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johnnygogogo comments

Posted in: How to be funny in Japan See in context

Once again Mr Landsberg has got it completely wrong. Humour is highly cultural.

Frungy, I think you need to reread the conclusion of the story... That's exactly what he says.

In the end, it's all about walking a fine line balancing between not only what the audience knows, but also what they feel comfortable hearing. As knowledge of our host culture grows, not only does our sense of appreciation of their humor grow, but also our ability to make a joke

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Posted in: How to be funny in Japan See in context

As knowledge of our host culture grows, not only does our sense of appreciation of their humor grow

Irony. Many posts bashing Japanese humor, despite the conclusion of the story. (File under: Things that make you go hmmmm...)

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Posted in: 'Getting help' is not un-Japanese; it's expensive See in context

Godan, the two main certifications are JSCCP and JFP. Actually, the word "license" is probably a poor choice of words. "certification" would be better... but I'm not sure. http://tokyocounseling.com/english/column/tcsstandardsmental.html

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Posted in: 'Getting help' is not un-Japanese; it's expensive See in context

And since anyone can call him or herself a counselor, who knows what kind of advice a patient is getting?

Actually, under the new rule, counselors have to undergo 2 years of supervised training to get licensed. I'm not sure if not having a license rules out a license to practice though.

If train companies offered free counseling clinics, I wonder how much money they'd save a year?

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Posted in: The story of love hotels See in context

Ninjadave, Have you been in Japan long? In general you don't bring a people back to your house in Japan unless you know them very well, and even if you live alone its not so common, plus the walls of most apartments are paper thin... and regular hotels don't offer "stay". Unless you're saying that you're against pre-marital sex or it should always be done in an extremely quiet manner, most of the better love hotels offer a clean and respectable environment for couples to be intimate. Customers include steady and married ones too. Also, if you have kids and live in a house with sliding doors and the walls are thin, its difficult to have intimacy in a family home as well. This isn't to say that there aren't sleezy ones, but most aren't.

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Posted in: The story of love hotels See in context

virtuoso, I have to agree with Freddie, I think you're missing the point of the story. You're comparing it with a Wikipedia article and asking that it make more points than that story -- when the article is trying to make a point about how Japanese society and culture is changing, which is something I know the author frequently writes about.

I don't know how long you've been here, but mizushoubai, fuzaku and cabaret were once a very important part of the Japanese salaryman's afterhour life. The hotels sprung up during that era. Japanese salarymen were once famous for being very skinny. Its true that many small snack bars and hostess clubs are closing and they're being replaced by "chain-ten" restaurants and izakaya, so I find the idea that Japan is going from sexual decadence to fried chicken is somewhat funny. -- Also, Nampa used to be a very popular pastime for young Japanese, but now there are articles about "Japan's Herbivore Men" and the phenomena of young Japanese having no interest in sex.

Has anybody else noticed that there seem to be far less "nampa" dudes that there used to be?

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Posted in: The story of love hotels See in context

@virtuoso abekku hoteru is another name for a love hotels and Machiai are tea houses which the author mentions.

Your reference to Hotel Love probably comes from an article linked to "The Stars and Stripes" in Wikipedia, both being definitive sources on Japanese culture I guess. -- Actually, The Meguro Emperor is recognized as the protege of the modern love hotel because of its design. (In my younger days I will admit to having frequented it more than a few times, if its the same one that's still standing.) -- Enshuku were unique because they were Western style hotels with locking doors. If a Japanese person is reading this, perhaps they can clarify the difference between enshuku and tsurekomi yado. Enshuku were Western style hotels which were unique because they hand the locking doors and double beds. Yado is Japanese for an "inn", more specifically a guest house -- not really a modern hotel.

Your reference to the license issue is actually a whole 'nother topic... and quite complex. The way it works is that there are two types of hotels. Conventional hotels require guests to register (meaning present name and id) and love hotels that operate as "fukozoku". -- love hotels can continue to operate, so long as they register as regular hotels, but register the guests properly. If they don't, then the owner can be prosecuted for running an illegal love hotel. Of course, in Japan, "fuzoku" operate in separate districts -- As a result, if you visit some newer establishments the plus side is 1 -- They take credit cards!!! downside -- No more window with the curtain... you gotta show your face. I read an article a while back that said HALF of all love hotels are registered as conventional businesses.

