entertainment

Quirky video shows the 'real Japan'

56 Comments

A quirky 12-minute video titled "Japan The Strange Country" has been getting a lot of media attention. It was made by graphic designer Kenichi Tanaka and introduces precise details about Japan such as Japanese people's characteristics, Tokyo, food culture, suicide, love and so on.

Tanaka says: "I created this information graphic motion piece as my final thesis project. My objective is to make Japanese people think about what is happening in their own country, and that some aspects of Japanese culture are not that normal. The English narration offers a point of view on Japan that isn't usually considered by Japanese people, and therefore conveys a 'foreign' perspective. I hope audiences will learn about some of the weird aspects of Japanese culture."

Some of the comments posted on YouTube by people who saw the video praise it for being the truth, very informative, an amazing insight into the world of Japan, and so on. Robert Hogan from Monterey Institute of International Studies said that "it's a great project! I hope many people watch the movie."

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56 Comments
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8,484 views? Please...

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

haha the video is true, funny, insulting, perverse & mostly true, I bet most Japanese wudnt like it

0 ( +3 / -3 )

My objective is to make Japanese people think about what is happening in their own country

That's I thought. I don't know there always might be some ingenuous individualistic Japanese with their own brain and they might have great ideas and beautiful visions, but as soon as they see the herd of their dumb fellows around they trow their ideas into the garbage bin and never try to make them think about their own country or lives again.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

It is shockingly true how much is wasted here. The producer forgot one thing: It is Japanese culture to take a bath every day. That is also a lot of water down the drain.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

I liked the part was showing how many people live within 180 square meters of land, with one person in the U.S., 11 people in Japan, and 192 people in Tokyo, lol.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yup, baths are shared in japan, also common in europe etc where families share a tub, sauna, etc.

As for water wastage watch a standard house-wife wash dishes, etc.

Onto the Video, can I throw up?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Serrano.

Compare the population density to Hong Kong, or Hillbrow/Johannesburg in South Africa. Will they make a similar video for the USA, China, etc?

Any bets?

Thumbs downs for JT even considering posting that one.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

I knew this was coming with the excuse: but baths are shared. That part may be true but then isn't everybody using the shower first to rinse himself off, then soaking in the bath and then taking another shower and actually wash himself with soap and rinse it off with the shower again. If that is not a waste then I wonder what is.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

What a stupid video. I wasted over 11 minutes of my precious time watching it. Holy ****!

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Foxie.

Got any better options to offer?

And lets not forget how much water is wasted washing dishes, etc here.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Yes, the option is to just take a shower and switch it off when you are soaping yourself. An average bathtub needs between 100 and 150 liters. Taking a shower needs on average 15 liters per minute. Washing dishes: put some water in a bowl and put in your dirty dishes. Put some detergent on your sponge and wash them. Then drop them in another bowl with water to rinse them off. Washing machines are way better in Japan than in Europe, they consume less water and electricity. Yes, Japan has enough water now but it is not sure for how much longer. Water is precious and I think I know that best because I am used to carry it for miles on my back several times a day to the tank in the hot sun.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Foxie.

Yeah sure. And you did that when?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Last summer for the last time.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

foxie,

google water usage per capita by country. you'll find Japanese use half of what Americans, Canadians, New Zealanders and Australians use. They use less than Mexicans, Saudis, Pakistanis, Egyptians, Philipinos, Vietnamese and many others. They are on the same level as the Spanish, Cubans, Western Saharans and Indians.

I know there many things the Japanese can improve upon, their water usage is actually pretty decent considering.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

That video was not very good. However Zichi's post above me is great. The wrapping is a problem. I tell them not to do it and just shove the goods in my back pack for convenience.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan is water rich.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The graphics were kind of fun and if you know nothing about Japan it might've been interesting but the whole "Japan is a strange country" theme just seems like another way of saying "Japan is unique". Japan isn't the most crowded country in the world, doesn't have the highest suicide rate, isn't the only country that wastes food and other resources and isn't the smallest country in the world by far. It's the 61st or 62nd largest country, bigger than Germany, France, New Zealand, etc. Don't even get me started on the whole "Japanese are shy" nonsense! Really? Then who are all the half-naked girls staring at us from the pages of newspapers and the ubiquitous porn magazines. Adhering to social protocol which dictates you (generally) keep your opinions to yourself is not the same as being shy.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Sure Japan is soooooo strange. This is from 2 years ago, the original link where the video is no longer available in english only in japanese. http://vimeo.com/10305194

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

And, contrary to what the video said, Japan didn't renounce war because it was hit by two nuclear bombs. It renounced war because of the post-war constitution that was imposed on them by the occupying forces. I say this not because it's a bad thing that the constitution requires this but because I get tired of hearing people, ignorant of their own history, say it as if they all saw the light one day and decided to be a "peaceful" nation.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

sourpuss, thanks for that info. I am a bit surprised at it though, chartbins says that Japan uses 708m3 per inhabitant per year. Yet my household of 2 consumes only about 140m3 per year (which is way too much already, I need to pay more attention to it) and that is including watering my garden. And Turkmenistan is using 5,375m3 per year, what are they doing? I think that must include water used for farming

