Gamesmanship - part 4

The smell of the new

It is sometimes remarked upon by foreigners traveling in Japan that the seat either side of them on crowded trains remain unoccupied. It is often mistakenly believed to be due to racism. It is in fact due to the morbid fear by the Japanese to be confronted with a situation in which they may be forced to speak English and thus embarrass themselves. The gamesman exploits this fear at all times to be assured comfortable transportation.


When traveling on trains the professional gamesman will exude an air of trourism by wearing the right apparel, shorts, T-shirt, sandals, sunglasses, and by appropriate actions, staring at the rail map above the doors, craning around at each stop to see which station he is at, by reading tourist guides and maps. At all times the gamesman must hide his mobile phone or act with standard Japanese commuter manners: sleeping, ignoring others, reading manga.
By showing the unlikelihood of Japanese speaking ability no Japanese person will dare sit next to you thus making sure you will have a spacious, comfortable ride.

A warning to the amateur gamesman: if you play this part too well you run in danger of being approached by a helpful commuter offering his services and help. At this point it may be useful to have studied some non-English sentences for "I'm sorry, I don't understand", be it Dutch, French, German or preferably Italian. This is no guarantee that the person won't try his damnest to help you out though, and thus this technique is only recommended for professional gamesmen or those with a lot of spare time on their hands.

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