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Posted in: Farmers - last of the modern-day samurai See in context

@tmarie Yes, its a hard life. That's why the children of the farmers chose to get educated and become businessmen -- The guys that are still doing it are the last of a breed. 100 or so years ago, they made up the vast portion of the population. I think after the war, they may have eve still made up 50%... now they're down to nothing, but the government wants to find a way to get more people to farm; however, it won't be easy.

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Posted in: Farmers - last of the modern-day samurai See in context

but I believe that the samurai class became the Japanese army which in turn morphed into the suited businessman>> kurispupisu-san, Not quite... Many of the Samurai were the folks who became the bureaucrats and political leaders.

The army recruited from the peasant class, but I'm not sure what percent were peasants. My assumption is that the higher ranking officers would have been more likely to have come from the samurai class, but the "masses" would have been peasants, meaning from the agrarian sector. (Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong.)

As for why the samurai became samaurai... it was because... their parents were Samurai.

My biggest worry is that to compete Japan will revive agriculture in part by importing lot's of foreign labor and underpaying them. Illiterate in Japanese, and initially viewing the low paying salary as "opportunities", Japanese workers will resent them for taking their jobs (the jobs they don't want to do anyway), and being "bottom of the ladder" and having a lack of upwardly mobile opportunities they will be subject to discrimination as well as have social problems which are often common in the case of migrant workforces ANYWHERE in the world. (They're exploited for cheap labor when the economy is good. When the economy is bad they're blamed for crime and stealing jobs... They have children who want to have the same opportunities as the people they work for, but are associated with "low level labor" and shunned -- and are also accused of further stealing jobs and opportunities and corrupting the culture.)

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Posted in: Farmers - last of the modern-day samurai See in context

Tmarie, I'm still trying to get my shop to stop stocking crap from Tohoku >>

That's really sensitive of you... are you aware how large Tohouku is?

There are a small number of hysterical customers that refuse to eat Tohouku products... and there are others who wish to support it and are grateful when JA sponsors famer's markets at the train station.

Stories that put contamination in context... http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/03/22/134746912/radioactive-milk-only-a-danger-after-58-000-glasses. http://www.oregonlive.com/today/index.ssf/2011/03/radiation_found_in_milk_spinach_at_farms_near_japan_nuclear_complex.html

kurisupisu, I think you're missing the author's analogy. When Japan had to modernize in the Meiji era the Samurai were cast aside. Now that Japan has to modernize, the farmer's may be getting cast aside. The Samurai today are a symbol of traditional Japanese culture. Japan is an agrarian society. Get the point???

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Posted in: Farmers - last of the modern-day samurai See in context

Frungy -- The author states in the article "But today, there are barely only 3 million farming families left in Japan. In fact, 60% of all farmers hold other part-time jobs. They’re likely to be over 65 as well as have children, even grandchildren who’ve settled down in the city."

The article concludes by saying that farming is turning into more of an "art" than an "industry". You seem to be arguing the same point while attacking the author.

I'm confused what point you disagree with?

As to the facts... I believe there are only 350,000 farmers who represent the "core" Japanese labor force.

According to the Tokyo Foundation there are 2.85 million remaining farming households. http://www.tokyofoundation.org/en/articles/2008/the-perilous-decline-of-japanese-agriculture-1

If you refer to page 6 below you'll see that there are 5 types of farming household and the actual make up (in terms of commercial vs. side business. etc.) http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/35/53/43245392.pdf

Also you state...

Yes, there are serious "farming families" out there, but most of the farming in Japan is done by ex-salarymen and ex-office ladies, and I think it's wonderful that these people are doing something productive with their retirement.

Two points... 1) I'd like to see a statistic that supports the statement that "most" of the farming in Japan is done by ex-salarymen and ex-office ladies. It is a fact that a great deal are farming cooperatives -- no doubt. 2) But if true, this correlates with the author's statement that farming is turning more into an art than an "industry".

The author states that the economy is bad and needs to modernize. He acknowledges that in terms of the products they make, farmers are doing a great job, but the industry is dying (A "part time hobby" or "post retirement" hobby is definitely not a "vibrant industry".) He predicts that farming will survive as an art, and trade liberalization will prevail. I'm confused which points you disagree with?

tmarie Actually, a lot of farms in Japan are organic. They're small independent farms who collectivize, so if you support Japanese agriculture, you are achieving your ends.

