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Self-centered zombies running rampant through Japanese society

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During the Japan Open golf tournament held in mid-October, 18-year-old pro golf prodigy Ryo Ishikawa botched his swing on a bunker shot for a double bogey.

It may have been shutter noise emitted from the cell phone cameras brandished by the horde of adoring spectators that interfered with his concentration. Subsequent to that, staff at the country club went into the crowd to plead that spectators refrain from picture-taking. But ring tones and shutter noises continued right up to the final hole.

To add insult to injury, some spectators appeared to be viewing "one-segment" broadcasts on their phones as well.

"If you warn them, they'll act surprised, saying 'Huh? Is it prohibited?' They haven't a clue that they're disturbing the play," sighs a spokesperson for the pro golfers' association.

But this kind of thoughtless behavior, grumbles Shukan Gendai (Nov 7), is becoming endemic, and the weekly backs up its assertion with several pages of anecdotes about how mindlessly self-centered Japanese are becoming.

In the delicatessen counter of a supermarket in Chiba, shoppers were aghast to see a mother who permitted her primary school-age child to wolf down the merchandise as if it were a restaurant buffet.

"There's the kid, chomping away on breaded fried prawns and croquettes, and dropping crumbs all over," an eyewitness relates. "Did her mother scold her? No -- she was eating the stuff too! The customers were too intimidated by such extreme behavior to tell her off."

A certain Ms A and her female friend women were partaking a meal in an upscale Italian restaurant when she noticed the couple at the neighboring table using a cell phone camera to shoot pictures of their food -- probably to post on his blog. The boyfriend looked over at the dish "A" was eating and said, "Wow, that really looks tasty," and then without warning approached her table and snapped photos of her meal.

"I was too shocked to say anything, but thinking about it afterwards, I really felt humiliated," she tells the magazine.

But it's not only the younger generation that's lacking in manners. An employee of a private railway in Kansai tells Shukan Gendai that recently it has become increasingly common for hard-of-hearing seniors to converse on their mobile phones in loud voices. When warned that they are annoying others, some will issue a stream of curses. "There have even been cases of them whacking people with their canes," he says.

Rakugo (traditional comic monologue) artist Danshi Tatekawa is occasionally aggravated by ringing cell phones during a stage performance.

"There I am, in the middle of an Edo-period tale, and I'm abruptly yanked back to Heisei by the sound of somebody's phone," he mutters. "It ruins the whole atmosphere. But these are paying customers, so I can't pick a fight with them."

"Actually once when I was on stage giving a performance, my own phone rang," Tatekawa admits.

Thinking quickly, he made it part of his act. "I had the character I was portraying say, 'Hey, your phone is ringing,'" he chuckles to Shukan Gendai. "But ring tones cause some performers' routines to turn weepy. It's a real problem."

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

87 Comments
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Bravo is what I say!

Isn't it ironic that these misnomered "zombies" are exactly the type of people needed to rouse the 120 million real zombies from their self-induced hibernation?

Stirring the pot, in whatever form, is absolutely necessary to end Japan's smug sense of complacency and stasis.

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People rant about how the young generation have no manners, but whenever a phone rings on the train, it always belongs to a middle-aged woman. When they finally fish it out of their bag, you think they're going to turn it off, but they pick it up and start talking.

It's always satisfying when the train goes underground in the middle of their conversation.

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It's not just in Japan, but everywhere. Whenever I go home to the US I'm always shocked that the culture of mindless cellphone usage is thriving there as well. You can't go 2 minutes on a bus, waiting for a plane, or anywhere without some loser picking up their cell to talk at full volume. The worst are the guys with their bluetooth headsets permanently affixed to their heads.

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Remember when restaurants used to have little "Please Refrain from Using Mobile Phones" cards on the tables? No more, except in a few hotel coffee shops--they've all given up. And somehow, a conversation carried out by mobile phone tends to be perceived as more irritating than the same conversation carried out by two people sitting at the next table--perhaps because we only hear half the discussion??

Manners begin at home. Good breeding is just what it's always been--common sense and concern for others.

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When people annoy me with their dumb-down behavior, I don't hesitate to them off on the spot. Not that it does any good, but it's a satisfying catharsis.

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Shikatanai ne!

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Change the bit in the title about Japanese society to world society and you'd get it about right. The human race is going to the dogs, or worse. Do dogs treat each other as badly as humans treat each other? I doubt it.

“There have even been cases of them whacking people with their canes,”

I've heard of that kind of thing in other countries too. Not to mention people who beat someone up because they blinked or something, yobs who murder someone for nothing in particular, maniacs who set fire to people's homes because they feel like it, parents who terrorise teachers and make it impossible for the kids to learn anything except bad manners, and on and on. The phone problem is really just an irritation except for the way they insist on using their cell-phones while in or near the priority seats. Apparently people are too stupid to understand signs in their own language, and few people complain for fear of reprisal.

