Gaijin + Gals and Safety in Japan

Until February 12th: ASK ANYTHING is open! Click here to submit your questions~ :idea:

Whether you are visiting or staying in Japan, I think a few words of caution (and humor) are needed. :)

Idealism: Gals look like whores

LOL I think every foreigner who comes across a sexier style of gal in Japan first thinks OMG this girl is a slut.  :^_^;;: It’s a mindset that has to slowly change the more you stay in Japan. I mean just look at a recent Popteen issue that had models choosing their styles and one decided one EroKawa (sexy cute or more directly translated erotic cute). While this seems casual and even a style in Japan, it would sound crazy to hear a teen outside of Japan saying “I choose to dress erotic and look cute, too!”

Mar*s is a great example of this. I was headed to Atom with a guy friend of mine and I was in a Mar*s dress and heels. I walk past and hear in English “there goes a working girl” (meaning that’s a hooker). I turn around and say “Excuse me, fuck you!” [pardon my language readers, but well… I don’t take kindly to being called a whore]  :mad: . They responded with “Whoa I thought you were Japanese.” Really how retarded can they get? I told them to open up their minds and hoped they didn’t follow us to our club. (Can we say shore-leave losers? Yes yes we can :roll:   )

While the memory of that still cracks me up, whether we like it or not, there are definite safety risks in being a gaijin gal.


the upskirt

I was walking on the way home from clubbing at Atom at 3:00 in the morning after heading to the conbini to pick up snacks. As I walk home from the conbini I hear the familiar *snap* *snap* of a Japanese cellphone camera. To prevent upskirt pics, and other voyeur shots all Japanese cellphones have a camera sound that you cannot turn off (note: jpn iPhone is surprisingly quiet though). The snapping sound continues and as I walk home I am aware I am leading this voyeur to my apartment and really no way to protect myself except for common female self-defense ideas. Luckily he was happy enough being a voyeur and was possibly just hikikomori and lonely (since many hikikomori keep nocturnal schedules and dine on conbini food).


the complete follow

I’ve also been completely stalked home by a guy on a bike while I was walking. My apartment building had a hallway so I could hear if anyone followed me into my actual building, but I was still frightened and kept looking over my shoulder each time I went home.  :^_^;;:


the drunken asshole aka me about to practice my sucker punch

Another time I was in McDonalds on Dougenzaka near 109 after clubbing and this drunk Japanese guy who knew English used the power of booze and tried to hit on me while I was in line. The hitting on me turned into plain harassment, and my shy friend was too afraid to step in and the Japanese populace in the store tend to not stick their necks out. He kept putting his hand on my shoulder and I wondered if I would have to deal with the cops to get him to leave me alone. Dealing with the cops would mean my foreigner word against him and most cops are likely to believe the Japanese guy, also I worried about my visa keeping me in the country. I finally yelled at him and got in his face and yelled “FUCK OFF YOU ASSHOLE AND BACK THE FUCK AWAY!!” Thankfully he left or I would have been forced to deal with the cops or run away, neither sounded appealing at 5:30 in the morning.

Similar instances happen to women, especially foreigners since Japanese men who nampa (hit on) foreign women often feel that they have greater freedom in a) being an ass b) think foreigners are easy.


the scream scream scream

The worst situation I know of thankfully wasn’t me, but someone in my old apartment building. At 10:00AM on a Saturday night I hear a woman screaming bloody murder at the top of her lungs. I thought it was a loud tv until it continues. I rush out of my apartment quick enough to see a man bounding from the stairs above me to the stairs below me. So I sprint to the top floor and apparently a guy stalked my apartment neighbor girl to her apartment and tried to force himself into her place. He was winning until she screamed and kicked and was able to gain enough leverage to fight him off. We are talking about possible attempted rape and murder here.

The suspect was never caught and little was done by the police to take care of the situation.

I’ve talked to gals about these incidents and none of my gal friends have had similar instances happen, but some have admitted to getting somewhat stalked. The problem is when people combine both gal and foreigner stereotypes together to form this uber-slut image.


As foreigners there’s a feeling of loneliness that often comes into our lives since we do not have family support like back home, however there’s a difference between loneliness and losing your feeling of safety in your own place.

Even if you’re only here for 2 weeks or 2 months I urge you girls to stay cautious and aware. Japan is an amazingly safe country, but it’s easy to get lulled into a feeling that nothing can happen. As foreigners it’s a simple fact we’re put at a disadvantage in this and we’re sometimes mistaken for easy prey. There is also a feeling that as foreigners they’re safe from the reprisal that might come with saying some of the comments that Japanese guys can make to foreign girls.

