the pit
The old town well in the center of Udatsu

But here's the thing: a couple of people around my way started with the whole "stare at the foreigner" thing. It took them a while to work out I won't eat their babies and I don't smell of butter. Nor will I steal the women - I've got one already and she generally frowns on such things.

I'm actually quite approachable and friendly.

Even the local police stopped looking at me like I should be questioned and started smiling and sharing a brief conversation. Stress brief as I'm stuck on the weather. Unless they want to offer me a coffee!

Back to Udatsu. Lovely town, albeit suffering from the population exodus. People are generally quite friendly, and there's a lovely cafe with a Hawaiian vibe. If you go there, remember you're going to get stared at. If that's a problem for you, I can't recommend it.

If you're willing to accept it for what it is, go visit and enjoy yourself.

A recreation of a traditional river fishing boat
A recreation of a traditional river fishing boat

My name is Ross Hori

I'm a freelance writer, designer and photographer. By day I create articles, features and reports. At night I take photos and write fiction.

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