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This article is about a Japanese word for "foreigner". For the James Clavell novel, see Gai-Jin (novel).

Gaijin (外人?, [ɡaidʑiɴ]) is a Japanese word meaning "non-Japanese", or "alien".[1] The word is composed of two kanji: gai (?), meaning "outside"; and jin (?), meaning "person". Thus, the word literally means "outside person". The word can refer to nationality, race, or ethnicity.

Some modern commentators feel that the word is now primarily negative or derogatory in connotation and thus offensive.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8] Other observers indicate that the word can also be used neutrally.[3][5][9][10][11] The term has become politically incorrect and is avoided now by most Japanese television broadcasters.[12] The uncontroversial[12] gaikokujin (外国人?), "foreign-country person", is commonly used instead.[12]

Etymology and history

The word gaijin is of ancient provenance and was initially not applied to foreigners. It can be traced in writing back to Heike Monogatari, written early in the 13th century:

外人もなき所に兵具をとゝのへ [13]
Assembling arms where there are no gaijin[note 1]

Here, gaijin is used to refer to outsiders[14][15] and potential enemies.[16] Another early reference is in Renri Hishō (c. 1349) by Nijō Yoshimoto, where it is used to refer to a (Japanese) person who is a stranger, not a friend.[16] The Noh play, tengu[17] also has a dialog, where a servant objects to the appearance of a traveling monk:

源平両家の童形たちのおのおのござ候ふに、かやうの外人は然るべからず候
A gaijin doesn't belong here, where children from the Genji and Heike families are playing.

Here, gaijin also means an outsider/stranger or an unknown/unfamiliar person.[18]

Historically, the Portuguese, the first Europeans to visit Japan, were known as nanbanjin (literally "southern barbarians"). When British and Dutch adventurers such as William Adams arrived in Japan fifty years later in the early 17th century, they were usually known as kōmōjin ("red-haired people"), a term still used in Hokkien Chinese today.

When the Tokugawa shogunate was forced to open Japan to foreign contact, Westerners were commonly referred to as ijin ("different people"), a shortened form of ikokujin ("different country person") or ihōjin ("different motherland people"), terms previously used for Japanese from different feudal (that is, foreign) states.[citation needed] Ketō, literally meaning "hairy Tang", was (and is) used as a pejorative for Chinese and Westerners.[19]

The word gaikokujin (外国人) is composed of gaikoku (foreign country) and jin (person), so the word literally means "foreign-country person". The term was introduced and popularized by the Meiji government (1868–1912), and this gradually replaced ijin, ikokujin and ihōjin. As the empire of Japan extended to Korea and Taiwan, the term naikokujin ("inside country people") was used to refer to nationals of other territories of the Empire of Japan.[citation needed] While other terms fell out of use after World War II, gaikokujin remained as the official government term for non-Japanese people. The modern word gaijin is held by some writers to be a simple contraction of gaikokujin.[12]

Usage

File:Foreigners in Japan in 2000 by citizenship.PNG

While all forms of the word mean "foreigner" or "outsider", in practice gaikokujin and gaijin are commonly used to refer to racially non-Japanese groups,[21] principally Caucasians.[10][22][23][24][25][26] However the term is also sometimes applied to ethnic Japanese born and raised in other countries.[24][27] Gaijin is also commonly used within Japanese professional wrestling to collectively refer to the visiting performers from the west who will frequently tour the country.[28]

Japanese speakers commonly refer to non-Japanese as gaijin even while they are overseas. Also, people of Japanese descent native to other countries (especially those countries with large Japanese communities) might also call non-descendants gaijin, as a counterpart to nikkei.[27] Historically, some usage of the word "gaijin" referred respectfully to the prestige and wealth of Caucasians or the power of western businesses.[9][29][30] This interpretation of the term as positive or neutral in tone continues for some.[3][4][5][10][11][31][32] However, though the term may be used without negative intent by many Japanese speakers,[2] it is seen as derogatory by some[33][34][35] and reflective of exclusionary attitudes.[2][3][12][25][31][36]

"While the term itself has no derogatory meaning, it emphasizes the exclusiveness of Japanese attitude and has therefore picked up pejorative connotations that many Westerners resent." Mayumi Itoh (1995)[4]

The term is avoided by mainstream Japanese media whenever possible.[12][37] Now that gaijin has become somewhat politically incorrect, it is common to refer to non-Japanese as gaikokujin.[25][37] However if the honorific san is attached to the word Gaijin as Gaijin-san, some[citation needed] see it as a friendly expression.

