Random Questions About Japan

It’s Hump Day today, and since I’m in between anime episodes, I thought I’d do another random questions about Japan post. Here are questions asked by J-List’s Facebook and Twitter followers, with my answers!

What types of foreign food do Japanese like the most?

Curry is the number one food in Japan, and most Japanese families eat it 2-3 times a week. Here’s a post on other “Western” foods the Japanese are into.

Are Mexican dishes popular in Japan?

There are a surprisingly large number of people from Hispanic/Latino countries living in Japan, mostly nikkei descendants of a diaspora of Japanese to Peru, Brazil, Ecuador and Columbia that began in 1908. As a result, you can get some pretty good Peruvian pollo a la brasa even in J-List’s rural city. Sadly there was no significant movement of Japanese to Mexico, and Mexican food and culture are generally lacking in Japan. The Japanese know the word “tacos” because of an American-Okinawan hybrid food called Taco Rice (flavored taco meat served over rice).

How is the recovery going from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami?

They’re doing quite well, I believe. You can still see signs of damage if you visit some of the affected areas. All people and companies in Japan pay a small “recovery tax” to help fund the ongoing rebuilding. When you buy from J-List, you help support this!

Where does the whole brother/sister complex come from?

I believe the origin was a popular manga called Miyuki, about a boy with both a younger sister (unrelated by blood) and a girlfriend named Miyuki, and he has to choose between them romantically. The game Kana Little Sister also made this kind of story a part of the pop culture zeitgeist.

The whole brother/sister thing in anime is just a fun trope that explores the limits of social boundaries, not unlike the topic of illegal drugs in U.S. pop culture. Hard drugs are bad, crystal meth is bad, yet Breaking Bad is good. Brother/sister love would be bad in real life, but a dramatic game about your sister dying, and the two of you reaching for each other out of sadness and frustration before the end is pretty cool.

Do Japanese people have subtitles in front of them when talking?

No, and there’s no mosaic or little black bars if you get their pantsu off.

On a scale from 1-10, how difficult is Japan to emigrate to?

I believe Japan is not a difficult country to come to, though obviously, your mileage may vary. People with technical skills are obviously in demand, and here’s a post I made with advice on this topic, and another post on proposed changes for work visas in some industries. A four-year degree or equivalent is needed for most types of work visas.

What Western animation or TV shows have been popular in Japan?

You never know what shows will make a cultural splash in Japan, but some that have been huge here included Twin Peaks, 24, ALF, Full House, and Bewitched. Ask a Japanese of the right generation to do the Muttley laugh from Wacky Races (though his name is Ken-Ken in Japanese), and they’ll be able to do it.

What is one piece of advice you would give yourself when you first arrived in Japan?

Maybe it would be to understand how humans affect each other, always taking cues from those around us, and to choose who you surround yourself with care. I’ve observed many foreigners working in Japan who hung out together, forming bubbles of negativity while they complained about this or that aspect of living in Japan that didn’t compare favorably with their home country. Much better to leave this negativity behind and go out and discover the real Japan for yourself alone.

Which do you prefer, Lawsons or Seven-Eleven?

Seven-Eleven is one of the most competently run companies in the world, and they usually offer the best products. Lawson’s is fine, especially the 100 yen and “natural” Lawson’s they have in Tokyo. For chicken breast you can’t beat Family Mart’s tandoori chicken, it’s incredible.

Did you enjoy these random questions about Japan? Got any more? Ask us on Twitter!

New J List Boxes 02

J-List sells awesome monthly boxes filled with delicious snacks and drinks from Japan, and we’ve got the new J-List Box boxes up for order! This month’s choices are awesome, carefully chosen by our staff for you to provide a fun sampling of different treats from Japan. You even get a card explaining what each item is! Order your J-List Box box now! (We’ve got a new “naughty box” too if you prefer that…)

About the author

Peter Payne

I live in Japan and I run J-List, an anime shop famous for shimapan and Tentacle Grape. I love being able to bring Japanese culture to the world.