There are two issues threatening them. From within the "middle man" problem, but from without the possibility of countries with much cheap production costs dumping products -- in which case they could not compete. -- Then, as several other people mentioned, there is a national security issue as well as eternal economics. (All countries have to be able to produce certain amounts of their own food, but at the same time can not pay their work force "third world" labor wages."

http://www.nishoren.org/en/?p=1099 JA is the organization that helps support the collective. http://www.zenchu-ja.or.jp/eng/objectives/index.html

Mr. Uwe above, pretty much sums up the situation excellently.

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Posted in: Farmers - last of the modern-day samurai See in context

@gaijininfo So if you put 3 million farmer families out of work, including communities which depend on agriculture for their lifeblood, are you volunteering the Japanese taxpayers (of which I am one) to pay for it? All countries have a responsibility to support their local commerce first. The Japanese public is split on TPP... its not a black and white issue. In fact, considering that Japan is so urbanized, the fact that opinion is split almost 50/50 says a lot about Japanese wanting to protect its traditional agrarian culture.

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Posted in: Farmers - last of the modern-day samurai See in context


samurai were brave men of honor and self-respect and personal responsibility.>>Actually, in the final days, the Samurai were practically useless. Japan hadn't been to war for hundreds of years... They were known to run up huge debts... and peasants paid huge land taxes to them, and Japan had to develop a modern military to replace them (but that's besides the point.)

Japan's farmers work their butts off... curious if anyone belittling them has actually worked or lived on a farm for even a day.

When I go shopping at local supermarkets I don't have to spend all my time digging through products with fingernail indentations in them because people know they have to check them out to make sure they're not rotten in the middle.

The fact is the farmers have spoiled the Japanese... not the other way around. Japan is still a very wealthy country, even though times are relatively tough now. I don't see what's wrong with the government protecting its citizens from having cheap goods dumped on them.

Here's the catch... I don't hear Japanese people demanding in mass that cheap agricultural goods be allowed into this country... Do you really think the West has a right to IMPOSE who Japan has to do business with if its citizens aren't demanding such products. Although trade liberalization is the way to go, I sometimes see degrees of western arrogance in posts that condemn Japan from protecting its domestic market as if the hard working farmers are spoiled bums.

As for the idea that JA is "bad" and "corrupt", I hear this repeated over and over again, but would like to see specific proof of this beyond resentment that there's a union that protects its hard working members. The issue that's being debated is TRQ (the tariff rates) -- The issue is creating numbers that allow balance between allowing a domestic market to EXIST, and allowing countries to be able to do business with Japan, but the WTO and other groups can't act as some GANGSTER organization saying "You better do business with us buddy, or else!"

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Posted in: Farmers - last of the modern-day samurai See in context

(Sorry, Tmarie, bold did not work on above post.)

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Posted in: Farmers - last of the modern-day samurai See in context

But do you think your average family in Japan can afford the high quality food? Go to the grocery store and look at the price differences between the best quality and the lowest price - which is still outrageous. Exactly, and the article is arguing that the farmers are on their way out because of this. The economy is bad. High quality is important in Japan... If foreign imports can beat them to the punch (and as things stand they can) they're in big trouble. During the time of the bubble, nothing less than the best was acceptable for most people, even if it was outrageously priced.

Perhaps YOU could look at the farmers in England and make some comparisons as not all the difference in terms of history and background issues. Only difference is that English farmers saw what was happening, modernized and are word renowned for their organic produce and quality This is true. Japanese farmers are going to have to adapt, and some are. (There are currently a number of industrial conferences discussing ways of modernizing and becoming more competitive.)

On the other hand, when pricing in cost of land and cost of labor can Japanese farmers compete with foreign imports. Keep in mind that England is very close to a whole continent of wealthy neighbors. Over the years, what percent of UK agriculture has been exported? Today, I think only 2% of Japanese agriculture is exported... the rest is domestically consumed. (Please don't quote me on this!)

The point of this article is that farmers are more so artisans than industrialists, hence they are in danger of becoming irrelevant. I would think you'd agree with that?

As for them not being able to produce enough food... it also relates to a point in the article. The reason people stopped farming was to move to urban business centers and get jobs that paid better and were less labor intensive. -- I hope you're not old enough to remember when you'd see the old hunched back ladies working the fields!-- Would you want your child to live such a life? -- So the farmers were happy for their children to move to Tokyo and become salarymen became salarymen and only a small handful remained behind... But now, the Japanese economy is shrinking. MORE FARMERS and LESS businessmen are needed; however, in a society used to luxury and affluence people simply don't want to do this kind of work. It is a huge dilema for the farmers.

