Hello and T.G.I.F. from your friends in Japan! We’re rushing today’s post a bit because today is the day of the J-List New Year Party! In Japan, groups of friends and organizations have a Year-End Party in December to commemorate what happened in the past year, and another New Year Party in January to officially mark their hopes for the new year (and decade, this year). J-List plans to keep on being your awesome Friend in Japan, so thank you for your past and future support!
I’ll Answer Some Random Quora Questions About Japan
Since I’m on a short schedule today, I thought I’d do what I’ve done in the past: answer some of the random questions about Japan I’ve seen posted to Quora. Quora, if you don’t know, is a question-and-discussion community that has always impressed me with the quality of its users and discussions from people on various sides of complex issues. Hope you enjoy my answers to random Quora Questions About Japan.
Does Japan have “America Otakus”?
The idea that being extremely into a hobby is unique to anime and Star Trek fans is completely wrong. In Japan, there are biker gang types called “Yankee” (ヤンキー）famous for dying their hair “blonde” (it generally comes out orange) and dressing like a parody of Americans from the 50s. In the 1970s, when nostalgia went mainstream in the U.S. with films like American Graffiti and Grease, Japan experienced a similar boom in classic American culture called Rockabilly, which somehow never stopped being a thing here.
Do people in Japan talk the same way in anime? Does it have the same structure and usage?
As I wrote in my post about why learning too much Japanese from anime is not the best idea, the language used in anime is highly stylized and not always representative of how people actually speak. Don’t make the mistake I did, learning ultra-manly Japanese from Fist of the North Star, which I had to work hard to un-learn…
Is it true that Japan doesn’t understand sarcasm?
In the same way that famous “British understatement” can sail over the heads of unwitting Americans, American sarcasm often has difficulty being understood by Japanese. The concepts of sarcasm, cynicism and irony are all covered by the same Japanese word 皮肉 hiniku, meaning “tough skin,” and it can take years for them to understand the differences between the three.
I love Japanese game shows so much. pic.twitter.com/1ifzl8KmFq
— J-LIST (@jlist) May 4, 2018
Are Japanese game shows really as wild as the Internet leads us to believe?
I often write about how the “lens of the Internet” causes us to believe Japan is a stranger place than it really is. For example, we hear of bizarre flavors of ice cream in Japan, like wasabi or squid ink, and form an inaccurate impression, because in reality the #1 ice cream flavor in Japan is…vanilla, as it is in most countries. But that’s not very flashy, so the more colorful ice cream flavors become over-represented when Japan is viewed through the Internet.
On the other hand, the above Japanese game show — perhaps better called a variety show as these are famous Japanese actors/comedians enacting pre-set up situations rather than average contestants off the street competing for cash prizes — does exist.
Why do the Japanese love Korean dramas so much?
South Korea has worked hard to create an amazing culture of TV dramas which are among the most dramatic storytelling in the world today. I know this because my Japanese wife tells me every night as she watches hours of Korean dramas, making her sound like me explaining why I became an anime fan many years ago.
Why are there still Japanese who want to move to the U.S. despite the quality of life in Japan is much higher?
First, everything is relative to each individual, and some might value the amazing opportunities and social freedom America offers over a higher level of stability and low-cost excellent healthcare system found in Japan. In the end, the place where each of us feels the deepest emotional connection is the country we’ll be happiest in. (This was actually a question I saw on Reddit.)
What was the most interesting era in Japanese history, and why?
Personally, I’d say the Meiji Era, when Japan essentially went from a backward feudal state with samurai warriors carrying swords and not a single steam engine in the entire country to a modern Constitutional Monarchy that could take on and defeat Russia in the space of 37 years.
Why does Asian culture, especially China and Japan, embrace the idea of “saving face”?
I read a lot of James Clavell’s books in my day, and this is concept is always very central to the motivations of his characters. In reality, “saving face” doesn’t really seem to be a thing in modern Japan…at least I’ve never encountered it linguistically.
Why is Japan so safe?
Crime isn’t zero in Japan — over the past 25 years, my in-law’s rural liquor store was robbed three times, but it is extremely low. Whenever a crime does happen, as we all learned last year, it can be impossible for us to fathom since Japan is usually such a peaceful place.
Why are the Japanese so xenophobic?
Whenever I see people obsessing over why country X is xenophobic, I generally assume the person asking the question is projecting their own inner xenophobia onto that country, and I’m usually right. I’d say Japan is no more fearful of outside ideas than any other country and generally embraces them, though usually at a slow-and-steady pace.
Do foreigners have a bad reputation in Japan?
Not at all. As the number of foreign visitors has exploded in Japan, Japan has reoriented its economy to accommodate the new wave of visitors, and they’re super to receive so much love from visitors around the world. If you’d like to visit Japan, here’s a list of things to keep in mind when you come.
Did you enjoy these random Quora questions about Japan? Got any questions you’d like answered, or topics we should cover in the future? Hit us up on Twitter!
One hentai artist we’ve loved for years is Seishojo, creator of Starless and Bible Black (70s music reference intentional). J-List is having a Seishoujo Festival, allowing you to pick up all your favorite games, wall scrolls, figures, and other items by the artist, and get 5x J-List Points. Make sure you preorder the upcoming Art of Seishoujo artbook too!