japan's a place, and it exists, and there's people that live there. Not many know about what it's like. How is bobbing along on this rock with 125 million other pensioners?
It's hard to define even after 4 years with total fluency. It is effortless to say that your expectations are going to be a useless pool of fantasy.
I don't know if this is isolated to the people I choose to surround myself with but the visceral thrill of conversations comes from dissection. Picking apart introspection, comparing perspectives. But as it occurs to me the punchline in Japan often seems to be hypotheticals. The conversations are less puerile but also less interesting.
Japanese society operates on the assumption that everyone in society are rational creatures. Not empathetic, rational. They can see and react to social situations according to expectations. Don't waste food because you expect everyone to respect farmers' labor. Don't litter because you're inconveniencing someone else. Actions are always tied to consequences, empathy but stripped of its strictly moralistic purpose. In the US you have to expect everyone to be a bastard. I'm a fan of a rum made from japanese brown sugar. I saw a twitter post by a distiller in Kagoshima advertizing an alcohol display at a supermarket. It was a little corner a bit like the Trader Joes booth that gives out free samples minus the captive employee. Complete with paper cups and open bottles for people to pour and sample liquor. That would not fly in the US because everyone is a bastard. The fundamental question, one that every non-native japanese speaker asks themselves is what degree these motions are etiquette, courtesy, or whether they carry genuine sentiments behind them. How much agency is behind these reciprocal social contracts and are people just begrudgingly following them?
Houses are considered to be transient. When buying property it's common for the land / building costs to be about equal. Inexpensive housing gets torn down and rebuilt fast, at least in Tokyo. The weather is relentless, post 60's earthquake standards are a concern, and there's little financial incentives to be sentimental of a house younger than 50 years. Go out to the countryside and there's gorgeous wooden houses that have been built by grandads. Abandoned properties are becoming a larger issue, unrentable because of earthquake regulations and undemolishable due to cost.
I feel comfortable in this apartment, maybe not settled but this had become my "home." My lukewarm feelings probably stem from my lukewarm feelings on Kanagawa as a whole. But I've been looking inward, trying to quantify what exactly was my idealized image of living in Japan while in the US. As I see it, there's 3 big blocks. There's rustic countryside living where you live in great big keyless wooden houses. You gradually learn to tolerate insects and crushing isolation. I associate it with tatami mats, gravel driveways, and watchful judgement of pensioners still working the fields. It's quiet but inconvenient. There's also chummy suburban life, still sedate but a step up from having to drive to accomplish basic industralized life. I imagine midcentury cardboard houses, narrow Chibimaruko-chan neighborhoods, and lots of rust from derelict detective signs. This is where other grandma dwells. Finally, there's the center of Tokyo hovel. Microscopic apartments, droning subway noises, and grotty concrete everywhere. This is what tumblr blogs obsess over, a sort of monochrome cyberpunk.
And you know what suburbia is pretty damn great, especially when there's a river and some greenery nearby. But maybe I should've blasted away a few pennies living in the center of Japan while I'm still young, maybe Shibuya or Ikebukuro. It would be a dehumanizing experience, living among what seems like thousands of other shuffling corpses, but you must feel like you're living center-frame. Koenji was nothing special with your typical city layout. The thing about Japan is that rent isn't neccessarily always going to be high, there's substancial variance even within Tokyo. The issue is that down payments and moving fees will eviscerate your wallet, easily reaching $3500 depending on the apartment. I'd easily say that places worth living in the US have higher rent than a comparable place in Japan in regards to convenience. 7/19/2020
identity and foreigners
As a courtesy-based, high-context culture people will be inevitably suspicious of those who don't follow the usual interactions. Autistic people don't do well in Japan. There is no cultural plurality in Japan. Those who are Half-Japanese or Japan-raised exist in an odd ambiguity. Unlike France or the UK, national identity is inseperable from nationality, not on the basis of some exclusionary racist rhetoric, but outdated cultural norms about assimilation. As an example, the label "Zainichi" is persistently applied to Korean immigrant populations, many who have lived in Japan since the country's gallivanting colonization phase. The main difference with other countries who have outgrown their pith helmets is the ability for 20th century East Asian immigrants to "pass" in Japan in regards to outward appearance. Some have kept Korean names but chosen Japanese citizenship, others have assimilated completely. Some married Japanese men, at which point their ethnic roots disappear completely on government records. Census figures about foreigner numbers are very blurry as a result. If you're half-Japanese you're not afforded with both priviledges.
