It is sometimes argued by academics that this sense of Japanese people being “apart” or “different” from the rest of the world is deliberately reinforced by educational initiatives that ostensibly are designed to do the exact opposite, and I do have some sympathy with that line of argument.I would certainly agree that a Japanese national who has lived or studied abroad for any portion of time is treated quite differently (by certain people at least) than one who has not, the idea being that they have somehow been influenced – or, dare I say, corrupted – by non-Japanese ideas.
In the same way, Japanese Christians and Muslims are to a degree seen as somewhat 'different' as they subscribe to what are widely perceived as being foreign ideas.
There are many more traditional people who would say that their views make them rather less Japanese.
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Living here, you just take it for granted that quite a few people are going to treat you very differently because you don't look Japanese.
This fascination however is often coupled with an underlying fear and mistrust.
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We absolutely loved each other's profiles, but we were 3,000 miles apart.