We’re finally done with the San Diego Comic Convention. We had a great show, meeting thousands of fans and shaking lots of hands, and selling many kawaii plush toys, English-translated visual novels and our signature “naughty” products. We also saw lots of fun cosplayers, and made a blog post about them here. With our convention season over, it’s time for me to relax with my Japanese family in San Diego, including Mrs. J-List, who just arrived from Japan.
Do you think about tsugi no hito — the “next person” who will use a public place like a table at a food court or a public restroom — much in your daily life? It’s a concept I encountered when I first arrived in Japan as an ESL teacher, and noticed the clock in the classroom I was teaching in was off by a few minutes. I stood on a chair (with my shoes on) so I could adjust the clock, which caused my students to react negatively, with one telling me, “You need to think about the next person who will sit in that chair. Now it’s all dirty from your shoes!” I’d not yet internalized the rather intense cultural attitude towards shoes, which are always considered kitanai (dirty), and removed before entering a house. The correct course for me would have been to remove my shoes and stand on the chair in my socks while I adjusted the clock, which I naturally learned to do pretty quickly.
I ran into this idea an hour ago, while eating at a food court over in Seaport Village, a tourist-ey area in downtown San Diego. The tables weren’t very clean, and my wife got a rag and cleaned them herself, complaining about previous guests who left the table dirty when they left, not even clearing their trash. It reminded me of the time I rode the train from Los Angeles to San Diego during a rainstorm and had to ask the lady across from me to remove her muddy shoes from the seat I was about to sit on, which was a pretty big dose of reverse culture shock for me. The idea behind thinking of the “next person” is known as omoiyari, literally “consideration and empathy for others,” and it’s one of my favorite aspects of living in Japan. It’s also the idea behind why Japanese soccer fans clean up stadiums after a game, which seems to have started to catch on with other fans recently.
Just think what the world would be like if we’d all try to “think of the next person” a little in our daily lives!
J-List has been posting more and more excellent doujinshi from Japan’s top artist circles to the site, allowing you to buy parody works of your favorite anime works in naughty form. See all the new doujin titles here.