But being a foreigner is piss easy. Learn how to dispose of trash properly, don't catcall schoolchildren, don't eat on the subway, don't smoke while walking, and Japanese eyes will gloss right over you. Deviate from their expectations and you'll just reinforce very obvious deliniating lines between the ingroup and outgroup (you)
Anime otakus for the most part pursue their hobby with the resignation that they will forever huddle in the drudges of society. People keep their head down and try to live normal lives. It's even the fundamental plot point to Otakoi, a group of four anime-watching officeworkers who bond over their hushed collective transgressions like Soviet dissidents. To the mainstream bread-baking horoscope-tracking linen-draped Setagaya housewife, anime otakus exist somewhere inbetween NEETS and child murderers.
It's a far cry from weeaboos who advertize their prepubescent desires in the same indignance as furries, eager to shamelessly tell everyone that watching pirated anime is their hobby. Anime otakus in Japan act like closeted horsegirls, eager to conceal themselves from the social pogrom.
Some series especially ones on Shounen Jump break through the stigma to shake off those connotations, simply becoming another set of faces, another brand. Liking Dragonball Z or Bleach doesn't make you an otaku in the Japanese sense.
The Japanese internet landscape is strange. It feels less centralized with no r*ddit equivalents, and even 2ch is not as populated as the numerous english boards its spawned. There's still a heavy reliance on ancient sakura-hosted personal sites as well as the littany of blog services. Yet I've never felt a particular collective atmosphere in any of them, they all feel relatively insular, personal little things. There's thousands of terrible little congregation sites drawing threads off of 2ch talking about butts and things or vague ghost-written articles about X. It seems to me that twitter is still king, to the disadvantage to me as it's not a terribly legible site to navigate. The uniquely Japanese apprehension in reposting images without consent rules out tumblr as a viable platform too. While the Floridian elderly shuffle around on Facebook spitting minion-adorned vitriol about foreigners, the over 50's in Japan either manage hand-coded blogs or are offline entirely.
cabarets, paying to talk with someone
Cabaret clubs are the strangest thing. Mostly populated by salaryman NPC's, women are paid to talk about anything. Incomprehensible to anyone out of this godforsaken island, but the crushing isolation gets to everybody.
Because no one has the luxury of spending time at home, mobile games exploded in popularity starting around 2010. Japan was relatively slow to fully adopt smartphones and I still saw some flip phones into 2011. It's also why some Japanese sites look utterly prehistoric, to load easier on pre-martyred Jobs hardware.
No, there's no cultural glamour about suicide. There was a reddit post claiming that competitive schools advertise by their students' suicide rates and unsurprisingly there were no dissenting comments. If institutional change is anything to go by the Japanese have been kicked into overtime for the past 30 years with furious preventative efforts like banning nicknames at schools or employers begrudgingly offering their employees hotlines. All the signs are out there make it obvious that suicide, like most other countries, carries negative social connotations. That said suicide rates are lower than you think. Far from the world champions of Russia and Korea and was actively trending downwards until coronavirus. You can readily disregard anyone who brings up bushido or kamikaze pilots or whatever.
In other more heartless news Aokigahara has numerous signs put up by the local council that more or less reads "fuck off and die somewhere else" due to the mounting costs of clearing trash and human remains from the forest. So much for glamour.