That said, it is not true that farmers aren't modernizing; however, you correctly point out we're dealing with an aging population, not a young forward looking generation. As to modernization, some examples of initiatives.

Soybean Trust: http://daizubatake.sakura.ne.jp/about/about.html

Suiden Trust http://suiden-trust.blogspot.com/

Japan Organic Agriculture Association: http://www.joaa.net/

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Posted in: Farmers - last of the modern-day samurai See in context

Tmarie, once you're in a Japanese company, they provide everything for you, from dorms when you start, sports clubs and activities, sometimes types of child and family care, your peers who you will even reunite with after you die and will all come to your funeral. Getting laid off can be like getting cut off from your own family, it's not just changing jobs.

Japanese produce is famous for its high quality. Their's a perfectionist aesthetic that drives up cost, but is very Japanese. As for the government propping it up, you have rural towns that are economically depended on it and a low food subsidy problem. The choice is to boost the industry, or deal with high rural unemployment. There are cultural issues too -- see below.

Ben, does it really need to be spelled out?

Japan was an agrarian society. Now the agricultural sector is almost insignificant, meaning it's in danger of being thrown by the wayside so the economy as a whole can survive.

Decendents of the samurai still promote samurai class arts, but they no longer exist as a class and aren't powerful or economy important. The farmers, today no longer drive Japanese society and Japan is in a panic which is resulting in layoffs and alleged crime. If you know the issue, the farmers are putting up a huge fight. The author, but are in danger of being thrown by the wayside. The author clearly sums up the situation, explains why the odds are against them, but why he respects and sympathizes with them. If you understood Japanese history and the background of this issue, little need to be summed up: all it does is summarize things people know about, but from an emotional perspective capturing the panic of the businessmen, the fears of the public (including feeling unsafe and attributing it to the economy), and the dilemma of many farmers who have a strong union and are definitely a force to be reckoned with.

I think this article is a respectful way of saying that the farmers are as culturally significant as the samurai, but becoming as socially irrelevant. The Samurai and farmers were once the backbone of J-society. Think about it... One is gone, the other, in the author's opinion is going to be gone soon. I find that disturbing, though the article fails to mention how Japanese farmers are trying to reverse the trend.

Respectfully Ben, spend less time criticizing pieces and read up on the issues so people don't have to spell things out for you and you can offer opinions ON THE TOPIC.

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Posted in: 8-yr-old girl stabbed by man while walking home from school in Matsudo See in context

I'd like to say that one of the things I like about Japan Today is that it publishes LOCAL news too. This story falls into that type of category. Many other J-news websites focus on news that are more relevant to people who may only be doing business in Japan and are only interested in ex-pat life. These are the type of stories that are covered on the local news, and that if you interact with normal Japanese, or teach them that is part of the local gossip. Japan Today offers a balance of stories that a lot of other sites don't.

I'd also like to say, that I am very glad that Japan Today has stories by its staff and writers. Not all readers of Japan Today are fluent in Japanese and some stories being covered (as I mentioned above) are not covered by English media.

If Japan Today will commit itself to covering the same stories that Japanese domestic media cover, but English media in Japan skip over, it will continue to broaden its appeal. -- While I am not particularly a fan of the AFP, thumbs up on this site's content!!!

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Posted in: Man dying of stab wounds asks taxi driver to take him to hospital See in context

Reinaert and Export, my understanding is that in US, the hospital system involves taking the patient to the nearest ER and a triage, but in Japan the ambulances call the hospitals, and hospitals only accept patients if surgeons are available. (I may be wrong about this.) This might be the confusion.

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Posted in: Man dying of stab wounds asks taxi driver to take him to hospital See in context

SmithinJapan, actually, ambulances are usually very quick to arrive and they and intubate while searching for an emergency room; however, taxis are EVERYWHERE, so he probably thought it was quicker than waiting for an ambulance. (Odds are a hospital wasn't so far off, especially if it was in Arakawa.) My experience the one time I had to call an ambulance was very positive.

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Posted in: Mental hygiene for scandal-embroiled CEOs See in context

Actually, many companies are aware of the problem of employees overworking and succumbing to physical or emotional notice. That's part of the reason companies now limit overtime, encourage their employees to participate in clubs and have programs to screen for health, some mental related issues. It is true though that people who lose their jobs and don't have strong social bonds are more likely to commit suicide.