Gaijin also appears frequently in Western literature and pop culture. It forms the title of such novels as Marc Olden's Gaijin (New York: Arbor House, 1986), James Melville's Go gently, gaijin (New York : St. Martin's Press, 1986), James Kirkup's Gaijin on the Ginza (London: Chester Springs, 1991) and James Clavell's Gai-Jin (New York: Delacorte Press, 1993), as well as a song by Nick Lowe. It is the title of feature films such as Tizuka Yamazaki's Gaijin - Os Caminhos da Liberdade (1980) and Gaijin - Ama-me Como Sou (2005), as well as animation shorts such as Fumi Inoue's Gaijin (2003). It is a recurring word in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), where it is used to refer to both the main character, an American, and his love interest. The author Ben Mezrich uses the word "gaijin" frequently in his book, Ugly Americans. This is a term used to describe the society of Americans making their living from the Japanese stock market.

Foreign residents in Japan

See also

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Notes

  1. The 13th-century pronunciation of the characters 外人 is debated; it may have been kotobito (ことびと), udokihito (うどきひと) or gwaijin (ぐわいじん). The spelling gaijin is used here for continuity.

References

  1. がいじん【外人】(translation: Gaijin). Archived from the original on 2013-01-11. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Wetherall, William (1983). "[[Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan]]" ([dead link]) 2. Tokyo: Kodansha: 313–4.  |contribution= ignored (help); URL–wikilink conflict (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Buckley, Sandra (2002). "Gaijin". Encyclopedia of Contemporary Japanese Culture. Taylor and Francis. pp. 161–2. ISBN 0415143446. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Itoh, Mayumi (Summer 1996). "Japan's abiding sakoku mentality - seclusion from other countries - Economic Myths Explained". Orbis (Foreign Policy Research Institute / JAI Press Inc.) 40 (3). 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Kitahara, Michio (1989). Children of the Sun: the Japanese and the Outside World. Sandgate, Folkestone, England: Paul Norbury Publications. pp. 117, 516. "For example, gaijin literally means a "person from outside", namely a foreigner, and that means "Caucasian"."
  6. De Mente, Boye Lafayette (1994). "Japanese Etiquette & Ethics In Business". McGraw-Hill Professional: 159. ISBN 0844285307. 
  7. Hsu, Robert (1993). "The MIT Encyclopedia of the Japanese Economy". MIT Press: 195. ISBN 0844285307. 
  8. Wetherall, William; de Vos, George A (1976). "Ethnic Minorities in Japan". In Veenhoven, Willem Adriaan; Crum Ewing, Winifred. Case Studies on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: A World Survey. Stichting Plurale. p. 384. ISBN ISBN 9024717795 Check |isbn= value: invalid character (help). 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Lie, John (2000). "The Discourse of Japaneseness". In Douglass,, Mike; Roberts, Glenda Susan. Japan and Global Migration: Foreign Workers and the Advent of a Multicultural Society. Routledge. p. 75. ISBN 0415191106. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Befu, Harumi (2001). Hegemony of Homogeneity: An Anthropological Analysis of Nihonjinron. Trans Pacific Press. p. 76. ISBN 1876843055. "In the generic sense, [Gaijin] refers to all foreigners; but in a more restricted sense it designates only Caucasians—that is, those foreigners who are worthy of admiration in some respects"
  11. 11.0 11.1 Koshiro, Yukiko (1999). Trans-Pacific Racisms and the U.S. Occupation of Japan. Columbia University Press. p. 114. ISBN 023111348X. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 Gottlieb, Nanette (2005). "Language and Society in Japan". Cambridge University Press: 117–8. ISBN 9780521532846.  "Gaikokujin is uncontroversial and simply means a person who does not hold Japanese citizenship; it is the more common contracted version that has been the subject of irritated complaint: people may be pointed at by children and have the word gaijin either shouted or whispered though this is much less common in Japan today than it was thirty years ago. At a deeper level, though, it is the connotation of exclusion and oddity that irks, particularly when the term is combined with the adjective hen na to mean 'peculiar foreigner,' a term once often heard on Japanese television shows. The term gaijin itself is included these days by most broadcasters on their list of terms best avoided."