The samurai were dicks and Japanese people understand that. Tsujigiri being a great example of their dubious social and moral standing. Most people would see themselves as distant progeny of farmers or fishermen, just like how bongs see their immediate ancestors as illiterate farmhands or adolescent chimneysweeps (probably). The Sengoku period is a distant novelty about feuding menopausal men who have nothing better to do. No Japanese person sees Mitsuhide and thinks "my ancestor :)"
There was some US officer in 2014? that made a cripplingly naive statement to JGSDF troops like "you are Japan's modern samurai" which is a great example of the kind of cultural vacuum samurai lie outside of Japan.
japanese pop culture isn't defined by american imports. The only real post-occupation cross-cultural contamination was at the height of beatlemania. talk to any ossan over 50 and they'll tell you about listening to california dreamin' and bridge over troubled water on Koss headphones until they went deaf. Today it's staggering how disconnected the two countries are. the top youtube result of "breaking bad" in japanese is a video with 16,000 views. I've never met someone who has watched king of the hill or the simpsons. There are plenty of big bang theory fans though, god help me.
post-war nostalgia Saw a twitter post sacralizing post-war Japan. Which is just odd. It's a bit like fondly looking back on the destitution of post-war Britain. Food rationing for 9 more years, grotty black streets, clouds of smog culling pensioners, if you fantasize about all this you're probably Scottish. Here in Japan there was an elderly woman on TV hoarding rooms of futons as a consequence of her inability to afford any as a child. Looking through 50's photobooks it was common to see children without clothing or shoes standing on dirt roads, towering khaki servicemen scattering sticks of gum like they were street pigeons.
The Taisho era is fondly viewed in Japan's collective memory, well past the barbarity of Edo and moved forward by the constant promise of technological progress like the steam engine. The aesthetics of colorful kimonos and victorian interiors have lived on, untainted by the civil wars that preceded it and the fascism and colonialism that followed it. I personally envy my parents who lived through the Bubble era, a hedonistic economic upheaval where forecasters were fearing a Japan-led global economy. 10/3/2020
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Japan is fine. It's a country. here's the bits i like.
holidays and seasons
Seasonal produce, festivals, holidays, there's quite a few benchmarks to notice when the seasons change.
made in Japan
Made in Japan means something, people over here pride themsevles on an enduring craftsmen culture, from woodworkers to shunga artists to cooks. Products are made to a high standard, the passionate people behind the anonymous veil of store shelves are presumed to retain an insatiatiable pursuit of "their" perfection. Their personal touch that they just can't relinquish - their Kodawari. A collective assumption among consumers is then born, deliberately making and deliberately buying domestic products because it carries value beyond its list price or blind jingoism.
Made in America means nothing. There's no presumption that the people behind products are paid well. We've been avoiding manual work like it's a cough in the mouth, there's no assumption that the workers are proud of their work. Some of the most sacralized American industries are dotted with immigrant labor from steelworking to garments to foodservice/hospitality. There's no assumption that the product is well-made, the current state of the American auto industry is a depressing example. This was a topic that I remember joking about when very young, sandwiched between Michael Jackson and Brittany Simpson jokes.
you can dress like a weirdo
People dress well in Tokyo, and people dress weird in Tokyo. It really dialates any semblance of standards regarding what's too far gone, what's inappropriate, and what's embarrassing. Forget memes about asian collectivism and groupthink and locusts or whatever, you can pull anything off in Japan. The fatalism of dressing nice to strip malls makes me never want to return to the US.
Shops exhibit tons of Kodawari
. Hobby-oriented shops in particular are so insistent in chasing customers that are just like them that their wares almost resemble prideful personal collections.
So effortless, so efficient. The zenith of how a subway system should be run. Employers will often cover ticket costs too. Less people are buying cars due to hard times and it's no wonder when freeways have toll booths. In turn, lots of places are tailored to pedestraians, not cars.
24-hour convenience stores are everywhere if you live in a city. While a bit more expensive they're life savers. I'm quite fond of the mini grocery stores, there's some deals to be had there.
