There are certain small things in Japan that continually niggle and bug me, mostly petty and silly stuff that is not really my place to change or necessarily question but stuff that no matter how long I stay here I never seem to get! Let me have a wee rant and rave and maybe then I can just let some of them go!
Bad Bleach Jobs
Why do raven hair beauties with hair worthy of a Pantene shampoo ad insist on bleaching their hair into a hideous straw coloured damaged mess?
Massive Vehicles on narrow streets
Why do the people who live near my workplace in a very swanky neighbourhood with narrow streets that would be classified as one way or even footpaths at home insist on driving humongous Hummers? Over compensation?
The following quote is from this article which still doesn&t really answer the question why?????? http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB119360566073174132 and
The 48-year-old Japanese cartoonist is trying to navigate Tokyo’s urban jungle of streets too narrow for his 7-foot-wide vehicle. “I broke out in a sweat every time I drove it,” says Mr. Ishi. He now drives his Hummer just once a week to golf games on a predetermined route.
MMN where is the fun in that? I ask myself?
Maybe this is the answer? Parking can be a very tight squeeze but if Godzilla attacks it’s the perfect getaway vehicle.
Over sexualised Manga
Japanese comics are world renown and some worthy of the name pop art but why are so many extremely over sexualised and on display for very young children to peruse. I think they play a big part in the ingrained sexism that exists in Japan. An example if I may. I own a Kobo. It`s like a Kindle. Every time I turn it on the first image that pops up is this! Try as I may I can`t delete it.
I was gobsmacked when a young female colleague confiscated a very explicitly sexual manga style drawing that was obviously meant to be her from some boys. She was upset because she couldn’t get the class to settle, I on the other hand thought there were bigger issues at hand, something along the lines of sexual harassment. We took the picture to a senior female co-worker. My colleague was seeking advice on classroom management while I wanted to know how the school would deal with the miscreants and the sexual nature of the drawing. Again I was flabbergasted when the senior female colleague’s response was “Oh dear, well at least it means the boys like you” WTF????????
Some 20 years ago I read a young business man his pedigree when he sat down at a shared table in a pub with me and my friends and thought a good conversation opener might be “How big are your breasts?”. Again what surprised me more than this ignorant bore was my good girlfriend’s response. After I ripped pieces off the guy, I returned to my friends and ignored him as he licked his wounds in front of his mates. About an hour later as they left my friend actually invited him to my farewell party the following month! WTF????????? Needless to say he didn’t show!
I thought during my long hiatus away things may have changed but sadly it seems not so much. In fact I heard the word for sexual harassment was only really introduced into the Japanese language in the 1980’s when so many Japanese business men headed over to the States for work and suddenly came up against lawsuits for sexual harassment. Suddenly there was a niche market for English language teachers to teach about office etiquette overseas and NO! it is not alright to pat the tea ladies bottom or comment on female colleague’s cleavage.
An acquaintance of mine told a story about an end of year party in Japan. The English teacher was seated at the head table with the big honcho. He stood and in wobbly drunk English praised her teaching skills by saying ” We are lucky to have Sally as our teacher because she is very beautiful and has breasts as big as melons” MMMN guess he has mastered the use of a simile!
I think what bothers me more than the actual sexism is not that it is there but that it is not questioned or confronted by females and enlightened males. It is just accepted and considered the absolute norm.
Erratic unpredictable oncoming traffic
Why do cars driving along those aforementioned narrow roads courteously pull out wide to pass people riding their bikes on the wrong side only to be so far over on the oncoming traffic side that they almost wipe out the people on the right side of the road?
Why bother to have signs up and make regular announcements on trains asking people to turn off their smartphones when seated in or standing near the courtesy seats when every person including the octogenarian, the pregnant lady, the guy on crutches and the small child and his mother sitting on those seats have their phones out and are tapping away.
Stingy with hot water
Why does my local coffee shop do bottomless cups of coffee but won’t give me a top up of hot water to get one more cup out of my tea bag? Yep time to admit it, I am more like my mother than I ever realised. Not a bad thing in the bigger picture as she is a wonderful lady.
Lack of 24 hour banking
Why don’t the bank ATMs dispense money 24/7?
Kawaii or Victim of oversexualised social norm?
Why do Japanese High School girls insist on rolling up their high skirts so short that they might as well be wearing a pair of Daisy Duke’s cropped shorts in the middle of winter? ( Actually I think this links back the Japanese idea of Kawai (cuteness) and manga. Personally I think there is a very fine line between kawai and pervy at times!)
So to sum it all up ….
While the sexual harassment is a big issue and warrants investigation and more social awareness all the other things are not so major, just so annoying!!!!!!!! Am I culturally insensitive or over sensitive? Am I being judgmental? I am not sure. Maybe I should just take Thornton Wilder’s advice which is as follows,
My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither,but just enjoy the ice cream while it’s on your plate.
So with that sage advice, I will continue to enjoy all the many wonders on my plate here in Japan, Ice cream, sushi and more! Though I really want to get rid of that dreadful picture on my Kobo!!!
Yoroshiku Onegai shimasu