"working on my faults and cracks..."

9.02.2008

"japan," the metaphor

The following is a hastily assembled list of ten classic stereotypes concerning Japan that I am often asked about [*], or just assumed everyone already assumed. I won't be linking to any factual proof because I'm tired of being at the office, and my experience alone should suffice.

May the glorious DI debunk-athon begin.


10. The Japanese language can be mastered within a few seasons of Naruto
No, it can't.
I'd write more here, but I'd risk wearing out the m, o, r, and n keys on my keyboard.

9. Japanese people never divorce
One in every four couples in 2007 would kindly like to ask if your source was a microfilm from the city library basement.

8. Japanese people never sue
While civil disagreements may have been closed privately in the past, Japanese people love money just like any other country's citizens. It's just gotten easier as of late. The skin of my teeth is most recent proof of this. So of course they'll sue, you naive bimbo.

7. Japanese politicians are notoriously efficient
Careful not to confuse your stereotype with Japan's last two prime ministers, who are both still collecting unemployment checks after prematurely throwing in the towel. Something about a scandal. Or three.

6. All Japanese people are thin and healthy
Also not true. Ever been to Hawaii? The Japanese people there are hu---ge.

5. Japan is very clean
At a street level, yes, it is. But where do those 50 billion annual tons of trash go? Definitely not forming a conga line to the incinerators, or waltzing on the ships to China, that's for sure.

4. Japanese people struggle with "l" and "r" when speaking English
Actually, not a stereotype because they still do. All the time, and it's totally hirarious.

3. Japan is still the "future"
Faltering domestic technology? Disposable prime ministers? Concrete asphyxiation? Economic bankruptcy? "Urban heat island" effect? Baby, the future ain't what it used to be.

2. All Japanese girls are hot
Um, no. Not since Crocs or burlap made it into the fashion 'zines.

1. All Japanese people are, or at some point, were ninjas
I stand corrected again. This one is 100% true.


Ninja folklore notwithstanding, to me, the most amusing thing about this list, is that these are all images of Japan that Japan itself actively advertises and projects onto the rest of the world, who wouldn't know better. Oh, and when I say that these are stereotypes that I've been "[*] asked about," let me clarify--almost all of these are stereotypes that I've been reminded of by Japanese people. They are so unabashedly proud of having sustained the charade for so long, but even it has been slowly crumbling under the weight of its own impossibly grand metaphor, that not even the mysticism of the roaring 80's can perpetuate any longer.

So there you have it. And knowing is half the battle. Unless that battle were against a ninja, in which case 'knowing' would only amount to you knowing you were already dead.

2 contributions to this piece:

Michelle said...

Having just completed this summer's Japanese Business Seminar with the kids from Otemon Univ (sp?) I have to say that NONE of the students appeared to be ninjas...although they DID wear a lot of black. Hmmmm.....

Dagbert said...

You really have to watch closely--trust me, it's there.

Glad to hear the Otemon program is still bringing the ninja culture home.

 
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