Strolling around with an open can of beer is fine and there's no restrictions on public intoxication. People drink responsibly here. In the US you'd be down on all fours cavity searched on the sidewalk by the religious police. Buying alcohol is also easier, Americans would shit their own hips out if they found out you could buy drinks on ebay.
crime is rare. I've accidentally left cameras and wallets in resturaunts and they didn't disappear. There are of course exceptions like foreigner-ridden Roppongi or working-class Kamagasaki, but even then it's limited to trashed bathrooms or pickpocketing. The random stabbings or Floridaman headlines are something you just don't see. If you drop something people will likely prop it up somewhere visible or hand it over to a police station. You'll see countless orphaned lens caps and gloves placed on bollards. I've had relatives leave money in self-service registers and it was still there when they came back.
The use of bike locks are rare, some shops in Kyoto don't even have locks.
drugs are bad. there's not much in Japan. Maybe a sprinking of meth and cocaine.
It's an open question why more Japanese people don't vacation overseas but the density in domestic sightseeing locations is probably why. There's never a moment of boredom if you have the money to travel around.
wow you actually have more than 2 telecommunications companies to choose from. Japanese home internet is reputably fast, not like I would know.
it's not like korea
The Zaibatsu, literally "wealthy clique" in Japanese consisted of several giant conglomerates who stick their fingers in all kinds of business. The amount of financial and cultural capital they hold is staggering and in the 90's employment at any of their banking divisions was the golden ticket to a 7-figure income.
Chaebol is the Korean equivalent, but their influence is even more prominent. The divide between employment in a big company and smaller company is much more radical in Korea, where low-paying menial labor is even more undervalued.
No, the Japanese do not eat sushi everyday. The food is great. Eating a plate of slop under a roof can quickly hit $15 in the US but a decent meal here is around that much. Even zero-effort meals at Sukiya are cheap and not cripplingly comatose-inducing. The initial surprise in hearing that some people never cook is understandable now. The portions are tiny, best exemplified by the toddler-sized cereal boxes. I could inhale a bag of chips in japan.
The quality of beef at normal supermarkets is staggering. Produce is also amazing, especially fruit. You also find some uncommon oddities from SE asia.
As far as alcohol "You havin a pussy drink bro?" is less relentless in Japan, although there are some cocktails more gendered than HRT injections. Makes America's conception of masculinity a bit embarassing frankly. Public drinking is allowed, and covenience stores carrying alcohol are open 24/7. Just don't be obnoxious when you're ruining your life.
sweet things aren't that sweet. I went out for BBQ in the US and I was knocked catatonic by how sugary everthing was. Even me who grew up destroying their insulin baseline with fundip and whoppers and candycorn and milkduds found it just too much. Good thing then that the japanese pride themselves on subtlety. goes back to the craftsmens traditition of subtle presentations, the vital bits being in the details. Sweets are refreshing, you could inhale cakes and pastries for hours without your liver clawing itself out your abdominal cavity. Their use of dairy in sweets is also unparallelled. While Japan doesn't have a flourishing craft cheese industry the cream and butter used in bread and sweets are delicious. Think a really good milkbread.
Cheap food won't destroy your body. There's a universal presumption in the US that cheap food is bad for you, and the inverse is also true. It explains the comorbidity of obesity and poverty, the existence of food deserts, the incestuous relationship between the federal government and agribusineess. In Japan especially inexpensive food doesn't have connotations of fast food, but central kitchens. Think sysco or school lunches. Vegetables are cheap without relying too much on underpaid transnational migrant labor. Poverty meals are interestingly soy-bean centric, from bean sprouts to natto to tofu.
Poverty is rare-ish. Estimates say 2000 people sleep rough across japan. To say it's a non-issue would be profoundly naive when sociological terms like "hidden poor" regularly swirl around but it's less prominent relative to the US. The roving bands of homeless day-laborers in Airinchiku seen in Nuclear Tokyo all reached pension age and the welfare state effectively lifted them out of destitution. That won't happen again.
pleasantries extends to (some)business. When out to buy green tea at a department store one of the Itoen employees referred me to their competitor across the floor. Unthinkable back home, they'd rather IRA the competition than squander margins.
