HDE Advent Calendar 2015

HDE Advent Calendar Day 13: 6 Japanese Myths Busted



This is the second time for me to blog here actually, but the first time for the advent calendar.


This time I would like to break the stereotypes or myths people usually have about Japan, Japanese and all within--as I (am/used to be) one of them too. But please note that this may not be 100% accurate as people might experience or think differently as I do. This is mainly experience, with some amateur observations and researches from multiple resources. And this aims mainly for the "gaijins" (sorry if I break some of your fantasies here), and also for the Japanese who might want to know about Japan, in the perspective of a foreigner that lives here.


So here we go, Gaijins, I am going to break some Japanese myths for ya.


(1) Harajuku Style.

We all think that harajuku style is the "normal" Japanese young people. Or at least I thought and my Indonesian friends thought so. In fact, they keep reminding me how not to suck into the cult and become “one of them”.


Apparently it’s not.


I really like how people dress here actually—the girls dress dress sweet and/or classy and the guys neat and clean, not even in a flamboyant kinda way. The colours are pretty much solid, not some weird shit the media normally exposes in my country. 




In fact, it’s not that easy to find harajuku-styled people. My office is located in Shibuya which is literally next to Harajuku, but I don’t really see them quite often. Or maybe I’m just getting used to it.




(2) Salary Man/Office Lady style

Yes and No.





Japanese people may look they’re marrying their job. I’m not saying they’re not, though. They even have a term for that, Karōshi, which can be translated literally as "death from overwork".


Back to the job married, I think they [Japanese workers in general, from waitress to salarymen] just focus one thing at one time. So when they work, they work. There’s no personal sharing during work or unnecessary conversations. They know how to make themselves productive, in a way. 



Well… Are they alcoholic? No. Do they have drinking problem? Yes. As in, they can’t handle alcohol as good as say Europeans or Americans. It’s literally in their blood. And the jokes of businessmen getting drunk and sleep on the street and train—yeah that one checks out too. There’s once a twitter campaign #nomisugi (literally meaning drank too much) by Japan’s Yaocho Bar Group, where people were encouraged to document people who drank themselves ‘till drop, hoping that people would be embarrassed and aware to drink responsibly.




I personally think the drunk-shaming is a terrible method to deliver the message. There should be plenty of more clever ways that Japan can learn from other countries.


PS. Ask me what those people [who posted the #nomisugi] got as the reward? A shot of tequila. #howironic



(3) Life is like in Anime

Another Yes and No answer.


Yes, if we’re talking about the resemblance of Japan in anime vs reality. For example, Shibuya. I was stunned to see how identical it is with the one I saw in the anime/manga.




And the “I’m home「ただいま!」”, “Itadakimasu「いただきます!」”, “Thank you for your handwork 「お疲れ様です」, “Hang in there/Good luck (?) 「がんばってください」” —yes we say that here too, just like in your manga.


But female students are not wearing the pants during PE class (not after 1990). Or parents drive the kids to the schools (only very few cases). And flat rooftops at schools are off-limits and properly locked (they eat their lunch or confess their love somewhere else). Their hairs are also “normal”, not green or purple with the gigantic ponytail and massive bangs.





And last time I check Godzilla are not coming anytime soon, too, sorry to disappoint you.



(4) WIFI everywhere

Hahahahahahahahahaha I can keep laughing for another two minutes. Sorry to break it down to you but no my friend but we don’t have wifi everywhere here. In fact, the only place you can rely on to have wifi is probably only starbucks. And it’s really slow (trust me, I am using it right now).

Just because Japan is known as this “sophisticated, high-tech country” where robots can read your emotions and toilet bowl can greet you to have a nice day (one of the Yokohama store did this, I swear), doesn’t mean that you can find wifi everywhere here. People just use their own cellphones or tablets, or maybe pocket wifi if necessary.


(5) Mask Culture

This one is true.




People are really respective here, so once they get a little cold they will put on some mask so he won't spread the virus to everyone, especially in the train where it can get insanely packed. Not to mention the annual alergy many people have in the spring. 


And little did the guys know, this mask culture apparently helps we girls, big time. Below is an actual conversation happened between me and my colleague the other day.


Me: Oh. Did you get cold?

Her: "No"

Me: Ah. The hay fever, right?

Her: "Not really. I'm just too lazy to put on make up"


Smart, right? "Especially when you're in the hurry to catch your train, just put it on and fix your face in the office after"--her words exactly.


I've stocked them up eversince.a



(6) Radiation & Earthquake

Yeah I don't think I can talk about "radiation" part that much. But all I know is that the radiation crisis here is still largely unknown and there is no way of knowing the long-term effects. However, authorities and independent researchers have kept track of radiation in various parts and it has returned to normal mostly. There may be pockets, but nothing that's going to kill you if you step in it.


On the other hand, earthquakes are very common here. There was this one earthquake happened when I was an intern last April. I was ready to switch to my panic mode until my boss that was sitting next to me, looked at me and said "Do you feel it?"


With a smile in his face. A smile.




And everyone else was like, "Oh, earthquake haha" and got back to work the second after.


This will never happen, at least not in Indonesia. Flood may be a regular thing for us but we take earthquakes very seriously. I remember one of my Indonesian colleagues' feet were bleeding because he and his (also Indonesian) roommate were running outside when one "very shaky" earthquake happened in the dawn a couple of months ago--only to find out that literally no one in their neighborhood went outside.


My rule now is "watch the Japanese." If they are panicking, then I panic.




I think that would be all for today. I might continue again in the next year HDE Advent Calendar. I hope no feelings hurt as the intention is, again, not to offend anyone but just as an information.


See you next year! :)