The kid eating food in the store rings a bell or two though, because although I've come across such ill-bred behaviour myself (from people who talk with a plum in their mouths no less) I suspect that this particular story may have more to it. Could they possibly be among the army of homeless people we rarely read about on here? It could even be that it was the only way they could get a meal, possibly even the first meal for days. On the other hand they could just be a pig ignorant scum-bag training her sprog how to be as selfish as possible. Who am I to guess?

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I think talking on the train is a weird social law, in other countries it is perfectly fine to answer your phone on a bus or train.

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I was VERY dissapointed when after reading the title, I found that the article didn't actually have anything to do with Zombies. Blood thirsty flesh eating Zombies would have made this a MUCH better story.

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Who wrote this article? This is the title of the article:

Self-centered zombies running rampant through Japanese society

...and yet I don't see anything in the article that addresses the "zombie" claim. The whole article is about self-centered people and doesn't explain the "zombies" part. A "zombie" usually refers to people who can't think for themselves and does what everybody else does... so why are these self-centered people referred to as zombies?

Now, the self-centered argument is certainly a valid point, if you are talking about Japan 20 years ago, and Japan today. But I still believe the Japanese are much more conscious of "not causing trouble to others" (meiwaku) than Canada or the US where I have lived in the past. Supermarket parking lots scattered with shopping carts, is something that I commonly see in North America that annoys the hell out of me, and is also something that I consider a sign that people are self-centered.

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A poorly written, un-researched fluff article. Much like its target topic.

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There are thing called cell zappers. Can be used quite effectivly. Cameras on phones should have an option of silence.....but to tell you the truth, all the press that followed this kid golfer around and were clicking away too, and just because it is digital, it makes noise. Mine do. They have moving parts in them. The little boy has to get used to it if he wants to be better.

The customers were too intimidated by such extreme behavior to tell her off.<<<<<<<Not me. I tell people off all the time with perfect timing to humiliate them. People are such babies here and lack backbone.

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Supermarket parking lots scattered with shopping carts, is something that I commonly see in North America that annoys the hell out of me, and is also something that I consider a sign that people are self-centered.

They do it here too.

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Cameras on phones should have an option of silence

It is illegal in Japan to have new cell phones without the option of turning off the sound (to prevent upskirt shots)... it's why the iphone in Japan you can not turn off the shutter noise but all other countries you can.

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Japan's often Zombie nature as a whole should be the real concern. People who fail to vote for people who will represent them, or worst vote for some "political talento" who they like the look of are some of the worst social Zombies.

Add to this "Set Menu Guy" whose Zombie reality keeps him from seeing any alternatives or variations to the set menu of his responsibilities or reality.

Then overworking zombie people who don't see the severe negative impact that their overwork and tolerance of this system bring to society.

And then there is the zombie government, too busy raking in money while ignoring the growing issues facing the country.

Give me noisey cell phone guy, cane swinging obachan and food photo guy any day. At least these people seem to be awake.

This country needs a good hard slap across the face to get everyone to wake up and realize that fashion and cookie cutter lives don't make for a good society. Responsible, aware and caring people do. And that is what Japan needs in politics, the work place, in families and everywhere.

Wake up Zombies, wake up!

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like the obviously pregnant women with the special 'I am pregnant' badges on their bags,standing in the priority seat section..does anyone get up? ...erm no.And why should there even be a priority seat section anyway..? Japan is simultaneously one of the politest AND rudest places I have visited.(well..particularly Osaka). There was a lady on my train yesterday with two poodles stuffed into a cage on wheels that was big enough for one..I really had to bite my tongue.

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Soon talking in public will be forbidden too.

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I dont get annoyed with people using mobile phones on trains, its when people feel that they need to shout into their phones that annoys me. Ive been on trains in other countries as well as Japan and there have been people having stupidly loud conversations with each other next to me, but then when I answer my phone and speak in a hushed voice, keeping my conversation as brief as possible, I get daggers. why do people hate mobiles so much?

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Probably the most annoying situation in which to be forced to listen to someone else on their phone is while waiting in line. I'm talking about the ATM line or supermarket line. When you feel impatient it makes the situation ten times worse having to listen to some idiot living in their own bubble version of reality.

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Or when people continue their conversation when they reach their turn in line, and dont even speak to the cashier / waitress etc, just carry on their conversation - such disrespect! I hate those guys!

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Agree that society is going to the dumps, however on the return flight back to Japan after a holiday a few weeks back, it dawned on me how self centred some Japanese can be. Even my wife had a snipe, which is kind of out of character.

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"I think talking on the train is a weird social law, in other countries it is perfectly fine to answer your phone on a bus or train".

