Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Japan Hammer: Weird Japan Part 1
Above is the Pokemon train. Which I'll discuss more about later. And no, this isn't that weird.
Since the title of my blog is "A Weird Guy Living in Japan" not necessarily "A Guy Living in Weird Japan" people may get confused as the content of my blog. I post just about anything really, but most of my blogging about Japan has been relatively tame. That is until today.
There is a website called www.japanisweird.com (warning: some images may be graphic or Not Safe for Work) which has random photos depicting some of the weirdness that you may encounter upon coming to Japan.
I'd like to preface with this: these photos are in no way representative of how Japan really is (for the most part). I'd say about 99 percent of Japan is like anywhere else. Normal people doing normal things. There are not many being dressed in cos-play walking about and it's not like one big, happy anime. Get that concept out of your head. If you like that kind of stuff, go to Harajuku or Akihabara. That's where I see the greatest concentration of all that.
So, today I just want to post links to various pics (not sure if I should post them on my blog since they're not mine) and I'll discuss what I think about the pic and whether it's really so weird compared to other things I've seen here.
5. Hattoyama riding space-age scooter thing
Hattoyama was the prime minister around 2009 or 2010? I don't know, they change prime ministers here so much I can't keep track. The reason this picture isn't too weird is because Hattoyama himself was considered a pretty weird guy. He was out of touch with common people (sound familiar to your government?) because he was from a rich background and often was referred to by the nickname "Alien." As you can see by him riding this futuristic space car, he doesn't look that weird. But his wife, on the other hand, is weird. She claims she's from Venus or something. Another reason this isn't so weird is because in Japan anything that would normally blow my mind in being really cool or awesome is just sort of like "meh." Now the androids they've developed, those blow my mind.
4. Dinner with a screen saver
I don't really get this. It's not really as weird as you'd expect, but it's definitely not normal. Some otaku (nerdy folks) have taken to having virtual girlfriends and plastering their room with images of anime and manga girls. It's not really considered healthy, but it's not so weird. Eating dinner with a computer is pretty weird. The strange thing about this "virtual girlfriend" phenomenon is that the men who do this see it as completely rational.
This ties in to the whole obsession with AKB48 and other bizarre idol worship which is widely accepted in main-stream here. Not to say that this doesn't exist in other countries, but it just has a creepier vibe here.
3. Old man wearing school girl outfit
Cross-dressing is more widely accepted here than I think in other countries. A lot of mainstream celebrities have done it without blow-back from morality groups. I personally don't care if people do it, but when they dress up like school girls...yeah, sorry, that's creepy. Weird, not so much. I've seen this more than enough times on TV that I'm desensitized to it. "New-half" shows (drag queens) are actually quite popular in Kabukicho and Roppongi. I haven't been to one, but then again, I try to avoid those areas (see other blog post about 5 Favorite Places in Japan)
2. Pokemon Bus
This isn't so weird either (see Pokemon train at the top of the blog). Anime and manga are integrated a lot into anything involving children. Oftentimes at family restaurants they will have Doraemon, Anpanman, or some other popular kids' character on the special kids' menu. So seeing a Pikachu bus may seem strange to foreigners, but I don't think Japanese people would even flinch at this.
If I saw this I'd probably say "Oh look! A Pikachu bus." Then I'd go about my day like nothing happened.
1. Weird Drinks or Food
Ok, so this picture is of Ice Cucumber Pepsi. I'm not sure why anyone would want to drink Cucumber flavored soda, but whatever. I rank this number 1 because this is the most common occurrence. It usually has to do with taking something foreign and then making it really, really Japanese. I'm not sure how well this sold, but they had other flavors that were just as weird.
You can see more details here: http://www.loneleeplanet.com/2011/07/weird-japanese-pepsi-flavours/
I'll list them below though with their weirdness level. Credit goes to loneleeplanet.com for the resources.
1. Ice Cucumber-6/10
2. Shiso (herb?)-4/10
3. Azuki (red beans)-5/10
4. Baobab (citrusy taste)-2/10
5. Blue Hawaii (pineapple and lemon)-1/10
6. White (yogurt)-5/10
7. Mont Blanc (chestnut)-6/10
8. Red (ginger/spicy)-4/10
9. Caribbean Gold (sapote)-3/10
10. Carnival (tropical fruit)-1/10
So the weirdest to me is definitely the Ice Cucumber. I'll post a part 2 for more weirdness!
Let me know if this is interesting to you in the comments!