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    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Jul 17, 2002

    Unhappy Japan's bad half : the puerile, the irresponsible, the perverted, and the handicapped

    The longer one stays in Japan and the more evident it becomes that Japan is full of physically or mentally unhealthy people. Obviously, we could say the same or the obese, junk-food addicted USA. But it is not about food. Japanese people probably eat healthier food than in any Western country, I must admit. Japan's problems are partly due to cultural predispositions (such as avoiding medical treatment), partly to Japan's lack of developement regarding psychological care, partly to the education sytem and partly to deep-rooted cultural issues.

    1. The handicapped

    Malformed & delirious people

    I live in Tokyo's shitamachi - a traditional district with lots of temples, but also lots of elderly people. As I went to my local supermarket today, I saw, as I so often see, that about 1 person out of 4 had some sort of handicap. There were dozens of old women bent in two in L-shape or walking with the feet in a 90-degree angle and legs 'wide open', or some younger people with severe limps.

    I occasionally see some odd (but not necessarily old) men with some sort of mental disorder prompting them to lift their arm suddenly a few times or make strange gestures. Some even stranger looking ones talk to themselves, typically angrily as if possessed by some oni (Japanese term for evil spirit). Tokyo's numerous (mostly middle-aged or edlerly) homeless naturally also suffer from such deliriums.

    When I first came to Japan, I was wondering how it was possible that most of the women over 70 years old I encountered either walked completely bent forward or needed, not a simple stick, but a full wheeled walking frame to walk. This baffled me as I had hardly ever seen elderly women walking with such a frame in Europe (and never ever bent over or with the leg open and feet at a 90-degree angle). I imagined that it could be due to their having to carry heavy burden on their backs (like in old times) during most of their lives. But was Japan really so poor 40 or 60 years ago ? Maybe it was poorer than Western countries, but I had never thought it would still be like in the Middle Ages, with people carrying heavy loads on their back rather than using even a barrow or cart. This was all the more shocking that it was in the very centre of Tokyo, by far the richest city in the country (salaries are 2 to 3x higher than anywhere else).

    After some research it was suggested that the high incidence of malformed elderly Japanese is due to the lack of treatment of osteoporosis, and most certainly also cultural reasons - the Japanese didn't drink animal milk until the Meiji Era (=> see Meiji: not just a political change, but a real cultural revolution) and still drink little of it and very few dairy products compared to Westerners. This is particularily true of old people, who usually dislike cheese or yoghurt, while younger Japanese are slowly getting to like them. Cereals with milk is also rare for breakfast in Japan. Most people eat the traditional breakfast (fried fish, miso soup, rice, natto...) or toasts. This accounts a lot for the extremly high rates of osteoporosis among today's elderly. Note that low body weight also increases the risks of osteoporosis (and rare of the old Japanese women weighting over 40kg or exceeding 1m40 in height). The question that remains is "why don't they try more to treat osteoporosis ?". There is surely a cultural factor there too.

    A great deal of those elderly also seem to suffer from dementia (e.g. people talking to themselves in public), a disease also related to osteoporsis.

    Distorted dentition

    In the same line, a shocking number of young women have what the Japanese call "yaeba", which basically look like Dracula teeth (two big canines coming forth from the teeth alignment), when it is not the whole alignment that need to be fixed. Why is that so ? The first reason is that dental braces are very expensive in Japan because not covered by the health insurance like in Europe. The second reason is that many (but not all) Japanese people still find such monstruosities "cute" (they also find creeping elderly people "cute"). In Western countries, most people would have their teeth straightened, but in Japan it is still considered a mostly unnecessary luxury.

    2. The perverted

    You can take almost any train at any time of the day in Tokyo and you are bound to find some men reading porn in at least one of the carriages (several per carriage during the rush hours). Just enter a convenience store, and 90% of the men's magazines will have porn inside, even the newspapers and news magazines. There are hundreds of magazines published in Japan, but most of those ending up in the ubiquitous "combini" are always those with porn, not the ones related to computers, sports, travel, history, real estate or whatever. And mind you, it is not just any porn. Japanese porn is notorious for its emphasis on rape simulation, sado-masochism and pseudo-pedophilia (girls should look as young as possible, especially in manga where they typically look pre-pubescent).

    There are more soaplands, peep-shows or "massage parlours" in Tokyo (or other Japanese cities) than anywhere else in the developed world. Bangkok come to mind as a comparison, but even in Bangkok they might not be so conspicuous. They don't need adult shops - they have the combinis every 50m. And this is without mentioning the "SM bars" (sado-maso bars), a Japanese speciality where ordinary people go to relax. You may not see them as a tourist because, contrarily to the soaplands, etc., they tend to be well hidden. Just check Google to have an idea of how numerous they are (59,000 results for SMƒo[@“Œ‹ž - here is for example a SM bar search engine with top 20).

