Japanophiles - WARNING: Essay on the Real Japan

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Terramax:
snip to end all snips

I read it all and it was very interesting, thanks for taking the time to write it. I have always wanted to go to Japan, not really for oddness or game culture but more for the general history. Interesting final point about women. I had a Russian girlfriend for a while and she always deferred to me, even down to stupid things such as where to go to dinner, it made me extremely uncomfortable. She claimed Russian women wanted the male be in control. I have no way of corroborating this but it was interesting. We split up eventually, in part due to that. I still miss her, sigh, by far the prettiest female ever to let me put my filthy paws on her :)

Are you doing the JET programme then?

Yuuki:
I disagree that using Romaji makes you bad at pronouncing Japanese words. If you heard me (or even some of my friends) reading off a piece of paper with Romaji written on it you would practically not know the difference between me and a real Japanese person talking (albeit I'll be going a lot slower).

No, the main reason Romaji is discouraged is because it completely fails to comprehend the CONTEXT of the words and/or sounds. In written Japanese there are so many homonyms (words that sound the same but have different meanings) that you can have practically 10 different meanings to a word that sounds exactly the same based purely on the context being used or the characters you use to write it in. If people think "two", "too" and "to" (or there/their/they're) was bad then Japanese will blow your mind, homonyms everywhere!

Romaji addresses none of the true expression or context behind sounds or words, it boils down the language into pure syllables and that's why some people feel it "disrespects" Japanese in a certain light. While it's one way to get hang of the pronunciation of the words, for someone who really wants to learn the language Romaji is the worst possible way to start, start off with Hiragana/Katakana and then Kanji! Then you will appreciate the true beauty of Japanese.

And that's the real reason :)

Agreed with everything else, good post.

This is quite interesting. However, based on your English examples, I think you may be confusing homonyms and homophones... although the word is often used without any particular concern for it's strict meaning.

homonym: same spelling AND same pronunciation
homophone: same pronunciation but may be a different spelling

I only point this out because I assume from the context that you mean in Hirigana or Kanji they would use different characters, but spelled out phonetically in Romaji they become homonyms. But I wasn't exactly sure... also I am sleepy.

OT: Read it all. An interesting read from the perspective of someone who's been living there. Though nothing really surprising to me.

Ya haven't really told me anything I didn't already know, OP, but if it helps set even one person straight then you've done your good deed for the day.

As for you,

saintdane05:
/snip

Thanks. I'm now stuck on Miku songs and delving into the weird part(s) of youtube again. And if you haven't seen it yet...

Gold.

Oddly enough, the song could be inferred to be in response to Japanese culture as a whole... I hadn't really thought of it from that angle. Hm.

This is one of the reasons why when I had to study Japan, I spoke with - Japanese and read their history and sociological studies. Of course the views were kind shallow due to me only being able to access the 3 students at local Uni that were from Japan and are here studying and the gamer's I knew trough social networks. But luckily their family and friends were able to contribute their views trough skype with the person I knew translating.

I saw very little of that what "we see" here in west. I found the basic sociological environments to be really interesting.

Also I got sent few Subbed Dramas, thrillers and action movies from Japan and all I can say -they can write some intense stuff (I mean intense in a way thriller and drama keeps you on the edge of your seat and thinking, rather than any gross stuff) And at the end of the whole thing, I saw HUGE resemblance between Japanese mentality culture and Finnish mentality.

When I study other cultures, even local Finnish cultures (We have huge variance the south, north, east, west, Karjalain, Inkeri, Sami, Finnoswen, ┼landers) I approach them trough their history to this day.

Because the base of culture, views and social norms is based on the pillars of past upon which new things are added. Like it is hard to see how a local famine or similar problems are handled by locals - without knowing how they are used to them. Like somewhere not eating for day or two can be very normal, or working 20 hours on the field then going to sleep and taking crops to the market by hand - it is normal. When we see it primitive even horrible.

Just try looking your culture for a bit. Let say you are a IT-assistant or phone salesman, how stupid and useless someone who has been working the fields for thousand generations must think those jobs are, or that they are jobs to begin with.

PERSPECTIVE PEOPLE! GET SOME!!! It really broadens your view.

The OP is a mess of bias, some prejudice, misconceptions, general misanthropy and anger as well as some insights. I wish people would be able to filter out all the crap when sharing information. Why the the poster felt they had to launch venomous attacks at people in the OP is confusing. :/

You seem to know a decent amount about Japan. Unfortunately, you seem to know little about the Western world and their perceptions about Japanese culture, or Japanophiles for that matter. You also sound like a total Japanophile yourself. Practically your entire post is such a gushing praise of Japanese culture it would make most Japanophiles you seem to hate blush.

It takes quite a Japanophile such as yourself to rattle off against a bunch of stereotypes about Japan that a lot of the West holds, and then attempt to attribute it to some Japanophile minority other. A lot of this stuff is only stuff a Japanophile would know or notice. You're going to be disappointed that it isn't so much Japanophiles that think many of these things, but the average Joe.

Also, just about anyone who chooses to live in Japan is a Japanophile. It sounds like you've gone out of your way to live in Japan. I know enough about Japan to know that I don't want to live there.

Terramax:
utter trite J-pop like Hatsune Miku, AKB48

"A Japanophile is someone who likes music that I don't!"

And here we get started with an obnoxious trend you'll start doing for the rest of your post. Whining and whining about Jpop you don't like. What an utter trite opinion.

Terramax:
- They think that all the Japanese listen [I have to insert my trite opinions about music taste everywhere] Hatsune Miku, AKB48, and similar sounding pap

Find me even a single person who thinks that. If there are any, they're probably someone who doesn't know much of anything about Japanese culture and have little interest in knowing. And thus not even close to a "Japanophile".

Oh, and Hatsune Miku and AKB48 are both popular in Japan. Not everyone in the United States listens to Gangnam Style, but a lot of people do.

Terramax:
- Assume everyone there performs cosplay, and that people literally walk around the normal streets every day in strange clothing

Oh come on, seriously, find me someone who actually thinks that.

Terramax:
Think there is nothing wrong with maid cafes

"Japanophiles are people who like something I don't."

You've made the decision to LIVE, in Japan. But people who "think there is nothing wrong with maid cafes" are Japanophiles? Oh come on.

Terramax:
They like EVERY anime under the sun

You know, I've met people who like every black metal artist under the sun. I've never met someone who likes every anime under the sun.

Terramax:
think that all the Japanese are perverts. That every man is a Chikan (a type of person that gropes women on trains)

That's NOT Japanophiles. This is a common misconception about Japanese widespread in the West at large. Most people in the West also aren't interested in knowing the difference because it is a fun stereotype to other Japanese people with. Most people who actually disagree with this sort of thing and get emotional about the stereotype are Japanophiles.

You are all mixed up on some of these things. This is sadly what most Westerners think. And this has nothing to do with Japanophiles and everything to do with stereotyping.

Terramax:
- That all all Japanese television is of weird game shows, which are all about perversion, or 'wtf' moments, as are all their adverts

Again, this is not Japanophiles, this is the average Westerner. You clearly don't know enough about Western countries if you think this is a Japanophile thing. The whole "those crazy Japanese" is a Western stereotype thing.

I'm shocked that you know so little about the West that you think this has anything to do with "Japanophilia".

Terramax:
Men/ boys don't perv over women all day long. On the contrary, they're WAY more mature than most Western societies I've experienced (they could teach England a thing or two about maturity and self-respect).

