Tokyo Damage Report

I’m attempting some sociology!


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I make a pretty good effort to NOT post opinions about Japanese society: instead, I just post actual Japanese stuff and let it speak for itself. I’ve read a lot of those books about “Japan is this” and “Japan is that” and some are good, but most are kind of patronizing and know-it-all-ish, and probably the smartest, most dignified course of action is to simply admit one doesn’t have a clue.




After 6 and a half years, the time has come.



Japan is a country where . . .


. . . people won’t tell you if you got shit in your teeth. This is the single most important point, and pretty much everything else follows from this.


. . .they use more feet of toilet paper per dook-dook than anywhere else on the planet. Like, they make a ‘karate chop’ hand and then roll the TP around it 3 or 4 times, and that’s just for the first wipe. Women get even more elaborate.


. . . people waiting in line at the cash register have their change already out and counted.


. . .  people’s self-concept is not  based on “How far am I from perfect happiness?” but more like “How far am I from being so miserable that I quit altogether?” It goes without saying that quitting something unpleasant is  the same as wimping out and failing. (this is not at work/school but in all parts of personal life as well)


. . . you can shop at the same store for years and the clerk won’t make small talk. (Maybe this is just Tokyo?)


. . . you can’t sit on grass in the park because it’s dangerous and full of bugs and parasites and nature – you have to buy plastic sheeting and put it under your bum.


. . .people spend their holidays at popular spots where there are a million other Japanese all packed like sardines. They deliberately seek these spots out, and then proceed to totally ignore the people all around them.


. . . couples don’t hold hands or kiss in public, but a total stranger can fall asleep on your shoulder in the train. Even sober!


. . .  you can try to take a picture of your friend on a crowded sidewalk and even tough guys will duck down so they don’t ruin it.


. . .where there are crazy guys on the train platform, teetering on the edge of the tracks, yelling to no one and flipping the bird over and over, all side-wrist gangsta style. Actually, we have those in America too. But in my country those guys are homeless, but in Japan they’re businessmen in three-piece suits (who drank too much because they are mad at their division chief).




In my country, you could sneak up behind any random person on the street and be like, “HEY! I saw that illegal thing you did!” and the person would be like, “FUCK! How much does he know?” They’d be all,“You can’t prove it – I mean, uh, I di’int do nothin’! I mean, – hey, who ARE you? Fuck off!!” In other words, even if YOU didn’t know what they did, THEY will fill in the blank themselves, because we have a national complex about authority.  But if you try this in Japan, people will be like,: “Huh?” and keep walking.


On the other hand, if you’re like, “HEY! You’re not trying hard enough! You’re letting someone down!” they’ll totally be like, “FUCK! How did he know?!? I can explain!!!!”


Whether it’s a high-school kid and his sports team, a Shibuya girl and her diet, a businessman and his sales quota, a gambler who owes pachinko money to the mob, or some hipster and his dreams of becoming an event promoter, everyone has a complex about that shit.


7 Comments so far

  1. fake April 8th, 2009 1:46 pm

    haha this is good. I appreciate your non-judgmental style and enjoyment of even the most fucked up situations.

  2. jesse April 8th, 2009 6:34 pm

    i’m reading that dogs and demons book by alex kerr you mentioned in one of your posts. interesting stuff, the first chapter really speaks volumes about your point about grass and bugs being dangerous and filthy. i’m surprised that the rampant construction and destruction of nature flys even in small backwater places usually thats where all the rich people and sports hunter/fisherman people shit a brick about that sort of thing. anyway, long time fan/reader of your nonsense and i lovez it.

  3. kathryn April 9th, 2009 9:16 pm

    I’m scared that you know how people wipe their arses…

  4. Mr. Magoo April 10th, 2009 6:18 am

    Hey Sexy…
    Need P3nus Enrargement.
    Get cheep pilz from me…

  5. Haf May 6th, 2009 12:24 am

    About the small talk with the clerk, it’s probably either just Tokyo or you. 😉
    After shopping for a few times at the same store in Saitama, the clerk started asking me how I was or talked about the weather and things like that. Too bad I couldn’t understand it all.

  6. admin May 6th, 2009 3:53 pm

    @Haf: probably it IS just tokyo! Were you shopping at a chain store or a mom-and-pop operation?

  7. Haf June 16th, 2009 7:44 am

    It was a chain store. I came in contact different clerks over the time, but quite often I’d run into the same two or three clerks. Not all of them were as open though.

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