J-List is busy packing for Anime Expo, where we’ll have a huge booth where you can meet the lovely Kaho Shibuya as a guest of honor and visit our huge JAST USA panel on July 4. (Check our blog post for all the juicy details!) Since I’m extra busy today, I thought I’d do another “Random Japan Questions from J-List Readers About Japan” with questions asked by all of you on Facebook and Twitter!
Are there a lot of Latinos in Japan? What is the opinion of Latinos there?
There are a lot of nikkei (“of Japanese descent”) from Peru, Brazil, Ecuador and so on living in Japan. I have a favorite Peruvian restaurant I go to in the middle of rural Japan. Japan’s factories could not function without hardworking staff, mostly from Brazil. Near J-List is a town called Oizumi that’s famous as having the highest population of Brazilians in Japan, somethiing like 25%.
Is it true that in Japan it’s disrespectful to eat ramen noodles without making slurping noises?
Not disrespectful, but if you eat quietly, as foreigners usually do, Japanese might comment on it. While it’s expected that you’ll slurp ramen, udon or soba noodles (to take in the soup while you eat), it’d be very strange to do this with spaghetti.
How come that Japan has very little merch of currently airing popular shows?
I remember growing up in the late 80s, learning that “Japanese businessmen didn’t think in the short term like Americans, but thought instead in terms of decades.” (This was generally referencing the care that Mitsubishi Bank took in growing KFC as a business in Japan from the early 1970s.) I’d say that in reality, Japanese companies are very interested in limiting any downside in business, which is why they use the preorder-production method, taking orders for that Rem figure you want and producing it six months in the future, to avoid inventory risks. Things might change, though. One reason I noticed the excellent Demi-chan wa Kataritai anime early on was that they announced a figure before the series even started. As a fan, I wanted to reward the studio for showing confidence in their work and evangelized the show a lot.
Can you buy American comics (like Marvel) next to the latest issue of Shonen Jump?
I’ve only seen imported AmeComi (American comics), though some major graphic novels like Watchmen are available in Japanese.
I know about the Kansai dialect, but are there any more kinds of accents in Japan?
Yes, lots, though hard for us outsiders to identify them easily. Another one you see in anime a lot is Akita, spoken by our favorite country girl Ebina-chan.
What is a school year like?
The school year starts in April, in order to catch the sakura blossoms as far as I can tell. Summer break is about six weeks, and they give students lots of homework to keep them from forgetting everything they learned. Back to school at the end of August, then a long-ish break for Christmas and the New Year’s. Graduation season is March.
How much is a gallon of gas over there?
Japan uses liters. It’s about 140 yen for a liter of regular gasoline, which would be US$4.79 currently for a gallon. But if course I could put 100 miles on my car easily when doing shopping and cruising around my home city of San Diego, but no one drives that much in Japan, as things are generally closer, or accessible by trains if in cities.
Do the Japanese prefer dubs or subs on American cartoons?
Not sure about American animation, but my wife is always angry when they show her favorite Korean dramas dubbed in Japanese. “I want subtitles, how can they do this to me?” She’s just like some anime fans I know.
Why do the Japanese still buy CDs when the rest of the world doesn’t?
The Japanese are funny about that, they like being behind the times in some areas. Fax machines are also in wide use in business, and we get faxes from distributors nightly telling us what new products are coming out. Video game arcades are still very much a thing in Japanese cities.
What’s your favorite Japanese city?
I have a highly developed love of Japanese port cities, so Yokohama, Kobe, and Hakodate. I love visiting the gaijin bochi (Westerners’ graveyards) and paying homage to sailors who died in Japan in 1865 or whenever. The oldest foreigners’ graveyard is in Nagasaki and dates back to 1596. It’s on my bucket list to visit someday.
Can most citizens speak decent English?
Japanese study an average of 6 years of English, or ten if they take it in university, so naturally they’re terrible at communicating. But it’s more the fault of the education system being geared for tests rather than to promote mastery. If you’re having trouble, someone can usually help you get on the right train.
Can a foreigner get Japanese citizenship without getting married to a Japanese person?
It’s not hard to become a Japanese citizen. I believe you need to have had a work visa here, then been granted a 3-year visa, then applied for and received permanent residence. One of J-List’s employees (from Taiwan via the Philippines) is looking into getting Japanese citizenship soon. I personally have permanent residence in Japan but never bothered to take Japanese citizenship. (My wife says I would make a fat Japanese who was bad at kanji so I shouldn’t bother.)
Is it expensive living in Japan?
Not really, thanks to the low level of inflation in Japan ever since the bursting of the Tokyo Asset Bubble in 1991. In Gunma you could find an apartment for $500 a month, or $900-1100 in Tokyo. Of course the salaries match that low number. If you’re an engineer looking to work in Japan, you might not be too keen on your salary being frozen at year 2000 levels. I have a general post for people who’d like to work in Japan here.
How many people in Japan draw manga in Japan?
Not sure, but a wise man once said, “Throw a rock in America and you’ll hit a lawyer. Throw a rock in Japan and you’ll hit an artist.” I believe these words to be true.
Got more random Japan questions? Ask us on Twitter!
J-List is having a pre-Anime Expo $10 coupon, and you get it automatically, no coupon to enter, when you make a purchase of $40 or more from J-List. The only question is, what to get? Well, we’ve got some great new “ero” toys on the site that parody your favorite anime characters. Browse the new onaholes and save $10!