So please ladies, stay alert, and for the love of all that is fabulous don’t feel afraid to yell and stick up yourself.

Mitsu’s TIP for stalkers, wouldbe harassers and ugly nampa: You might find getting loud or getting crude, or accusing someone of a stalker can often get you out of situations without having to defend yourself since the thought of embarrassment is often a strong motivator.

42 Comments

  1. LANA
    February 6, 2010 / 8:41 pm

    WOW. The story about your neighbor made me feel so bad and sick to my stomach. Man, you just never know what can happen in such an honest, and safe country. I’m so glad nothing bad happened to you ~_~

    During the winter on my way back from shopping in Shinjuku I was standing in the train in front of my bf. Then my bf noticed a man trying to peak under my golds infinity mini skirt( luckily i was wearing my Ma*rs bloomers* and my bf whispered ” Lana step next to me please, this man is trying really hard to peak under your skirt.

    I was like lolz sucker~

    • Mitsu
      February 6, 2010 / 11:27 pm

      Yeah but I feel bad for her. I mean anyone should. :(

      LOL I never noticed such on the train, but my old regular train was so crowded if someone could manuever for perverted things I’d be impressed :-D

  2. BB~
    February 6, 2010 / 8:49 pm

    Thank you for this!
    The story about your neighbor is so horrifying. Reminds me a bit of something that happened to my mom when she used to share an apartment with another family. The younger girl in the family had a child, and one day she and the child were stalked home by a man she had met once before. My mom ended up having to hide with the child while the parents of the family fended off the creep. If the younger girl had not screamed like she did, she and the baby might not have been ok.
    Many of these tips work not only in Japan but just in general. I will be crude if any guy comes to close to me or gives me any look, even if I’m with my dad, lol. Can never be too safe.
    Again, thank you for this.

    • Mitsu
      February 6, 2010 / 11:28 pm

      Man that sounds so scary. Some people just don’t understand NO -_-

  3. February 6, 2010 / 9:08 pm

    this is a *very* useful article. and the advice is probably good for almost anywhere you would be willing to dress in gal, not just japan. you seem like a strong woman, it’s great that we have you to ask questions and get advice from! thank you mitsu!

    • Mitsu
      February 6, 2010 / 11:29 pm

      Oh dear, I just didn’t want to deal with this people. I think any girl would do the same. I’m more impressed by my neighbor. How she got the adrenaline to scream after a shock I don’t know, but thank god she did.

  4. February 6, 2010 / 10:18 pm

    Yeah, from what I’ve heard it’s always a good idea to fight back and scream if you can (if it’s necessary, that is). It can scare the other person.

    I’ve actually heard that often about Japan; that people stick so much to their own business like that.

    Nice article, and I like the accompanying pictures as well. :)

    • Mitsu
      February 6, 2010 / 11:31 pm

      Yeah, they think it’s burdening if so. But, well I guess it’s societal norm. :!: But it’s everywhere, too.

      Thanks :idea:

  5. silk
    February 6, 2010 / 10:53 pm

    Gosh, Japan is, indeed, known for stalkers/perverts/etc., eh? But after reading an article, a few days ago, about how girls sell their panties, I’m not so surprised anymore…
    You wrote a good article, but to be honest, I felt a bit uncomfortable. Well, then again, it can happen in any country. Everyone needs to be careful~

    • Mitsu
      February 6, 2010 / 11:25 pm

      The panty issue is really really old. I am sure a few people do it, but before eBay cracked down on it a few Americans and such were doing it, too.

      Yeah thinking back to some of those situations makes me feel uncomfortable, but it’s better to be safe yanno :idea:

  6. February 6, 2010 / 11:14 pm

    Oh Mitsu! You are my hero always! Hehe. I really admire how you always stood up for yourself and kept yourself safe in those situations. These are issues that people rarely bring up, let alone provide useful information.

    I am just so thankful to you for always putting up amazing articles. A great variety and you keep it real.

    Thankfully, despite traveling and living in Japan several times I’ve never had any troubles. Men in Tokyo take no notice of me, and I only got some double take staring in Osaka. I am just someone who blends in even when I am of a minority haha XP

    I am glad to hear the situations ended without any serious trouble, and I really hope that guy stayed away from your neighbor girl. I have heard some bad ending stories about stalkers.

