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Men with high academic credentials: Very little seems to go right for them

15 Comments
By Michael Hoffman

“Naturally I was bullied – I look just like King Bomby!”

If that’s true, he’s in a bad way. No, he must be exaggerating. The game character he names is so comically grotesque it can only have been designed to resemble, at best, the most toxic self-image conceivable – more likely something far beyond that, far beyond anything human.

He’s 34 and goes by the handle name “Sarai,” and his very existence raises the question: Does an ugly appearance defeat every good quality? For he has many. He seems kind and is certainly clever. Rich too (reasonably), earning upwards of 10 million yen a year as an IT engineer employed by a leading international IT developer. Not a bad husband for a woman willing to overlook an unsightly exterior – but he himself seems to take pleasure in blackening his image; he’s “short, fat, pasty-faced, buck-toothed…” Well, if so he need only lose weight, exercise, get some sun and have his teeth fixed – but no, “eating is how I cope with stress,” and so he wallows in fat and hopelessness (“I’ve never had a girlfriend”) – to the point, apparently, of enjoying it.

The relative importance of appearance and character is interesting but peripheral as far as Spa (April 23-30), is concerned. Its theme is “the weakness of men with high academic credentials” – top graduates of top universities who on the surface have so much going for them and yet… and yet! Nothing works; or at least something doesn’t that poisons everything that does. Securely and lucratively employed, they strike out socially. Or they have brilliant ideas they can’t communicate, generous feelings they can’t express, money they don’t know how to spend, friendship without friends, love without lovers – one thing or another if not one thing after another.

Is it better to be intellectually average? Maybe it is. Or sometimes it’s not character flaws that blight the prospects but fate itself, that malicious antagonist – weighing one down with family debts to pay, or nursing care responsibilities, to cite just two examples. In any case, Spa numbers these academically gifted but “weak” men (it’s a rough figure of course, and why women are not included in its coverage Spa itself best knows) 15 million nationwide. It’s hardly a trivial problem.

We leave “King Bomby” to his sad lot in life and turn to “Ryo Iijima” (a pseudonym), undone by his own mental agility. It was too much for him. Or maybe it showed itself too early. A 10-year-old kid who thinks (knows?) he’s smarter than the teacher cannot but be irritating, and it’s the patient teacher indeed who will put up with it. His didn’t, and sent him into an aggressive-defensive stance that has not served him well – though before we feel sorry for him we should consider this: a Tokyo University graduate, he’s now at 38 a high-earning corporate executive whose employer very early on spotted his potential and sent him to the U.S. for an MBA which, duly obtained and together with his other attainments and native qualities, should keep him upwardly mobile for life. What’s the problem, then?

Social life. He’s alone – at least feels alone. Growing up, “the only thing I knew how to do was study,” he tells Spa. Hostile teachers and jealous classmates turned him inward, and he never came out – never learned, he says, to read other people’s feelings in their faces and body language – and comes across as distant and cold. Not so, he says; his feelings don’t show, that’s all. His colleagues keep their distance, his wife (he feels) keeps hers. “She likes me as a man and as a high earner, but then in the next breath she’s going on about ‘gender equality’” – leaving him, we infer, confused as many men are about what women want of men and what men have a right to claim from women. Reading this we would if we could take him aside and say, “It’s not just you, it’s all of us” – to which we can almost hear him replying, “Yes, but you can cope with it, can’t.” At which point it’s up to you whether you offer sympathy or snap, “Look my friend, there are people out there with real problems!”

Does “Takeshi Honda” (also pseudonymous) qualify as one of them? His situation is unenviable, it’s true – the more so when one thinks how different it could have been.

In high school he discovered philosophy – a heady brew, perhaps quaffed too soon. He’d be a philosopher, he decided. He’d think. Thought is humankind’s highest faculty. It leads to truth, humankind’s highest goal. With his head in clouds such as these, he studied at prestigious Waseda University, reading, thinking – “meanwhile my classmates were getting hired by megabanks and megacorporations,” while he himself, disdaining money and everything connected with it, spent it faster than he could earn it and gave no thought to tomorrow. Spent it on what? Pachinko – a diversion at first, soon a compulsion. Losses mounted, and with them the craving to win them back. Dropping out of college, he took a job with a small company producing radio programs, got fed up, left, took up freelance video editing and YouTube broadcasting, and now, at 34, that’s as far as he’s got, with a monthly income of 120,000 yen, half the Tokyo average. His financial assets are what he has in his wallet – 6,000 yen and loose change when Spa spoke to him – and “with no savings how can I marry?” The pachinko parlors are still open, he still haunts them in the desperate hope his luck will change. Maybe one day it will.

© Japan Today

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

15 Comments
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This is very sad, and a very good proof why Japan's population and also Japan's economy are in such big decline.

Raising mindless drones, without any personality, as a work force, can only work so much. Japan no longer have any elites to drive the country. Is currently a sinking ship, both from the human perspective, also from the economy side.

Was a good read and a good article.

-9 ( +8 / -17 )

The first two might want to read up on Asperger's Syndrome. A pity their parents and teachers didn't. There are ways of coming to terms with it. It's easier with support. It is more common than you might think.

The third needs to look in the mirror. Here's some philosophy for him: 'Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery.'

