Through the years living in Japan, I heard many non-Japanese friends complain of staring in public. One such incident inspired this, a book cover for a fictional book called Why Do Japanese People Stare At Foreigners? by fictional author Masao Suzuki (coincidentally the ex-president of department store Matsuzakaya shares the same name).
The idea is simple, print out this cover and wrap it around a suitable book. Then once you get stared at in public to the point of discomfort, take out the book and start reading with the cover facing the starer. The person is then made aware of the situation in the most Japanese of ways, through non-confrontation.
The book cover fits around a standard size of Japanese book ("Pocket").
Measure your books spine width and download the appropriate PDF file.
Print to A3 paper, cut out the cover and obi, and wrap both around your book.
This cover is being distributed under the Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license. Which means you are free to print, copy and share this work under the conditions that you attribute, not use it for commercial purposes or make derivative works.
None of my books fit the cover, what can I do?
I designed the cover around a specific size of book, commonly found in all Japanese bookstores. If the cover doesn't suit your current reading, consider purchasing any cheap book from Book Off or other second hand bookstore. Having the book in Japanese adds to the believability.
Is staring really this much of a problem in Japan?
My experience (2004-5, 2008-16) was fairly mild compared with other foreigner friends in Japan, who would complain of excessive staring. With increased tourism, I would wager that excessive staring is rarer than before. In 2011 when I made the cover, it clearly struck a nerve as it quickly went viral and was covered by CNN Go, SFGATE, Japanese news site RocketNews24 and multiple blogs.
What was the reaction to the cover?
I only used it a handful of times, and it usually brought smiles and a bit of laughter. In the several months after the book cover went viral, the printable PDFs were downloaded a few hundred times from my website. I never did hear from anyone that used it in the wild, although I presume some did.
I am a previous cultural studies scholar and artist from Reykjavik, Iceland. I spent just under 10 years in Japan before moving back to Iceland in 2016.
I'm also behind Gaijin FAQ Card, a printable business card that conveniently answers common questions foreigners get asked in Japan.
I designed it when I noticed the tendency of many Japanese people to ask foreigners the same few questions regarding their country and culture.
Have a look at my portfolio for other design, writing, photography, DJ mixes and more.