Exactly the same in Japan. I've never seen anyone worry about answering their phone on a bus or train.

I especically hate it on the Keio line, in the "omoiyari" zones people brazenly use their phones and no one bats an eye.

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I think there's a common misconception that the problem in Japanese society is selfishness.

These people aren't selfish or self-centered, they're just utterly oblivious.

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People overseas always ask me about Japanese politeness. I always think there is a big myth about this. They have no politeness unless you know them or they are in some way connected via an acquaintance or colleague. Otherwise, their manners are terrible.

It seems that unless there is someone shouting frantically into a Tannoy system, or there are lots of posters and stickers somewhere telling people to do something, then they just basically have no manners or consideration to other people. It's very depressing.

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I wonder if the "zombie" reference is how the Japanese play dumb or pretend that they don't know what's going on when they are caught doing something wrong. Every time I'm run off the road and I glance into the oncoming car, it always looks like a zombie-staring straight ahead, no emotion or signs of guilt less they lose face.

In regards to taking photos at golf tournaments, pro photogs are bound to only snap after the ball is stuck. If you watch a tournament, the clicks attest to this (trust me as a former photojournalist). Probably what's happening is when the golfer is lining up his/her shot and concentrating, nearby fans are clicking away. I'm surprised as in the U.S., no cameras are allowed and patrons are removed if they're caught.

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What a strangely written article. Glancing at the title, I thought it was about a horror moive, then after reading the first couple of paragraphs I thought it was going to be about golfer Ishikawa. Well, it did get my attention.

I think better words to describe the actions of the Japanese people depicted in this article would be rude, inconsiderate and thoughtless. And three of the ancedotes are about bad cellphone manners.

'running rampant' is quite an exaggeration but I think there is some truth to this. So why are their all these 'zombies'? Well, first I think people work way too much here and are too stressed out and tired to care about anyone else. Secondly, people are too caught up in this superficial, consumer society. Relationships are not the priority. Also, to solve this problem in the long run, parents need to start teaching their kids to be kind and thoughtful to others. And teach good manners by setting a good example themselves.

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why do people hate mobiles so much?

Thinking is the greatest pleasure in life and when you get on your phone, you interrupt people's thinking.

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Betting: Take the yamanote line and use your phone, watch the faces of shame tear you town from everyone or even the friendly point to the no using mobile phone sign or even the panic in the eyes of a person who's phone made a noise.

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The cell phones, loud conversations between people sitting next to each other, the screaming kids, that's why I tend to wear headphones nearly everywhere I go. I take them out to talk to people, or at the cash register, but other than that, I'd rather not listen to the cluster of shrieking high school kids on the train. Headphones make them invisible. Not less annoying or rude, just invisible.

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Japanese are as selfish as the rest of the world. Been saying it for years. Why people expect more from these people? Japanese if anything, are ruder and don't really care about anyone but themselves. They treat each other with little or no civil understanding. And let's not start the fragrant racism. Last week a Japanese woman even stood up on the United Flight as it was taking off. Clueless. This society takes all responsibility away. Blaming things on everyone but yourself are the norm. And no one cares because it's not anyone else's fault. Some call it cuture. Wonder if Japan really has any. If I'm wrong, write an example.

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Take the yamanote line and use your phone, watch the faces of shame tear you town from everyone or even the friendly point to the no using mobile phone sign or even the panic in the eyes of a person who's phone made a noise.

sarcasm I hope because it is not even in the same continent as reality. oooh, hang on you mean if 'you' do it, oh ok ,yeah they'll be sure to tell you how you misunderstood delicate etiquette, this is japan etc.

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I came over once from London two-thirds-full plane. The Japanese person next to me and I were chatting about the inviting row of four seats next to us. We decided that when the seatbelt sign was switched off we'd ask the cabin crew if we could take it in turns to stretch out on those seats. But as soon as the light went out, a Japanese obaa came rushing up the aisle, parked her arse and her bags on those seats and beamed triumphantly. My Japanese friend then embarked on a long lament about how Japanese people were beginning to understand the importance of being individual, but had no understanding that being individual doesn't mean you have carte blanche to be rude, thoughtless and inconsiderate.

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Japan is a shame culture not a guilt culture. They do what is "correct" only if other people are watching... well they USED TO do the correct thing if people were watching. Now, I guess they just don't give a sh*t anymore.

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Japan is a shame culture not a guilt culture. They do the "correct" thing if people are watching (not because of a little angel on their shoulder.) Not any more. Japanese are starting to feel that individual happiness is worth taking a little shame for. It mostly has to do with a loss of respect. It's happening all over the world. People in a shame culture do rude stuff because they lost respect for other people. People in a guilt culture do bad stuff because they lost respect in themselves.

