The Showa period (1926-1989) was a time of immense change for Japan when the country went from being an imperial power to a poverty-stricken post-war nation and then becoming an economic powerhouse that dominated automotive and electronic industries around the world. Twenty-seven years since that era ended and the current Heisei era began, fond memories of “Showa Japan” still flood many Japanese minds.
But a recent online poll asked netizens to take off their rose-tinted glasses and consider the aspects of daily Showa-period life that, while seeming completely normal back then, would be unthinkable now.
The Showa period gave us some pretty fantastic art in ads and some great anime, but there were some parts of Japanese society, like corporal punishment that bordered on child abuse, that are not likely talked about when waxing poetically about the good ol’ days. Wanting to take a look at parts of life in Showa Japan that some have a tendency to forget, the online news site MyNavi Woman asked its readers to submit “overlooked Showa moments” in a recent poll.
More than 450 readers were asked, “What are the top things about the Showa era that we rarely think about?” and were able to submit multiple answers. The results of the poll, along with the percentage of respondents who submitted the answer, are as follows:
1. Drinking water during exercise was discouraged (28.9%)
The top answer most readers submitted was that it was considered common practice to forbid drinking water during any kind of exercise. Many net users couldn’t quite remember why this was considered good for the body at the time, but one remembered hearing their gym teachers telling them water would “thin out the blood.” Others recalled being told that drinking water during physical activities would actually cause your body to be further exhausted. Luckily, science caught up and taking water to sports practice became the norm.
2. Train toilets emptied right onto the tracks (22.8%)
Before modern trains came along with their fancy toilets equipped with a holding tank, it was common for train toilets to be barely more than a hole in the floor. For obvious reasons, passengers were not allowed to use the toilets while the train was standing at the station, but those living near the tracks often complained of the smell of human waste, and some even fell sick from being near open sewage. Apparently as late as 2002, there was still a train with this kind of toilet being used by JR in Hokkaido.
3. Everyone went to school and work on Saturday mornings (21.5%)
Forget Saturday morning cartoons, much of Japan still remembers a time when Saturday mornings were nothing more than another weekday. Children went to school and their parents went to work and the weekend didn’t truly begin until Saturday afternoon. But some actually looked back fondly at those memories because classes were often more casual and they enjoyed spending their Saturday mornings with their classmates.
4. The yen was about 1/3 weaker (20%)
Today, about 120 yen buys you $1, but from 1949 to 1971 the exchange rate was fixed at 360 yen to the dollar to prop up Japanese exports. Even though Japanese industries loved being able to sell their cheap goods overseas, the weak yen made imports prohibitively expensive and trips overseas only a dream for the rich.
5. Need to fix the TV, just give it a whack (16.5%)
Many people who grew up in the Showa era remember when giving the TV set a good smack could improve the picture. This was because wires in the heavy CRT TVs of the past could be whacked back into place or dust that had gotten in knocked out after a good slap. Although this method of TV repair was common practice back then, we really recommend you call your local repairman instead of going Mike Tyson on your screen.
Besides these five overlooked parts of Showa life, other readers recalled how socially acceptable smoking was, to the point that people lit up in hospital waiting rooms and subway trains needed ashtrays. And another reader remembered how pay-day during this time mean cold hard cash, making the man of the house very popular when he came home that day. How do these “forgotten” memories of Showa Japan stack up to what you know about the era?
Source: My Navi Woman
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