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is estimated that tens of billions of cubic meters of water are used to produce the food that is imported to Japan in a year. As Japan is dependent on import for many goods including food, increasingly serious water problems in the world are of great concern to Japan. Japan’s experiences and technology in the water sector gained through social development have been utilized through numerous technical and financial assistance projects carried out in developing countries. It is necessary for Japan to pay more attention to and play an active role in the world's water problems. The total amount of virtual water in goods imported to Japan was 64 billion m3 in 2000.

According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism: A large proportion of household water is consumed for cleansing, as in bath (approx. 24%), toilets (approx. 28%), and laundry (approx. 17%). Average amount of use per capita per day for domestic purposes is approximately 314 liters (132 liters in Asia; 428 liters in North America; 280 liters in Europe; and 63 liters in Africa).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It has been on Youtube for years.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I was impressed with the video, although I knew most of those facts already. Still I think Japan is a good place to live and visit, and seeing the video certainly didn't change my mind.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japanese ARE shy. Take a look at the mating ritual here and you'll see; It's taboo to speak to someone outside of your friend circle, and flirting with a girl/guy is asking for trouble, as "nanpa" is frowned upon. There's the belief that if you respond favorably to a guy flirting with you, that you must be "easy". Therefore even if she/he wanted to give you his/her number, they'd have to say no to save face. Your only chance is to be a co-worker or a friend of a friend and get them to introduce you properly. Why do you think so many people find their mates at work or school?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

look at the "whole picture" and not just a part.

zichi -- fair enough. So how about "looking" at the parts of the film that you are conveniently ignoring. Like the Japanese obsession with diet and luxury brands; or the depletion of the world's tuna stocks to feed their cultural right to cheap sushi; or the high suicide rate? No doubt, you are right, Japan does many things well, certainly caused by its small land-mass and lack of natural resources. But Japanese people are certainly wasteful in their own way. And that is all the film is saying.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Stupid video!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

A lot of media attention = 8,000 views ?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I also liked the bowing part.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Following social conventions doesn't make you shy. It's a personal characteristic. There are shy Japanese just as there are shy people in every country in the world and there are outgoing Japanese just as there are outgoing people in every country in the world. I know plenty of Americans and Brits who are naturally shy but following their countrys' social conventions, have to act in a more outgoing manner than they are necessarily comfortable with. It's ridiculous, to say the least, to suggest that 125 million + people are shy. I could give you myriad examples that would prove quite the opposite. But hey, if it makes you feel better saying that "Japanese are shy" (codeword for - unique) then have at.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Ms Suzuki; do you have to be negative about everything Japan?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Cultural conventions here value traits that equate to shyness almost anywhere else. Therefore to follow social conventions here, one must act in a "shy" manner. Seeing as you have stated that shy is the opposite of outgoing, that proves my point. I should amend my statement to Japanese as a CULTURE is shy.

The Japanese are unique, btw. The problem comes when people equate "unique" with "better or worse than".

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"Acting" shy may be valued but that doesn't make the people shy so yes, you should amend your statement. As for Japan being unique, that's a meaningless statement when it's made with the suggestion that Japan is alone in being unique. I've been to many countries and met people from many more. Every country and every person has been unique. It does get a bit tiresome hearing how "unique" Japan is, as if everyone needs to be convinced of this for some reason.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Funny to watch the Japanophiles bawking about this home made little film. We all disagree on something, but get real no country is Utopia.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Steve, no I don't have to be and I am not negative about everything.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Foxie, your comments show how little you know .you complain about using the bathtub, but you don't have any idea about how ecological this actually is. Shower takes about 30-40 liters/person, and the bathtub water (relatively clean as it does not contain soap is then used for doing the laundry in many homes(there are special hoses and pumps attached to any modern washing machine). In average Japanese spend way less water than other developed countries.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

ebisen, see even you say that the shower takes 30-40 liters/person plus the 100 liters used in the bathtub, makes for 260 liters. Agree that Japanese spend less water than Americans but we should stop comparing to what America does because everything comes in big size over there which is not normal.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Interesting video. I believe I saw this a long time before but it was in Japanese. As for it having 8000 or so hits, it now has 10,000+ hits. However, that's not the "official" account, just someone who has put it there I believe. There are many other sites with the same video, so it's a bit hard to know how many people have seen it officially.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A lot of media attention = 8,000 views ?