  13. Script error
  14. A. Matsumura (ed.), Daijirin (大辞林), (p. 397, 9th ed., vol. 1). (1989). Tokyo: Sanseido. "がいじん【外人】② そのことに関係のない人。第三者。「外人もなき所に兵具をととのへ/平家一」"
  15. A. Matsumura (ed.), Daijisen (大辞泉), (p. 437, 1st ed., vol. 1). (1998). Tokyo: Shogakukan. "がいじん。【外人】② 仲間以外の人。他人。「外人もなき所に兵具をととのへ」〈平家・一〉"
  16. 16.0 16.1 "外人". Kōjien (5 ed.). Iwanami. 1998. ISBN 4000801112. がいじん【外人】① 仲間以外の人。疎遠の人。連理秘抄「外人など上手多からむ座にては」② 敵視すべきな人。平家一「外人もなき所に兵具をととのへ」 
  17. (Japanese) 鞍馬天狗, Ohtsuki Noh Theatre.
  18. M. Yamaguchi et al. (eds.), Shinkango jiten (新漢語辞典), (p. 282, 2nd ed., vol. 1). (2000). Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten Publishing. "【外人】② 局外者。他人。「源平両家の童形たちのおのおのござ候ふに、かやうの外人は然るべからず候」 "
  19. "毛唐人". Kōjien (5 ed.). Iwanami. 1998. ISBN 4000801112. 
  20. Japan Statistics Bureau, accessed 8 December 2007
  21. Lee, Soo im (2006). Japan's Diversity Dilemmas: Ethnicity, Citizenship, and Education. iUniverse. p. 102. ISBN 0595362575. 
  22. Reischauer, Edwin O. (1981). Japan: the Story of a Nation. Alfred A. Knopf. p. 255. 
  23. Wilkinson, Endymion (1980). Japan versus Europe: a History of Misunderstanding. London: Penguin Books. p. 126. 
  24. 24.0 24.1 Koshiro, Yukiko (1999). Trans-Pacific Racisms and the U.S. Occupation of Japan. Columbia University Press. p. 254. ISBN 023111348X. 
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 Lie, John (1999). Multiethnic Japan. Harvard University Press. p. 20. ISBN 0674013581. 
  26. Creighton, Millie (1997). "Soto Others and Uchi Others: Imaging racial diversity, imagining homogeneous Japan". In Weiner, Michael. Japan's Minorities: The Illusion of Homogeneity. Routledge. p. 212. ISBN 0415130085. 
  27. 27.0 27.1 Tsuda, Takeyuki (2003). Strangers in the Ethnic Homeland: Japanese Brazilian Return. Columbia University Press. ISBN 023112838X.  line feed character in |publisher= at position 20 (help)
  28. Sibley, Adam (2008-02-13). "NOAH limits as Japan hits". The Sun. Retrieved 2009-03-13. 
  29. Suzuki, Jiro; Sakamoto, Mickey (1976). "Discrimination against foreigners of Japanese descent in Japan". In Veenhoven, Willem Adriaan; Crum Ewing, Winifred. Case Studies on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: A World Survey. Stichting Plurale. p. 274. ISBN ISBN 9024717795 Check |isbn= value: invalid character (help). 
  30. Meredith Stuart, Paul (1987). Nihonsense. Tokyo: The Japan Times, Ltd. pp. 3–5. "Not all foreigners are gaijin to Japanese and quite a few natives of Japan are gaijin. There is a logic to this mess, but it is hardly logical. It is true that 'American' (Amerikajin) is a synonym for gaijin for many Japanese. At one time, at least when the U.S. auto industry was undisputed leader of world autodom, the term connoted awe and respect."
  31. 31.0 31.1 Thomas Dillon, "Born and raised a 'gaijin', Japan Times, December 24, 2005
  32. Wada, Minoru (20 June 1994). "Education behind the scenes". The Daily Yomiuri: 9. 
  33. De Mente, Boye Lafayette (1994). "Japanese Etiquette & Ethics In Business". McGraw-Hill Professional: 159. ISBN 0844285307. 
  34. Hsu, Robert (1993). "The MIT Encyclopedia of the Japanese Economy". MIT Press: 195. ISBN 0844285307. 
  35. Wetherall, William; de Vos, George A (1976). "Ethnic Minorities in Japan". In Veenhoven, Willem Adriaan; Crum Ewing, Winifred. Case Studies on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: A World Survey. Stichting Plurale. p. 384. ISBN ISBN 9024717795 Check |isbn= value: invalid character (help). 
  36. Sugihara, Kaoru; Allan, John Anthony (1993). Japan in the Contemporary Middle East. Routledge. p. 150. ISBN 0415075211.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)
  37. 37.0 37.1 Whiting, Robert (2004). "The Meaning of Ichiro". Warner Books: 152. ISBN 0446531928. 

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