I looked for a place to stay -- a ryokan, or Japanese-style hotel -- and, when I found one, I opened the door and called
out from the entrance hall in Japanese, 'Excuse me ...'
'Just a moment,' replied a voice, and a woman appeared, saw
me in the entrance hall, and suddenly froze with her mouth wide open.
'What am I going to do? It's a foreigner!'
'Are there any rooms free?' I asked politely.
'Well, yes,' she replied, 'but we haven't got any beds. We sleep
on the floor.'
'Yes, I know,' I said, 'I've lived in Japan for seven years.'
'And we haven't got any meat,'
she said, 'only fish.'
'That's good,' I said. 'I like fish.'
'But it's raw fish,' she said, 'it's not cooked,
'Yes, I know,' I said. 'I've been here seven years.'
--excerpt from Alan Booth's "A Journey Through Japan."
The villages and towns were full of children
and, as I walked through the streets, the children ran after me, pointing and laughing. 'Look, it's a foreigner! Look, it's
a foreigner!` They were jumping up and down with excitement. Schoolboys called out to me from across the road, 'Hello!'
or 'This is a pen!' or 'Goodbye!' Young men leaned out of the windows of their cars and shouted at me, 'Hey, you! Hey, you!'
But before I could answer they disappeared. People everywhere stared and laughed. I began to feel like the man from the