"I'm not a Japanophile, but English people totally ought to learn a lesson from Japan."

Terramax:
They're stupid, narrow-minded, or are only interested in bizarre, Otaku-style culture

The only people who think that are people who hate otaku culture. I think that's what you think about otaku culture, that it's "stupid" and "narrow minded" and "bizarre". It sounds like you hate otaku culture as a way of justification and self-rationalization for your Japanophilia.

Terramax:
Most Japanese people are ridiculously clever. The great majority of them go to University and receive degrees. From an early age, children work seriously hard. Many of them will go to after school clubs, or even go to school on Saturdays and Sundays, to study further. It's very competitive.

I can't reiterate enough that the Japanese are, as a whole, a group of extremely intelligent people. Much more sophisticated than many people in countries like England.

The difference is, they're not arrogant about it in the slightest. They are either way too modest about, or they simply don't realise how clever they are.

Well, you sound more like a Japanophile right now that most anime fans.

I haven't met too many people who gush about Japan as much as you.

Terramax:
Not everyone listens to this shit.

"It's shit because I don't like it, my opinions are super important."

Terramax:
And regardless as to whether you like such pop music (nothing against you if you do), we can all agree that it's not art.

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Oh wait, you're serious. Let me laugh even harder.

Terramax:
to those absolutely atrocious tunes that often play at the beginning of anime TV shows.

"Everything I don't like is horrible. Everyone must share my horrible taste in music. Stop liking what I don't like."

I listen to primarily underground music, both when from Japan or America or Europe or whatever. But your opinion on stuff like this is so elitist it isn't even funny. Also ironic, you talk down about how all this otaku anime stuff isn't mainstream, but then go ahead and praise the Japanese indie music scene.

So according to you otaku culture is weird bizarre stuff and anime music is the worst subversive nerdy junk. But Japanese hardcore punk is totally awesome. Anime figures, totally the nail that sticks up that deserves to get hammered back down. But seeing Envy in concert, no, that's totally acceptable.

I listen to Hatsune Miku and The Stalin in equal doses. What what now Holmes?


Coaltar of the Deepers is pretty cute, amirite?

Terramax:
But, my god, why is it that there are people out there that obsess over it so much?

Why do people obsess over My Little Pony?
Why do people obsess over Homestuck?
Why do so many people in Japan obsess over anime?
Why do so many people obsess over idols?

Hobbies, how do they work?

I guess it is totally normal to be obsessed with My Little Pony but not anime, huh?
I'd rather be watching anime than be putting up with living in Japan.

I'm not addressing all of your OP in one post. I don't want to make a wall of text that nobody will ever read. But, haha, no. I'm glad that you understand Japanese culture as well as you do. But I wish you understood some other things better.

It's funny how old Japan is often painted as a society of honor, tradition, and nobility. In reality, old Japan was an awful society. They were incredibly xenophobic, intolerant of anything that ever threatened to bring about change, and the ruling class was almost entirely corrupt. These weren't uncommon societal traits anywhere back then, but it's a stark contrast to how we interpret events of that age. Women were often considered little more than the property of their husbands, and it wasn't uncommon for them to be sold into prostitution if their husband had a lot of debt. Even our concept of Bushido is wrong. They valued serving a lord above all else, even if that lord was a colossal asshole (and most were). Many samurai were little more than scumbags with swords. Shades of these traits continue to exist today, festering like a tumor in some parts of the country.

[/quote]

That history part rings true for most historical cultures, but for some reason is emphasized for eastern ones. Despite the Samurai tradition being lionized during the second world war, most Japanese people during the Satsuma Rebellion saw it as the Royalty finally sweeping up the old corrupt system (a huge chunk of the rebels turned against the emperor because he stripped them of the right to behead people they felt had disrespected them). Chinese people yearn for a return to the Imperial Chinese time, which yeah was a time they were powerful culturally and politically, but most emperors were bloodthirsty tyrants not the benevolent overseers.

Not that western people don't have a habit of stupidly romanticizing their own countries history. The idea of plucky Britian holding out against Hitler is kind of dashed when you realize that the British Empire was still the worlds dominant power at the time, and the American Revolution is possibly the second most mythic behind the oriental countries. Eastern ones just idolize it more because their usually highly conservative.

I actually read the post.

And I have two things to say.

1) I think we are living within 1 hour distance from each other. It would be fun to have a Escapist Tokyo meet up one day. lol

2) I work in a "sub culture" industry in Tokyo. I spend time playing games, watching anime, following AKB and momokuro, and am now learning all i can about Steins gate and vocaloids all as a part of my job.
This makes me totally weird even in Japan.
Yet, some of the weaboos I come across online are more knowledgeable than i am, and I sometimes dont know what to make of that.

I must admit that I was sliding towards the "otaku mindset" when I first touched down in Japan, I'd been wanting to go for at least 14 years and once the time came I was like a kid at christmas. I do agree with the OP, I didn't expect for them to be all running around throwing fireballs and dressing up in costumes all the time, but that's the stereotype as mentioned. I guess each country just has a stereotype in peoples mindsets, Japan with its colourful craziness, the English being anal or football hooligans, the french with their onions and stripey jumpers....ect

The only way to dispel the stereotype is to either become more educated on a culture, or go and actually witness it for yourself and become absorbed. Yes there are some wacky things in Japan, but deep down the thing I loved the most was its cleanliness, its friendly people and overall it manners and politeness. Something which is sorely lacking around my own town.

Just wondering; what do you do in Japan?

Very good wall of text, it's alwyas interesting to hear about people's experiences in other countries. And I really do get why you get annoyed with the over-familiarization japanophiles have with the lifestyle.

I am the presidnt of my college;s anime club, and I honestly hate it when people say we should do stupid japenese shit, when they know nothing of japan. It's an Anime club, not the japenese club, you don't care about the country you just wanna be an otaku( well by your descrption of what a otaku is they are).

Casual Shinji:

Isn't that also why they have such high suicide rates?

That might also be because of the pressure of the "worker bee" society. Don't Japanese high schoolers get like home work... during summer vacation? Now I've been out of high school for over a decade, so I don't know how much has changed, but I doubt high schoolers in the West get that same deal.[/quote]

*western white kid reporting for duty*

in my area at least, i call shenanigenz on this, i always had at least 2 books to read and reports, and (depending on the class) some kind of project to do(one summer i had to setup a whole bunch of stocks and watch them and give a financial report on it all in the first week of economics)

in retrospect, compared to college, that shit was cake, but it still was an annoyance at the time that had to be completed if you didn't want to fuck your grade before you even started class.

GonvilleBromhead:
Not sure why, but when I am asked to think of the Japanese stereotype, I generally think of the "Salaryman" stereotype rather than the "Anime lover" stereotype (not that its any more accurate a stereotype, I'm sure). Maybe Brits have a slightly different exposure to Japanese culture than Americans or what-have-you.

I suppose its no different to the belief that all Brits are castle inhabiting, wizard aristocrats who know the Her Majesty personally and who work in the dominant "shooting Zulu's whilst wearing a red coat" industry. I mean, I am all those things, but its hardly the norm...

Er yeah same. The 'anime fan' stereotype was kind of in a minority in my mind, confined only to quirks and conventions and maybe a few product placement oddities. Otherwise they're just very business minded when I've met any 'Japanese hailing from Japan' groups. One tourist family who came to London were very friendly, I showed them how to get to the London Eye and they took a picture with me. Was fun.

