So a large part of me is a little ashamed to tell this story, but it’s such a truth of my life in Japan that I must share. Foreigners are referred to as gaijin in Japan. The phrase gaijin is short for the longer word gaikokujin, which means foreign country person.
Now, here’s where things get really interesting. Let me introduce the phrase Gaijin Smash. This phrase put nicely means when a foreigner breaks Japanese cultural conventions intentionally or mistakenly, and then ignores anyone who tries to give a reproach for this behavior by speaking bad or no Japanese.
Less politely as urban dictionary describes it, Gaijin Smash is the art of getting away with duchebaggery in Japan and being an ignorant and obnoxious foreigner by simply pulling a gaijin smash on their asses when the shit hits the fan.
This definition is definitely more raw, but really explains what goes down. So here’s the smash. After a day of leisurely drinking in the park, the sun goes down and our group decides to move indoors for some more drinks. The first restaurant is full, the second place we try is a standing only bar that’s heavy with smoke. So, myself and two other people decide to meander over to Outback Steakhouse. Mind you, this is Shibuya, one of the most crowded areas in Japan on the eve of a country wide vacation period.
We see the line of people waiting, but outside on the terrace is a perfect table with a great view of the bustling city below. With no hesitation, one guy that I’m with just begins walking around the line towards the table. That creeping sensation of “you’re breaking the rules,” creeps up my spine. But I follow. Rationally I think, what’s the worst that can happen? Irrationally I can sense the shame of being asked to leave as we bypassed any hostesses, and other waiting customers to sit at the most desirable seat in the restaurant.
We sit, myself ad the other American look at the British guy who lead us to the table with paranoia written all over our faces. He explains easily that long before the waitress was going to try to argue with us in English, they would just accommodate us. I didn’t believe it as the waitress approached. I could feel the looming walk of shame that waited in front of me. My jacket stayed on, I clutched my purse, waiting to feel that boot.
She walked up to our blank table, with no menus or place servings, everything we would have if we had been properly seated. She looks at us, a bit of suspicion in her face, and simply takes our drink orders. From there I sink back into my seat and enjoy what I honestly can’t believe I just got away with. The sheer confidence to pull that stunt is definitely something I aspire to. Granted at the same time, I feel a certain amount of pride that I’m respectable enough to not entertain just walking past a line of waiting people.
I will admit, that ill-begotten burger did taste just a little bit better.