“You are white devil. I am God.”

JR Tennoji Station is known for its eccentrics. Many of them are either overliquored or undermedicated, but they are – for the most part – harmless. A reasonably well-dressed man in his late-50s, toothless, laughing happily to himself (or at some very witty friend the rest of us can’t see), can usually  be seen wandering between there and Kintetsu Station. Middle-aged drag queens can occasionally be seen balancing on heels as they totter towards Tennoji Park and Shin-Sekai. The men who wore schoolgirl uniforms seem to have been chased away. Every winter, a fairly regular cast of homeless men (and one woman for several years, her long gray hair as matted as tatami) sit on the steps near the subway entrance,between the two train stations and around this time, as the temperature begins to drop, I wonder which ones I won’t be seeing again; many talk to themselves, one used to quietly weep.

Outbursts are rare – one thing such people know is that to make a fuss risks getting them turfed out by the authorities. So I was mildly surprised to hear someone roaring abuse as I made my way through Tennoji station on Saturday evening, at around 6.

The man was at first glance a disgruntled otaku – couldn’t get the latest Playstation or something, and you know that’s gotta hurt. This man, though, was roaring about deporting all gaijin (foreigners), especially sangokujin 三国人 (literally, Third Country People, read Third World People, read Asians who aren’t Japanese), and something about Dainippon (Greater Japan, the old euphemism for the pre-war Japanese Empire). He was about 35 or 40, plump, sweating profusely, wearing nerdy glasses and drab, otaku-like clothing. Some people were watching him, warily, and a decrepit security guard was looking at him, sternly – as though this were accomplishing something. There were, of course, no police anywhere about.

Then he saw me, and walked over. He barked at me in English.

– Hello. Hello. Where you from? France? Germany?

– No.

– Go to Hell. You hear? Go to hell. You are devil.

– Oh, we’re related, then? (lame comeback, but I can’t let an insult go unanswered, no matter how stupid; this is a failing on my part)

– No! You are white devil! I am God.

– You are God of this place?

– Yes. I am God! Go to hell! (he seemed to think this was the worst thing you could say to a foreigner)

– If you’re the God of this place, I am in hell.

– What? What??

– I am in hell. This is hell.

– {look of horror} RACIST! RACIST! {unitelligible raging abuse in Japanese}

I kept walking at that stage, leaving him doing the Tasmanian Devil act to no one in particular. I guess my only surprise should be that this happens as seldom as it does.

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This entry was posted in Blogroll, japan, Osaka, politics, trains, walking, 大阪, 日本. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to “You are white devil. I am God.”

  1. Weilong says:

    While it does get applied to non-Japanese Asians generally, 三国人 is used specifically to refer to the people of Japan’s former colonies, and definitely has a racist tone.

    The strongest explanation for the origin of the term is that it refers to people from the three countries of Korea, Taiwan, and China, where Japan had colonies. In that sense it is popular with imperialist-minded, Japanese-supremacist types – the kind of people who wear camo fatigues and drive around in big, black buses with loudspeakers on top playing “Kimi ga Yo”.

  2. nagaijin says:

    Yes, definitely,Weilong, which is what made the guy’s outburst all the more strange. Usually, the right-wing racist types are riding around in the safety of their black trucks. They’re usually not brave or crazy enough to go around shouting it alone at train stations.

  3. fred says:

    Well finally someone has spotted you!!! I think you should have said,”Yes I am the devil!” See what response you get then. LOL

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