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Encyclopedia > Gaijin
The characters for Gaikokujin.

Gaijin (外人? IPA: [ˈgaɪdʑin]) or gaikokujin (外国人?) are Japanese words meaning "foreigner." The words can refer to nationality or ethnicity. The word is often the subject of debate as to its appropriateness, particularly in its shortened form. The word gaikokujin (外国人) is composed of gaikoku (外国, foreign country) and hito/jin (人, person), so the word literally means "foreign person." Gaijin (外人) is a common abbreviation of gaikokujin. Download high resolution version (1304x3793, 41 KB)Large reusable gaikokujin text image in kaisho typeface. ... Download high resolution version (1304x3793, 41 KB)Large reusable gaikokujin text image in kaisho typeface. ... Articles with similar titles include the NATO phonetic alphabet, which has also informally been called the “International Phonetic Alphabet”. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words, see IPA chart for English. ... In English usage, nationality is the legal relationship between a person and a country. ... This article or section should be merged with ethnic group Ethnicity is the cultural characteristics that connect a particular group or groups of people to each other. ...


Etymology and history

The word gaijin is of ancient provenance and can be traced in writing back to Heike Monogatari, written early in the 13th century: The Tale of the Heike (Japanese 平家物語, Heike monogatari) is an epic account of the struggle between the Minamoto and Taira clans for control of Japan at the end of the 12th century. ...

外人もなき所に兵具をとゝのへ [1]
Assembling arms where there are no gaijin

Here, according to Kōjien, gaijin is used to refer to potential spies or people who should be regarded as enemies[2]. Another early reference is in Renri Hishō (連理秘抄, c. 1349) by Nijo Yoshimoto (二条良基), where it is used to refer to a (Japanese) person who is a stranger, not a friend.[2] The Kojien (Japanese: 広辞苑, kōjien) is a Japanese dictionary. ...

The word was initially not applied to foreigners, and historically, the Portuguese, the first Europeans to visit Japan, were known as nanbanjin (南蛮人, "southern barbarians")[3]. When British and Dutch adventurers such as William Adams arrived in Japan fifty years later in the early 17th century, they were usually known as kōmōjin (紅毛人, "red-haired people"), a term still used in the Min Nan (Taiwanese) dialect of Chinese today. People called William Adams include: William Adams (1564-1620), English sailor and visitor to Japan. ... Ang Mo is a term in Hokkien made in reference to caucasians in Singapore. ... Mǐn N n (Chinese: 閩南語), also spelt as Minnan or Min-nan; native name B ; literally means Southern Min or Southern Fujian and refers to the local language/dialect of southern Fujian province, China. ... Taiwanese (pe̍h-oÄ“-jÄ«: Tâi-oân-oÄ“ or Tâi-gí; Traditional Chinese: ; Pinyin: ) is a variant of Amoy Min Nan Chinese spoken by about 70% of Taiwans population. ...

When the Tokugawa shogunate was forced to open Japan to foreign contact, Westerners were commonly referred to as ijin (異人, "different people"), a shortened form of ikokujin (異国人, "different country people") or ihōjin (異邦人, "different motherland people"), terms previously used for Japanese from different feudal (that is, foreign) states.[citation needed] Keto (毛唐), literally meaning "hairy", was (and is) used as a pejorative for Chinese and Westerners.[4] The Tokugawa shogunate or Tokugawa bakufu (徳川幕府) (also known as the Edo bakufu) was a feudal military dictatorship of Japan established in 1603 by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family until 1868. ...

The word gaikokujin was only introduced and popularized by the Meiji government, and this gradually replaced ijin, ikokujin and ihōjin. As the empire of Japan extended to Korea and Taiwan, the term naikokujin (内国人, "inside country people") was used to refer to nationals of other territories of the Empire.[citation needed] While other terms fell out of use after World War II, gaikokujin remained as the official government term for non-Japanese people.


While all forms of the word mean "foreigner," in practice gaikokujin and gaijin are mainly used to refer to non-East Asians, but can also refer to anyone of non-asian descent. People from China are Chūgokujin (中国人, "Chinese person") or Korea are Kankokujin (韓国人, "South Korean person")—usually referred to by their country of origin.[citation needed] Similar practice can be seen in most countries where the closer the ethnicity (such as Irish in Britain), the more likely it is to use country specific-reference than to use an all-encompassing expression for non-natives.[citation needed] Now that gaijin has become somewhat politically incorrect, it is common to refer to non-East Asian non-Japanese as gaikokujin while more culturally similar Chinese, Taiwanese, and South and North Koreans are referred to as Chugokujin, Taiwanjin, and Kankokujin and (Kita) Chosenjin, respectively.[citation needed] East Asia Geographic East Asia. ... Korea (Korean: 한국 in South Korea or ì¡°ì„  in North Korea, see below) is a geographic area, civilization, and former state situated on the Korean Peninsula in East Asia. ... Politically Incorrect was a late-night, half-hour political talk show hosted by Bill Maher that ran from 1993 to 2002. ...

