Hero Worship

The other day I had a scary thought. What will life be like when I am no longer stalked by adoring fans? How will I go back to a life of blending into a crowd of people with ease? It may sound conceited, but in some ways I have adapted to the blind hero worship that I have encountered in Japan, and the more I think about it, the harder I believe it will be to go back.

I am under no false pretenses. I have done nothing but be a female foreigner in country Japan to deserve this. White skin, eyes like water (words borrowed from my students, very catchy in my opinion), naturally blondish hair, colourful clothes, and able to speak English. It's the Japanese stereotype of what's "cool". Without even trying, I have become the coolest person to walk through those school doors. It does also help, that the previous ALT at my schools where all of asian descent, so I am most likely the first foreign looking foreigner they have ever spoken to. It does wear-off eventually, and for a select few students it never wore-on, but for the most part, I get to reap the benefits of not having to persuade a class to listen to what I have to say, which is probably the hardest part of teaching.

Let me give you a little taste of what I am exposed to every day.

S: Do you have a boyfriend?
Me: No, I don't.
S: arienai! (That's impossible!)

The standard answer to this question is usually just a refusal to believe. They assume that I have some kind of secret lover, and continue with their questioning. Recently, students have learnt the word "want", so they have begun to follow up with the question, "Do you want a boyfriend?". To which there is again no right answer, because they have already started matchmaking you with teachers or students in the class.

S: Hello my name is XX. Nice to meet you.
Me: Nice to meet you too.
S: You are the most beautiful girl in this class.
Me: Umm, thank you.
S: May I ask you a question?
Me: Sure.
S: Are you wearing colour contacts?
Me: No, I'm not.
S: sugoi (Wow!)

My male students love calling me beautiful. It is almost an everyday occurrence. I must admit, this boy was a little more forward than most. In general, the rule of "safety in numbers" applies, and I am instead bombarded by an entire group of boys, all yelling out that I'm beautiful. Either that, or they are yelling "I love you".

Spack: Hello!!!
Me: Hello.
Spack: kawaiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii. (cute!)

It doesn't matter what I do, I can not escape being called cute. Today, a group of girls asked me to pull a funny face (a common request, I wasn't sure why until one English teacher told me that foreigners have a reputation for being able to make good funny faces... not sure how valid that theory is???). So, I made the strangest face I could think of, only to be met with kawaiiiiiiiii. I give up!
That being said, I also heard a group of students calling these characters cute the other day, so perhaps it is not a compliment at all, because these are literally the ugliest things I have ever seen.

So, how will I ever go back? I dont have the answer to that question yet. I will have to let you know once I return to a normal life in Australia. One where I can go a day without a student spotting me somewhere around town.


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