One impression foreigners get when they come to Japan is how nice and polite most Japanese people are, always saying shitsurei shimasu (excuse me) and showing concern for others in ways few would likely do in the U.S. or Europe. While I do believe the Japanese are the most polite people on the planet, a lot of this perception by foreigners comes from the fact that they’re usually viewed as okyakusan, or “guests” during their stay in Japan, and are likely to be treated with additional layers of deference for that reason. The least polite group in Japan would have to be the boso-zoku, the noisy street gangs who love to drive through cities on motorcycles modified to be as loud as possible — kind of like the biker gangs in Akira, but a whole lot less interesting. Despite their scary appearance, they’re generally harmless, content to make noise and rage against Japan’s overly conformist society, not seeing the irony of their conforming to smaller sub-groups while doing so. Happily it seems these colorful-but-annoying biker gangs might be on their way out, with a new report that says the number of gang members has dropped below 10,000, down from a high of 42,000 in 1982.
Real boso-zoku are less interesting than in Akira