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Modern and Traditional Japanese Culture: The Psychology of Buddhism, Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Manga, Anime and Shinto. 在日イギリス人男性による日本文化論.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Vandalism in Tokyo

Vandalism in Tokyo
Originally uploaded by timtak.
In London vandalism is rife, and anything that can be broken will be broken sooner or later. I was surprised and sad to see graffiti and vandalism in Tokyo appears to be on the increase. I saw a lot of graffiti and the seat of this scooter has been severly slashed for no apparent reason. Perhaps someone was annoyed with the owner for having parked in the wrong place (because the scooter appears to be illegally parked in this picture), but the number cuts suggested to me an act of meaningless destruction.

Yohei Morita suggests that the reason why this motorcycle seat was slashed may be related to the fact that the motorcycle is rather flamboyant. This possibility is born out by the experience of my friend whose Shinagawa registered Toyota Supra was scratched, apparently simply because it was flamboyant and out of place among the other cars in the car park in Kyushu. The Japanese maxim "the nail that sticks out gets beaten down," may translate to "the flamboyant vehicle gets vandalised."

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Tokyo House Prices

Tokyo House Prices
Originally uploaded by timtak.

A one bedroom flat for 83,000 yen a month, a three bedroom flat for 240,000 yen a month. Not cheap. And yet more and more Japanese are predicted to converge on the cities while the population density (and houseprices) in the countryside falls. In some parts of Japan houses are so cheap that they are given away.

Most Japanese think that the Japanese like nature. Even if this is the case, it is also true that the Japanese like to live in cities not in nature even more.

When I ask Japanese people, "Why do you Japanese prefer to live in rabbit hutches next to urban stations, rather that in the splendor of the Japanese countryside?" they tell me that the environs of urban stations are more convenient, especially for work. Yes, this is surely the case.

But why to Europeans value work less than the Japanese? Why do they prefer to live in nature more? If you had the the option of big bucks in a metropolitan rabbit hutch, or a pittance in a rural nowhere, which would you choose?

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How many months pregnant?

How many months pregnant?
Originally uploaded by timtak.
In Japan the length of pregnancy is said to be 10 months. This is because the Japanese measure pregnancy in terms of lunar months, or rather menstrual cycles, from the date of the last normal period to birth. There are ten cycles, so pregnancy is deemed as being ten months long.

Westerners on the other hand measure pregnancy in calendar months from the date of conception, which is 38 weeks, or approximately 9 calendar months.

Aparently in Western prenatal clinics too, gestation is measured from the first day of the last menstrual cycle, which is also the first day of menstruation.

What I am not clear about is what marks the beginning of gestation, or the menstrual cycle. Cycles do not have beginnings and ends, since they are circlular.

I guess that one reason is clarity - there is menstrual blood on this day and so the event can be timed and days can be counted. But that seems like an arbitary length of time for both Japanese and Western medics to deem the beginning of gestation.

Is there a medical basis, perhaps in the fact that this is the day that the mother's temperature drops, and stays low until ovulation and Western web sites say that pregnancy is medically, 40 weeks long too?

Yasuko suggested that the current system, is based upon the transmogrification of the soul: when one egg is thrown out, the soul moves to next egg, so the life of the next egg starts at the death of the previous one.

I am not sure why gestation should be deemed to start at the death of the previous egg. Or why the menstrual cycle should be said to "start" at menstruation instead of at the end of the "previous" mensturation, or at ovulation - the day that the egg leaves the ovum.

One might argue that gestation is the time that the egg is in preparation but, in a sense the egg has been in preparation since the mother was born, or even before that. One could arge that pregnancy is almost infinite!

Upon investigation, measuring gestation from the time of the "last normal period" does seem to be arbitary - based upon a time that can be measured (when conception / ovulation are often more difficult to ascertain).

I guess that is more natural to say that pregnancy is precisely 10 womens-months since when we are talking about the cycles, periods, time span of a woman's body. If one uses calendar months then there is going to be error in estimating the babies developement depending on the length of the month.

I am told that when Western prenatal clinics characterise the development of the foetus, they also use 4 week months (to avoid error caused by the lengths of gregorian months) but in order to make pregnancy fit the calendar the first and last months are considered to be 6 weeks long.

In any event, it seems that the length of pregnancy in Japan is measured in a more natural, female oriented way, from the time of mother's last mensturation in menstrual cycles. Since it is women that do pregnancy, and it is their bodies, this seems like a very sensible way of measuring things.

In the West pregnancy is measured in a more male-oriented fashion, as the number of Gergorian calendar months from the time of conception - when the guy gets involved.

The fact that some Japanese misconcieve the length of pregnancy to be ten calendar months is discussed here. As I mention on that forum, I think that Westerner's characterisation of pregnancy as being nine calendar months involves a misconception too. No pun intended.

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This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.