The original vimeo link has 491K views.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Cute graphics, but a lot of the stuff they state as facts to show how strange (read unique) Japan is are either true of many places or just oft repeated myths. Like just the physical characteristics: Japanese are short with small eyes and mouths (?). Um, yes average height in Japan is less than the US overall and some countries, but Japanese are taller than most other Asians and many South Americans and Africans. Not true. And the small mouth/eyes thing is about as true as the idea that all white people have big noses and breasts, blue eyes and blonde hair. Man, the only thing I'm surprised about the video is that it didn't mention the idea of Japan being unique for having 4 seasons... Unlike most of th rest of the northern hemisphere, which also has 4 seasons.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@gogogo

Well , the video is uploaded various times various people , consecutively , it got a lot of views

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This video is old, I recall first time seeing it more than two years ago.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Foxie, what you don't know is that most people will use the bathtub water for washing themselves outside the bathtub, after they soaked in for a while (5-10 minutes). Therefore the shower usage is dramatically decreased (maybe used just for a final 10-20 sec. rinse).

Anyway - per average Japanese use very little water, when compared with equally developed countries. - why complain about it?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Adding to what ebisen said.

Many japanese don't even use a shower but will scoop warm water out of the tub to wet and rinse themselves during their wash. Granted after 3 or 4 family members did their think the tub needs to be topped up a tad.

Back onto the Video, a lot of stupid and already debunked stereo-types been shown. I could post about 4-8 similar videos(incl Kelly Osborne and other overseas ones. Still think Danny Choo is great for promoting stereo-types, the show he produces on MX-TV is a prime-example and makes most people gag.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Seen this a while back indeed. The chopsticks waste is INSANE. The shops/ramen/undoya's should start using plastic, recyclable ones, would save money and trees. .....im sounding a like a treehugger right now.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

^o^ i enjoyed this video! the ending was good >< "you did" but i already knew some of the stuff already so nothing new T.T

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Agree, about the chopstick wastage(ditto for tooth-picks) and hence why there is drive to bring your own.

Said that using disposable hashi makes sense from from a hygiene point of view, can't recall how many cups and Dishes I send back(worldwide) because they were chipped, etc. Metal hashi are way more hygienic than reused wooden ones(takes time to wash/cleans those properly.)

But than I also buy hashi for visitors and pay 105 yen for 24 pairs(Bamboo) at local kitchen shop and those aren't they cheap wari-bashi used at sushi, etc places. People that come often to visit got their own hashi stored at my place(still 105yen a pair).

1 ( +1 / -0 )

¥100 store and a huge bag of hashi.

If people are complaining about how many the Japanese use, then they should complain about how many wooden spoons the Americans use for ice cream.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Its a great project. its really old though. I think that i watched this last year. He did a great job of being honest about things that many in japan ignore. Many in japan and outside japan often turn a blind a to a lot of situations in the country. Yes America has a lot of problem and most Americans will admit that. But in japan will avoid any discussion about negative situations in japan or out right deny it or worst case deflect and attack another culture. Too many think Japan is perfect. No country is. There are so many movies videos and so on that illustrate the dark side of many countries and gov. Japan has very few, and most of them are made by outsiders. So japan has no dark side?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Nothing said about relationships with foreigners. This is important too. I wanted to say something about video itself, but forgot :(
0 ( +0 / -0 )

Some people come over here to Japan and while they admire Japanese culture, they are a bit surprised that Japanese still eat with sticks. I, of course, realize that it's part of Japan's identity. However, cutting down trees in other nations so you can keep your identity is just pure selfishness.

There are many ways to show your dexterity than cutting down the world's trees.

Some of the information in the video was true. The only thing I question are the numbers. Funny thing is, the numbers, the statistics, they showed Japan's culture whether those numbers were right or wrong. Japan loves to detail every part of their lives with statistics. Don't know how many people will catch that element of the video but it's right there.....in YO FACE.

It was a well composed video. The author will no doubt get a nice A written at the top.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Foxie: For the record it DOES take a lot of water to fill up a tub, and Japanese often take baths daily (especially winter). However it should also be noted that not all will immediately drain the water after use and may use it again the next day. Seems a bit odd to some, but so long as they are showering thoroughly before hopping in I don't see the harm in it -- they just cover it with the lid and use the heating function (arguably a waste of gas) the next day.

Also, one good thing that's come about with all the 'eco-friendly' talk over the last decade is that it's relatively easy to by attachments that will allow you to pump the bathwater into the washing machine to do laundry. What concerns me more is how much water people water people waste while washing dishes! True, as you say, you can fill the plastic bowl or give the dishes an initial wash then scrub away with the water turned off, but I often see the same people rinsing the things for what feels like HOURS!

Anyway, it's an interesting video, but I'm sure it offends a lot of Japanese who won't like to own up to a lot of the elements. The Japanese Tradition (a comedy group) make a lot of funny little videos about culture, and you can find some on YouTube still just by typing in the name, but a lot of have been removed (and while they do point out a lot of truths, they exaggerate them for comedic effect), and when some Japanese I know saw them they were pretty angry and embarrassed (not sure why -- they were quite well done). Self-deprecation is not all that well practiced here.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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