If I said privatizing nationalized companies works you'd probably have the sense to make me disappear. In this bizarro land it somewhat makes sense. The Japanese post, the subway system, there's several examples where privatization hasn't been a complete disaster.
Surprise! The Japanese Post has suspended weekend deliveries indefinitely, leaving businesses less productive, rural communities more isolated, and deliveries even more strained. Thank god shareholders got their return though.
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Any English cultural studies or sociology paper on Japan always includes the inevitable preamble of "overseas consensus is generally incorrect" phrased in the nicest way possible. From NEETs to suicide to racism it's remarkable to see how vague outsider inferences about how Japan operates are always exclusively metropolitan, right-wing perspectives about working and living. Countryside, non-Tokyo, over-30, and sub-$50,000 income perspectives have never precipitated overseas presumably because you can't monetise a video about it. The staggeringly unflattering characterizations you hear often of an ultimately unknowable, proudly racist group of hierarchy-obsessed insects only really applies to flag-waving 50-somethings, the sort of people who say colonialism didn't happen but if it did, it would've been epic. It's a remarkably successful rebranding on their part, to have the state broadcast the sort of shit and garbage rhetoric that they want to be perceived as.
Regardless the more I live here, the more I see people conforming not to familial obligations or blind hierarchal subserviece, but the current economic reality. Japan is a country in decline. Complacency and naievety are valid criticisms towards the people I meet but the state's active libido for privatization really underpins the sort of rational choices normal Japanese people are choosing to make these days. Of course you can't have children when you're making $30,000 a year. Of course relationships are off the table when you have to work 70 hour weeks to make that pittance. the lol unsex islanders becomes a lot less interesting when you see figure after figure of downward median income trajectories and spiking consumer tax rates so depressing they'll wipe your libido clean. Remember when LOL THEY WORK AT THE SAME COMPANY FOR LIFE was a point of unfathomable derision? Now the overwhelming majority of people work zero-hour contracts without the security of a full-time office job. I don't remember a time when low birthrates and job insecurity were uniquely Japanese issues.
Some places are just too grey. You'll also need a car to live comfortable outside of city suburbs.
Japan is a big country so of course you'll experience different temperature ranges. As Tokyo was formerly swampland it generally goes from 35 to 0 degrees year-round. Summers are hot. Mold is something you have to be wary about. Beware bottoms of beds and camera lenses.
I miss being able to lay in a patch of grass under the sun. In Japan you look like an open buffet for critters, particularly mosquitos. Live on the 3rd floor+ if you want to avoid centipedes and roaches. In the countryside you have horseflies, boars, and monkeys to deal with.
homogenized dairy product
Despite the roasting that American food receives nothing is as fundamentally revolting as Japanese fake milk. The top of cartons is scalloped to indicate whether you're buying something extracted from an animal. Why does this exist?
the country revolves around tokyo
Corporeal evidence against universal suffrage Yuriko Koike holds immense political power, far and above the other govenors across the country. It's like if the US consisted only of New York and the Midwest. Despite this it's hard to say that Tokyo has any semblance of tradition or inherited identity, there's plenty to see but nothing to fall back on. The native Japanese always draw a blank when asked about famous Tokyo dishes or ingredients or holidays or festivals. Despite this the call of the void seduces youth from all over the country, not a good trend when looking at the rural-urban divide.
Japan was a caste society not that far off in execution from India. They similarly had the "untouchable" class based entirely on employment. Now a remnant of the past, former working-class slums are still afflicted with poverty, alcoholism, and crime. That sort of rigid social hierarchy has been preserved in the office, polymerizing with craftmens' apprenticeship culture. Tutoring new hires is a perennial workplace ritual and if you don't like who you're assigned to then tough luck. Above all Japanese management is horrible for seemingly no particular reason. Bafflingly inefficient and aimless, they are the fetid corpse in the well.