    • February 6, 2010 / 11:32 pm

      Oh and what’s with that calling you a “working girl” who uses that phrase, and what was the point of even saying a thing like that? And then he goes on, like it would be ok to say if you were Japanese. Blahg!

    • Mitsu
      February 6, 2010 / 11:35 pm

      Oh hush :^_^;;: I’m horrible at taking compliments and it’s so undeserved, I promise.

      These occassions often happened when I was walking home at night from a club. I am sure the guys thought my clubwear was an invitation or something, or low-cut equals whore-for-anyone :-S

      LOL good boys in Osaka!

      Yeah they stayed away from her, we all kind of watched out for her. The cops were like we can take your statement, but the guy ran off so we can’t do anything. Meh it’s horrible but the situation is worse in other countries with gaijin. I hope I didn’t come off as OMGJAPANBADTHEYHAZPERVZ since every country has its fare share :^_^;;:

      • February 7, 2010 / 9:41 am

        Hehe, you deserve many many more compliments, I really think you are writing a blog of great worth!

        Men need to be educated that short skirts or low cut tops do not equal invitations! That makes me really mad. So many times I hear victim blaming in rape case, it’s just sickening.

        Oh, no no, you didn’t come off that way at all. A lot of people always talk about the safe side of Japan, but people going to Japan should know that crime and harassment do take place sometimes as well.

        I am glad to hear about your neighbor lady, but the cops’ reaction sounds sadly typical.

  7. February 7, 2010 / 12:31 am

    Wahh, I’m really happy you wrote this article!! I won’t be showing it to my mom, though, she’s already freaked out enough about my trip!! :^_^;;:

    My friend’s in Nagoya right now and she had a serious chikan problem on a super-packed train once, but it was near the beginning of her trip and she was trying to be really conscious about being a, you know, “loud, problematic American” or whatever… so she didn’t say or do anything. she really regrets that. It’d probably be really awkward to yell out something when you can’t even move, but… well, what would you do in that situation?? I’d be afraid of them not believing me, too… the policemen and stuff… but to just let something like that happen…idk. :cry: so scary!!

    • Mitsu
      February 7, 2010 / 10:47 am

      Oh dear, yeah don’t show to your mom and give her more worries.

      Well for the most part these aren’t issues that occur often. I mean this has been from 2+ years of living in Japan.

      I’m always amazed guys have skills on a super packed train, I’m usually just trying to hold on and not fall. I think it’s best just to get off at the next stop. I know people might get upset at me saying that, but as a gaijin it’s just easier to keep yourself out of issues where you might have to deal with police. -_-

  8. February 7, 2010 / 2:27 am

    Such great advise, and to be honest it makes me a little wiser. I know I can look after myself, but as I’m going to be studying in a foreign country for a year it’s nice to know what to do lol.
    My friend had a bad experience (she’s Gaijin Gal), but she wasn’t physically molested. But some guy thought he could sit in front of her on the tube and basically get off. I shudder at the thought.

    haha loved the pictures btw. ちょうかわいいですよ! :love:
    The flyer also made me laugh, and reminded me of the ones they have on some of the tubes. My boyfriend saw one and was like “What’s that?”…he hadn’t come across ちかん in his vocabulary yet lol

    • Mitsu
      February 7, 2010 / 10:42 am

      I think we know the same gal, we lived together and yeah he played pocket pool :-S

      lol I think that’s a word best kept out of his vocab :-D

      • February 8, 2010 / 8:29 am

        Charlie? Such a small world haha
        I know her through LJ and facebook :D

  9. Irebun
    February 7, 2010 / 9:10 am

    Oh this is a very informative article~ Thanks Mitsu~! :D

    Man, I feel really bad for that girl~~ D:
    I was wondering, what would you say In a situation like hers~? Just scream? (Do people normally come running?) Or like in the U.S. I heard its better to yell “Fire” instead of “Rape”, because people are more likely to come to you. Would that work in Japan? (obviously saying it in Japanese though, lol xD)

    • Mitsu
      February 7, 2010 / 10:43 am

      I think in her case and in the case of many the thought of what should I yell really doesn’t come to play, it’s that you should yell. From what I’ve read when you’re surprised you have your voice caught in your throat and breaking out the first scream as fast as possible is the best thing to do and help your adrenaline.

  10. February 7, 2010 / 9:23 am

    As everybody else have said, this is really informative! Thank you!!

