I was thinking about this the other day after one of my friends asked me question #5. I mean, she’s my friend and all, but I still felt a little weird talking about it with her. This is a list of the 10 most annoying questions that people in Japan (and not just Japanese people, either!) absolutely looove to ask me. Nine times out of ten, they succeed in making me feel extremely uncomfortable. Now you can, too! With the aid of this helpful list!
10. Can I practice my English with you? If I know you, sure, I’d be happy to speak English with you and help you out, after all you ARE my friend. Man, I WISH my students or people I actually know asked me this rather than weirdos on the train. If I don’t know you… I really really don’t want to practice with you. Sorry. That will only give you more opportunity to ask me weird questions like the following:
9. Can you use chopsticks? Ok, this one I can kind of understand, since in the U.S. we mostly use forks, spoons and knives. However, someone needs to tell Japan that chopsticks are not an eating utensil exclusive to this country.
8. Are you French? Of course, no offense to the French, but I have been asked this more than once! On the street! In the airport! Waiting for the train! On my way to class! Way to assume that every blonde white girl is French. Racial profiling at its finest!
7. Can you eat Japanese food? This is part of the reason I wanted to move to Japan in the first place. I LOOOVE Japanese food! Can YOU eat a hamburger? Of COURSE I can eat Japanese food, silly! I can even eat natto, but I won’t necessarily like it.
6. What is your blood type? Ok. I have some pretty politically sensitive reasons (if you want to know, ask me about it sometime) for not wanting to answer this question outside of a hospital or blood drive. I want no part in this Japanese blood type horoscope nonsense. It infuriates me that people perpetuate such ridiculousness without knowing where it comes from. Outside of that, I actually don’t even know my blood type (which I probably should know, in case of an emergency).
5. Do you take baths? What most people DON’T mean by asking this question is “do you clean yourself?” but RATHER “do you take a Japanese-style bath?” I still, however, really detest this question. Especially with coworkers. I really don’t feel like discussing my bathing habits with you or with anyone for that matter. Oh and just FYI, I DON’T sit around in someone else’s previously enjoyed bathwater, thank you very much. I know it’s the culture, but that is gross. I will take my morning shower, thank you.
4. How much do you weigh? Jeez. This is like the number one thing you should NEVER ask ANYONE, ANYWHERE, AT ANY TIME. The only people that ever ask me are creepy guys and my students. I usually just tell them that the system of weights in the U.S. (pounds) is different from Japan (kilos), so they wouldn’t understand the number anyway.
3. Are you married? I can understand the immigration office or the company I work for asking me this for tax purposes, but really, does everyone in freaking Ashikaga need to know whether or not I’m married or single? My students have asked me this question every other day for the past 10 months. It’s starting to get old.
2. Do you have a boyfriend? This is the usual follow-up to “Are you married?” I was actually poised this question during my BOE interview when I first came to work here. I was shocked that they had the nerve to ask me, and kind of did it jokingly… which was even more off-putting. Whether or not I have a boyfriend is my PRIVATE business.
1. Where do you live? I have been to some events with lots of people that I don’t know asking me this question. Maybe it’s because they have nothing else to ask me. Maybe they are just trying to be polite and start up a conversation. Maybe it’s because they plan to show up at my doorstep unexpectedly with a box of cookies. Maybe it’s because they want to stalk me, break into my apartment, cut me up into little pieces and bury me in a bathtub full of sand. I have no idea. Nevertheless. If you are a complete stranger and want a surefire way to make me feel uncomfortable in a public place, just ask me where I live.