It has been said you can see if somebody is lying to you by looking into his/her eyes because it has been said again that eyes are the windows of one's soul. What makes me wonder, is if the looks strangers on the street give you also deliver what they have in mind.
I am of Chinese descent, which means I can be mistaken for a Japanese easily. However, still I get a lot of strange glances from the local people in Japan. Glances that would not make me feel comfortable, from the local people around me. I suppose locals would be able to recognize Asian for foreigners from our facial features or more obviously, the way we dress and behave.
At first, whenever I got those glances, I would feel the need to check that there might be something on my face or on my clothes. Another thing that gets on my nerves sometimes is the glances I get whenever I read a book written in the alphabet, either in English or in my native language
inside the trains. The glances often make me unable to concentrate nor enjoy my reading.
Still, there are times when I just wear a plain pair of jeans, a plain T-shirt and sneakers. I'm not reading anything in the alphabet nor listening to non-Japanese music. At these times, I don't get any unwanted attention at all. I feel peaceful, but then strangely I sometimes start to miss the attention.
Some foreign friends, especially Caucasian friends, complain that if they go to a restaurant the waiter ignores them and adresses his questions to the Asian members of the group. The funny thing is, sometimes the Caucasians actually speak Japanese more fluently than the Asians. However, they are not usually recognized as fluent Japanese speakers by the local people.
On the other hand, the same is true when the situation is reversed. Asian foreigners might speak English better than their Caucasian companion, but the companion will be assumed to be the better one.
It is a wonder how unwelcome looks and attention start to develop into real issues for foreigners who have lived in Japan for some time.
A friend whom I consider to be quite attractive physically, started feeling that she looks like a monster, and that people see her as a freak whenever the local people give her the glances. Others feel they are much bigger and taller than most people, especially when they compare themselves with the local people. This leads them to feel less confident about their looks.
It is indeed a nice feeling to be noticed, to get some attention. It makes you feel somehow special or different. However, when you begin to feel that you are too different, and get people looking at you in a weird way, it is not a pleasant feeling.
I suppose my advantage is that at least I have the choice to become unnoticable, and stop those glances. The thing is, should I compromise by behaving and looking like someone I am not for the sake of some peace of mind, or just try to accept being different without developing any issues about it.
This opinion is based on private experience and views, and can be categorized as a generalization. Any additional points of view would be welcome.