    Wow, I feel so bad for your neighbourgirl. That’s really sick -_-!!

  11. February 7, 2010 / 11:07 am

    Oh my goodness that sounds scary!! I would have yelled at that annoying guy at McD’s too! Jeez!! I don’t know if it works in Japan..but when I lived in St. Louis there were a lot of stalkers there and a few people that I knew did crazy stuff to throw them off..like dance every so often while walking haha. I skipped and hummed to myself…it does good at 3am in the morning [albeit scary]. ^^;;;

  12. Cecilia
    February 7, 2010 / 11:33 am

    About police in Japan. I read a horror story that happened to an American gaijin. He was tipsy and got into a scuffle with his cab driver because he was taking the long way to cheat him out of money so he was like “No go that way”. Anyway the cabbie calls the police and he’s sent to jail. Thing is that he stayed there about a MONTH.

    (There is no law against this. Apparently they follow “You’re guilty until proven innocent” mentality when it comes to foreigners.)

    The whole time he’s arguing and fighting what the police are trying to put down in the police report. Fortunately he could speak Japanese fluently and had friends who helped him out.

    But staying in jail for a month for something like a scamming cabbie is way harsh.

  13. February 7, 2010 / 1:12 pm

    Wow! I have heard of such things happening before! I have been to Japan about 4 times and even got to deal with perverts too. Ugly truth!
    I’m afraid of the guys following (I’ll be going to Japan in 2011 in one year). Well now I decided to 1. not live alone and 2. always have a pepper spray in my bag haha :D
    Ok might not be so easy ^^;

    A friend of my friends (=_= ehm yeah) was attacked from a stalker near her appartment. She only got away because she was able to scream somehow.. ^^;

  14. Eshtar
    February 7, 2010 / 1:21 pm

    Hey Hey, what a horrible experiences…especially the story from your neighbour.
    I know this Gal who went to Japan for some months because a family member got ill. She is a mix blood and therefore she stands out. She got stalked by a Japanese boy and it got worse by the minute. He found out where she lived, her email and number. She was very lucky that she met a nice police men and he helped her out. She’s still is afraid and often stays in her house. She doesn’t dare to walk outside alone anymore. This really can ruin peoples life.
    I’m glad that you’re ok!

  15. February 7, 2010 / 2:29 pm

    Ahhh thanks for the useful advice~ This is a really good article.

    But I thought it was hikikomori? xD

    • Mitsu
      February 7, 2010 / 3:32 pm

      It is, corrected! I wish spell check worked for romanji :icon_eek:

  16. February 7, 2010 / 4:03 pm

    Those are some seriously creepy situations! :O Especially the one with your neighbor… I’m so glad she was able to get away!
    I think it’s really sad how some people (aka SOME MEN) think that just because a girl chooses to dress a bit sexy, she is making herself available for whatever disgusting behaviour they choose to exhibit :( I think this was a really helpful post though with some great things to keep in mind, not only when traveling to Japan, but anywhere really!

  17. February 7, 2010 / 5:54 pm

    Great, great post and tips!
    I’m lucky enough to have what my friend calls the horrifically creepy death glare (or something along those lines…).
    My friends say that I get extremely freaky when I do that face… :mad:
    Hence the fact that I’ve never had any problems with stalker/creepy dude.

    I would like to add that if someone is following you, it’s better to go back to a well lighted, safe area, like a store or just a busy area?
    When there, you will usually have a witness if anythings happen and you can call a cab to get home safely.
    Personally, I’ll rather shed out a couple of dollars to get home safely than having some creppy people knowing where I live and risking that something happens later…
    Just a thought…
    I have no idea how such a strategy can translate in other cities but it seems safer than going back directly to your place, no? :(

    • silk
      February 7, 2010 / 8:46 pm

      Actually, it brought to my attention, too. In such situations people usually would try to reach their home as fast as possible. Isn’t it more dangerous, really. Although, I see from where it comes: home is a safe place (psychology-wise).

  18. February 7, 2010 / 6:52 pm

    This is a super useful post! I hope it goes in the side bar like the other popular posts!
    Every girl travelling to Japan should read this, gal or not!

    The story about your neighbor terrified me! I hope she never experienced something like that after =(

    I have yet to travel to Japan but I’ve been warned a long time ago by my Japanese friends. Although I am not a gal, I stand out for being a tall natural blue eyed/blonde girl. My illusions of Japan being the “worry-less” country was broken a long time ago!