The book the author may be referring to is called "The Psychopath Test" -- There was an episode of This American Life about it.

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Posted in: Tweeting in the midst of imminent doom See in context

y3chome -- huh? fourth paragraph down...

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Posted in: Japan's CO2 emissions see first rise in three years See in context

zabutonsenbei, Son can't even deliver a consistently connective CELLULAR access grid, which is his main business.

Even in Tokyo there are places reception or 3Gs pops out... I've been in countless situations where friends with AU tried to phone or e-mail me (the old fashion way of bumping) and they had reception and I didn't... never the other way around. The last thing Japan needs to do is put its energy needs in Son's hands.

If you ask people at SOFTBANK shops why this is a problem they say, "We're newer than KDDI, but please be patient." Right... and SOFTBANK is newer than TEPCO... I can only imagine. And their contracts are anything but simple. Try to get a straight answer on anything. No, please...

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Posted in: Driven to murder by debt See in context

I think you have a serious social problem when people are supporting organized crime at best and committing murder/suicide at worst. There are pachinko, pachislot, ATM lending machines and sparking biiru in front of every train station I go to. Gambling and chronic debt are tied into compulsive disorders --psychological problems. Furthermore, women often can't get loans without their husband's permission/knowing from reputable banks. New law rules out even credit unions. It's a serious social problem that funds organized crime and leads to people getting killed. They also are a common reason for divorce. Filing for bankruptcy also has serious consequences in Japan -- the person becomes part of a blacklist that makes it hard to function in society even maintain a career. It is not a light problem, but I don't think it gets talked about enough.

In the case of this story, the man confessed and stated his debts were the cause of his action. It was also on the Japanese news.

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Posted in: Man suspected of killing wife, son with pickaxe See in context

AFP is merely reporting the details they received from whatever there source was, but... how do you bludgeon an entire family to death while they're sleeping??? You'd think it would make a bit of noise -- especially if it was enough to get the neighbors called to the house.

Regarding the death penalty, when its applied, its usually applied over particularly gruesome crimes, mass murder in particular... Killing a wife and kid might warrant it...

If the guy was heavily indebted it is possible that Sarakin were trying to convince HIM to kill himself so the insurance would pay off... and, in going over the edge he decided to be spiteful -- wild speculation, of course.

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Posted in: Princess Aiko hospitalized with cold symptoms See in context

That would be great if we could all send our kids and colleagues to hospitals when they had colds... Keep the germs away from us, let the nurse's pamper them, let them have their rest. its a win/win deal!

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Posted in: Thousands rally for Fukushima compensation, decontamination See in context

How come these articles never mention who the organizers are, they just refer to them as "the organizers"... who are "they"?

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Posted in: Commodore Perry & the legacy of American imperialism See in context

@T_rexmaxytime umm... in terms of defending itself against a foreign threat (which Japan feared for 100s of years and happened with Perry's arrival) or in the event of a civil uprising (which occurred as a result) what kind of military did Japan have prior to Perry? The author is pointing out that the Samurai were USELESS in defending the country... they had no ability to do anything. They were, as you point out, civil administrators. Perry's arrival made them irrelevant...

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Posted in: Commodore Perry & the legacy of American imperialism See in context

@frungy head palm

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Posted in: Commodore Perry & the legacy of American imperialism See in context

@samuraiblue History book opened... http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/japan/japanworkbook/modernhist/meiji.html This is a more mainstream narrative of the significance of the Meiji Restoration.

@unreconstructed "stoic gratitude" definition -- Realization of the consequences of an event without any emotional delight or joy. The article also explains that the American view of Perry is out of touch with most historians in the very beginning, and backs it up by accusing Perry in destabilizing the country and resulting in a national regional blood bath.

But I've had my debate for the week... on to something more fun... God knows what...

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Posted in: Commodore Perry & the legacy of American imperialism See in context

@samuraiblue Actually, you are partially correct. It was the Ronin and younger samurai especially who adapted Sonno Joi... not all Samurai.

You are also correct about Dutch... Most Samurai interpreters were trained in Dutch prior to the Meiji Restoration. The arrival of Perry changed that... Of course, there's the amazing stories of Ranald McDonald, no relation to the Hamburger guy.

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