Just Japan Things: A Bit Of Cultural Perspective

Cultural convos were abound today. At lunch I met up with my Joint Seminar group to work on our project for class, and afterwards we all ended up having lunch together. This lead to some interesting talking points, which I’m lazy so I’ll just bullet. Note, this is based solely from my chat with 2 Japanese friends, but they’re still relevant perspectives if not generalized:

  • the job shopping period sucks, but not for the typical reason of competition. According to Aoi, everyone is dressed the same and she finds it infuriating – same suits, same blazers, same hair, same everything. She hates the conformity.
  • piggybacking on that, she hates job interview clothes. She prefers pantsuits/pants in general, but women are expected to wear skirts for this type of thing (do you hear, hear the sound of sexism?) and so she does. Hopefully things switch up after hire, but still crappy.
  • people here suck at biking by the law (okay, I brought this one up but it’s still super true).
  • bento is indeed very common for lunch, especially since things get pricey when you’re buying everyday. super easy, super cheap.
    • an aside on this: lunch here normally costs me ~$4 tops, consisting of some rice/meat/veggie combo as either rice plus a dish, or donburi or otherwise. It’s quality food and definitely cheaper than really going out, but it still builds up.
  • religion here is pretty meh, in terms of people going through the motions (go pray at the jinja, get your omamori for passing tests) but not the beliefs. But churches are nice. They described them as calm safe spaces, where there’s rarely another person and you can just go relax by yourself. Kan-san likes chilling in front of the organ because he says it echoes beautifully.
  • a lot of old people choke on mochi on Oshougatsu (New Years). Like really, a bunch of oldies. Okaa-san warned me about it last night in that stunningly blasé way of hers before going back to her cake like it was nothing. Ahhh, why does she do this?
  • feelings of a fading culture are prominent. This kind of got started on the topic of jinja and otera, as well as the outside performance of hula dancing, but went off from there. Basically . . .
    • so much of Japanese culture was brought over from China, they find a hard time seeing the unique/historical value of those parts of their culture
    • it’s more of a show nowadays (just like praying is pastime, so is wearing a kimono for it and other alike things)
    • they’re very in love with other cultures (Hawaiian, Korean, American, others) and push that via hula dances ^^, K-pop and other things I don’t know about. Both Kan-san and Aoi seemed a little sad about that fact. I don’t know where I stand beyond enjoying the obviously valued cultural exchange
  • takoyaki parties are bangin’ not just in Osaka, but also here (well, in Shiga-ken at least, which is where they both live). What a beautiful world we live in.
  • they both like bean sprouts. This is very irrelevant yet makes me very happy.
  • sex education here is almost as bad as, if not worse than, what is in in the American South and middle of the country. Abstinence only? Please, get over yourselves – seems they need an update in a lot of places on the beauty of condoms, the pill and others in the same vein.
  • Trump is not liked here either. Some people don’t realize the true implications of what his term will mean for Japan/the world, some are very aware of the threat he poses and the rest just think the situation is hilarious. It’s an interesting mix.
  • English is wayyy more full of idioms than I thought and it’s a pain in the ass for so many people. I’m so sorry, non-native speakers.

After that fun meal Lizzie, Aoi and I hung out in Ciao Presso, aka the Meitokukan cafe, until class. More personal and political discussion, but I mentioned most of the interesting pieces above already. In class we got to hear from a  guy who works in video game localization who was pretty rad and did well with a thought-provoking presentation on the profession. He also worked on Ace Attorney, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Pokemon and other interesting things that I either know about or have friends who play them, so that was pretty nifty. Props to my Joint Seminar profs for pulling in cool talent. Lizzie and I even walked out with him to chat afterwords, going so far as the station before I split for the bus while the 2 of them descended for the subway. I didn’t really say anything, as I tend to do – I just like listening to other people’s questions/interactions to see what they’re interested in, especially as I often have no questions of my own.

Home was nice and calm, another flirtation with gari gari kun ice cream and some serious Miao-chan snuggles. Hell yeah. Okaa-san also came home with this bottle of sparkling French wine from her boss, but tonight we had curry so she thought that that would be a pretty non-classy combo. We’ll have it tomorrow while we watch The Cat Returns, man am I excited for our movie night. That’s all for today, so enjoy these snaps of (me and) Miao-chan. Oyasuminasai!


*note, this is tagging in my ‘Thoughts On’ series despite lacking the title trend

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