    This is not all. Even the murders in Japan are perverted, although not always in the sexual way. Take for example this woman who poisoned the curry at a festival in Wakayama, which killed 4 people and injured 63 moreread article. The news in Japan ar full of such horrific stories. Teenagers killing their parents, school children killing each others, someone shooting all a neighbour's family because they were too noisy, etc.

    This is not just crime-related. There are plenty more of perverted stories, like the mothers who give their sons blow jobs to motivate them to study read article. Just have a look at the hundreds of such stories here. Not only are the people perverted in their actions, but they also like to read perverted stories, which fill the weekly magazines from which the Mainichi Daily News' articles have been translated.

    3. Childish people

    It's no big news that Japan is a nation of childish people. The girls especially try hard to look "cute", and in Japan that means baby-talk, high-pitched voice, wearing lots of pink and getting all excited by anything cute, from a Kitty-chan doll to a little dog. It would be reasonably liveable if it stopped there - but it doesn't.

    Most of the annoucements or advertisment in shops, department stores, supermarket, on TV or even in the street, are vocalised by little girls or grown-up women speaking like little girls. Today at the supermarket, as I was passing in front of the meat section, I was wondering if I had landed in an asylum for mentally retarded as the loudspeakers continually blared in 6-year old girl's voice "niku suki, niku suki, onaka suki, onaka suki, niku suki, niku suki, onaka suki, onaka suki, niku suki......" (I like meat, I like meat , I am hungry, I am hungry, I like meat, I like meat, I am hungry....). I mean, that wasn't a kindergarden or a children programme on TV, but a supermarket where most of the customers were adults, maybe 1/3 of whom over 60 years old ! What I saw and heard seriously conflicted with each other. One the one hand old baba bent over with osteoporosis in clothes they hadn't changed for 15 years, and on the other hand 6-year old girls guiding them through the meat section saying that they like meat and and hungry. What's that circus !?

    4. Careless and irresponsible people

    Then you have the normal adults in the street. It is incredible how half of them seem to be living in their own world completely cut of what is happening around them. They walk looking at their shoes, or with their head burried in their mobile, or day-dreaming, and in any case bumping into you if you don't slalom around them. Yesterday there was a 40-year woman with a hat, adjusting her make up while zigzagging up the stairs in the metro station. She also bumped into me, although I tried to avoid her. This is daily occurence in Tokyo, even hourly if you pass through big stations. People just can't watch in front of them and can't walk straight !

    Add to this foolhardy mothers riding a bicycle like if they were Schumacher (without the talent) with a baby in a front seat and another child in a back seat. I don't even count how many of them I see everyday. They are just the norm in Tokyo.

    Japanese people really lack maturity when it comes to responsibilities. Many Japanese have pets, especially dogs. But many are selfish enough to leave them all day in their tiny flat and walk them only once a week on Sunday (if they feel like it). I can't understand how people working full time and without a garden at home (like 99% of the houses in Tokyo) can decide to buy a cat or dog and lock them in for the day all by themselves.

    When it comes to children it is hardly better. Fathers are typically absent from home everyday but Sunday, and hardly care about their offspring's education. Mothers who do not ride bicycle like demented suicidal murderers are usually better. But there is an increasing number of non-working mums lazy and irresponsible enough to buy fastfood for the kids rather than cooking. I have heard a few stories of babies dying from heat inside the car while their mother was playing pachinko all day. This is the sad but real situation of many families in Japan today.

    Pachinkos are so numerous in Japan (several of them around most train or metro stations) that it is impossible to underestimate the number of daily customers - mostly non-working mothers or retired people. Unmarried young people have better things to do, like dating, playing video games, hanging out together or studying. In fact, pachinko is Japan's biggest industry, earning 30 trillion yen a year - almost twice as much as the car industry. In other words, each of Japan's 126 million inhabitant would have to spend 238,000 yen per year on pachinko. But as children, young people and most working people rarely play, it means that maybe 1/5 of the Japanese play pachinko so regularily that they spend over 1 million yen (10,000 US$) a year in this form of gambling. Quite pathetic and irresponsible if you ask me - all the more when we know that mothers that should be taking care of their house and children make the biggest chunk of pachinko-addicts.

    On top of that, irresponsibility is also prevalent in the Japanese attitude to be both promiscuous and refuse to use condoms (=> see Promiscous youth and AIDS . Irresponsibility is strongly connected to childishness, one of the key constituent of the Japanese character and "cute culture".

    Disclaimer : the comments in this artcile do not apply to the whole Japanese population. Let us call it the "bad half". Each country probably has its bad half. This is how Japan's looks like.
    Last edited by Maciamo; Jul 16, 2005 at 18:05.

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