But I hold no preconceptions, I find those that do have this mindset are either young, or already a bit odd in the head.

thaluikhain:

Izanagi009:

Daystar Clarion:
Holy wall of text, Batman!

I studied a little of Japanese culture during my Criminology course at university and came across something rather interesting.

Because Japanese society is focused so much on conformity, crime as very low. That's because if a Japanese person commits a crime. it's not just their family and friends that are ashamed, nearly everyone they're associated with on a day to day basis will be ashamed of knowing that person.

This leads to a lot of the quirkiness we see in the West, since the Japanese are so homogeneous in their day to day lives.

This unfortunately has made life horrible for rape victims. If the victim reports a crime, she gets abandoned by her friends and the like because she caused a disruption of order. Note that this is only anecdote but it seems to be confirmed by a few sources

This is very true, but not confined to Japan. Victim blaming seems to be the norm, not the exception. Look at the Steubenville case, for example, reporters telling us all how terrible it was, the town had been torn apart because the guilty were punished. Same with the 11 year old gang rape victim in Texas, and that cheerleader, people upset that the victim had reported it and the town had to face up to it.

Risingblade:
Add nice to Canadians and I'm pretty sure the French are the cowards

That was started by the US because the French would support them on something in the...80s?

The Italians, OTOH...well, when the French were being utterly defeated by the Third Reich, they were still winning against the Italians. Having said that, I think that might have been because of morale issues, the Italian troops might not have wanted to conquer France the same way the Germans did.

One might argue that Japan makes the victim blame worse due to the culture of conformity and reservation.

And as to the French Stereotype, I think Cracked did something on it so take my word with a mountain of salt but they are pretty good in other conflicts in the past before the World War so the stereotype of cowards may be wrong

Terramax:
**snip**

Wow. Where did you do you "research" on what western Otaku types think? A random internet forum?

First off, no real Otaku think that Japan is like those things. Japan is a sad conformist nation where the media is one of the few outlets for individuality. That's why it's so nutty - because Japan itself is so repressed and conformists.

On the old "Otaku is an insult" - no shit! - of course Otaku is a bad word. So are "nerd" and "geek". That's something we do here in the west - we take negative terms and make them our own.

Third, unless you're angry at a group of ignorant high school students, your essay feels like it's about ten years out of date. Not the facts about Japan - the fact that these facts are WIDELY known on the internet. It's like you wrote an essay telling everyone that 4-chan exists. Yeah, we know.

Fourth, on J-Pop... since when as this been a thing? Most Otaku I know (aside from me) love J-Rock, not J-Pop.

On typing romanji into sentences. Well gomen nasai, but not only have I not felt the need to install kanji or hirigana software, but even if I did, I wouldn't expect anyone else on the internet to have done so. By using romanji, I know that people can at least read what I wrote. So stop acting superior, baka.

On feminism... seriously? I'm not sure how you could write that and... yeah. Yes, their culture has different views of women. However, when a woman desires to step outside those roles, she finds it extremely difficult to do so. Sexual harassment and hiring preferences against women who do are incredibly high. And don't even get me started on how abused and segregated the gay culture gets.

"Different cultures" is not a shield against civil rights violations.

Finally, to conclude.

You aren't the only Otaku to go to Japan. I've known friends who've gone there to live and teach for the past 15 years. Not one person for 15 years, but many people for a few years over the course of the past 15 years, in case that wasn't clear. And you know what - what they had to say never shocked me, because I actually did my research and learned about the culture I found interesting. And I learned enough that I never particularly wanted to visit them myself. Japan is an interesting place with an interesting culture, but like many interesting things, I don't myself wish to exist in that world. It wouldn't like me, and I wouldn't like it. Better for all of us to remain at a distance and appreciate it from afar.

If I am coming across as mean - well, so did you. You acted like you had a lesson for the entire internet that you just had to cram down everyone's throat. And 90% of it was so "ten years ago, no shit" that I felt the need to call you out on it. You seem to have a very strange idea of what most Otaku believe. Maybe the ones you knew personally were idiots. Maybe people just seem stupider on forums (and I know they do on YouTube - home of ignorant comments) that you frequent. But most actual Otaku already knew what you had to tell us and have known for a long time.

Although I understand what you're trying to say, I disagree with you on the J-Pop and women contentions.

Art, I guess could be judged through the eyes of the beholder but it's definitely not right to assume everyone else agrees with you on "Pop music not being art".

...I forgot what my problem was about your women argument, but I only have enough time to make a single response. Sorry. Now I remember. It seems that your reasons for gender politics not being as large of an issue in Japan than first believed seems a lot like how China would justify their gender politics.

I don't necessarily disagree with you through the actual points, it's just more-so the language that you used to give ground to your arguments.

EstrogenicMuscle:
You seem to know a decent amount about Japan. Unfortunately, you seem to know little about the Western world and their perceptions about Japanese culture, or Japanophiles for that matter. You also sound like a total Japanophile yourself. Practically your entire post is such a gushing praise of Japanese culture it would make most Japanophiles you seem to hate blush.

Nope. I have my gripes with Japanese society. A lot of gripes. I find their way of socialising very restricting, their judicial system has a lot to be desired, they don't pay enough attention to politics, their non-confrontational stance to cause more harm than good in some aspects of daily life, and their emphasis on being polite is both exhausting, meaning some members of society end up being very superficial.

These are issues I can think of at the top of my head.

I simply chose not to talk them in this thread, as that's not what the point of it is about. Furthermore, I'm not writing about all members of the western world, but a small group individuals who've contributed to portrayal of Japanese society which is simply not true.

On the old "Otaku is an insult" - no shit! - of course Otaku is a bad word. So are "nerd" and "geek". That's something we do here in the west - we take negative terms and make them our own.

This isn't common knowledge. Many of the foreigners that come to Japan self-proclaim themselves as Otaku, with a sense of pride, and only realise later on when speaking to the Japanese that the name holds negative connotations.

Furthermore, in many western societies, whilst there can indeed be stigma towards being, say, a geek, because of the less conformist, pro-individualism expressed, it's nowhere near to the extent as that seen in Japan.

Not the facts about Japan - the fact that these facts are WIDELY known on the internet.

Seeing as I've had people telling me certain aspects of my post were 'interesting observations', and that in the past I've had to explain to people that certain stereotypes are far from the truth, I'm going to have to say that it isn't that widely known.

Furthermore, perhaps I should've posted this in my OP, but these points are also coming from my own personal experience from coming to Japan.

I was led to believe a lot of stereotypes to be true. Particularly that Japan was this very high tech country (which it really isn't. If you go to the majority of cities here, they seem developed than many countries I've been to in Western Europe), the aforementioned expectations of their music, their issues regarding conformity.

Not only that, many foreigners that have come to Japan for a long period of stay have often left the country with a bad taste in their mouth, because the country was completely different to that of what they were expecting, from what they had read in books, magazines, and the internet.

You aren't the only Otaku to go to Japan.

I don't consider myself an Otaku. I don't consider myself a geek either. Not everyone on the Escapist claims themselves as such.

I've known friends who've gone there to live and teach for the past 15 years. Not one person for 15 years, but many people for a few years over the course of the past 15 years, in case that wasn't clear.