  19. February 7, 2010 / 10:21 pm

    wow… thanks for the insight.. i heard alot about how they treat gaijins too… R they really that bad? hMmmmm….
    take good care! =)

    • Mitsu
      February 7, 2010 / 10:24 pm

      This is from 2 years, it’s not like it’s everyday. I still feel Japan is a safe place, just a little more cautious. I think alcohol plays a part in some of these, too.

  20. February 8, 2010 / 4:35 am

    Thanks so much for the article. I do feel a little more worried now since I was planning to live in Jpn for biz purposes. I guess it’s lucky that I have this super-paranoid alert 24/7 that i’ll look behind me every minute while walking home be it as bright as day or as dark as night. Well technically I’ve never walked home if it’s dark by myself before (the pre cautions you develop from living in a dangerous suburb lol) but I guess it’s a good thing that I’m not a club/bar person so I won’t stay out very late if I am by myself.

    But I guess it’ll also be safe to bring a spare change of clothes with you while going home. I’ve learnt to cover up and wear pants when I’m going home even if it’s 4pm after having ppl trying to pick me up twice in their cars in the past month.

  21. Mia-Carla
    February 14, 2010 / 10:38 am

    I just loved your icons in that article haha! Nice tips, I agree with embrassment being a good tool. I try not to be alone at crazy times at night either. But japan really does have a tendency to make me feel too safe sometimes, so I end up acting totally out of character. Im surprised I’ve not led myself into bad situations tbh.

  22. Jaydene
    February 2, 2011 / 1:45 am

    Thanks for the tips. :smiley: I really need them. I’m going to Japan with a few friends of mine, and your tips are exactly what I need. I want to have fun :happydance: , but safe while I’m in Japan.

  23. Payachii
    August 15, 2011 / 10:14 pm

    Thanks for this so much! It was really amusing, but pass that very informative! I’ve lived in Japan for a long time (before) and I’ve experienced a lot of these with my friends just being a foreigner (not even doing Gal). I’m glad you’re sharing tips online! It can be very dangerous for gaijin gals and girls in Japan from my experience and it’s good someone is giving us advice!

  24. Vonnie
    August 27, 2011 / 10:23 am

    Girl…it’s so sad that so many foreign women have had chikan experiences in Japan (albeit it’s still a wonderful country)

    I had 2 instances of sexual harassment when I went to Japan for 2 weeks the summer before my senior year in HIGH SCHOOL…I had one following me in the streets in Akihabara (my teacher protected me and gave him the booboo eye lol), and I had a grope and hide/run on a train in a rural town :-/…

    Great article and I hope to see more!

    P.S. I have been a loyal fan of yours for a LONG while! <3 what you do!

  25. November 8, 2011 / 12:15 pm

    This is a dicragce girls ! I swear if somebody would stalk me I’d just turn around take a photo of him,tell um to feckk off otherwise Ill post it on “stalker website” or make something else up, if the guy i hitting on u in MacDonald like u said,hell yea scream at him till he get emmbarrased enough and leave,guy taking a photo of u – do the same to him,well its just my idea might be a bit dengarous but it’s our gaijin advantage, we tend to have no problem with dealing with such a people in our home countries- at least in Ireland, just scream a much a you can in English and he will fekk off then, it annoys me when I hear about all this stupid horny man trying to harrase poor girls,im grateful for the post though,didnt know that a lot of this happen there.
    JLJ

  26. kitsune
    March 13, 2013 / 1:44 pm

    I appreciate the time you have taken to write this. I would ask that you too open your mind a little more, as you expected of the people that thought you were a prostitute. I myself work as a hooker in a legal brothel, however the clothes I wear out and about are very different to my work clothing. I have to be aware myself of not judging what girls wear (ie “I wouldn’t even be caught DEAD in that at work”)
    Please keep in mind that sex work is a legitimate job, and even in the cases where a woman/girl does not choose to do it, by acting appalled you demonize them, and make right to consent exclude them. Thank you.

    • Mitsu
      March 13, 2013 / 2:00 pm

      I think more my immediate reaction was not people thinking I’m a hooker, but how Western ideals of American men (I wrote this blog post a while ago, but unsure if I mentioned they were shore leave American Navy personnel) place upon slut shaming outfits. Short skirt = she’s a loose woman. He was slut shaming, I was pissed he was slut shaming. I will call someone out for that. I imagine your job is a lot of work and I in no way want to take away from that.

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