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"People overseas always ask me about Japanese politeness. I always think there is a big myth about this. They have no politeness unless you know them or they are in some way connected via an acquaintance or colleague. Otherwise, their manners are terrible".

In all honesty, I think that Japanese manners and manners of people in my own country are the same, just getting worse and worse. The only difference is that the Japanese seem shocked when you tell them about things you've actually seen here (i.e. Japan). Most of the people just can't seem to believe it. It seems like a system of denial whereas people from other countries seem to more open and honest about what is happening back home.

My boss (Japanese) whenever we have one of these unfortunate conversations in the office constantly says, "A Japanese wouldn't do that", or, "I can't believe it". I've been here 15 years and that is pretty much the standard reaction of the greater majority here.

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“Actually once when I was on stage giving a performance, my own phone rang,” Tatekawa admits.

Thinking quickly, he made it part of his act. “I had the character I was portraying say, ‘Hey, your phone is ringing,’

That sounds like some impressive acting. He must have a lot of talento.

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This is a nothing article full of excuses about something else to complain about. Kids eating their food in a supermarket ? Couples taking photos of their meal ? Come on. And if Ishikawa's sponsorship management hadn't sold him to every single media outlet, then we would'nt have Ishikawa's fans turning up at tournaments. Blame it on him and his media blitz, not the clueless supporters uneducated about golf course etiquette.

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Northlondon the kids were not eating their own food in the supermarket, and it was one kid and a parent.

If someone took photos of someone else's meal in a London restaurant the odds are fists would fly. Hell, people have been murdered for less rudeness. Imagine having some git shove his or her camera right in front of your face while you're trying to eat. The only way they could behave worse is if they were taking a picture of the person and not the meal.

Ishikawa's fans are perhaps rather great in number, and as someone said professional photographers only shoot after the shot so they don't put him off with the noise of their shutters. But why the hell are those people allowed to break the rules? Chuck 'em out! Or confiscate their phones 'til the end of the game. You can't let idiots rule your life like a bunch of 2 year olds trying to prove they're superior to the parents. Make 'em behave or kick 'em out.

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I agree with most of the posts and fight like the dickens daily to keep my sanity in the midst of really cold, rude, "don't even bother me with your complaint" about my behavior, but one example of Japanese manners is expressing thanks when you offer them a simple condolence or apology. Offering apologies are still a beautiful part of Japanese manners, and it happens over and over again. Of course not on the rush hour trains.

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dammit, I think you may just be over reacting here. In the UK and in the States, it is quite common for parents to let their kids eat snacks whilst dragging them round the supermarket and then pay for the snacks at the end. Nobody gets offended by it. Also, I am quite sure that nobody has been murdered in London or in Japan for taking a mobile shot of somebody else's meal whilst stating how nice it looked. A little bit forward maybe, but it's more funny than upsetting.

Ishikawa's tournaments are packed and there are too many spectators and not enough stewards to control everyone. Like I said before, the fault lies with Ishikawa and the ridiculous media-overkill for bringing fans to the course who do not care about the rules of a tournament. Ishikawa's fellow players need to have a quiet word with him and his manager. This has happened before in the States and in Europe and the players affected went straight to the spectators taking pictures and told them to stop it. Did Ishikawa say anything to those fans of his ? I doubt it very much, he was too busy thinking about the Yen sign rolling in his head.

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I wish I could counter some of these posts and this article. In fact, I hnave been sitting here racking my brains to think of some examples. But all that keeps popping into my head is the face of a woman in my building this morning who went out the back door just ahead of us, and knowing full well we were right behind her just let it swing straight back on us, smacking into my 3 year old and knocking him flying, and then slamming into my huge pregnant belly.

I opened the door and screamed at her and she turned, looked at me, and just kept going. And this is someone who lives in my building!!! And everyone then stared at me like I was the crazy one!

I KNOW there are good, considerate Japanese out there. I KNOW that there is good and bad in every society. But if people here in particular could just look behind them before flinging doors shut, and not queue-jump just assuming I dont speak Japanese so Im not going to say anything my blood pressure would be a lot lower!

And it`s always the obaasan! Anyone ever noticed that??!

@ Betting - everything you said is absolutely true! When I tell Japanese some of my stories, every single one of them says "I wouldn`t do that" or "I would have helped"....and yet strangely, whenever these things happen, this almost never proves to be the case!

As you said - we British people KNOW we are crap! We are fully prepared to admit it! We are appalling at times! I am ashamed whenever I go home these days! But the Japanese seem to be in a state of denial. My own husband told me the other day I was "paranoid" about everyone staring at me rudely and pointing and laughing because I am so pregnant now....until a guy riding past us on a bicycle craned his neck 180 degrees to gawp at me, wobbled, and crashed into the barrier right in front of him! (It was priceless actually!) And only THEN was he "Oh, OK, I see your point!"

