Like I said in the last one, a little of this stuff goes a long way. But it’s a new year and I got 10 decent generalizations so, BEHOLD:
Japan is a country . . .
…where entire sidewalks of people bust out umbrellas at the first hint of rain.
… where no one uses their eyebrows in facial expressions, not even showbiz folks who are desperately overacting.
… where no one tears the wrapping off of presents.
. . . where everyone at the theater feels honor-bound to stay through the closing credits.
…where you have your work friends, your high-school-friends, your hobby-friends and your see-at-rock-concert friends, and you never ever want to let them meet each other.
. .. you can have a store for skateboards, that doesn’t sell skateboards. Hats, shoes, magazines, magazines, more magazines, yes. But no skateboards, because riding them in public would be impolite. (Put another way, it’s a country where if a guy is ‘really into fly/bass fishing’ it means that he collects magazines about it and goes to messageboard to compare statistics about lures, but who has not been to a river in 7 years.)
. . . where leading a double-life, far from being a sort of hypocritical sell-out, is a cultural art form much like Ikebana (flower arranging) or Shoudo (calligraphy): The creation of a double-life, the more outrageous and total-opposite-of-your-public-life the better, is a native art form, and is nurtured and refined daily by the artist with the same loving care as a zen master carefully tending a bonsai.
. . . where every fall, in every park, groups of old men gather to rake up just-fallen leaves, lest the park users experience the horror of colorful fall leaves.
. . .where the most common words of encouragement (“ganbarre!”) mean: “Do your best to make those in authority proud of you!”
. . . where you can find 1,000,000 comics depicting rape and child sex of either gender , but you can’t find even one comic depicting the Emperor having sex. In fact, you can’t find a comic of him wearing clothes, looking fresh, and just popping in for a few panels to say, “Hi!” – because that would be rude.
Also, the intellectuals over at MUTANT FROG have a great post about Japanese notions of accountability, and how they are different than Western notions. Please read this.