You're very lucky to have friends whom live in Japan. Many people don't, therefore, news reports, books, documentaries, etc, are all they have to go by.

Terramax:
stuff

Are they really a nation of atrocity deniers? Nanking et al. was some pretty hardcore shit, almost on the level of the holocaust, but while the Germans have accepted and sought to make amends for the trespasses of their forebears, the media portrays the Japanese of possessing an air of aloof innocence. Despite, you know, skewering babies on swords, tying women to chairs and running fifty man trains on them in relief stations, experimenting with chemical weapons, decapitating people for sport...

Fappy:
Very interesting read. I read the whole thing!

Here's a little tidbit about Japanese culture I learned about recently:

So, as many people know, Japanese culture is very much about respecting your elders/superiors. One of my co-workers was working with a Japanese client (we work in the software industry) who was complaining about a bug in the software. My friend told the client again, and again that it wasn't a bug and that the client was actually just not using the software properly. The people he spoke to about this issue told my friend that they couldn't tell their boss he was using the software incorrectly as he is their elder and it would be disrespectful to embarrass him like that.

My friend replied with, "You're cultural nuances are your problem, not mine."

I knew this was an important aspect of Japanese culture, but I never imagined it would create such illogical situations.

I actually discovered, while making a school project about the nuclear fuck-up of Fukushima, that for this very same reason some of the safety regulations weren't followed correctly. 'Twas quite interesting.

OT: A very well-written essay, though I couldn't be bothered to read it all. If I was a school teacher, I might even want to use this to debunk some cultural stereotypes. It might be better to divide it into spoiler tags, though, so people could view it one chapter at a time and not be put off by the wall of text.

PeterMerkin69:

Terramax:
stuff

Are they really a nation of atrocity deniers? Nanking et al. was some pretty hardcore shit, almost on the level of the holocaust, but while the Germans have accepted and sought to make amends for the trespasses of their forebears, the media portrays the Japanese of possessing an air of aloof innocence. Despite, you know, skewering babies on swords, tying women to chairs and running fifty man trains on them in relief stations, experimenting with chemical weapons, decapitating people for sport...

I've not raised this question enough with people, but I have heard from at least one person that, no, they don't teach this in high school. And as shocking as I think it sounds, I then have to remind myself that the history classes I had in Great Britain didn't teach any of the atrocities we made to other countries. I mean, our history consists of us invading up to 1/3 of the known world.

Regarding making amends, I think it's just different to how countries like Germany approach it. Whilst I do think the Japanese shy away from acknowledging it, I do believe they're playing a part by simply not contributing to any further wars. Furthermore, the Japanese nowadays are a very peace and, like I said, non-confrontational country, that does their best to oppress anger and hate. Not that this is always the end result.

For instance, I don't think anyone other than a great minority of the older generation have any anger or resentment to Korea. In fact, I've met a fair few South Koreans here, and there are a fair few mixed Japanese/ Korean born members of the public here.

Terramax:
This is because I was up until 3am writing this.

3 am!
Holy crap ... I salute you for your dedication towards this nice essay.
I found this to be a pretty good essay, (And I'm a professional writer at University) and I share most of your opinion, and I'm sure a lot of other people do too.

Though it did take a bit of time to read all of this. :P

Sure I may be REALLY into 'otaku' culture ... ugh, I don't want to call myself an 'otaku' it feels demeaning. (For now since my community/close circle of friend(s) think this)
But anime, Visual Novels and etc only want me to get to know the real Japan better. The history, environment, religion, food and technological advancement makes me want to see this country first hand.
I haven't been to Japan but I really would like to travel to a few places. (Excluding Tokyo ... maybe ... I just heard it's crazy expensive, even #1 most expensive in the world. 0_o)

Other then that, I really liked your point of view/opinion.
I would point out a couple of things I didn't like but ... man I'm tired. (it's late over here)

PeterMerkin69:

Terramax:
stuff

Are they really a nation of atrocity deniers? Nanking et al. was some pretty hardcore shit, almost on the level of the holocaust, but while the Germans have accepted and sought to make amends for the trespasses of their forebears, the media portrays the Japanese of possessing an air of aloof innocence. Despite, you know, skewering babies on swords, tying women to chairs and running fifty man trains on them in relief stations, experimenting with chemical weapons, decapitating people for sport...

I think that's because Japan is still tied up with its sense of honour. Admitting they did these horrendous acts means admitting they did something extremely dishonourable.

Terramax:
This is because I was up until 3am writing this.

3 am!
Holy crap ... I salute you for your dedication towards this nice essay.
I found this to be a pretty good essay, (And I'm a professional writer at University) and I share most of your opinion, and I'm sure a lot of other people do too.

Though it did take a bit of time to read all of this. :P

Sure I may be REALLY into 'otaku' culture ... ugh, I don't want to call myself an 'otaku' it feels demeaning. (For now since my community/close circle of friend(s) think this)
But anime, Visual Novels and etc only want me to get to know the real Japan better. The history, environment, religion, food and technological advancement makes me want to see this country first hand.
I haven't been to Japan but I really would like to travel to a few places. (Excluding Tokyo ... maybe ... I just heard it's crazy expensive, even #1 most expensive in the world. 0_o)

Other then that, I really liked your point of view/opinion.
I would point out a couple of things I didn't like but ... man I'm tired. (it's late over here)

Terramax:

Jack the Potato:

Terramax:

I didn't say they were amazing, as in, other countries, societies, cultures were not.

No, but you did say "The Japanese are AMAZING" which isn't really true. They're normal. Average. Describing them as amazing would be like describing the entire human race as amazing, which we are in comparison to any other animal, but as the human race we can only be as we are, ie not amazing. The Japanese people are what they are.

No, I wasn't even implying that. No trolling please. I didn't go through the trouble of writing that whole post to make such ridiculous arguments. Please, either add something to the topic, or don't bother at all. Thank you.

Oy, bro, I already contributed to the topic. I was just pointing out something you said that I had a beef with. No need to get so defensive. If you insist you didn't mean what I believe you meant, then whatever. It's no big deal.

its pretty funny to see anime otaku people. I actually grew up around exchange students and spoke a bit of Japanese when I was a kid/teenager.

But the reality of japan is so different from whats portrayed.

I've wanted to visit japan, not because of its anime crap or anything like that, but for its food and environment. Shintoist areas and Kamakura, that and I actually like speaking Japanese more than English.

I hate seeing all the misconceptions about Japan. I've known for a very long time that otaku was always a bad term. I love the anime artform, its beautiful and colorful but I hate seeing people whom love and adore everything anime.
I've long since dropped my anime stuff and will only read/watch certain genre's of things. like philosophical and lesbian drama/shoujo ai, but most anime is fairly garbage.

I would agree that Japanese people are amazing, but I fucking hate how two faced they are, it makes me rather distrusting, me being a person of absolute honesty and consistency.

StormShaun:

But anime, Visual Novels and etc only want me to get to know the real Japan better.

Indeed, this is how I, and most others, got into Japanese culture.

I became fascinated in Japanese culture in the 90's, when I began watching anime, and playing video games. The turning point was playing Tenchu Stealth Assassin's on the Playstation.

That game, with its fantastic soundtrack, traditional Japanese architecture, and references to the old Japanese principles such as 'honour' had a real impact on me.

I'll reiterate again, that I've no problem with people enjoying stereotypical culture, but I've met many foreigners over here who have a serious culture shock because they genuinely believed some of the topics I've debased.