And despite the stereotype that Japanese companies hire for life many are hemorraging their workforce after 3 years. As changing careers becomes easier, only management teams that stop looking at employees as consumables will avoid becoming another Toshiba or Panasonic. It's a masochistic tradition with no tangible benefits to anyone. That's one of the persistent thoughts I have while living in Japan. In the US inequality or exploitation is easy to elucidate: just follow who it benefits, and that's usually the rich. In Japan, it seems like everyone is equally miserable in the workforce.
If you want to work in japan(don't know why you would) billingualism isn't a terribly significant advantage. It sounds like it would, and your average Japanese person will parrot that sentiment as well, hyping it up as a golden ticket out of 60 hour workweeks. For 20 years the government and big corporations have sung in unison, saying they need to be more globally-minded, yet that's always been just talk. For employers it seems like they don't really care, their desires are a smear and a blur. They want Japanese employees - through and through - that can speak English. Your experiences in other countries are worth nothing if you can't assimilate as "one of them." Your English proficiency doesn't even really matter. Can you say "this is a pen" without forgetting the consonants? And so the country has been continually shooting itself in its foot, not because its standards are so high but because they don't care enough to change.
Japanese employers look for new hires seasonally on a very rigid schedule: New uni grads for top-tier companies, those switching jobs, then the rest. The majority get hired right away after graduating and if you're not within this demographic you're already considered second-tier. The system does not make concessions for foreigners. The applications, interviews, and contracts are in Japanese. If you're not fluent you're useless to any company worth working under. Second-rate companies don't offer commuting/housing stipends, visa assistance, your income will be less than $20k a year, and they will have no problems giving you 60+ hours of overtime. Even normal salarymen regard their apartments as little more than hotels to sleep in. Come home at 11pm, wake up at 7am.
The accurate stereotype that people work like indentured slaves likely originates from the bubble era, where the average Japanese worker couldn't get rid of their earnings if they tried. Salarymen in the late 80's would clock in at 9, work until 10pm, drink with their co-workers into the morning and continue working without coming home. Work and leisure became hermaphroditic, with golf outings and dance clubs holding the same obligations as slaving away on a PC-98. The prime difference with today is that they were rolling in cash. Why sleep when you could be making big bucks?
This austerity-drawn economic revitalization crumbled by 1992, to which the country was thrown into a multi-decade recession that took real estate 26 years to recover from. Suddenly the long hours were a product of neccessity, a matter of nationalistic survival. By now it's just the norm, stripped of its reasoning and 40-hour minimum monthy OT quotas dot work applications like gangrenous infections.
Japan is ultimately a country in decline, fundamentally traumatized by the bubble recession rendered not even yearnful of the 80's because the wealth and social mobility felt like a distant fever dream. The government still infatuated by the ailing politics of Thatcher and Reagan continue to press the same buttons. In the early 2000's there was no consumer tax. As of 2022 the median annual income is $28,610, a figure already surpassed by South Korea whose annual GDP is 3 times smaller. That figure dropped from $42,299 in 1994.
While the destitution and economic isolation that exists carefree in the US is on another dimension, it's not surprising that many people in Japan just can't afford to have children. Between 1994 and 2014 the median income has dropped by $10k for 35-44 year olds and $18k for 45-54 year olds. Imagine that, people have less to spend today than after a country-defining recession. They say Japan is 40 years behind on a lot of things like internet, office infrastructure, turns out experiencing austerity also belongs on that list.
The percentage of contract and temporary employees have been exploding in number since the Bubble economy burst, further limiting those with limited opportunity to work their way up. Entry-level full-time positions, the kind that's been getting harder to get into, generally start at $20~30k a year.
There's plenty of companies to boycott. DHC, Muji, Uniqlo, Rakuten, there's no shortage of research to do before becoming a well-informed consumer.
Unlike in Korea Japan still has rigorous office dress codes. Every morning at 7 you'll see this sea of black descending on the train stations, suited flies to decomposing carrion. You have a bit more options if you're a woman.
