I am quite a bit taller than the woman who wrote the article, and I lived in an old-fashioned house that was built during the Meiji era. Translation: I hit my head a lot. But that's the price you pay. And maybe it was a Kyoto thing, but nobody stared at me. Even if they did, wouldn't it be natural to do a double-take when you see something you don't see every day?
This is what gets me, though--she claims she "mastered 'survival Japanese'," but:
[...] many times I spoke in what I knew to be passable Japanese to a clerk or conductor, only to be rewarded with a vacant stare and a long, drawn-out "Huhhhh?" The person to whom I was speaking couldn't believe that Japanese words were coming from a foreign face.Uh, lady... maybe your Japanese wasn't quite as good as you thought it was? That's usually the case when people drag out that favorite gaijin gripe--"I know they actually understand me!" No, they don't. This is one thing I will say for the Taiwanese and Japanese students I have taught English to--they never displayed such an attitude. If they say "Huhhh?," don't blame them, hit the books.
Her complaint about being stared at in the "ofuro (communal bath)" (sic) reminded me of a story about a red-headed expat girl I heard in Kyoto. People were staring at her in the sento, and fed up, she wanted to tell them she was human, just like them, but she got one word just a little wrong. She shouted, "何を見てるの？私はニンジンです!!"
(Via Japundit and Mutant Frog.)