This Great Society November 2009: Contents
           
This Great Society - Thoughts and Analysis
           
Photo: Jim Boraas
           
Brendan Ritchie - What I Thought of Japan
           

The Japanese have gained a reputation as a polite, industrious, and peaceable people. However, this past summer I had the opportunity to pay a brief visit to the country, and my impressions were not positive. In fact, there are many things wrong with Japan. Anything like an exhaustive list would be impossible, but it’s plain that the good reputation is undeserved.

One of the first things I noticed was the abundance of rice paddies—an astonishing thing in such a densely populated and highly industrial nation. Thousands of them are squeezed in even between Tokyo—a city of 30 million—and its busy international airport, never mind everywhere else.

So much for industriousness. The country is a giant make-work project.

Secondly, children in Japan are very unruly, despite official attempts to disguise the fact with uniforms. They will approach any foreigner to say hello, and if you say hello in return they will laugh madly. A traveling companion suggested to me that the children are excited to have opportunities to use their limited English. As if explaining their behavior makes it any less rude.

I had a similar experience with teenage girls, who were constantly smiling and waving at me. Apparently just because I’m Caucasian, and tall, and really also pretty handsome, I guess, if I’m going to avoid false modesty. Now, there is a temptation to find this kind of attention charming. But if you think about it, it’s actually pretty racist.

Adults were unfailingly polite and helpful to me. Again, that doesn’t seem like such a bad thing at first. But it becomes pretty obvious that it must be a kind of front just for foreigners. There can hardly be any doubt that the Japanese treat each other very badly.

So much for politeness, then. It’s a sham.

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This Great Society November 2009
This Great Society November 2009: Contents
This Great Society November 2009: Contents
Deb Couch: FerihegyDeb Couch Kristin Fryer Kristin Fryer: Falling StarsSarah Gackle Sarah Gackle: AdrianDawn Watkins Dawn Watkins: Interruptions in an EmergencyD. A. Weiss D. A. Weiss: Comrade of Thy Wanderings Part 2 This Great Society November 2009: Contents This Great Society November 2009: Arts This Great Society November 2009: Creative Writing This Great Society November 2009: Thoughts and Analysis This Great Society November 2009: Formalities This Great Society November 2009: Contents This Great Society November 2009: Arts This Great Society November 2009: Creative Writing This Great Society November 2009: Thoughts and Analysis This Great Society November 2009: Formalities