free website hit counter

What do Japanese people call foreigners?


Japanese culture is rich and fascinating, and one of the aspects that many foreigners are curious about is how they refer to outsiders. In this article, we will explore the different terms that Japanese people use to refer to foreigners.

The historical context

To understand why Japanese people call foreigners in certain ways, we need to look back at history. Japan has been an isolated island nation for centuries, which resulted in a unique culture and language. The first foreigners to arrive in Japan were Portuguese traders in the 16th century, and since then, Japan has had periods of opening up to the world and closing its borders.

Japanese Snack Box

The different terms

The most common term that Japanese people use to refer to foreigners is “gaikokujin.” This word literally means “outside country person” and is a neutral term. However, it can also be used in a derogatory way if someone wants to show disdain towards outsiders. Another term that is becoming more popular is “gaijin,” which is an abbreviation of “gaikokujin.” This word is more casual but can also be seen as less polite.

The role of nationality

In Japan, nationality plays a big role in how people are referred to. For example, Americans are often called “Amerikajin,” while British people are referred to as “Ingurishu-jin.” This is because the Japanese language has specific kanji characters for each country’s name, and it’s common to add the suffix “-jin” after it to indicate a person from that country.

The importance of context

Like in any language, the context of a conversation can influence how someone is referred to. For example, if a foreigner is being discussed in a professional or academic setting, they may be referred to as “kaigai no hito,” which means “person from overseas.” This term is more formal and respectful than “gaijin” or “gaikokujin.”

The impact of race

Unfortunately, racism is present in every country, and Japan is no exception. Some Japanese people use racial slurs when referring to foreigners, especially those with darker skin tones. Terms like “koku-jin,” which means “black person,” are considered offensive and discriminatory.

The influence of pop culture

Pop culture has a significant impact on how people refer to each other, and Japan is no exception. In anime and manga, for example, foreign characters are often referred to as “gyaruo” or “gyaru,” which means “gal” or “guy” respectively. These terms are more informal and playful than the traditional terms.

The role of politeness

Politeness is highly valued in Japanese culture, and it’s essential when referring to someone. When talking about a foreigner in a formal setting, it’s common to use honorifics like “-san” or “-sama” after their name. For example, if referring to an American named John Smith, they would be called “Smitto-san.”

The use of nicknames

Nicknames are common among friends and family members in Japan, and foreigners are no exception. Some Japanese people may give their foreign friends nicknames based on their appearance or personality traits. For example, a foreigner with blonde hair may be called “blondie” by their Japanese friends.

The impact of globalization

With globalization comes an increase in cultural exchange, and Japan is no exception. As more foreigners come to Japan for work or study, the terms used to refer to them are evolving. Some Japanese people now prefer to use the English word “foreigner” instead of the traditional terms.

The need for respect

Regardless of how someone is referred to, it’s essential to treat them with respect and dignity. Using derogatory terms or racial slurs can cause harm and perpetuate discrimination. As Japan continues to open up to the world, it’s important for its citizens to embrace diversity and promote inclusivity.


In conclusion, there are several terms that Japanese people use to refer to foreigners, depending on the context and relationship between the speakers. While some terms can be neutral or even playful, others can be offensive or discriminatory. It’s important for everyone to show respect towards each other regardless of their background or nationality. As Japan continues to evolve as a global society, we can hope for more inclusive language practices that promote understanding and acceptance.

What are Westerners in Japanese?

The term “gaijin” is commonly used by Japanese people to refer to foreigners, specifically those from outside the country. In formal situations, the term “seiyohjin” or “western ocean person” may be used to refer to people from Euramerica.

What is Baka gaijin?

The term “baka gaijin” refers to a foolish foreigner and has been in use since at least the 1970s in written Japanese and since 1989 in romanized form. Japanese people use it to describe non-Japanese individuals who they feel are behaving inappropriately.

What is the Chinese version of gaijin?

The term “laowai” is commonly used by Chinese people to refer to foreigners, while “gaijin” is a term used by Japanese children with a negative connotation towards outsiders.

What does Kai mean in Japanese?

The Japanese word “kai” has multiple definitions, such as “ocean,” “shell,” “open,” “restoration,” and “recovery.” The Māori meaning of “kai” is “food” or “meal.”

What does Zuri mean in Japanese?

The term “shear” refers to the movement or deformation of wind or fluids.

What do they call Europeans in Japan?

The word “Nanban” has been used by the Japanese to refer to the early Portuguese who arrived in 1543, and later extended to other Europeans who came to Japan. This term has its roots in the “Four Barbarians” concept from ancient China in the 3rd century known as Hua-Yi distinction.

It’s also worth noting that the way foreigners are referred to in Japan is not unique to Japanese culture. In many countries, including the United States, there are terms used to refer to people from other countries or cultures. However, it’s important to recognize the power dynamic at play when referring to someone who is seen as an outsider or minority.

In recent years, there has been a growing movement in Japan to promote more inclusive language practices. This includes using gender-neutral pronouns and avoiding language that perpetuates discrimination towards marginalized groups. As part of this movement, some advocates are calling for more respectful and inclusive terms to be used when referring to foreigners.

Ultimately, the way we refer to others plays a significant role in how we perceive them and how they are treated. It’s important for us all to be mindful of our language and strive to use terms that promote respect and understanding, rather than perpetuating harmful stereotypes or discrimination. By doing so, we can help create a more inclusive and accepting society for all.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ads Blocker Image Powered by Code Help Pro

Ads Blocker Detected!!!

We have detected that you are using extensions to block ads. Please support us by disabling these ads blocker.