*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Japan: wise the fuck up.

So little has changed since I first visited Japan in '93, except it's shabbier.  I like the place, but fuck...
My brother tried to shop for a gift for the hybrid using Amazon Japan's and Rakuten's English pages, on my following advice:
You can use Amazon Japan, or the J. equivalent: Rakuten. Both have English websites, though they do tend to give you a J. page before billing.
Which prompted the reply I expected:
So, we looked at Amazon and Rakuten, in a vain attempt to buy him something locally, but gave up quickly...
To which I answered:
I don't know what it is with Japan's English customer service and marketing... They mean well, but have the wrong people at the front desk, or IT. The fluent staff member who was abroad in school or university is never put there, instead someone who took some English classes within Japan. Little better in twenty years. Why should they have a seamless English website for Amazon or Rakuten? It's only millions of dollars lost when people sign out in frustration. It's not like English is the international default language...
But if you want to hear me go on how lame Japan is at ESL, for its economic status, look at those links in this sentence.  Too bad they have not realized twenty years after 'The Bubble' that: those days are never coming back, and nobody will do business on your peculiar terms anymore.

This post is about what has not changed in the eighteen years since I first came:
- The status of women is still the worst in modern nations, apart from Korea (but they do everything like Japan, a few decades later).  Not like Japanese women take it anymore, nor will they rebel openly: instead they screw foreigners or nobody at all (see marriage and birth rates).  We wouldn't want to accuse Japanese society of passive-aggression, of course.
- Pedestrians still can't walk.  How can a whole society not know how to walk?!  How do they even get to work doddering around in shoes sized for an older sibling?  You're not going to grow into them, at fifty.
- Middle aged men still care more about their cars than their daughter's virtue.  I've seen Japanese men go apeshit after cutting me off, when I punched a body panel.  Found inside their daughter's wet groin?  They'd just leave the room or take video.
- More subway lines in Tokyo; no more room than before.  Despite a job shortage.  Don't understand this.  Are people dressing for work and riding aimlessly?
- Absurd real estate prices have still not collapsed enough from 'The Bubble'.  Business centre or not, given the size, shite economy and (lack of) quality, prices should be lower than even a third-tier city like Toronto.
- Domestic hotels cannot get their act together for native or foreign guests, even after half of them have gone bankrupt since 'The Bubble', as it is a better deal to go to Hawaii, Whistler or Guam.  Pricing per person?  Still?
- Still cannot get a decent breakfast (read British or American), even in a proper hotel.
- Still surprised that non-Japanese can speak it.  Even if they have lived here a decade.  Even if they speak it as poorly as me.  Even though they watch 'pet-Gaijin' on TV every night.
- Still hire from 'elite universities'.  Even though all Japanese know nobody studies at university, and the only way to give up life enough to get in is be autistic.  Even though no research comes out of Japan unless it is related to sex-bots.  Even though the rest of the world is kicking your ass.
- Spend a fortune on the sex trade, but no time on how to date each other.  It's not hard to make a Japanese girlfriend happy (a wife on the other hand...).
- Men still look like girls, and yet are homophobic.

I could do this all day.


  1. "go back toward your behind"

    this sounds kind of sexy, no?

  2. If I'd met a girl who could do that, I wouldn't have married the native wife.

    I also cannot be sure the Japanese that came from, for the two separate posters. "自分の後ろへいらしゃってください。"? Oh, that makes some sense, IF YOU USE A MACHINE-TRANSLATOR and not even a Gaijin-hunter.

    And yes, my Japanese is probably wrong, future troll. I couldn't be fucked about it.

  3. Oh... The Japanese is also on the signs. If you want the dead-literal translation: "Powder-room regarding, back-way-towards." So where does the "your" come from? Does a machine-translator throw in a random pronoun in frustration from dealing with the alienness of English-Japanese?

  4. I'll be back l8tr but F.Y.I

    "hanlonsrzr.blogspot.com contains content from spacingtoronto.ca, a site known to distribute malware. Your computer might catch a virus if you visit this site."

    Avast popped this up and blocked your site. If you have any weird things related to your site it might be related. Some places might auto block your site so you outta check under the hood. If that .ca site is no probs let me know and I'll fire off a mail to Avast.

  5. Since I'm already here...

    "- Middle aged men still care more about their cars than their daughter's virtue."

    My post about porn placement at 7-11 where every little girl can see it touched on this very real statement. Less anyone think that's an emotional outburst....we both know it's the Gods honest truth.

  6. Wow. Thanks, Chris. spacingtoronto.ca and spacing.ca are both reputable websites of a Toronto urbanism blog and magazine; however, they must have once got hijacked. I have had no trouble, and been hitting that website for a few years. I am no great hell at checking 'under the hood', but I'll start looking around. Thanks again.

  7. "Not like Japanese women take it anymore, nor will they rebel openly: instead they screw foreigners or nobody at all (see marriage and birth rates)."

    Amongst my wife's friends I'm considered the 'best husband', largely because I can cook, and iron my own shirts. This is obviously very nice, but their husbands are all japanese so it's a bit like winning a Tallest Dwarf contest.

    I'm also getting he same warnings as Chris about your site.

  8. Hmmm... Have those warnings just started? I'll stay the hell off Spacing for a while then. Thanks too, 'Kamo'.

    Yeah, I get that too. I also had my father-in-law get fed up with my chivalry. The way he put it was that the native-wife was getting the better of me. Given that the mother-in-law had been going on about marrying a Gaijin in the next life, it was more about me making him look bad. I toned it down for him: he's the only person in the family who can drink with me.

