Sunday, October 30, 2005
In Japan even Workmen are Cute
In Japanese society, on the other hand, where the womb and all it stands for is the most secret, hidden, scarlet taboo, motherly love seeps out everywhere. Even yakuza pretend to be elder brothers (perhaps in a sense mothers or care givers), and even the most hardened of businessmen learn to fawn ("amae") to their bosses. Japan is awash with fawning, spoiling, and people being cute.
Even building site labourers are cute. These work safety promotion posters depict building site labourers in a big-eyed, cute way. And building site labourers, in their knickerbockers, really do look cute too.
Friday, October 28, 2005
A gents in a park in Japan
This means that if men or boys wish to urinate they must do so in full view of other users of the park. People from Anglophone cultures may feel very uncomfortable with this Japanese custom. I believe this is because there is a stronger taboo upon things associated with sex.
In Japan, on the other hand, there is a greater taboo associated with the sexuality of women (such as birth). Toilets for women always have doors. Japanese women’s toilets, also occasionally have devices for hiding the sound of the falling urine, by broadcasting the sound of a toilet flushing. Before such devices were available, Japanese women were, for the same reason, inclined to flush the toilet more than once during and after use.
Thank you every time
The second thing is that the literal translation of the message is "thank you every time." In this case, the company is thanking the customer for having used the product. Bearing in mind the use of the product, it seems a little intrusive to find this message at the end.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Much computer hardware is made in Japan or by Japanese companies in Asia, or at least by Asians. In many areas of hardware, the Japanese take the lead. Toyota will soon put Ford and General Motors out of business even in the United States. General Motors sells hardly any cars in Japan, other than the occasional opel, to my wife.
On the other hand, generally, Japanese software is poor. There is no Japanese operating system, no popular Japanese spread sheet software, and the only well known Japanese word processing software "Ichi Taro" is losing fast to Word. Even the Kanji input software Atok is fighting to survive against Microsoft's "IME."
There is one area of software where the Japanese lead the world: video games. North Americans use the phrase "do nintendo," to describe the act of playing with a video game whether the software was created by that Japanese company or not.
Why are the Japanese good at making computers, cars, and video games, but bad at other forms of software (and banking)? I claim it is because they are good at things that they can see, whereas Westerners are good at things that can be said.
Michael Jackson Syndrome
These hair bleach products from more than one manufacturer. They are the last row of goods before the checkout in my local supermarket. Products placed just before the checkout are those which encourage impulse buying such as cigarettes, glossy magazines, and choclates. Hair bleach, like pictures of movie stars, offers a method of instant escape. Men of women bleaching their thick straight black hair dream of leaving the humdrum world of supermarket checkouts, to join the green-eyed and blonde gods in the stars.
But why green eyed, why blonde? There is nothing more natural about a Japanese person with blonde hair than blue, or green eyes than pink. The fact that they come as a set blonde hair and green (or blue) eyes, suggests to me that the dream comes from the West. There is research which suggests that the more that Japanese believe themselves to look like Japanese, the more they believe they are ugly. This is a very sad, tragic state of affairs.
Send Me Back Home to the Stars
What are the special characteristics of a Japanese hero?
1) They usually come in groups, as you can see here, rather than individually (Spiderman) or in pairs (Batman and Robin). There are 38 members of the Ultraman family.
2)They often have very large glowing eyes, like radioactive insects or blowfish.
3) They rarely speak. They do not seem to be able to open their mouths.
4) They change clothes instantaneously, by striking a certain pose, and do not need to enter a telephone booth or bat cave, or get undressed.
5) They like to strike poses which give them special powers such as the Ultraman elbow-stratch-L-shape which enables them to send an ultraman beam at their opponents. Combined with their inability to speak, they resemble Marcel Marceau.
6) Their special powers are often impermanent. Ultraman Taro is only super-powered for three minutes. He is warned that he will soon return to normal by a red light that starts to glow on his chest.
7) The seem to have no interest in the opposite sex. They never fly accross the Tokyo skyline with a lady in their arms. And this, despite the fact that, Ultra Mother and Ultra Father had a very large number of children.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Looking at Mirrors
This photograph shows a Japanese lady whow was doing her makeup on a Japanese train.
This is a suprising phenomina for me because in the UK, people would be embarrassed to look at a mirror in a public place.
There are posters encouraging Japanese ladies to do their makeup at home. Nonetheless the behaviour seems more prevalent here, and in the past women looking at mirrors was a popular subject of floating world pictures (ukiyoe).
In the West, looking at a mirror is thought to be vain, and often associated with evil. The with in the Seven Dwarves was always looking into her mirror. Medusa was killed by a mirror. And when, in the play "Pygmallion" (Later to become the film "My Fair Lady" starring Audrey Hepburn) by George Bernard Shaw, the central character, Liza, finds a mirror in Higgins' bathroom she says
HIGGINS. I'm glad the bath-room met with your approval. (I am glad you liked the bathroom)
LIZA. It didn't: not all of it; and I don't care who hears me say it. Mrs. Pearce knows.
HIGGINS. What was wrong, Mrs. Pearce?
MRS. PEARCE. Oh, nothing, sir. It doesn't matter.
LIZA. I had a good mind to break it. I didn't know which way to look. But I hung a towel over it, I did.
HIGGINS. Over what?
MRS. PEARCE. Over the looking-glass, sir.
Liza finds the looking glass quite immoral even in private, but Japanese ladies do not mind using them on trains.
This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.