After Friday's 12 hour day at the office, I ended up putting in a mere 11 1/2 hour day today. (Just call me Aussie salaryman-san.) Sigh. There's a few stressful things happening at work at the moment (and by "a few" I mean "a lot"), so when I got home I ended up doing something I don't often do: browsing the web randomly with my brain switched off.
(By the way... à propos of nothing, dark chocolate-coated strawberry licorice is a drug. I can't believe I ate the whole pack in one sitting.)
Purely by chance (by which I mean Google) I came across this fine blog, by Jeff, a 20-something American in Tokyo married to a local woman.
Jeff's back in California, fighting the bureaucrats to get his wife allowed to join him, so he hasn't exactly been posting much as late, but check out the archives. Not all of the pages are exactly Safe For Work, but there's also a lot of fine amateur photography of Japan, so I'm sure you can plead ignorance if you get caught reading a post about bikini-clad Japanese women.
I've just spent the last few hours reading almost the entire blog just for the sheer joy of all the WTF? moments like:
- The rampant Japanese obsession with "cuteness".
- Hard Gay the S&M leather wearing, crotch-thrusting, completely hetro altruist. No, really.
- A starlet famous for the rather unusual way she shows her love of cats.
- Shame and pain on Japanese game shows.
- And Jeff's take on this example of lazy journalism made me laugh.
Jeff clearly loves Japan, but he is no one-eyed Japanophile -- he's fully aware of the dark side of Japan's culture, like the hierarchical salaryman culture, the racism and ignorance, the corporate serfdom, and the reluctance to face up to underlying problems when you can merely paper over the cracks instead. And although he jokes about it, I detect a note of ambivalence about Japan's constant in-your-face sexual imagery. There's a culture gap between the West and Japan, but it isn't insurmountable. And in the meantime, it gives us something to laugh and shudder at.
As the Japanese no doubt do about us.