Assholes and prison-bitches* have been on my mind, on every commute. Are there are only two ways to play being Japanese: asshole or assholes' prison-bitch?* It would explain a lot:
- ubiquitous bullying and hazing
- hikikomori and futōkō
- shoving on commute- open-mouthed coughing and other blatant public hygiene transgressions
- salarymen in general
- general xenophobia and Nihonjinron
- the lack of compelling characters in Japanese novels, or other media**
- a lot of couples without warmth, children, or warmth to their children
- their politics, mafia, and corporatism
It's as if a nation was designed by someone who poorly understood both Rand and Nietzsche, who are bad enough if you understand them, and came up with Japanese society. If you are a born Japanese asshole, it's rather easy to live in Japan, because the majority of pounded-nails will do nothing against you, and the only people who will are other assholes above you. As for the shit you take from them? Well, you just 'pay that forward', don't you?
ware-ware-Nihon-jin'),# but I am glad I did what I did, yet more glad nothing came of it.
Purple tobi-panted, Yankee comes smashing through salarymen, which isn't interesting or worrying, because he wasn't going to bang into me, because we Gaijin are unpredictable and the Japanese can't process that. However, he body-checked a woman right in front of me, and I am happy to say that I reacted sooner than I considered how to. I shoved him and shouted:
You don't push women, you cunt! [Sorry about the word choice.]We had a desultory shoving match, during which he replied, of course:
Nihongo-hanase! [Speak Japanese]I know plenty of ear-blistering expressions in Japanese, but I have it on my J-wife's authority that I sound much too cute saying them, which is not the way I wanted to go.
Fuck you, asshole!If a Yankee remembers any English from his last year of school in JHS, it's that.
And all the prison-bitches around us gave me the stink-eye for causing a scene; not him for body-checking half a dozen people, some of them women, on his way through a crowd. (White people, this is how it is for visible minorities in your country every day, so don't get too smug.) Certainly nobody was going to stick their neck out for a Gaijin who'd stood up to a woman-bashing asshole. I just turned my back on him, as I long have on affection for this culture, and walked off. I could deal with a sucker-punch if it had come to that. I didn't want to deal with Japanese authorities of any kind.
Tokyo is full of assholes. Maybe not all of Japan is, but I am in Tokyo, and I am done with Japan. I used to live on the suburban/rural divide of Kanto near twenty years ago and don't remember quite as many assholes, though remember enough; I used to find people on rural trips nicer than I do now, it's worth noting; I think it is true both that Tokyoities have always been bigger assholes than most of the rest of Japan, and that they are bigger assholes now than before, now that the curtain has been pulled back on Japan having no future. I am not the first person to have made a connection to 'Children of Men.'
There isn't a compelling social reason to treat strangers well in Japanese culture, because obligations depended only on the type of relationship between the people: there were none between strangers. Even if it can be argued pre-State Shintoism did not have a moral code (and that of State-Shintoism, militaristic), Buddhism has, but it isn't the code that expresses Buddhism in Japan, but the rituals... as ever. This is why I insist that Japanese culture is not polite, it is merely mannered. It's inevitable in the alienation of the largest city, in an increasingly hopeless and alienated culture, that civilities continue to decline among people who have little empathy for each other.
The faults of Christian churches and their members are legion, but the moral message of the Gospels is enduring. How the Gospels have been used for moral code in 'Western' countries is a deeply troubled history, yet it's not unrelated that some people stood for my pregnant wife in Toronto, yet so few in Tokyo. Even we atheists are influenced by the moral codes of our culture, and whether they extend to strangers, which those of 'the Book' do. The troubling thought I've had is that as North American politics and discourse starts to mirror the xenophobia, selfishness and alienation of Japanese urban culture, the more we begin to mirror Japanese culture in how we behave with strangers. We are becoming assholes too.
*It's not a gender thing: there are versions in all genders and persuasions.
**Never anyone like Milton's Satan: an asshole, but a compelling one. To be fair, Shusaku Endo's 'Samurai' was interesting: a Christian.
#Reverse-Orientalism, because everything's back-asswards in Japan, for the sake of it.