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#WhyJapanesePeople?!?!? Things People Only do in Japan: Daily Life

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#WhyJapanesePeople?!?!? Things People Only do in Japan: Daily Life

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From outside of Japan it may seem that it’s a country that has a lot of conveniences and amusing cultural quirks but some of them can be puzzling or downright annoying.

Taking off on the recently popular comedy of American IT manager turned comedian Jason Danielson aka “Atsugiri Jason”, who has been thrust into the Japanese entertainment spotlight in 2015 when his routine featuring outbursts of ““WHY, JAPANESE PEOPLE!!??” in response to irregularities in everyday life gained traction. Here are a few things that make us ask the same question in regards to daily life.

Make peace signs in every picture!?!?!

Probably the most obvious one even though it has become firmly established as “something Asians do” at this point. If a picture is going to be taken, throwing up some variation of a peace or “victory” sign is the default pose.

There are several theories regarding how the peace sign became so ingrained in the practice of photography in Asia. The first one comes from American figure skater Janet Lynn’s appearance at the 1972 Sapporo Winter Olympics. Despite falling and having her hopes of gold turn to bronze, she smiled and became an overnight celebrity after capturing the hearts of the Japanese spectators who were impressed with the way she carried herself. As she would return to Japan in the years following, it was reported that she was often photographed while flashing the peace sign, a gesture popular with those opposed to the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War. Despite these claims, finding such photographic evidence online is not so easy to come by.

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Predating the appearance of Janet Lynn in Japan, the peace sign was featured in sports manga “Kyojin no Hoshi” (baseball) and “Sign wa V!” (volleyball) which were popular during the late 1960’s in Japan. The other main theory credits singer/actor Jun Inoue’s appearance in a series of ads for Konica cameras for helping push the peace sign into the mainstream consciousness of Japan. Combined with falling prices of personal cameras and the boom of kawaii culture in the 1980’s, the trend gained popularity throughout the country. Riding the wave of Japanese pop culture, other Asian countries adopted the pose and now it seems like ALL ASIANS do it!

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Why do they continue to do it though? It looks cute and there are many variations like the “usa-chan peace” made popular by former Morning Musume. leader Sayumi Michishige but you can also bring your hands lower and use them to hide how big your face is because it is often believed that the smaller the face is, the cuter it is. Even if you don’t normally do it wherever you’re from, once you find yourself in Japan (or any other Eastern Asian country), the chances of you doing it start going up by the minute!


Abuse foreign languages when thinking up names for companies/groups/etc.?

Part of the fun for those who do not speak Japanese as their first language is walking around and chuckling about some of the “Engrish” or other oddly or incorrect appropriations of foreign languages. On the understandable end of the spectrum is when the letters “l” and “r” are mixed up but sometimes it can be to the point where it seems whoever thought of it didn’t bother looking up the words before the decided to put them into use.

If you’ve ever wanted a shirt or tattoo with kanji, it’s pretty much the same principle, no? It looks pretty cool and unique but because we’re dealing with language here, the chances for sometimes hilarious misunderstandings are bound to happen!


Still rent DVDs?

DVD and videocassette rentals used to dominate forms of at-home entertainment for a long time throughout the world but has gradually been phased out as streaming services become more widespread. However, it seems that renting discs is still a big business judging by the more than 1,000 of TSUTAYA Culture Convenience Club locations currently operating throughout Japan as well as their various competitors. Try asking someone if they want to “Netflix and chill” and you’ll most likely receive a blank look in return.

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Streaming services are gradually making their way into Japan with Netflix finally launching in September of 2015 but selection is nowhere near as extensive as the version available in the US (just like every other country). There is also Hulu Japan, Amazon Prime Video, J:COM On Demand, Hikari TV, Rakuten Showtime, U-Next, Tsutaya TV, UULA, and AcTVila but so far it seems like there is no clear cut winner. Perhaps there is TOO MUCH CHOICE? It also doesn’t help that many of their sites are very intimidating to navigate either. In comparison, there is usually a video rental place within walking distance from most train stations or residential areas where all one has to do is pick out a movie, take it to the counter, pay and deposit in the return slot when done.


Seem to have a point card for just about everything?

It feels like just about everywhere you can exchange money for goods and services, particularly in a place that’s a chain, you will be asked if you have a point card. While some of these are useful and you can accrue points that can be traded in for discounts and even free product, sometimes it becomes difficult to decide which ones you need and which ones will probably never see the outside of your wallet ever again. This is one of the reasons that big wallets are necessary here as well but then again, the chances of forgetting that you already have a card increase and with it comes the disappointment of discovering that you have multiple ones with your points or stamps split between them!

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Although bigger companies will have plastic cards, many of them will just be paper, which lowers the cost of attracting potential repeat customers. At the very least, it helps to have a convenience store card like a Ponta (Lawson) or T-Point (Family Mart) since they can be used at many different businesses.


Have “bad teeth”?

Compared to other countries where straight pearly white teeth are common for movie stars and celebrities, Japan does not seem to be as concerned. On the contrary, they seem to use the imperfection to their advantage. SKE48’s Kaori Matsumura or ℃-ute’s Airi Suzuki certainly didn’t let a few crooked teeth get in their way of popularity. Depending on the person, isn’t a little bit of imperfection kind of cute?

Perhaps it is because of the lack of fluoride in the water? But then again, how many people actually drink water straight from the tap? Some have theorized it’s due to a lack of proper dentists but that can’t be true as there are quite a few of them if you look for them. While there is no way to attempt to find a definite answer without conducting some extensive research, just from asking a few Japanese people it seems that they just aren’t as obsessed with having sparkling white perfectly straight teeth as much as people in other countries do. It’s not even an issue of money since a lot of celebrities who have the means to have their teeth “fixed” opt to leave them as is.


Drink to the point where they can’t stand up or walk?

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Author
Kai Okudara
Kai Okudara

Writer, researcher, photographer, foodie, KSDD

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