Sorry it was so lengthy. I was actually thinking of writing a part 2 with other topics I'd like to address, but this time try not to sound so condescending, as indeed, there are parts of the post that come off as such (but were more due to me venting a bit, and not reading through it enough before posting it). But I'm not sure if enough people would be fascinated enough to read(?)

FranBunnyFFXII:
I would agree that Japanese people are amazing, but I fucking hate how two faced they are, it makes me rather distrusting, me being a person of absolute honesty and consistency.

Yes, to a certain degree, I agree with this. It's not so much that they're two-faced, but more like there's this social code where everyone in Japan has to act ridiculously polite to one another, and there are times when you just know they're angry, upset, not bothered, etc, but will hide it under a fake smile, and various phrases to connote that everything is fine, when it's clearly not.

I've discussed this with Japanese friends before. If you have a problem with someone or something, is it better to just speak out, or tell someone you have a problem with someone or something?

This is a problem faced in the West too. We've all experienced times when we've met people have been too truthful, or forward, and everyone deals with it differently. And most of the time, the Japanese choose to deal with it by being superficially happy, polite, and agreeing all the time.

Terramax:
I apologise in advance as I'm not always the most articulate person in the world, and that I might drone a tad in some sections, but I hope my opinions and observations make sense and leave room for some good discussion. Please also note this thread is not a personal attack on anyone, although I do vent some frustrations.

Hey guys, I want to discuss an issue that's been bugging me for a long time, but a member from another forum has recently put it into perspective as to how much it really frustrates me. I'm talking about a group of people I personally refer to as 'Japanophiles'. I don't know if there is another phrase or word used to describe them.

Basically, they are people who will like, and overly indulge in ANYTHING associated with what they believe to be normal, popular Japanese culture. In a nutshell:

- They think that all the Japanese listen to is utter trite J-pop like Hatsune Miku, AKB48, and similar sounding pap
- Assume everyone there performs cosplay, and that people literally walk around the normal streets every day in strange clothing
- Think there is nothing wrong with maid cafes, that they're everywhere, and they're considered socially acceptable in Japan
- They like EVERY anime under the sun, despite not being able to give a valid reason as to why they're any good, and to criticise any anime is like being racist to the whole Japanese race
- think that all the Japanese are perverts. That every man is a Chikan (a type of person that gropes women on trains)
- That all all Japanese television is of weird game shows, which are all about perversion, or 'wtf' moments, as are all their adverts
- Constantly try their hand at writing Japanese sentences in romanji.

EDIT: I have an apology to make. Some of what I wrote about J-pop does indeed come off as rude, as pointed out by some, and I didn't intend to slam people's taste in music.

My reason for such was not so much that 'people don't like the same music as I do, therefore it's crap' but more an emphasis that a lot of Japanese music is industry manufactured, for the sole reason of making money, and does not represent all of what Japan makes or listens to, as pointed out later in the post.

OK, now, I live in Japan. But prior to that, I knew this all to be untrue... Ok, one thing rings ever-so-slightly true. Groping on trains is known to happen fairly frequently in densely urban areas like Osaka and Tokyo... but that's it!

But my point is, these people are bad for these reasons:

1. They reinforce these negative stereotypes that the Japanese are weird, sex crazy, sexist, racist, and possibly stupid people, to the rest of the world, by showing everyone only the strangest and most negative aspects of the country

2. when these people come to Japan, as foreigners, they're representing their countries too. So when they go around acting obsessive over things like anime, cosplay, and other otaku fashions, they're in danger of making certain countries of their own as consisting of strange people.

Everything above is basically relating to Otaku culture, and part of it stems that many of these people completely miss-understand what the meaning of Otaku means.

Otaku is a stigma. It's not just considered as a person who's just a fan of anime, video game, and J-pop culture. Otakus are often referred to people who are socially awkward, without a decent education i.e. stupid, with little to no self-esteem, unable to make any respectable communication with the opposite sex, look ugly, and are OBSESSIVE. And I mean OBSESSIVE about what they like. To the point where they believe if they buy enough AKB48 singles, it will bring them closer to becoming the boyfriends of these idols one day. That these people are so attached to their anime girls that they would rather masturbate to them all day, than look for a real girlfriend (or, sometimes, boyfriends). There are other negative connotations, but I'm sure you're getting the point.

I have been told by Japanese friends, some of them self-proclaimed Otakus themselves, that opinions do change from person to person in Japan, and with the passing of time, things have changed. Being called an Otaku 10 - 15 years ago was considered, quite literally, offensive, whilst now it's down to context and interpretation.

Now, regarding the points I made about the Japanese earlier, much of the negative stereotypes couldn't be far from the truth. Lets try and break some of these down:

The idea that the Japanese are all strange and crazy, like on the TV shows

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Talento 'Hard gay'. Not your typical Japanese man.

No, no, NO. If you go into any normal town in Japan, you will not see members of the public wearing crazy cosplay, or random style clothing. This ONLY happens in places such as Tokyo, Akihabara, Osaka and Kyoto.

They DON'T talk with super squeaky voices, run around like lunatics, playing practical pranks on everyone.

Men/ boys don't perv over women all day long. On the contrary, they're WAY more mature than most Western societies I've experienced (they could teach England a thing or two about maturity and self-respect).

"But, on their television shows I've seen on youtube, they're all absolute batshit crazy!?"

That's because it's fucking TELEVISION! And it's only the weirdest of the weird TV shows people are uploading and focusing on.

Let me explain it, how I was explained it, by my Japanese friends.

"Japanese society is about being conformist. People should not stick out, or be seen as different from the rest of the crowd, under any circumstances. It goes without saying that many people feel oppressed from expressing their real feelings, dreams, personality, and opinions.

Many of the celebrities on Japanese television shows are often considered to be fighting the social system. Swimming against the tide. They either express themselves, or parody stereotypes that would never be acceptable, or are completely against what people would be like in normal Japanese society.

They are often admired for being bold enough to be different. They're getting to become the people that 99% of Japanese people cannot hope to become."

"Hey, there are sites completely DEDICATED to the strange shit that happens there."

Have you read some of the crazy things that happen in other countries? Heck, people post stuff up on these forums all the time. And some of it isn't that weird when you think about it.

One site posted photos of people sleeping in strange ways on Japanese trains. Oh, come on! Have you seen some of the crazy mofos you get on British trains sometimes? Some of the stupid and dangerous stuff I've seen people do outdoes anything the Japanese do.

They're stupid, narrow-minded, or are only interested in bizarre, Otaku-style culture

Most Japanese people are ridiculously clever. The great majority of them go to University and receive degrees. From an early age, children work seriously hard. Many of them will go to after school clubs, or even go to school on Saturdays and Sundays, to study further. It's very competitive.

I'm currently working in an English school, predominantly for kids between the age of 2-8. That's right. Many Japanese parents have their kids learn a 2nd language from the age of just 1 years old! By the age of 3, these kids can count 1-100, tell you 20 vegetables and fruits, all the main colours, can distinguish vehicles and objects, and speak basic sentences and questions i.e. "Can I have this, here you are, thank you, I want to play X game, etc", all in perfect English. They achieve this through just 1 lesson a week at our school.

How many kids in countries like England could say all that in French at the age of 3? F-all, that's how many.

I can't reiterate enough that the Japanese are, as a whole, a group of extremely intelligent people. Much more sophisticated than many people in countries like England.