Excluding the rich, who can do what they want, everyone's first task in life is to find something to do that pays the bills. Beyond that, you can do anything else you have time for. But you have to nail the basic income stuff, or you will end up living in a cardboard box.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

There are only certain things you can change in life, and, even then, it doesn't mean people will suddenly like you. Control what you can and forget about the rest. Other people who are jealous, or are bullies, are that way because of trying to compensate for their own shortcomings and were never going to be a true friend anyway so it's best to keep them out of your life. Try to dress and smell better and show a proper appearance and learn what women generally like and don't like. It really surprises me how many Japanese men, even ones in their middle ages, don't know how to act around women. BE COOL! There were life lessons I saw while growing up that shaped me and the older generations of Japanese men have done a piss-poor job of bringing up their male children, leaving it up to the women, who grew up the boys and girls the same way. I am blaming the men, not the women, though. Japan may be a patriarchal society but many grown men are like little boys and lack humor, a sense of situational, awareness and are woefully bad at relating to women. More than getting good grades in school, I always wanted to know how to behave and fit in in different situations, especially around women. I saw many good and tons of bad examples as a child. Even a corny oyaji gag, told in the right way - you say you know it's an oyaji gag and know they won't like it, you boo it and talk bad about it after it's told if they don't like it - can go over well.

. “She likes me as a man and as a high earner, but then in the next breath she’s going on about ‘gender equality’” – leaving him, we infer, confused as many men are about what women want of men and what men have a right to claim from women. Reading this we would if we could take him aside and say, “It’s not just you, it’s all of us” – to which we can almost hear him replying, “Yes, but you can cope with it, can’t.” At which point it’s up to you whether you offer sympathy or snap, “Look my friend, there are people out there with real problems!”

If you sit down and ask her what you are doing wrong, she probably won't really have anything of substance to tell you. If she does, change what you want to or can and she'll just have to accept the rest, just as you have to do with her. My wife hates my beard but she's had to live with it for decades. Don't stay with someone because they "like" you as a man and as a high earner - it sounds like that's the reason she's there. Treat her with respect but respect yourself first and foremost because "gender equality" goes both ways, especially in the home. Don't be heavy-handed but don't get run over either. If you drink, it's OK to get drunk but don't be falling down drunk in public (or at home, for that matter), losing things and coming home smelling like vomit or having "oyaji no nioi." Take her out to places SHE wants to go, etc. Balance in all areas.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Y'all don't want to respect them or pay them what they are worth. You can't enslave the educated. You can't manipulate them if they decide to tell you to gent bent. If they are lawyers you are in real trouble. The majority of these men in this article had no role models or support. Successful men need mentors. You can be ugly and still come out on top. You don't think there are women out here like this? You haven't been online dating. 

There are millions of educated people without common sense out here doing the same thing. They get trapped by careers that they never needed and only have horrible lol quality fair weather friends. Then add some mental illness on top and you have an easy failure to launch. Their friends and parents allow them to fall into these roles telling them everything is alright.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I bet Spa! etc. make these stories up. They're always melodramatic and describe cartoon stereotype versions of people.

Let's have an IT guy and make him nerdy otaku. Big salary? Check! Fat? Check! A bit KY? Check!

Why would someone immersed in Kant and Descartes with no interest in money play pachinko? What kind of dopamine hit do you get from winning meaningless money?

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

I am a young female with an IQ of about 130, I have a degree in history and P. Science but did not want to achieve any thing higher than that. In fact, my lecturer at Uni asked why I was wasting my time doing P.Science as I coud do virtually any thing much better and higher, I did not have an answer for him, but he was right. I have always considered myself to be not very bright or intellectual and have never attached any importance to my IQ level. The one thing that makes a difference in life is social skills, if you do not have these your IQ level means nothing, and it is the main reason I do not belong to any social media sites, like facile book, instagram....etc...etc......or even a smart phone. I love talking to people of all ages and this is my main stay for living well and enjoying life.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Academic greatness does not equate to having common sense or self awareness. People can be gifted at certain things and be well below average in others.

Happiness ones from many factors.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@opheliajadefeldt

Social media is whatever you want it to be, depending on how you use it. It is not inherently good or bad.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It is a fact that people who are highly brainy, very smart have few friends and are mostly lonely.

The reason being that they think so fast and quicker than 'normal' people that they find it difficult to communicate with 'normal' people who do not think at the same level.

Sadly, life can be lonely if you are very bright, highly intellectual.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@opheliajadefeldt

You lost me when you mention your IQ.....

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Dumb article. If you're born in a developed country and blessed with a decent IQ, your destiny is in your own hands. Make of it what you will. Unless you are blighted by genuine physical deformity or suffered horrible parental abuse, there's no reason why you can't have modest social success too. There are ways to train yourself to gain slightly improved social confidence. Seek them out, you smart guys.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

It is a fact that people who are highly brainy, very smart have few friends and are mostly lonely.

The reason being that they think so fast and quicker than 'normal' people that they find it difficult to communicate with 'normal' people who do not think at the same level.

Sadly, life can be lonely if you are very bright, highly intellectual.

I can verify this is true.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Thought is humankind’s highest faculty. It leads to truth

Maybe his problem is that this may not be true. Perhaps our highest faculties are empathy, compassion and the capacity for love. Perhaps truth comes from that.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Related to this, anyone who has not seen this movie, a true story "A Beautiful Mind".

A Brilliant Mathematician, John Nash.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I agree that high education and a decent job mean you have appeal. While a lot of aspects refute that in Japan, like the amount of women in particular who openly state they want a million yen a month earner who looks like Kimtaku one or both of those things in super unlikely for the average person.

Reading the examples these guys need a social circle join. There is someone for everyone. Even if your convinced your the ugliest unappealing person that exists, I guarantee if you go out enough and just make yourself available, someone out there will like you and want to jump those bones from the minute they saw you.

That third guy tho… you can’t keep a job and you gamble. Bruv why is the word marriage even in your vocabulary

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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