Here are some random thoughts that have crossed my mind over my month here in Japan. Some are pretty accurate. Some are generous. Some stem from feeling so jaded about this country. Some are just ridiculous. Take them with a grain of salt, but come to Japan and you’ll most likely experience some of this at least once.
I really do love Japan, and some of this is what makes it a fascinating place to visit.
A bonsai tree is the closest representation of Japanese culture and mentality. A tiny island populated by so many, it could never work without rules, rigueur, straight lines. Everywhere are passive aggressive reminders of what and what not to do. Disguised under cutesy little tunes, you are constantly told how to behave, where to go, what to do. This may not be communism but it sure is efficient brainwashing.
Some Asian countries have pride – Japan has obligation and duty. They are not the same.
If Cambodia is a scary country to visit because every older person affected in one way or another by the Khmer Rouge and had to be brainwashed back into normality, Japan feels scary because anyone could just snap, at any time, and run amok. There is just too much pressure for anyone to handle.
The Japanese fetishize nature: they love fishing, hiking, and nature photography. But nature needs to be tamed, controlled, manicured. Shores are concretized. Boardwalks stand in lieu of hiking paths. Trees are trimmed. Nothing feels wild.
There is an obsession with seafood. Seafood everywhere. As much seafood as possible. I can’t decide if it’s a deep love or sheer hatred of fish that is causing the Japanese to attempt repetitively to kill every living thing in the ocean.
If you ever see what appears to be a Christian church, it’s almost always a wedding ceremony and reception site. Women here want the Cinderella wedding, the big white dress, and Disney brand wedding band.
You can’t throw a rock in Japan without hitting an onsen, a volcano, a vending machine, or a Japanese person. They’re everywhere. Get used to it.
The Japanese love all things American. But they despise Westerners. We don’t fit into their efficiency plans.
The Japanese can be warm, friendly people. But they usually smile at you because you are a novelty. Or out of shear obligation.
Unlike Asia, here, they don’t need your money.
Trains don’t wait for anyone. They are never late. You honestly need to set your watch by them to ensure never missing one.
There are no trash cans around. Stop looking for one.