I wonder really if maybe it is simply a cultural thing and I really should try to be more accepting of cultural differences. That maybe what we would consider rude the Japanese dont? But then, when I tell Japanese what I have seen/heard/experienced they all think it is rude too, so I guess it cant be purely a cultural thing.

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it is quite common for parents to let their kids eat snacks whilst dragging them round the supermarket and then pay for the snacks at the end. Nobody gets offended by it.

I think what the article is complaining about isn't people eating their own food in the supermarket, or even eating snacks taken off the shelves and paid for them later. The complaint is about a mother and her kid making a feast of the merchandise samples (breaded fried prawns and croquettes) put out so that shoppers can have a taste before they decide to buy. You're supposed to take one piece to see if you like it, not scoff the whole lot.

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I think what the article is complaining about isn't people eating their own food in the supermarket, or even eating snacks taken off the shelves and paid for them later. The complaint is about a mother and her kid making a feast of the merchandise samples (breaded fried prawns and croquettes) put out so that shoppers can have a taste before they decide to buy. You're supposed to take one piece to see if you like it, not scoff the whole lot.

But so what if some greedy woman has let her kids scoff all the sample food in a supermarket ? Isn't it the supermarkets business to put a stop to it ? Life's far too short to get upset at such a trivial matter, let alone to devote a whole article to it ! (vis a vis, taking mobile pics of a dinner)

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People are basically self-centered full stop and to think otherwise is just a mistake. Not just Japan though, but certainly it seems worse in Japan. Take drivers here. Don't get me started about all the idiots I've seen here do just dumb things to gain a car length's advantage. The real problem is that people are expected not to think for themselves and don't have any foresight to anticipate what they are doing pisses others off. Still, if the Japanese could think (quickly) for themselves many of us wouldn't have a job. I agree that manners aren't what they were in days past, hence all these 'Manner Up' posters. haha, like that works. right...

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well it's written into the culture: soto outsiders aren't even really people, thus their feelings don't count

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Ah I think its a worldwide phenom and Japan is just catching up! However, in saying that, there is a difference between being rude and being ignorant! I take great delight in "politely" reminding housewives, obaasans, business men, high school kids etc to "get in line" "dont push" and saying "sorry" ( especially when you push past on the train!) - all in Japanese! The look is priceless - yeh...not such a dumb foreign person here!!! I was brought up to be polite but you know what, it works both ways (had this argument with my own grandmother years ago!). 10 years ago, Japan was a polite place to be - now I am not so sure! They expect us to be polite (or is that just a figment of my imagination!) - yet they cannot bestow on us the same courtesy now! No the world has gone to the dogs and manners are definitely in the heap!

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Love the title of the article. Self-centered zombies? Yep, they're everywhere!

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Very few people in any country practice TRUE manners, meaning that they honestly are concerned about offending others. Most people, in ALL countries, are only pretending because they are afraid of repercussions. As more and more people start to realize that there won't really be any repercussions that can't be handled with a slew of curse words, people as a whole EVERYWHERE will slowly become more and more like A-holes.

As far as the title of the article was, I don't think I've ever seen a zombie flick where they weren't self centered, so I'm not sure why that was added, I thought that was a given when talking about zombies.

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But I thought Japan was Polite and Safe?

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"Self-centered zombies"

Yeah, sure there are some of those, but most people I know, including myself, are nice people.

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What Sarge said.

They expect us to be polite (or is that just a figment of my imagination!) - yet they cannot bestow on us the same courtesy now!

I think it's just a figment of your imagination. I don't find 'they' expect 'us' to be any different to 'them'. Polite people, on the whole, expect others to be polite; rude people on the whole expect others to be ditto.

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Especially ring-tones sucks. What's the problem using the vib-function or not using the phone sometimes, if not necessary. At least people, turn down the volume a bit, please...

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I have no idea why people are so annoyed by phone conversations... What are you doing on the train or in a store that you are so interrupted by some noise?

I think these "zombies" need to keep up their pace and WAKE UP JAPAN.

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eigonosensei, I gotta agree.

As for the article,

I have heard Japanese people state over and over again that the young are lacking in manners. As for Obaasan, Ojiisan..I think it's always been an unwritten rule that when you reach a certain age, you no longer need to be polite in any way.

But a lot of it is cultural. What westerners consider polite in terms of waiting in lines, opening doors etc, just isn't part of Japanese etiquette in the same way that it is important to westerners. Often I automatically stop to wait for someone in front of me only to be passed by the person behind me. But the opposite is also true. Some things that are extremely important rules of etiquette in Japanese culture are not important to westerners, so we also can appear extremely rude to them if we are not careful and aware of what is polite in Japanese society. I have come to the conclusion that both cultures are polite in different ways...

