Thursday, September 27, 2012

More Stereotypes

OK, let's knock down a few stereotypes, shall we?

 *Are you an anime fan who expects to see robots walking down the street, along with doe-eyed maids in super-short skirts, emo-haired boys who look and sound like girls, and Super SayaJin fighters with can-a-day hairstyles who can throw fire? Please stay home, because you will be severely disappointed (as will I, if you come).
      While a lot of people do read the manga here, on the train, at the convenience store (they don't tell you to "buy it or leave" here), or at home, it by no means is the center of people's daily lives. The self-proclaimed "otaku" (which, by the way, is extremely uncomplimentary, meaning unhygienic fanatical pervert - a famous one killed 4 girls in Tokyo, drank the blood of one and ate part of her hand) almost certainly have read more, and obsessed more about the manga than the average Japanese. Cosplay, while reasonably accepted here, is really no more prevalent here than here than in the States, and only indulged in in particular areas like Akihabara or Ikebukuro, Tokyo. The only emo-haired boys are JPop idols or wannabes, and any person with eyes like in a manga would scare the bejeezus outa me!

 *Are you a martial artist who watched too many "Karate Kid" movies, with dreams of ninja on the streets, along with maids in kimono and samurai?
      It's a great place to study the martial arts, don't get me wrong. You can find shotokan, aikido, jiu jitsu and judo dojo within 10-minutes drive from my house, and screwing with the wrong person could get you seriously messed up. My older son's school has judo as P.E. once a week, and many high schools have kendo and archery clubs. But you don't see martial artists walking down the street in their gi, nor do you see ninja (which proves nothing at all - they are ninja, after all). The average lady wears a kimono once or twice a year, and may wear the cotton yukata to summer festivals, but otherwise the fashion is the same as what you can buy down the street (just in smaller sizes...), in a "Lolita does Dallas" kind of way.

 *"It's the land of high tech, geek paradise, a real Bladerunner, only not quite so dark (although nearly as rainy)."
     Yes and no. When I came here in 1990, the only high tech was in the factories. Banks performed all transactions on paper, with the teller taking your transaction papers to her immediate supervisor, and he kicking it upstairs for anything other than a routine deposit or bill pay. ATMs were only in bank lobbies, and only open M-F, 8:45-3:00pm. Your monthly salary was handed to you in cash, and since my first payday was on a Friday night, it led to a sleepless weekend.
     PCs were only owned by a very small percentage of the population, and there weren't even pocket pagers. Other than interactive toys, there are no robots in daily life, and most people won't see any voice-recognition software other than their iPhone.

     Communication, however, has become a nerd's wet dream. When then-Prime Minister Mori proposed an ambitious plan to put 90% of the population within reach of affordable broad-band connectivity within 5years (2001), I guffawed. "No friggin' way!" said I. Well, they did it. I had cable Internet 2 years later, graduating to ADSL, and now have optic fiber which boasts trunk line speeds of 1GB, and individual download speeds of up to 100MB/sec. Internet, 2 phone lines and Internet TV run less than $100/month. Most people have cell phones, and a large majority have smart phones or iPhones. Smart phones with unlimited data plans (but not unlimited calls outside the cell company), and with the phone's purchase price paid in over 24 months, will run about $100 as well.

And, last but not least, my personal bane,
*"Japanese women are passive dolls who do whatever their husbands want." You have got to be kidding me. What century do you think this is, exactly? None of the women I know are this way. They aren't the Stepford Wives, they're active, vibrant ladies who rule their homes with an iron fist, controlling the bank book and doling out their husband's allowance every month (betcha think I'm exaggerating, doncha?). The young men that they call "vegetarians" are more passive than any ladies I know.

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