Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous

Don’t touch me, I’m famous.

Being a foreigner in Japan makes you something of an anomaly.  People are hella interested in you, and that makes you an #instaceleb.  As an ALT, I’m probably (definitely) the only foreigner my students have direct contact with, and that makes me pretty much the most famous person in school.  Suck on that, 校長先生.
Shouts of かわいい follow me around wherever I go at school (some students make it a point to come up to me and say “cute” in English, just in case I wasn’t aware what かわいい means by now).  Any little thing I do is interesting to my students.  One day I wore a dress instead of pants and they completely lost their shit (#fashionicon), and when I walked into school with a new haircut?  Forget it.  They love to say hi to me, but flip out when I ask them a question in response.  This is the life of a celeb, I guess.
My celeb status even extends outside of the school.  I’ve run into students near the train station, while waiting outside for a table at Torikizoku (like twenty students passed and all excitedly yelled and waved), at conbini, and when I’m simply walking down the street (some yell, some gasp in surprise that I continue to exist outside of school, some pass me on their bikes and then double back and ask to take a picture with me, true story).
And it isn’t just the students I’m popular with.  As the only non-Japanese person in town (supposedly there are more JETs in my town, but I’ve never seen them so I’m not buying it), I kind of stick out.  People notice me a bit more than they generally would if I were the average Japanese person.  And because you’re already pretty interesting for being foreign, being noticeable has some interesting effects.  Here’s some examples of absolutely wild interactions I’ve had with people:
1. One night I went to sushi for dinner.  The next morning, when I went to conbini to get melon pan for breakfast, the manager excitedly asked “Did you go to Kappa Zushi yesterday? I was there too!”  (This exchange took place in Japanese, and I understood the words Kappa Zushi, きのう, and わたしも, so I’m assuming this is what she said).  We’re best friends now.
2. I was eating at a cafe when a woman came up to me and a friend and asked for our LINE IDs so she can practice English with us, which lead to a series of the strangest interactions I’ve ever had, complete with some serious oversharing.
3. I was eating at a British pub when an older man and a young guy he had just met and convinced to come talk to us randomly sat at our table and started chatting with us.
4. I was eating at the same British pub when a Japanese man who introduced himself as Paul McCartney introduced himself to us, offered to buy us beer, chatted it up with some tourists while buying said beers, and brought the tourists, who happened to also be from Long Island, over to meet us.
5. I was sitting on the bus when an older gentleman sat next to me so that he could tell me about his time in New York and get my opinion on Trump.
6. When the lady at the grocery store was ringing me up, she asked me several questions which I only understood because being rung up at a grocery store is a routine interaction, and which I answered by nodding or by saying 大丈夫.  Despite this, she said, 日本語は上手ですね.  Because people have pretty low standards when it comes to celebrities.  (We’re also best friends now.  She waves to me whenever I shop).
7. An older (possibly drunk) man came up to my friends and I, told us we were beautiful, and then hugged all of us and kissed us on the cheek.  It was…not my favorite.

These are just a few examples.  I’ve had people stare at me, children yell hello to me in the street, old ladies stop me while grocery shopping to ask why I was there, and have had several run ins with this one woman I met in Daiso who was also very interested in what I’m doing here.  Each of these interactions have been Wild™ and increasingly annoying, to be honest.  This is the life of a celeb, I guess.

As you can see, I am extremely famous, and it’s going to be pretty shocking when I’m eventually back in the US and nobody cares I exist anymore.  But until then, you’ll have to line up for that autograph, ya’ll.

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