Look at that - working on my click-bait titles! Maybe I've been seeing too many Tofugu headlines in my social media feeds (I kid).
Recently I've been reflecting a little on my JET time, and it occurred to me that there are certain types of people who you tend to run into a lot. I suppose these archetypes can be more broadly applied to anyone you meet in Japan, actually.
I know it can be unfair to generalize and place people into categories, but hey, let's do it anyway:
The Japan Nerd - This person was way into Japan before they arrived, whether their gateway drug was anime, manga, martial arts, or Japanese classes in school. Maybe they're not what some would call an "otaku," but there's a good chance their friends think of them as "the Japan guy/girl." It should be noted that the evolution of the Japan Nerd isn't so clear cut. Sometimes they travel to Japan and cocoon themselves in the culture they love so dearly; they may never want to leave. Other times they'll become jaded with less likable aspects of life in Japan. Often, I think, they achieve some healthy balance.
The World Citizen - This is the one who's been to at least a dozen other countries. During vacations they most likely won't travel around Japan. No, they'll be off to Thailand, Hong Kong, Cambodia, China, or some other Asian country that they haven't checked off yet. I've found that the World Citizen tends to be either really interesting and fun or else super arrogant and borish. They won't be in Japan for more than two or three years, most likely.
The Casual Visitor - Japan, huh? That sounds like an interesting place. The Casual Visitor is the person who doesn't have a particularly strong connection to Japan, and perhaps didn't travel very much outside of their home country before arriving. Maybe they'll learn some Japanese; maybe they won't. They'll definitely visit every temple they can, though. The Casual Visitor is often just taking a year away from their real job to come teach English and expand their horizons.
The Lover - Their significant other is in Japan, so they are, too. Sometimes the object of their affection is a Japanese person who they met abroad, and they followed them home. On occasion, the Lover is a mutation of another form - perhaps a Casual Visitor who was planning to return home after a year but then met the love of their life and decided to stick around. And this person can also often be the spouse of someone who decided to embark on JET or who was sent to J-Land as an expat by their company/government.
The Plague Bearer - The yellow fever, it has taken hold! This guy (it's almost always a guy) is just in Japan because he loves the women, and his chances are so much higher of getting an Asian girlfriend in Asia. Maybe he doesn't even like Japan. But he likes Japanese women. Often this guy is a total creeper and a toolbox. Perhaps sometimes he is just the victim of forces beyond his control. Either way we pity him.
Many of the people you meet over in J-town will probably be amalgams of the above models, though some do seem to fall pretty neatly into one category. It probably works better if you don't look deep down at the real underneath.
Image Sources:Black Nerd;Gadling;Nikkei; Japan Times; Quickmeme