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Maybe the child was starving, there is a problem with the golf spectators lately, someone snapping photos of a neighboring customers food sounds far fetched and think about this "phones rarely ring in a movie theater here in Japan." A title for self centered zombies to vent personal frustrations sounds about right. whatsgoinon- has a well thought out and valid point. betting- Japanese are not in denial, they won't admit to faults, unless their hand is in the cookie jar. But is all this really about Japan's behavior or did we take the bait to show our true selves?

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I don't really think it comes down to manners. If and when you meet somebody in person, I'd be quite shocked if they weren't polite and/or considerate. End of the day, they only mirror the who they are relating to.

I s'pose you could put it down to the fact that people of today are just taking advantage of what they can get their hands on. Be it free treats from the supermarket or bustling for that elusive train seat. It's dog-eat-dog out there my friends!!

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“There’s the kid, chomping away on breaded fried prawns and croquettes, and dropping crumbs all over,” an eyewitness relates. “Did her mother scold her? No—she was eating the stuff too!

Thats GREAT!!! sounds just like the USA!!!! (except for the pranws part, but the fried food part for sure and the crumbs, and the rudeness, and the mom) well. you know what you do with zombies?!?! well just play left 4 dead and i think the answer will become all to clear

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I think talking on the train is a weird social law, in other countries it is perfectly fine to answer your phone on a bus or train.

Don't agree with you at all. I don't want to hear some dimwhit saying where they are to the wife or the latest handbag she bought at the department store.

And yes I will concur with above sentiments. Japanese like to live by the facade that they are polite people - sure they are if money is involved at a store - any other place they are one of the rudest on Earth.

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....I wonder if the recent trend in the UK of playing music on their mobile phone speakers happens anywhere else in the world. This is possibly the worst habit that self centred kids in the UK act out in public.

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Don't agree with you at all. I don't want to hear some dimwhit saying where they are to the wife or the latest handbag she bought at the department store. but how is this different to over-hearing a two way conversation between two poeple that are actually there? Are you saying all conversation annoys you? @kenchan, monoflow - so agree with you. ringtones should be banned! who doesnt carry their mobile in their pocket? surely all you need is vibrate? why is there any need for a tune?

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I would have to agree with many posts that its not only Japan but everywhere. I am in Singapore right now after living in Japan and they seem more polite in Japan then here, if you think Japan is bad Singapore is 100 times less in the manners department. Anyway I feel its like that everywhere, when I grew up it seemed that people had better manners and today its more selfish, people just look out for themselves. Who do you blame?, society?, parents? In the end I guess we need more people to set better examples. Not sure if that will help but it cant hurt.

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I am all for manners, but think there could be some leniency re keitais. Isn't there a difference between someone in a train answering an important call to a phone on silent mode talking almost in a whisper, and then someone who answers to a loud smap ringtone and talks loud enough for everyone in earshot to hear.

Also, am I the only one who things its strange to outlaw a person having coffee by themselves and talking softly on a phone in a Royal Host, while the surrounding tables are full of loud, boisterous guffawing, abasan and housewives gone wild?

The irony is that in my home country the young people are the problem whereas in Japan its often the older ones who ride their bikes all over the road, walk across traffic without looking, have the loudest silliest ring tones, and talk the loudest in restaurants and on their phones. Not to mention hogging lines at buffets so they can be the first to fill their plates with one of everything and then leave half at the end. Hint: In Japan, wait for the mad dash of the crowd to be over before you move.

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They expect us to be polite (or is that just a figment of my imagination!) - yet they cannot bestow on us the same courtesy now!

Actually, there's much to be said for playing the noble gaijin amidst the sea of impoliteness, inconsideration and rudeness found here. To hold the door open for people, let ladies go through the door first etc, while this is all common practice back in the UK, it makes you feel somewhat distinguished if you do it here. One can only hope that such demonstrative politeness will have a civilising effect on the natives.

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The problem here is it's all etiquette but no courtesy. It's all about doing certain things in certain situations, fulfilling obligations. If it's not pre-programmed it's just not done.

I'm surprised the article focused on young people though because generally they're far more likely to show courtesy than the older generation.

And it's a shame, too, because it actually feels really good even doing a small thing for someone else, like holding the door or giving a seat up to someone who needs it more, and these people are missing out on that.

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A lot of the lack of manners is due to liberals and western influence.

But, I use my phone on the train. You don't like it? Go ahead, try to take it away from me.

But I don't think 99% of people should be allowed to use their phones on the train. Only the elite can do so.

