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Densha

Why do people always seem to think everything in Japan is different from elsewhere?

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Sean

All very true Jeff, and it is interesting to consider how our mind works in relation to this stuff (and how, taking it a step further, the way our mind processes information in turn affects our behaviour). 

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Ochanomizu

...  I can no longer see Japan the way other Canadians see it, which creates odd social situations like that for me from time to time.

 

Hello Mr Sean,

 

Then it may be said that you are truly beginning to see Japan!  

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cteno4

It's funny as I've had the similar conversation with expats from other countries living in the us for extended periods.

 

Jeff

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katoftw

Why do people think it is weird?  Cos it is not they way they know?  I look at Japan, or any other country for that matter.  I don't see weird, I see it as their way.  If you think it weird, then one would be very narrow minded and stubborn nature.

Edited by katoftw
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kvp

 

I can no longer see Japan the way other Canadians see it, which creates odd social situations like that for me from time to time.

Maybe it's just me, but i always read about this (regardless of the country), but i can't really see it or find good examples when i try to. So can you give me an example?

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Densha

Why do people think it is weird?  Cos it is not they way they know?  I look at Japan, or any other country for that matter.  I don't see weird, I see it as their way.  If you think it weird, then one would be very narrow minded and stubborn nature.

Very much agreed!

 

Also, because I'm a student of Japanese linguistics, culture and relevant stuff I do not see Japan as only a 'tourist destination' only for fun purposes and I have to be objective because otherwise I simply cannot write essays and stuff like that. That is why I have that certain point of view, but every other person may have another point of view which is totally normal. Even so I find it a bit annoying that many people fail to see more than the positive surface of Japan, although I realise now that it makes sense if you keep in mind that not everyone lived in Japan for a longer time or has academic interest in it.

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cteno4

our brains like normal, strange automatically sets off alarms and increases processing. Its an evolutionary thing we have not gotten rid of (and never will totally as its important to point out danger as well as curious new things to learn!). To many when living in a different environment for a period this continual alarm is disconcerting and thus understandable they will feel "wrongness". A few actually enjoy things different all the time as brains are not totally wired the same. Others, like many on this list i think have learned the conscious over-ride of the strangeness alarms and route that all into curiosity rather than danger and thus can enjoy the differences as a cultural experience and learn about the culture w/o having the 'wrongness' feeling. I've found this takes teaching quite a bit, like being exposed to different things as a kid in positive ways where curiosity is focused and thus understanding of the differences and relaxation of the alarms then in negative ways.

 

I was very lucky growing up to live in a very ethnically diverse town, but spent summers in places that were not diverse at all ethnically, but very different culturally where i lived the rest of the year. My parents had friends from all over the world that would visit often and my father's ship captain friends blowing in all the times from the seven seas with all sorts of stories and trinkets. All these experiences made it easy for me to travel abroad and enjoy cultures and not fight the local culture, but go with it and enjoy it. But even then i can feel the tug of the alarms at times when traveling and need to make sure it does not bother me.

 

People while being much the same everywhere are still a vast spectrum!

 

cheers

 

jeff

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spacecadet

Why do people think it is weird?  Cos it is not they way they know?  I look at Japan, or any other country for that matter.  I don't see weird, I see it as their way.  If you think it weird, then one would be very narrow minded and stubborn nature.

 

People think of anything different than what they're used to as weird; it's human nature. The Japanese think westerners are weird in a lot of ways too, if that matters. For example, they just cannot understand how we can walk around our houses with dirty shoes on. I once had a Japanese person tell me they had always heard it's because we don't wash our feet, so we think it's actually more sanitary to walk around in poo- and dirt-covered shoes than in our even dirtier feet. She earnestly wanted to know if that was true. (All I could tell her was "well, I wash *my* feet...")

 

Anyway sometimes there's a fine line between being curious and surprised by different cultures, and being unable or unwilling to understand them. There are things I would definitely describe as "weird" about Japan even though I love those things. Maid cafes, for example - such a bizarre thing by any standard, even to a lot of Japanese, but I had fun the couple times I've gone to one. But other people might look at that and consider it demeaning to the girls, or whatever. "Weird" doesn't automatically mean "bad", but sometimes it does, depending on the person and what they're talking about.

 

Also, you know a lot of this stuff in Japan is *intentionally* weird. They wouldn't always be insulted to hear that. Society there is often pretty stifling of individualism and creativity so some people do like to really push things when and where they can.