The difference is, they're not arrogant about it in the slightest. They are either way too modest about, or they simply don't realise how clever they are.

They listen to J-pop, and nothing else

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Not everyone listens to this shit. In fact, recently, a Japanese mother told me most AKB48 fans are actually very young girls, who find their shirt skirts and dances 'cute', and want to emulate them

This is about as true as saying that all westerners listen to, and consider Lady Gaga to be the height of musical sophistication. And regardless as to whether you like such pop music (nothing against you if you do), we can all agree that it's not art. And a great much of it doesn't sound good. It's industry-churned crap for the sole use of milking money.

Imagine if every Asian person you met thought that all Western people listened to songs like Carly Rae Jepsen's 'Call Me Maybe'. What would you think? You'd think they were all nuts, right? You might even be offended.

If you listen to normal Japanese radio, or to the music that plays in many of the convenience stores (particularly late at night, when the kids working there are playing their own music), or to concerts of local bands, you will realise very quickly that people don't all listen to those absolutely atrocious tunes that often play at the beginning of anime TV shows.

Many people will tell you that, in the west, the real music, and best music, is not that what you hear in the charts, but what goes around underground, in cult circles. Music that is not made for profit, but made for the love of making music. Often also to make social or political points. It's as much about expression as it is just creating a catchy pop-beat.

This is identical in Japan also. Whilst their music undoubtedly sounds different, mainly because of how their language is orchestrated, they too make music that is political, has social commentary, sounds great, and would sadly never appear on the radio.

They don't all listen to AKB48 or Miku style music. Only teenagers and Otaku culture does.

Ok, lets talk about Anime

Now, one topic here I'm likely to get some heat for, it's regarding anime. I will say this - I have nothing against anyone liking anime. I like it myself.

But, my god, why is it that there are people out there that obsess over it so much? Even people in the anime industry are talking about how the great majority of it is just fan-service to make a quick buck. That it's an over-saturated mess, and a bubble waiting to burst for several reasons, which probably require a completely different thread to get the point across.

Now, it is indeed true that anime and especially manga plays an important part in Japanese life, and has done for decades. Since at least the 1930s. It has been, and has continued to be, a way of both escapism and expression. And I will put it out there that anime, from the 90's, is much of how I came to be fascinated in Japanese culture too.

But there are fundamental flaws with anime that has to be acknowledge, like that stated above. Also, I'm sure some of you are upset about the 'j-pop crap' I mentioned earlier. Let me explain.
These days, certain artists will NOT become famous unless they associate themselves with an anime. So you will find that all the trendy musicians and singers will latch on to whatever anime they can get their dirty hands on, and will sing and play any old fashionable crap that gets them chart positions.

These people are just like the X-factor/ Pop Idol singers in the West, whom will plug their faces anywhere, on any product, for the sake of their 15 minutes of fame, and to sell their records, which usually sound no-where near as good as the artists everyone here would regard as 'real artists, real musicians, and great musicians'.

Here's a fact I read from a Japanese website - the Japanese didn't know who Michael Jackson was, until later in his career, when he starred in a Coca-cola advert over here.

Now, I wouldn't say 100% of anime songs are crap. There's the odd one even I like i.e. Round Table' soundtracks are fantastic to listen to. But, seriously, I find it hard to believe that people out there can enjoy ALL the music at the start of anime shows out there. Maybe there is the odd person, but not all of them.

All men dress androgynously, are feminine looking, and all Japanese women like it

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99.9% of all Japanese men to NOT look like this

No, no, no, no, no, no, NO! Seriously, if there is one thing you walk away from this thread knowing, it's that this is simply not true. Not.At.All.

Again, if you browse around any normal town in Japan, you will not see these men anywhere. They are only found in major cities like Tokyo and Kyoto. These men target a specific type of woman, who's looking for a specific type of man.

You know, some Asian countries have this ideology that all Western women are sexually promiscuous, wear high-heels, short skirts, and like to show as much cleavage and skin as they possible can. We all know this is a demeaning way to think of women, and not true in the slightest, regardless as to whether you see these types of women walk around the streets on a Saturday night. The same rule applies here.

"Oh, but we constantly see them in video games like Final Fantasy, and in Anime."

Yeah. That's like saying that every western male looks like the characters from Gears of War, or Kratos.

Most Japanese men just look like, well, ordinary Japanese men. I will say this though, and this is something that every foreigner I've met over here has also acknowledged; all Japanese men out of the Otaku culture are VERY well kept. Clean Shaven. Whatever you want to call it. Japanese people, on the whole, dress much more conservatively, and pay a lot more respect to their personal hygiene and appearance.

Japanophiles constantly type Japanese sentences in Romanji, usually on youtube videos

OK, this is not a fact, but more a vent.

Many of us have seen this on forum and on the conversation sections of youtube. People start writing random Japanese sentences, using the English alphabet.

I have this to say; if you really want to learn the Japanese language THAT MUCH, do yourself a favour, and learn hiragana and Katakana. Do it! Then, install hiragana and katakana abilities on your pc/ mac, whatever, and write using their alphabet.

Seriously, this is identical to how the Japanese and other Asian countries throw out random English phrases and don't really understand what they mean. I can't stop you from doing this, but if you do, don't expect anyone, particularly the Japanese, to take you seriously.

However, this isn't just because it annoys me either. By typing, and reading in Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji, you will learn how to pronounce the Japanese language better. It's a fact. Many people whom write a lot of Japanese using the English alphabet are often not very good at pronouncing it, just in the same way that many Japanese people whom write English find it very difficult to pronounce the language right.

Japanese TV consist completely of weird comedy shows where they play pranks on others, or focus on some really weird person's fetish

image

Takeshi's Castle - very few Japanese shows are anything LIKE this. Which is why crazy TV shows are so popular. Because they're different!

Bollocks! Don't get me wrong, I spent a LOT of time watching, and posting funny Japanese videos to my friends. But don't think for a second that these shows are everywhere.

My friends, consisting of both foreigners and native Japanese people, went actively looking for strange Japanese TV show for several hours from about 7pm to about 2am, and we could only find one random, funny show on one channel. That's it. Much of their television, which I have (admittedly not too much), is full of cooking programs, shows where they follow 'talento's' as they are known, or celebrities, as they interview people regarding various topics, all in a fairly low-key fashion.

Maid Cafes and host/ hostess bars are everywhere, and they're acceptable

Maid cafes are EXCLUSIVE to places like Akihabara and Tokyo. They target specific people i.e. Otaku, socially inept, or the very lonely or misunderstood. They exploit the disenfranchised for their own financial gains, some of them with little to no respect for the people they apparently serve.

Recently, a friend of mine roped me into going with him to a semi-hostess style bar, and the experience was HORRIBLE. Whilst I acknowledge that we didn't get the full experiences because we had a very limited understanding of the language, it was clear from observing, that these women say exactly what people want them to say, and don't mean any of it. Pretending to like the same hobbies as you do, giving out fake giggles wherever possible.

Many of them don't even enjoy the job. You tell in their fake smiles, and hear it in their fake laughs.

Maid Cafes and host bars do NOT even exist in most towns in Japan. They are just like the gimmicky stores and places you get in all the famous cities in your own country. No, the great majority of the Japanese don't go to them. They're not that socially acceptable (most definitely not the maid cafes), and people here find them just as strange as any foreigner does.

