Even when Sandy was here I'd hear the saying, and I'm sure it was old even by then, that being on the JET program [or just being a foreigner in Japan] is the closest thing to being a celebrity that most people will ever experience.
And to some degree, it's true.
People stop and stare [the smaller the town, the more often it happens...], children "ooh" and "ah", people want to be all up in your business and random strangers approach you, want to start up conversations and be your friend.
Also, like celebrities, many consider us massively overpaid for not doing a whole lotta "real" work...
But I digress.
It's just that it's easy to see, from when I was here before, just how many folks on JET get their ego blown up huge. And not in a good way.
Doubly so for those single guys, unlike old married folks like me, who no matter how plain or average, have very little trouble getting the cutest of young Japanese women to fawn all over them.
[As an aside, this was explained to me most clearly by a young lady in a bar I worked at when I lived here last... She said "Don't you realize that the average 20 year old Japanese girl has been watching Hollywood romantic comedies for at least the the last 12 years of her life? We've all been raised with this idea of Western men as the ideal... sweet, chivalrous, handsome. Of course we flock to them." And it doesn't hurt that Japanese men still, mostly, have very "traditional" ideas about women's roles...]
But the point is it's actually easy to see how foreigners in Japan lose perspective.
So to prevent this I've begun thinking about it thusly: Yes, this is probably the closest I'll ever be to being treated like a celebrity. But, it's also the closest I'll ever be to being treated like a circus freak too.
So, you know, a little balance there...