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kvp

 

Maid cafes, for example - such a bizarre thing by any standard, even to a lot of Japanese, 

I think the idea is the same as a Hooters bar in the US, but the girls are dressed in a bit more fabric. Besides that they are both waitresses who have to be friendly with customers. Since many young men don't get any friendliness from girls of their age for free, this has become a business opportunity.

 

One thing is sure, Japan is famous for its business mentality, which is the only thing from the previous system that was allowed to remain after the american occupation. The current japanese popular culture is a mix of older amercian culture imported from the 1950-ies to the 1980-ies and what little has remained from the original one. Lately this trend has reversed and now Japan is exporting this mix back to the US. As i said i don't really see anything that is too weird, only slightly different from other parts of the world and usually every custom has its roots in something locigal in the past and many times reading about it is also interesting.

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bikkuri bahn

Who are writing these missives? I bet most are monolingual anglophones.  I perceive less "omigod it's sooo different here" attitudes from those whose native language is not English.  Once again perspective.  I recall a recent observation at a restaurant in Zurich, where a German speaking server was communicating with an Italian family on holiday in English. Mundane in that setting, but that said, when one is exposed to different languages and cultures from an early age, what seems out of the ordinary to the monocultural being is "normal".

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Davo Dentetsu

The old adage "It's good for a holiday, but I sure as heck wouldn't live there again" probably rings true.  I guess that's why I find the place interesting.  If I were to live there, I guarantee I would find every grievance under the sun and complain about it.

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The Next Station Is...

The old adage "It's good for a holiday, but I sure as heck wouldn't live there again" probably rings true. I guess that's why I find the place interesting. If I were to live there, I guarantee I would find every grievance under the sun and complain about it.

I guess I enjoy visiting Japan so much because of the differences and the interest that I can take in such things, even things that don't fit in with a Western perspective. I wouldn't complain if I was offered a job in Japan but actively seeking out a life in Japan would take away some of that uniqueness that only exists because of the difference in perspectives.

 

Also, I find it interesting to see Japanese perspectives and preconceptions about the UK - on my last trip to Japan I saw a UK holiday advert that made the UK look amazing, with a Pullman special from Bath Spa!

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Sean

Maybe it's just me, but i always read about this (regardless of the country), but i can't really see it or find good examples when i try to. So can you give me an example?

 

Mostly very mundane stuff, like going shopping (especially for groceries) and people commenting on how different everything is. 

 

Or a certain member of my family who finds it completely unbeleivalbe that we don't have a dishwasher or clothes dryer and sometimes likes to bring this up.  To me its completely normal to not have those things since most Japanese homes dont have them, but to Canadians I guess they are considered standard things to have in a house.

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katoftw

I went to a Fresco while in Kyoto.  While the products were different.  The experience of shopping was the same.

 

I'm quite amazed by what you are posting.  Things like shopping/dishwashers/clothes dryers are little minute things to worry about.  If that is all they can come up with for major difference.  Then really their isn't much difference.

 

The biggest diffence between my home and Japan is the politeness of the people.  The respect for other person's property.  And the money trays.  You give a cashier money in a tray.  The cashier gives you the change in your hand.

Edited by katoftw

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railsquid
Or a certain member of my family who finds it completely unbeleivalbe that we don't have a dishwasher or clothes dryer and sometimes likes to bring this up.  To me its completely normal to not have those things since most Japanese homes dont have them, but to Canadians I guess they are considered standard things to have in a house.

 

Hah, we have a (small) dishwasher which came with the house... been here almost 3 years and not used it once. I'd rather have the space for storage. And a combined washer/dryer, which I inherited off an acquaintance who left Japan, which is handy for those times when you need to dry something no matter what, but normally we hang the clothes outside. So it's not exactly an essential part of the lifestyle.

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cteno4

An aside...

 

Clothes hanging outside houses and on apartment balconies is something that is essential in Japanese modeling, but rarely done! Wish there were a some inexpensive laser cut ones, etched metal ones are nice, but not cheap. But I expect expensive laser cut as there is so much cutting time needed for them (this doesn't matter in etching!). I actually printed some out at scale and hand cut and only took a pretty short time to get fast at cutting them. Trick was to use a scalpel blade and chop with the tip rather than cut and keep honing the blade. Xacto blades tips will break quickly doing this, but must try the new strong blades to see if they hold up better to this abuse. Next trick is to print faint outlines into colored paper. I do have a plate of etched metal clothes and even clothes hangers,Mohave not tried to hang an n scale clothes hanger yet, bet it's one of those PING experiences.