Like many things phone coverage in Japan is still firmly planted in the 90's. Along with mobile phones it was considered a luxury 30 years ago and so the high monthly bills has been carried over. It was among one of the issues highlighted by the Suga administration, an ultimately futile attempt to shake off the vulturistic austerity stink that the government has had since Koizumi.
air quality can be surprisingly bad in parts of the country. Tokyo and Kyoto are surrounded by mountains and the ardent US regulations that stem the prevalence of low cc motorbikes has no equivalent in Japan. Not as bad as LA mind you. Every year there's also clouds of dust that drift from the west, a mix of pollution and soil from arid Chinese regions. Korea has it worse. It also used to be much worse 40 years ago with near-daily smog warnings issued in Tokyo. All the roadsigns showing current air quality have largely disappeared.
drugs are bad but weed is illegal as a remnant of US occupation. who cares?
Japan is starting to legalize casinos, following the lead of Macau. In regards to gambling there's plenty that tread the line of legality already, from pachinko to horseracing and boat races. Gambling addiction is already prevalent issue with pachinko and racing, I can't imagine this cash grab will be good for Japan.
Only 40% of people voted last election, which is US levels of pitiful. Politicians here are treasured on the same frequency as tepid yoshinoya vomit. The same political party has more or less ruled the country for 63 years. Concerning, no?
TV and news
Comedians are the prime faces in TV, being permitted to jump between standup, news, and food shows. But as with everything else in Japan, the TV is viciouly cyclical. New faces are often cast off in months. Good shows emmanate a chumminess often seen in gruff British television like the personal Salameshi, or colorful talkshows like Karisome Tengoku.
Most news channels are devastatingly shit, with some resembling clip shows with videos you would've bother uploading on youtube playing on national TV. A woman jumping backwards into a pool isn't news. A dog barking like a bird isn't news. The news is made to be as sedate and non-combative as possible, while tabloids are filled with the same sensationalist carrion peddlers as The Sun. The sterility in presentation is actually quite jarring to witness, like an entire BBC department has sprung a gas leak. It goes beyond culling just the emotive value, fundamental details are often omitted. You will never see hard questions in an interview. You will never see career politicans be interviewed. Yet like any bored child, the news often throws tantrums to bring attention on itself. It was Asahi Shinbun, one of the largest and most prestigious newspapers in Japan, that peddled HPV vaccine injury conspiracy theories. And of course the government is looking to lap up popular opinion rather than keep some sort of ideological consistency or I don't know, refer to research. Today the HPV vaccination rate for young women is a staggering 0.7%, parents making the critical mistake of trusting the news. It's almost insulting in the way that genuine social issues are overshadowed by some eye-catching road rage incident or thinly-veiled ads on the news. In 2021 Japan dropped 4 places in the Reporters Sans Frontières press freedom ranking to 71st, placing it above Liberia but below Bosnia and Kenya.
fuck the police, but fuck the japanese police in particular. over here, your judicial rights only extend to what orifice they can't explore. You are considered guilty until proven innocent, and stop-and-frisk is a depressingly common sight. Accused of molesting someone on the train? Take your chances on a 99.6 conviction rate. Accused of murder? Prepare your confession under duress. Bike cops look like power rangers though, so that's a plus. And you'll ejaculate during your hanging, so you'll have that to look forward to.
being a car enthusiast is easier in the US due to some arduous smog laws that encourage new car sales. For the most part it's a sea of kei cars and mopeds without mufflers. Vintage cars older than 30 years on the road are a bit of a rarity. You can oogle at all the Skylines and Supras in the world though. I also spotted a Hakosuka in kichijoji.
men over the age of 35 are demonised and for good reason. young women and ossans are the retail worker's persona non grata. It seems like a sizable population is boiling with rage, eager to be the corrective "that guy" during minor misunderstandings or etiquette violations. It's further exemplified by the lack of real issues that arguably people should feel indignant over. Instead cashiers handling the tops of cans or people standing in front of doorways regularly attracts the fury of ossans. Don't be surprised when your suitcase gets angrily kicked on a packed train. It's not quite the same as karenitis, these interactions are less about personal affronts or entitlement but a general lack of forgiveness. A cashier paid $9/hour put their hands where my mouth will go on this beer can. big deal.
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