Like all people, the Japanese will be amused and delighted to hear the gaijin say something in their language. But when you start to get fluent, you will meet the opposite reaction with strangers. Somehow they feel it is an intrusion on their privacy when they meet a gaijin who speaks fluently. In fact, they really don’t know how to react. – From the company-required reading Culture Shock! Japan.
As I have previously stated, I really don’t intend to learn Japanese, despite the fact that I am living in Japan. It’s not so much that I don’t care, it’s that I’m too lazy. I’ve never really had a knack for learning languages. And besides, when I factor in the amount of social interaction I do outside of my English-speaking workplace, it seems to be an unnecessary expenditure of resources. I could spend my time in a classroom somewhere, hunched over Japanese texts, or I can get outside and look around. So far, I’ve been able to battle off the taunts of “blood-sucking parasite” and “apathetic bastard.” But, recently one label has been applied to my attitude that I feel I must respond to. That label is “culturally insensitive.”