Thursday, November 24, 2011

Suburbian neighborhood complications...

I should get Mrs. Sunshine a claw glove for X-mas
After several months of staying vacant, it seems like a new family have moved into the house that has stood empty after the traffic accident that apparently killed the father of the previous family (see here for a recap). As the house is a few rows down from us, we haven't really given it much thought apart from when passing by the garden-turned-jungle so we're neither excited or annoyed by a new family moving in.

However, a few days ago, the new family apparently did their "walk around the neighborhood, say hello and hand out towels" routine. Mrs. Sunshine had been out playing with Toddler Sunshine and seen them a little from a distance as they were ringing the doorbells to the houses around us. She installed herself at home and expected the doorbell to ring and get a nice towel set within a few minutes, but as time passed and no one rung the doorbell she thought that they might just have done the greeting to the houses immediately next to it (not really wrong, but proper manner dictates that people 2-3 houses away also deserve a towel). But as she looked out the window she could see how they now had moved to houses further down ours, but for some reason skipped our house.

As she retold me the story when I came home in the evening, she was visibly annoyed by this breach of etiquette but was thinking that they might come by the next day, temporarily frightened by the foreign name on the nameplate by our house. But no one came around the next day either and the family has been seen scuttling around their new house, much to the annoyance of Mrs. Sunshine, seemingly finished with their rounds of greeting.

Mrs. Sunshine is generally a very pleasant and friendly person to deal with for people that don't know her, but a blatant breach of etiquette such as this ensures that the new family has ended up with a very negative balance to make up for. The politics of suburbia can be complicated and frightening indeed!

12 comments:

sendaiben said...

We've had similar experiences where the people before us on the 'circulate local information' list refuse to ring the bell and hand it to us but instead leave it outside the door and run away.

We don't really worry about it but it is rude :)

RMilner said...

My wife dealt with the nameplate issue by having her Japanese name on the pillar as well our married English name.

It didn't stop the local garbage nazi from coming to inform her about the correct disposal methods she had already been following but was suspected of flouting due to being married to a foreigner.

Mr. S. said...

Ha, and I thought it was funny I got the 'Gaijin seat' this morning (empty seat beside me, though dozens were standing). It isn't because I smell: I shower mornings (and evenings) and I can sure tell the 'oyaji' don't (or brush teeth... god).

Well, the good thing about standing out is the twits expose themselves for you.

pjk said...

Or maybe they saw Mrs. Sunshine playing with Toddler and were just about to go over to greet her and admire Toddler, but interpreted her going inside as running for cover from them!

Ida said...

Are foreigners really that uncommon in Japan? Cause like in Sweden theres almost as many foreigners as swedes...

Mr. S. said...

'Ida', invisible minorities are more common than Japanese think: other E.Asians. Visible minorities are not so common: Europeans, N/S Americans, Africans, S.Asians, etc. However, unless you are far out of Tokyo, there are a few visible minorities within walking distance of any train station, and several times more of the invisible. In short, it's about time the Japanese got over it.

kamo said...

Yeah, we've gone down the 'married name + maiden name on the nameplate' route as well.

There are a few houses for sale around us (it's a newish development) and I really wonder whether the katakana attracts or repels people. Hopefully neither, because I suspect that someone who actively wants to live next to a foreigner, any foreigner, would be almost worse than the opposite.

Mary Witzl said...

It used to irritate me when we missed out on the free towels (it used to be packages of soba) but never failed to be included in the Jehovah's Witnesses round. But in my 17 years in Japan, I still garnered my fair share of towel sets. I'd like to think your neighbors were just guilty of an oversight.

kathrynoh said...

That is so wrong. Our neighbours pulled down their house and gave us nothing! We did so much bitching about that. Then the other neighbours pulled down their house and we got luxurious jellies.

222 said...

Quite rude!
I'd go and make them feel really awkward. Take them a towel.

Martin said...

Either she can use than nifty claw-glove. Or perhaps make use of the local mafia for revenge?

Mr. Salaryman said...

Sendaiben - Since the whole area we live in is new, we've never been exposed to stuff like that (no old people who never seen a foreigner etc.), most are younger people who actually realize that the world continues post Japan

Rmilner - As above basically, up until now we haven't received any discomfort or special treatment due to the foreign name plate

Mr. S - Yep, the funny thing is that the winner is you as you get more space for yourself! Happened to me and a friend and we laughed a bit about how nice it was up until the homeless transvestite who had pissed himself sat down (obviously he didn't mind), we got up though...

Pjk - Yes, to actually also round up this tale, it seems like they never went to the neighbor next to us either so it seems like it actually was just their decision on the houses they felt an obligation to go and introduce themselves too and we were probably just outside that line

Ida - Basically what Mr. S. said, but it also always depends on the area. We live in a suburbian area which is geared more towards Japanese families, but in our area there also is a family with a Chinese wife, so it's not only us. But generally Asians are seen as "less" foreigny

Kamo - Oh indeed, that could be a nightmare... Someone thinking "great to live next to a foreigner and get free English lessons", that could lead to great awkwardness

Mary - I guess I should at least praise Jehova that they haven't come around yet to witness for us! And yes, it seems like it wasn't the name

Kathryn - Am I stupid for not knowing what "pulling down the house" means? Does it mean moving or demolishing the house...?

222 - Yes but as it turns out, it was a borderline thing and not really rude as they didn't go to the couple next to us either

Martin - Indeed, Mrs. Sunshine has already consulted with the Godmother of the Mama Mafia to get the dirt on the new family!

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