  9. Also taken Spacing off my blog roll. Don't want to lead anyone into a trap.

  10. Do women get it any better in Western countries? I'm saying this because after a lifetime of working and supporting myself, I'm wondering if it would have been easier to marry some dude who worked and supported me while I stayed at home. I'd cook his dinner and iron his shirts and let him stick it in me while he handed over his paypacket and I gave him an allowance.

    Btw I'm lying about ironing the shirts. I don't really know how to do that.

  11. On the tourism thing, I've found the people who do it best are the small operators. If you hunt around you can find some great backpackers that have been started up by ppl who have travelled a lot themselves. They know what tourists want at that level -- cheap, clean, convenient -- and give it to them.

    Then you see a place like that big hostel (could be the official backpackers one) in Tokyo that has a curfew and a bunch of rules that no Western is going to cope with. If I'm not back in my room by 12 sharp, I get locked out? Screw that shit.

    Having said that, I do love Japanese business hotels especially for the Japanese breakfast. Westerners rarely stay at them as far as I've seen (maybe because the sites are in crap English as you say) but they are cheap and convenient even if they are characterless.

  12. "Do women get it any better in Western countries?": 'kathrynoh', that's not for me to say, is it? Cultural criticism can go in both directions, and so can gender criticism. To venture a contentious opinion: in both Japan and in N.America I find men more romantic about who they marry, but more realistic in marriage; and women more cynical about who they marry, yet less realistic in it. Generalizations being only generally true... there is less difference in gender relations in the two societies than first appears. In the end, the paradigm is men are 'johns' (providers) and women are selling (putting out for what's provided): each society just sets the pricing uniquely.

  13. I am a little long in the tooth for hostels, but when I stayed in them in Japan they were as tedious as that. Not to mention some twat would turn off the a/c while we were able to get some sleep, because Japanese believe they will get a cold from it (never mind the a/c is not nearly so cold as their garden-shed-houses in winter). Yes, business hotels are the way to go. Tiny, but what are you doing spending time conscious in your room anyway? I believe they still charge per person, but the native wife pays the bills... and has me on an allowance (more because I am shite with money). I cannot agree with you about breakfast. Two words: cold eggs.

  14. Quite the rant.

    Japan is EFL, not ESL.

    You're right about Japanese ads in English; those with English ability are not used where they should be. Consultation with bilingual biculturals is necessary if you want to produce real English ads from Japanese.

    I'm 2/2 on hearty (Western?) in-hotel breakfasts in Kyoto.

    The "pet gaijin" phenomenon is a topic I should cover in a proper blog post. This will take some time to write.

  15. "Japan is EFL, not ESL." Man... they keep changing the terminology. I'm supposed to keep up? "Japan is EFL": English gets Fucked Language?

    Hey, you're another Canadian, right? Named "Blais". Are you bilingual (or more, if including Japanese, or other) or just have a Francophone surname? Damn I hate you multilingual people making me look like shit. Ha.

  16. 'kathrynoh', "let him stick it in me"? I would never divulge anything that intimate about my marriage, but I can tell you from hearsay through the native-wife, and Japanese I have spoken with, many Japanese couples are exchanging currency and ironed-shirts, but fluids... not so much.

  17. Japan has always been EFL. Studying English in an English speaking country, e.g., USA and Canada, is ESL. If the general population doesn't speak English, e.g., Japan and South Korea, it's EFL. (I just learned the difference recently, too. Understanding the difference makes a big difference in how you teach.)

    Yes, I'm Canadian. My father is French speaking and my mother is English speaking. I was born in bilingual New Brunswick, but I grew up all over eastern Canada with K-12 French immersion schooling. I was fully bilingual in English and French in high school.

    Unfortunately I had no exposure to French in university for four years, and none in Japan for six years, so I forgot how to speak it (but I still understand written and spoken French).

    Currently I'm bilingual in English and Japanese. I passed the N2 years ago, and I'll probably take the N1 this summer (though it's not the best measure of Japanese ability).

  18. N2? Yes, I do hate you.

    The 'F' is for 'foreign', of course. Yeah, there is a difference between 'second' and 'foreign', but I am one who thinks that terminology in education is designed by people who think terminology effects classroom teaching: idiotic and naive. Of course I am wise enough to keep administrators ignorant of what I think of their hot air, and their haste to leave teaching and hide in meetings.

  19. I had Japanese guys tell me they weren't sticking it their wives but guys always say that when they are trying to stick it in you!

    As for hotel breakfasts, it's the only time I have full Japanese breakfast on account of not having a Japanese wife so I go all out - natto, rice, fish, the works. Stayed at a business hotel in Akita and realised I was the only one in the breakfast room eating natto. Everyone was getting stuck into the bread! And yeah, i was the only whitie in a group of 60-70 Japanese.

  20. Ha! No accounting for taste.

    Well... not many Japanese guys want to stick it in me (a vanishing portion of 5-10%) so my perspective is different; however, I assure you they really were not getting it, AND were using it as an excuse.

    Never had the Japanese married women come on plainly to me, though enough of the single thank god. Had a friend who did have that 'problem' and was too moral to take advantage. You know... if you're not romantically interested, getting busy with the married is a good way to stay free. Except, one or the other always gets romantically involved. Funny that about intimate friction.

    Lots of Gaijin men get disappointed that their J-%$#@-puppet lost interest after giving birth. Some of that is hormones and some of that is bait/switch. I have been less shocked: I am old and tired, and the native-wife was never nice to me. make of that what you will.