 

Back to topic, I thought driers were becoming more prevalent with suburbanization In Japan. True or myth?

 

Jeff

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kvp

Actually Tomytec makes nice plastic ones for the diorama collection. Also there are some in aoshima kits. The Tomytec ones are nicer because they come pre painted and pre hanged. Just glue the two ends somewhere.

 

Besides that, i dont have a dryer either. My bathroom was built in the 1970ies with a ceiling mounted drying rack and i kept it. (and no dishwasher either, don't really need it) Imho there must be a logical reason why japanense keep using kerosene and electric heaters too, when it would be cheaper to use some form of central heating.

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cteno4

Yes only a couple of the structures had those clothes on a line -- they never made them as an accessory set. good thought though as night be a very inexpensive digital print! Tiny things like this are cheap, the connecting plastic usually is more expensive than the actual unit!

 

Ashoka was an etched metal add on detail set I think produced by someone else and I think that is the set I have.

 

Cheers,

 

Jeff

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katoftw

Clothes lines in Japan normally consist of a wooden pole similar to a broom handle.  Almost all apartments I saw on the balconies 6 d-shackles (3 per side) were 3 poles could be inserted accross the balconies.  Although now I think of it, they were probably on older apartments.  Not modern ones.

 

I haven't seen that anywhere else in the world.  But still does not make it weird being a Japanese only thing.

Edited by katoftw

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railsquid

Clothes lines in Japan normally consist of a wooden pole similar to a broom handle.

 

The poles are all metal.

 

Pretty much all residential buildings have fittings for them as standard.

Edited by railsquid

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railsquid

 Imho there must be a logical reason why japanense keep using kerosene and electric heaters too, when it would be cheaper to use some form of central heating.

 

A tradition of building low-quality houses with short expected life-spans. Also large parts of Japan don't get cold enough for long enough for it to be worth the expense of a heating-only system, while it's hot enough for air-conditioning to be widespread, which is why air-conditioning units act as both coolers and heaters. Gas-powered under-floor heating is getting more popular too, and  I think there might be more advanced heating systems in northern Japan where it does get seriously cold for long periods.

 

Kerosene heaters... nasty things... I would never have one.

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Densha

How is it actually with gas infrastructure in Japan? In the Netherlands almost all households have a connection with the underground gas pipes, but I guess that's because we have a lot of natural resources of gas here.

The central heating in my apartment in Belgium is powered by fuel oil/kerosene (something like that) with very very old infrastructure... brrrr I'm still scared of what will happen would a fire occur. At least there's tons of fire alarm equipment installed. (and yes it works) When maintenance is done the smell of oil spreads through the whole house, blegh.

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railsquid

How is it actually with gas infrastructure in Japan? In the Netherlands almost all households have a connection with the underground gas pipes, but I guess that's because we have a lot of natural resources of gas here.

 

 

Most houses in urban areas are connect to the gas network (which AFAIK comes from imported LNG). Otherwise people rely on gas canisters. If you look carefully at some of the tsunami footage, occasionally you see sudden bursts of what looks like steam smoke from the water - those were gas canisters which were breaking and releasing their contents.

 

The central heating in my apartment in Belgium is powered by fuel oil/kerosene (something like that) with very very old infrastructure... brrrr I'm still scared of what will happen would a fire occur. At least there's tons of fire alarm equipment installed. (and yes it works) When maintenance is done the smell of oil spreads through the whole house, blegh.

 

 

No central heating - the kerosene heaters here are stand-alone units, which are even more dangerous, even though the modern ones are all fancy and have as many buttons as a fax machine and probably remote control units. They still stink of kerosene.

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katoftw

The poles are all metal.

 

Pretty much all residential buildings have fittings for them as standard.

Thanks for that.  Most were brown like the houses, so I just assumed wood.  I pretty much assume they are a standard feature.  You can count them by the 1000s while on the Shonan Monorail. haha

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railsquid

Personally I have yet to encounter any non-metal ones. I can imagine that in the dim and distant past bamboo poles were used, but metal ones are more durable, not to mention extendable. Though it wouldn't surprise me if there were plastic-coated ones made up to look like bamboo or wood.

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