I was born a gaijin. I grew up a gaijin. I came to Japan a gaijin. It's always been as natural as gazing out a window and appreciating the landscape yet not being one with it. I fit in Japan because I matched the role. I was a gaijin from the get go. I suspect a lot of us were. More than this, I suspect there are many Japanese who feel like gaijin too, viewing themselves as enduring extras in their long-playing epics of life. But none of this is necessarily negative——as all "true" gaijin will understand.[5]

People of Japanese descent living or born overseas are known as Nikkei-jin (persons of Japanese descent), while children of mixed (Japanese and non-Japanese) parentage are known as hāfu ("half"). "Hanbun" is also a generally accepted term.[citation needed]

The term gaijin is also used as a form of address in some situations, in which case it is commonly combined with the routine honorific -san, roughly meaning "Mr" or "Ms." Gaijin-san may also be used as a politer alternative to gaijin or gaikokujin.

The use of gaijin is not limited to non-Japanese in Japan; Japanese speakers commonly refer to non-Japanese as gaijin even while they are overseas. Also, people of Japanese descent native to other countries (especially those countries with large Japanese communities) might also call non-descendants gaijin, as a counterpart to nikkei. Interestingly, second (nisei) or third (sansei) generation ethnic Japanese outside Japan may be referred to as gaijin if it is intended to emphasise the fact that they are culturally foreign.

Gaijin also appears frequently in Western literature and pop culture. It is the title of a novel by James Clavell, as well as a song by Nick Lowe. The meaning of gaijin in Japanese society—and the question of who constitutes a gaijin—is explored in depth in the 2006 movie, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. This article is about a novel. ... Bowi EP sleeve (1977). ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday (link displays full 2006 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ...

Gaijin is also commonly used within Japanese professional wrestling to collectively refer to the visiting performers from the west who will frequently tour the country.

See also

This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Ethnocentrism is the tendency to look at the world primarily from the perspective of ones own culture. ... Abbreviated and contracted words are a common feature of Japanese. ... Sangokujin (Japanese: 三国人; third country national) is a Japanese term referring to colonial nationals of Taiwan (Taiwanese aboriginal), Korea and China. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Chinese people in Japan, also referred to as Kakyō (華僑, literally Chinese sojourners) or Zainichi chÅ«gokujin (在日中国人, literally Chinese people resident in Japan) in the Japanese language and as RìbÄ›n huáqiáo (日本華僑) in the Chinese language, have a history going back for centuries or even millennia. ... The Kasato Maru A Japanese-Brazilian is an ethnically Japanese person born in Brazil. ... Filipinos in Japan formed a population of 245,518 individuals as of 1998. ... The o-yatoi gaikokujin (Japanese: お雇い外国人 — hired foreigners, foreign employees) were foreign specialists, engineers, teachers, mercenaries and more, hired to assist in the modernization of Japan. ... Muzungu is a word meaning white person in many Bantu languages of east, central and southern Africa. ...


  1. ^ Takagi, Heike Monogatari, page 123
  2. ^ a b Entry for 「外人」. Kōjien, fifth edition, 1998, [ISBN 4000801112].
  3. ^ WWWJDIC (edict) entry for 南蛮人, [1]
  4. ^ Entry for 「毛唐人」. Kōjien, fifth edition, 1998, [ISBN 4-00-080111-2]
  5. ^ Thomas Dillon, "Born and raised a 'gaijin', Japan Times, December 24, 2005

The Kojien (Japanese: 広辞苑, kōjien) is a Japanese dictionary. ... WWWJDIC is an online Japanese dictionary based on the electronic dictionary of Australian academic Jim Breen. ... The Kojien (Japanese: 広辞苑, kōjien) is a Japanese dictionary. ...


  • 高木, 市之助; 小沢正夫, 渥美かをる, 金田一春彦 (1959). :日本古典文学大系: 平家物語. 岩波書店, 123. ISBN 4-00-060032-X. 

  Results from FactBites:
Gaijin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1558 words)
Now that gaijin has become somewhat politically incorrect, it is common to refer to non-East Asian non-Japanese as gaikokujin while more culturally similar Taiwanese, Chinese, and South and North Koreans are referred to as Taiwanjin, Chugokujin, and Kankokujin and (Kita) Chosenjin, respectively.
Those who think gaijin is non-offensive argue that the current word is purely a contraction and that these meanings have been lost entirely, while others argue that the original pejorative connotation is still attached to the modern meaning of the word.
Some foreigners object to gaijin on the basis of it being a contraction similar to the unequivocally hostile "Jap" in English.
  More results at FactBites »



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