Side note - Akihabara is a gamer's/ geeks' heaven? No, not really...

image

Imagine this X4 and that's the size of Akiba. That's it. Really.

No, it's not. I've been there a number of times now (I live a 30min train ride from there) and it's just not any of that.

Akihabara' world famous electronic district is nothing more than A SINGLE MAIN ROAD, with a couple of backstreets, dedicated to otaku culture like video games, anime, electronics, AKB48, and seedy hostess/ maid cafe culture.

And this is a SMALL road. You can walk from one end of Akiba' Otaku section to the other in just 15 minutes! Akiba is NOTHING. In terms of video games, there's more in Osaka than there is in Akiba. There are possibly more arcades in Kyoto than in Akiba.

Besides shopping, and laughing at some of the very liberally sex shops, and gazing at the maids trying to hook easily manipulated men, there's really isn't much else to do other than shopping, like you would in any other normal city.

There aren't even many people wearing cosplay style outfits in Akiba. You'll see WAY MORE in Kyoto, where I lived for 6 months.

Don't get me wrong, it's an interesting experience. But don't buy a plane ticket just to go there. It will barely qualify as a day trip. IMO, go to Kyoto and Osaka. Way better. More things to do.

Japan is Male Dominated, and that women are still treated as inferior

image

Sure she looks sweet and innocent, but if her husband doesn't do what he's told around the house, he's in serious F&%$ing trouble!

Oh, boy. This one could get messy. I wondered while writing this thread if it's such a good idea to raise this topic but, hell, here goes!--

It's more complicated than that. I've read people write 'Japanese women are not jumping on the feminist bandwagon, therefore, Japanese women are clearly being silenced from speaking out against oppression, and being treated as second rate, inferior to men'.

No.

People will have different opinions on the matter, but the fact stands, what Japanese women WANT in life is different to what many Western women want.

Many Western women are obsessed with being 'independent'. They want the dream job, dream house, the car, the best social life, the perfect husband, and perfect kids, yada, yada, yada.

Whilst this actually rings fairly true in Japan, how women go about it is as completely different matter. Japan is a non-confrontation country by nature. It's not in their nature to go on air and shout their opinions in the loudest, most confrontational way.

If a woman wants to achieve a career rather become a typical housewife- then she is perfectly in her right to pursue that lifestyle. In fact, arguably the main reason for Japan's decreasing birth-rate for the past 30-40 years has been because more women are choosing to pursue a lifestyle that makes them happy, rather than being tied down to being a housewife, and doing what a husband tells them to do.

However, these days, it's not so much that men tell their wives what to do anyways. Any Japanese man will tell you, in the relationship, the wife controls ALL the family income. Many men are opting to stay single because they find Japanese women to be too demanding!

In a Japanese marriage, both the man and woman make sacrifices. Both have to work together to make things work. As it so happens, mothers are expected to become housewifes whilst the man earns, because it's a society where it's still possible for just one person to go out an work and become the bread-winner.

Not only that, but many Japanese women WANT to be housewives, rather than have a career.

For instance, sources tell me that many women here go to university, not to make something of their degree, but because it increases their chance of meeting and marrying a financially successful partner.

Regarding the treatment of women, many of my foreign friends that have married women have told me that, make not mistake, the WIFE makes all the decisions in the household. It's HER house.

So, why do women seem so sub servant there? Well, this is what a Japanese woman, my female boss has to say about the matter:

"In Western society, like in England, men are expected to be gentlemanly and open the door for women, put them into consideration first, etc. In Japanese society, a women is seen more attractive if she puts other people before herself. This includes members of family, children and, of course, men. It's supposed to show their gentle, thoughtful personality."

Unlike the West, where women seem to be bearing more masculine traits i.e. being confrontation, loud, drinking and smoking, expressing themselves more, in Japan, women are seen as most attractive by BOTH sexes in the country as polite, gentle, cute and innocent. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Now, I'm not saying sexism doesn't exist in Japan, because it most certainly does, just as it does in every society. But it can't be compared in the same way it is in most Western countries. How the country has been in the past, and how it works, means it can't change, and doesn't bloody want to change, the way it does in the west.

IN CONCLUSION

Firstly, let me take this time to say I do NOT have a problem with people liking, or having a fascination with the above. Because, as a matter of fact, to a certain extent, I do too. If you like anime, if you like J-pop, if you like Japanese women in maid outfits, that's fine. Really. Honestly. No judgement. Despite a few curse-words, I am not out to offend anyone.

But there appears to be a group of people almost forcing themselves to indulge in all of this otaku culture, under the belief that they'll get closer to the 'real Japan' if they do so. They won't. They should never believe for a second that they will.

They're like those trendies you got in high school, who listened to whatever music they were told was cool, wore whatever clothes everyone seemed to be wearing, and spoke the way all the hip kids were speaking.

These people do not understand, and are not respecting the REAL Japan. All they are doing is making a disservice to Japan, and a disservice to themselves.

There is SO much more to Japan than what many are seeing on the internet, and in the media. The Japanese are AMAZING people. Some of the politest and most intelligent people you could hope to meet, and are leaps and bounds better than the stupid stereotypes we keep seeing (although you could easily say this about ANY culture. I've already mentioned on these forums that Americans are grossly miss-represented by their media and stereotypes).

In invite these Japanophiles to look beyond the silly trends and fake cultures laid down by the internet and other forums of media, and to seek the real Japan out.

P.S. Thank you to all those taking the time to read all of this.

EDIT: 24/5 - after re-reading I realise there are lots of typos in this post. This is because I was up until 3am writing this. Half way through writing this, the page crashed, and I had to re-write half of it again at speed. Just so you're wondering.

You raised a lot of issues in the post, so it is quite hard to think of a good comment. I like your post, and I enjoyed reading it, but for the sake of discussion I think that it would have been better to place focus on one particular point.

I will speak from my own experiences of living in Japan though, I was there for 5 years, I am fluent in the language and culture (I was an interpreter), but eventually I chose to leave because the stress was quite literally destroying my insides. I found that the extent to which I had to behave in a polite manner, conform to the roles expected of me, dress and act in a certain way, wear my makeup a certain way e.t.c to be exhausting. I was always tired, stressed, and unable to turn off. When I came back home a few months ago to rest, I think that my face looked about 10 years older than it should be. Now, I am getting better, and learning to relax again, but I think that I got into Japanese culture much deeper than I could handle. Not to say, that there are not other people who could of handled it a lot better than me of course. For this reason, I do not really mind if people want to enjoy Japan on a superficial level, as long as they do not do anything too freaky, Japan is just a hobby for them and it is a fairly harmless one at that. I may have lived there for a while, built my own life, and had a good career where I used Japanese, but I certainly am not above skipping down a conservative countryside at 3am while dressed as sailor moon clutching my bottle of now half-empty tequila. If you are going for self-destruction, you might as well do it properly.

On the whole, Japan and Japanese people were too conservative for me (and the exceptions were running along after me dressed as Tuxedo mask and sailor mars, because, y'know, we just role that way),

I also do not like AKB48, fair enough to the people who like it, but I prefer XJapan, the 90s were the best. In the 90s, people were a lot less conservative, so you got more of the people walking around with the bleached hair and crazy costumes.... They all work in middle management now.... ahh, good times...