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yokomoc: You raised an excellent point about the difference between etiquette and courtesy. Japanese people tend to be much better the former whereas Westerners may be lacking in etiquette but are more courteous. It's also interesting that not everyone has the same idea about what is rude and what isn't. I'd like to believe that the majority of people are good & kind and just trying to get through their day without bothering others. I also think that rude people will tend to encounter more rude people. Same goes for polite people. Maybe ghandi said it best--'Be the change you want to see in the world.'

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I'm not sure that people are any worse behaved than they used to be. But technology gives them more ways to be rude to the people around them. Remember, half the population is below median intellegence!

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My friend who also lives in Hakodate also witnessed what follows at a different time and place. I was astounded when he told me.

A year later I was approaching a bridge near where I live when I saw a car stopped on the bridge. It drove off as I entered the bridge. Suspicious after what my friend had told me the year before I stopped, got out and looked over the railing. Sure enough, there was a bag of plastic garbage floating away, 500 meteres from where the river empties into Sugaru Straight.

I tried to take a picture but as it was too dark and my phone's flash couldn't make it. I took off in pursuit of the culprit. Yes, I sped. Bite me.

I caught sight of the offender just as he turned a corner. I went after him, took a picture of his car then gave him high beam before doing a u-turn and going back to cool off. Unfortunately his number plate was glared out in the picture.

It is common to see men and women empty their ashtrays on the ground while they're stopped at traffic lights. On the 10km country road between my house and work nearly EVERY SINGLE DAY there is a bag of rubbish that has been tossed from a car.

You make your own conclusions as to where this country is going. I look forward to moving back home.

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I s'pose you could put it down to the fact that people of today are just taking advantage of what they can get their hands on. Be it free treats from the supermarket or bustling for that elusive train seat. It's dog-eat-dog out there my friends!!

The more people take that attitude, the more self-fulfilling it becomes. Fortunately, we each have the opportunity to make it different even if only in a small way.

Cheers,

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dolphingirl: "Change the way you look at things and the things you're looking at change."

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If companies and local governments were actually that concerned about phone etiquette, they would utilize cellphone jammers in those sensitive areas, during performance times, and so forth. As it is, it is more of an annoyance that a real concern.

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It's a dog eat dog society now. For me... I am a large dude, in shape and in a tailored suit or casual gear and usually people go well outta their way not to be near me (no I am not ugly, me thinks). Combined with being a Gentleman and I am an occasional Jerk when selfishness and oblivious are full on... my advice is things will not change. When this oyasan or rude kid clearly offends simply point it out. If you are on a packed train or someone is heading your way looking at the kaitei...ah 95% of the general public, in a deep toned polite voice say "doke domo" and you will start having fun and paths will clear (in Osaka it may mean a more harsh piss off but I use it up here). I have had rude groups of high school boys in circles on the train run for cover with the geezers right behind them when these 2 majic words are said in perfect harmony. As for the zombie bit??, the sell out average golf kid with shutters, no help there.... Anyway take a trip to white trash America and scream Japanese at them and it may be just as effective in the market... NYC has cell phone laws I think or you get cracked over the cranium by anyone...maybe Japan should start with the hefty fines...

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It's funny, I never considered talking on the train in Toronto because there is no signal on the TTC.

I was surprised when my girlfriend told me I couldn't do it here.

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There's nothing wrong with being on a train and talking on the phone at a normal conversational level; the problem is the SHRILL and ANNOYING ringtone (always someone over 45) that goes off for 20 seconds, and gets progressively louder the longer it rings. Anyway, what do you expect from a society that rarely teaches basic courtesy and actually disdains social grace?

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There’s the kid, chomping away on breaded fried prawns and croquettes, and dropping crumbs all over, The customers were too intimidated by such extreme behavior to tell her off.

Is this serious? Extreme behavior is dropping crumbs, well maybe here it is but come to the UK and you ll see what extreme behavior in kids really is. Surely its a kids right to drop crumbs, they like.... you know cant help it.

The boyfriend looked over at the dish “A” was eating and said, “Wow, that really looks tasty,” and then without warning approached her table and snapped photos of her meal.

“I was too shocked to say anything, but thinking about it afterwards, I really felt humiliated,” she tells the magazine.

seriously get a life, did they hurt you in anyway. Unless there are going to be laws against having fun and enjoying yourself i think some people need to lighten up just a little and stop being so anally retentive.

The other examples i can agree with such as the phone in the work place or at performances, as for the guy hitting people with a cane, sue his ass. Its just a case of manners, and this comes back to the parents teaching their kids how to be polite. you cant fix it with more rules, only with parenting.

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Is this serious? Extreme behavior is dropping crumbs,

Er no, extreme behavior is mere et fils gobbling up displayed deli merchandise off the counter (and then probably walking off without paying for it).

