One interesting social concept I see at work a lot in Japan is the idea of “gaman,” which means to endure or to tolerate something that’s difficult to bear. The idea that is that if there’s something you don’t like around you, it’s better to endure it stoically in an act of self-sacrifice rather than than act immediately to change it. We see this every day: my wife and I will go to a restaurant that’s much too cold, yet no one speaks up to ask the staff to turn the air conditioning down, preferring instead to tolerate the unpleasant situation. We don’t subscribe to this notion, however, and will generally break the “wa” of the room by asking the staff to turn the air conditioning down. Once, the officers of a skiing club we belong to were reporting on the expenses incurred over the past year, but there were many large and small irregularities in the numbers. Other members had noticed these problems in the past, but refrained from openly questioning the suspicious expenses. Not so my wife: she stopped the meeting, making them explain all the sloppy accounting issues to her satisfaction. Gaman is something that parents strive to teach to their kids at an early age here, since there are many situations when children need these skills here. The idea of an employee sacrificing himself for the good of his company or of a wife looking the other way when her husband has an affair are linked to this concept. There’s a phrase the Japanese use quite often which reflects this tendency to endure something rather than change it: sho ga nai (also shikata ga nai), which means “It can’t be helped.”
Like the HSBC bank advertisements say, never underestimate the importance of local knowledge. That’s true when you’re comparing the U.S. with Japan, too. To Americans, the basic idea of soup is Campbell’s chicken noodle, but in Japan, it’s creamy corn soup, sometimes with corn flakes sprinkled on top. When a child loses a tooth in the U.S., the Tooth Fairy takes it away, leaving money in its place; in Japan, you throw the tooth on the roof (if it was a lower tooth) or under your house (if it was a upper tooth). When you take delivery of a new car, you always do it on a lucky day (Taian) according to a Buddhist weekly calendar, to avoid having a traffic accident. And in the U.S., we sometimes count things by writing “chicken scratch” marks on a sheet of paper, with each completed set of lines equal to five, but in Japan, they write the character for honesty and correctness (tadashii). To see what the character looks like, as well as the stroke order for writing it, click here: http://www.jlist.com/tadashii/
You probably set your clock an hour back on Sunday. Most people grumble about having to remember to set their clocks forward and back in the spring and autumn, this isn’t a problem in Japan, the only industrialized country that has not adopted the Daylight Savings Time system. Instead, we have to deal with the other extreme — by the time I get up in the morning, the sun has been up for at least three hours. It’s not that hard to get used to, but all things considered, having that daylight available when you’re actually awake and using it is kind of convenient.
J-List is happy to bring you the amazing products of Yulia Nova, the beautiful Russian model who is very popular in Japan and throughout the Internet. We’re happy to announce that the two new DVD releases that had been posted for preorder are in stock now, and they’re really gorgeous. Both feature 30+ minutes of totally new footage, are completely remastered from the originals, and are mosaic-free. The DVDs also feature info on upcoming Yulia Nova releases.
Remember that it’s 2005 calendar season right now! This means that for a limited time only, we’ve got a huge stock (over 250+) of unique anime, JPOP, swimsuit idol, sports and other calendars that are printed and sold in Japan. Why do we have so many calendars, instead of just carrying the most popular 20 or 30? Because we genuinely love Japan, we want to give you as wide a selection as possible, including items that might not be popular with everyone (but might be perfect for you).