Living in a foreign country

Today is Halloween.

Probably some Japanese remember a tragedy happened to a Japanese international student in U.S. on Halloween many years ago.  He was a university student.  On the Halloween night, he wore Halloween costume and visited a stranger’s house to get candies.  Suppose you live in U.S., imagine how you react when an adult with his face fully covered by a mask trespasses your property at night.  The owner of the house pointed a gun at him and yelled “freeze!”  But he did not stop, so the owner of the house pulled the trigger.

This was remembered as a Halloween tragedy, and many Japanese took it as a problem of American gun society.  But now I think it was tragedy of not knowing the custom.  In Japan, people do not do anything on Halloween, but many people kind of know “trick or treat”.  At that time when I did not imagine I would live in a foreign country, I, like most Japanese, did not know who say “trick or treat” and how.  I don’t know why he decided to visit a stranger’s place by himself with his face fully covered and why nobody stopped him.  But probably it could have been avoided if he understood the custom correctly.

When I lived in Calgary, I met many Japanese who went to a language school, shared a room with other Japanese, hung out with Japanese, and did not learn Canadian language and custom.  If they do not learn anything, why the hell did they come to Canada?  In coming few months, I will work as a bridge between Canadians and Japanese.  Those Japanese come to Canada on business, and whether they learn the culture or not, it does not matter, technically.  But I expect I will also fill the cultural gap between them.

The weather forecast was fortunately wrong, and it is not raining now.  I can hear kids’ “trick or treat”.  May the Japanese international student rest in peace.

October 31, 2012Permalink