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Er no, extreme behavior is mere et fils gobbling up displayed deli merchandise off the counter (and then probably walking off without paying for it).

haha, that would be funny, maybe they could throw some food at customers too just ensure a clean get away

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You know what makes me really angry about this? On a nearly-empty train I receive a call (in silent mode), and answer it discreetly, near-whispering into the receiver that I'm on the train and will call back. Then I get huge flak from some old person for using my phone. One time I was subjected to a tirade in terrible English - 'Japanese manners please! Bad! Stop! Stop!' - and the rest of the train looking at the floor. Because I'm not Japanese, I get shouted at. Japanese can do what they please.

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This topic deserves far more investigation and reporting than one story soon-to-be-forgotten. Japan is largely a mannerless free-for-all where ignorance and bullying are the order of the day. Im not suggesting that other societies are much better, but you HAVE to wonder how the heck Japan got a reputation for being such a well mannered society.

Clearly from a stream of foreigners who came and left before their first hot tea got cold. It doesnt take many train rides here before you spot people picking noses fervently and openly, men physically pushing women to get into trains, people coughing and sneezing right into each others faces with no effort at all to cover their mouths...

Does anyone want to mention the general lack of soap in public restroom sinks or the popular move by too-many people here to simply skip even the water, or hand washing of any kind at all??

Its an honest fright fest.

I like to laugh at the shows of Africa here where they show dirty refugee camps and unwashed people... As if it were generally any cleaner here!

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A friend of mine dropped a watch which he strapped to his back pack while walking around town. When he noticed several hours later that he had dropped it somewhere, he re-traced his steps, and low an behold, his watch was sitting on top of a guard rail post of a busy intersection. Not only did someone pick it up, but they left it in a visible location for the owner to find, and no one else took it!

I also witnessed a man on the shinkansen spilling some juice on the floor while he was throwing a can of juice into to recycling bin. He then took out a pocket tissue, wiped up the drops of juice he spilled, then threw the tissue into the garbage!

These are firsthand experiences of good manners which I have seen in Japan, which I don't think I will EVER see anywhere in the US, UK, Canada, or Australia.

Now, with all of this said, YES, there are MANY cases of bad manners in Japan as well, but quite honestly folks, THIS IS JAPAN. When you consider the geographical, cultural, historical, demographic, etc. etc. etc. differences between your country and Japan, it's impossible to compare apples to apples.

That basically goes for almost everything you guys have ever griped about on this website regarding Japan's "Shortcomings".

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Just yesterday I saw a guy in a suit knock a woman with a cane to the ground in his rush to catch a train. He made the train, and I helped up the lady. I was forced to wait 3 whole minutes for the next train...

Thing is... that would shock me no matter where I went. What kind of animal does that? I dont condemn the whole nation of people. They are not "one" no matter what their politicians might say... But there are enough of them that have strayed so far away from what we might arrogantly call "human decency" that Japan is the only place they can function.

So what does that mean?

As for your friends found watch, I left a wallet on a counter at a supermarket, and it was stolen. Then the clerk looked me in the eye and said he didnt see it. The police did not help. so... whatever. Im glad your friend "knows what time it is"...

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Self-centered zombies running rampant through Japanese society

Indeed, and one would think that they would be ashamed since it's the culture of shame! Of all that was mentioned, I can't stand when some idiot is walking out of a store, a building, or any other place where the idiot must rejoin the rhythm of the general population circling already. The idiot almost NEVER looks before stepping out, they'd rather bump into you and say they're sorry instead of avoiding the stupid situation in the first place. That's when they say they're sorry. And other zombies never have control of their limbs (hands, arms, legs) and take most of the space in front of you while walking. Rainy days are bad too, because they then have the big umbrellas. Yeah a real 'fureai' society. Why do they insist on TOUCHING and BUMPING into everyone else??? Perhaps Tokyo is the worst since it's so crowded.

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Becoming mindless? They had their head up their a$$ when I moved here in 1993 already!

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What passes for good manners here is different to Anglo Saxon or European expextations. In fact, even germany is different from Anglo Saxon.

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It is all about "different strokes for different folks".

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I like to laugh at the shows of Africa here where they show dirty refugee camps and unwashed people... As if it were generally any cleaner here!

I hate this kind of ridiculous comment where people compare anything like that in any developed country to a third world country. It's obvious that the person making the comment has never been near a third world country. Try visiting a poorer African country or a Mumbai slum and then come back and tell us if you really think Japan is just as dirty, because I have been to those countries, and I think your comment is laughable.

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Next time you get stared at just say something along the lines " (pause) Yeah, I'm on the train, (pause) I answered cuz I wanna fit in like the locals (pause) yeah, yeah, exactly.. so I'm going to talk to you very loudly (long pause) I know this is normally rude, but it's quite normal here -(pause) I find it peculiar too. When in Rome..."

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