The “Obachan Stare”


I’m pretty sure Obachans are the inspiration for Boo ghosts in the Mario Games.

One of the interesting things about living in Japan is the view of foreigners by different types of people. In Tokyo, foreigners have become so common that a second glance is hardly warranted. However in the inaka (countryside) many people are surprised or shocked to see a foreigner. Don’t they only hang out in big cities? What are they doing out here? Are they lost?

Most people make an effort not to stare, with there being two notable exceptions. Elementary school children tend to stare, and will often times come up and talk to you. They are overflowing with excitement at the prospect of talking to a foreigner.

The other exception are Obachans (伯母ちゃん). Obachan is a general term used to refer to older women who are middle aged to grandmother age. Think “Golden Girls”. The interesting thing about obachans is that they stare only when you’re not looking in their direction. If you are looking in their direction, or walking towards them, they pretty much act as if you’re just another Japanese person, or don’t exist. Much like the Boos of Mario:


And because you want more crazy obachan media, check out this video:


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