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Japanese Fun(ny)

North Americans who’ve been to Japan often come back with thousands of stories about how differently things are done on the other side of the world.  The best thing about this amusement is that Westerners have a hard time trying to figure out if some of the ”strange” things that Japanese seem to be into – boys dressed up as Goth girls, girls dressed up as cowboys from Texas, vending machines that dispose dirty underwear, real  game shows that imitate video games  -- exist because they, in some way, Japanese poke fun at Western side of the world.  Or if those things exist simply because they are just something that Japanese do for fun, to relieve themselves from the stresses of a Japanese, super intense workday. 

Whatever the reasons, people who come back from Japan have an almost compulsive need to talk about their experience constantly, even years after they’ve visited.   Perhaps this is the reason for the many forums and groups that form and exchange Japanese oddities.  Here are some of the things that never cease to amuse tourists:

  • Funny things in Japan?  How about the amazingly pointless packing of everything into 5 seperate plastic bags with ribbons around them or the amazingly " hygenic" idea of public trays at bakeries ?
  • ATMs that actually have opening times - what a joke - the entire point of an ATM is that it is a machine and can work 24/7 like in any other country.
  • Gas Stations are also quite funny - not quite sure if it is a good thing or a bad thing to have 5 guys waving the driver in.
  • People saying " Excuse me!" in terrific katakana eigo instead of " sumimasen" when they have pushed you (or any other occasion they feel they should apologize).
  • One person says: ”I get the impression (living in central Tokyo) that life revolves around shopping. Ask any person what they do in their free time, and I bet you 90% of them will say they shop. The pinnacle of this culture is the army of mindless shibuya-girl shoppers marching in and out of 109 everyday. There is no wonder why the biggest market in the world for Louis Vitton is Japan. The Gucci store is probably more sacred than any temple. I’ d just like to think there are better things to do in Tokyo on a beautiful Sunday afternoon than shuffle in and out of depatos while carrying 10 bags of crap in each arm.”
  • Laughing with your mouth wide open or to show your teeth while laughing/talking was – it still is, to some extent -- considered unladylike back in old, OLD days. Today, many Japanese girls cover their mouths to act (girlish) or look cute though…. Anyways, it’s true that some Japanese boys/men don’t like girls to laugh out loud because they expect the girls to be polite.
  • In Japan, there is still a single item guaranteeing youth: one can’ t really be expected to fully comprehend a newspaper until graduating high school. A debatable point it is, but a point that is rather hard in deciding which side to be on in a debate.
  • Lots of people are puzzled by driving habits (not that Westerners are prime examples of superb drivers:--): No blinkers, no lights during huge rain storms or blizzards (happens a lot here), running red lights, stopping IN the road for a cell phone call or to check a map. At least half  of them have a TV in their car.