TL;DR, Japan is a diverse country with its own social issues and variety of social groups just like USA or UK

NSS.

bluepilot:

You raised a lot of issues in the post, so it is quite hard to think of a good comment. I like your post, and I enjoyed reading it, but for the sake of discussion I think that it would have been better to place focus on one particular point.

I will speak from my own experiences of living in Japan though, I was there for 5 years, I am fluent in the language and culture (I was an interpreter), but eventually I chose to leave because the stress was quite literally destroying my insides. I found that the extent to which I had to behave in a polite manner, conform to the roles expected of me, dress and act in a certain way, wear my makeup a certain way e.t.c to be exhausting. I was always tired, stressed, and unable to turn off. When I came back home a few months ago to rest, I think that my face looked about 10 years older than it should be. Now, I am getting better, and learning to relax again, but I think that I got into Japanese culture much deeper than I could handle. Not to say, that there are not other people who could of handled it a lot better than me of course. For this reason, I do not really mind if people want to enjoy Japan on a superficial level, as long as they do not do anything too freaky, Japan is just a hobby for them and it is a fairly harmless one at that. I may have lived there for a while, built my own life, and had a good career where I used Japanese, but I certainly am not above skipping down a conservative countryside at 3am while dressed as sailor moon clutching my bottle of now half-empty tequila. If you are going for self-destruction, you might as well do it properly.

On the whole, Japan and Japanese people were too conservative for me (and the exceptions were running along after me dressed as Tuxedo mask and sailor mars, because, y'know, we just role that way),

I also do not like AKB48, fair enough to the people who like it, but I prefer XJapan, the 90s were the best. In the 90s, people were a lot less conservative, so you got more of the people walking around with the bleached hair and crazy costumes.... They all work in middle management now.... ahh, good times...

Yes, sorry, it is a long ramble, and had I not rushed it, I'm sure I could've condensed it.

Shame to hear about what the country did to you, and I can unfortunately say yours isn't the first story I've heard of its kind. In fact, one of the reasons for my rambling is exactly because of cases like yours, people leaving the country with a bad aftertaste, because the culture is so different.

I think I'm lucky that I'm in a job where I'm not expected to be too conservative, nor am I expected to be uber-polite the majority of the time. That being said, this might be because the people I socialise and interact with is rather limited at the moment.

I was more frustrated 3 months ago, when living in Kyoto, and studying the language. Trying to make Japanese friends and get a meaningful conversation out of them was was almost impossible, due to how conservative they are.

Now in a smaller, more laid back city, working as an English teacher in a very relaxed school (nothing to do with the JLPT or dodgy agencies), things are much better for me. Not to say it's without its problems I'll add.

So, anyway, thank you again for adding your two cents. Greatly appreciated.

You know, I remember when I was younger, I used to tell my friends that I wanted to live in Japan because I loved their culture and stuff...even though most of what I knew of it was from anime and video games. Now, I still want to visit Japan, but not live there, because I wouldn't know what it's like to live there unless, well, I actually did. Their culture do still interest me, but as a young adult, I can separate the facts from the fiction.

But there is one question that I wish to ask: does Japan really have the best diet in the world?

Terramax:
Speaking of trains, I've heard by some Japanese that, when women are being groped on the train by perverted men, they will not speak up about it. They will let the man continue. Because they are afraid that by making a commotion, they will be the ones considered the unthoughtful person.

In fact, I've even heard stories of people seeing others being groped on the trains, but haven't done anything about it in fear of being convicted of causing too much of a commotion on the train.

For some reason, this reminds me of this series of Japanese porn videos I watched a while ago. Most of them involved Japanese man groping American teenage girls on public buses: the girl would every now and then meekly say "stop", but the man would continue without saying a word, and no-one on the bus would acknowledge it or say a word until the girl walked away from him and one of them would say, "Are you OK?"

I don't know why, but it was quite interesting.

Relish in Chaos:

But there is one question that I wish to ask: does Japan really have the best diet in the world?

I don't know if it's the best in the world, but it's gotta be close to the top. Their food is very healthy (besides all the Western places like McDonalds, Starbucks, etc). Their diet is the reason why the Japanese live so long (which is actually a major problem).

HOWEVER, their portions are way too small for most foreigners. Seriously, I'm always hungry in this country. A full meal for the average Japanese person is but half-a-meal for the rest of the world. In fact, it's a running gag of mine to finish a meal here and proclaim "well, that was a good starter. Now, where's the main course?"

Terramax:

Relish in Chaos:

But there is one question that I wish to ask: does Japan really have the best diet in the world?

I don't know if it's the best in the world, but it's gotta be close to the top. Their food is very healthy (besides all the Western places like McDonalds, Starbucks, etc). Their diet is the reason why the Japanese live so long (which is actually a major problem).

HOWEVER, their portions are way too small for most foreigners. Seriously, I'm always hungry in this country. A full meal for the average Japanese person is but half-a-meal for the rest of the world. In fact, it's a running gag of mine to finish a meal here and proclaim "well, that was a good starter. Now, where's the main course?"

Yeah, I think I figured about that when I went to Yo! Sushi. I mean, yeah, it's a buffet, but I can't recall how many dishes I went through.

Terramax:
Snip.

Okay, thank you. You basically quelled half of my worries for when I would move to Japan next year. I was a bit worried that many of the men were girlish looking or that the women let men walk over them. Those were the two biggest fears of mine.

I do have a few more questions though. I enjoy some Anime, although I like Manga more. I am not obsessed with either Anime or Manga, nor am I a huge fan of J-Pop. Sure I listen to one or two songs, mainly that of Hikaru Utada, however I much prefer my Progressive Rock/Metal and Orchestra. However, the one thing I could be considered "obessessed" with is Video Games and general Computer Security. The former as it is just my biggest and most loved hobby, while the latter is literally my career (although I am still very much learning it, just finished Freshman year).

I here that Japan really isn't all that with Technology. I plan on living there for a year to study abroad and learn the history and culture of Japan. I love the stories and architecture of ancient Japan and would love to study more. However, I also want to see how other countries with cultures as vastly different as Japan's compared to America's would react to emerging technologies.

Are Japanese really that far behind in the computer sectors as people say they are? I hear how they still use Fax machines and beepers and very few have smart phones or personal computers outside of a single one for the whole family.

Is gaming looked down upon? As a fan, I don't want to offend or be offended just for liking Video Games in general. I got enough of that in Elementary school and by the damnable morons that tend to listen to everything Fox tells them.

How difficult is it to live in Japan during the heat waves? I here that it can get to around 120 in places like Tokyo during August with most buildings not having AC.

Does it get easier to understand Japanese? Currently I am studying Hiragana/Katakana and know nothing of general Kanji yet. I know some Japanese Phrases and how to pronounce words for the most part. However, trying to here someone fluent in Japanese speak becomes incredibly difficult. Even more so when I try to listen to the Japanese Audio for the few Anime that I do watch.

How often do people generally bow? Like meeting random people or saying hello? Or is it mainly used for offices and business type dealings?

...But does anyone actually think that though? I mean, I know it's the weaboo stereotype that they think literally everything in Japan is amazing and keerr-aaaaaazy!, but have you ever actually heard someone say that? Well, anyone who wasn't blatantly a big bag of crazy in many respects of their life.

EDIT: Okay, on second thoughts maybe it's kind of naive of me to assume that no one would have a world view that's that simplistic and misinformed. It's just that I get a bit annoyed when I see accusations levelled at a vague group of people like this when I rarely see these stereotypes being accurate for real.

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