Japanese street life explained

Why do they need a man with a flashing red stick to guide you along the pavement when the works you are being protected from are already behind a huge fence?
Pork barrel projects where the main point is to employ as many people as possible, risk aversion, not being able to dismiss people who turn out to be good for nothing else
Why do my drains sometimes get really smelly?

Even if you are lucky enough to be linked up to the sewage system- a considerable percentage of properties even in Tokyo have tanks- the system is not the best.

Why are the Japanese convinced all begging monks are fakes?

Why do the Japanese reuse their brand goods paper carrier bags?

Why book covers?

A desire for privacy and a tendency for bored people on the train to stare at the few books that aren’t covered, plus the bookshops wanting to be not left behind by each other and outdo the convenience stores in terms of service. They also get some free advertising, and it helps preserve the book in good condition for being resold (being slightly bashed up can take 3/4 of the resale price).

Why is there a loud ‘ping pong’ noise or fake birdsong near station platform staircases and some entrances to public buildings?

It’s to let blind people know where the stairs and exits are.

Why do the Japanese have no concept of noise pollution?

It’s not just the Japanese. The Turkish and Thais pipe music into almost every park! Even more than the Japanese, Asian countries are only a generation or two away from the countryside and the silence of a rice field means being backward and even ‘lonely’. Add to that Japanese salarymen in the safety department and advertising department doing their gambaru best by adding sounds to escalators, vending machines, posters etc. and there you have it.

Why do strangers keep pointing out (some almost angrily) that my bag is open?

Because that is exactly the kind of slackness that pisses that late middle aged guy off about young people and/or foreigners

Why are there guys in dodgy suits hanging round the station and hitting on girls?

They are trying to recruit them for hostess bars

Why do you occassionally see people offering random passersby to read their palms?

They are recruiting for cults

Why is there so little grafitti in Japan, despite the huge interest in B boy culture?

The local governments took all the fun out of it by especially setting aside walls for graffiti to be done on.

Why do some people handing out leaflets or tissues in the street avoid giving gaijin any?

With a dedication to a crap job rarely seen outside Japan, they are giving them only to the specific people the advertising is aimed at.

Why tissues?

Why are there men sleeping in cars and cafes in the middle of a working day?

A lot of them are salesmen. As sales is about the lowest status white collar job in Japan (hence why it is one of the few jobs available to mothers returning to work) quite a few salesmen are slackers. Luckily for them, their job is out of the office where there are plenty of places for a nap as long as their wife and/or parents don’t find out. There are also examples of men being too scared to tell their wife they have lost job and so leaving for “work” everyday in shirt and tie, only to spend months killing time in a cafe. There might also be the occasional homeless guy dressed smartly so he doesn’t get moved on

Why do Japanese guys cuddle each other as they stagger back to the station?

By doing exactly the opposite of what they would usually do, they show that they are properly drunk and relaxed and had a good time.

Why is a chain coffee shops named Doutor (”doctor”)?

Apparently it’s named after a street in Lisbon, although that still doesn’t work as an explanation for me…

Why did they name MOS hamburgers after a green, sometimes slimy garden pest?

Although a traditional Japanese garden shows that there is a more positive picture of moss, in fact MOS stands for Mountain Ocean Sky.

If Japanese people are supposed to be shy, how come they practice their golf swings and ballroom dancing moves on the station platform?
Most Japanese people seeing this might also think it is crazy, but for the minority of Japanese who go through life completely unaware of the subtle way in which people express their disapproval, the same systems that keep everyone else in line leave them to be as eccentric as they like. A general acceptance of people taking their hobbies very seriously might also be a factor
If regular pachinko pinball slot machine players have to wear earplugs, why don’t they just turn down the music?
The music both gets the adrenalin going and produces the trance-like stupor that is most of the appeal for a stressed salaryman

Why is jumping in front of a train such a “popular” way of killing yourself?

 In any society particular methods of suicide go through “booms” that are almost like those of consumer products and are closely linked to the amount of publicity they get. Jumpers can hardly be hidden because of the transport disruption. There have also measures that have made other methods more difficult, such as not allowing solitary men into some hotels

Why are Japanese salarymen always puking on the sidewalks?

“Japanese vomit is kind of special express of satisfaction. We Japanese are making loud sounds when eat soba noodles or udon. This mean ‘Thank you wonderful soba chef! This is delicious!’ So when Japanese is vomit, we say ‘Oh! That was great nomikai! I having so much fun now!'” “Ask Kazuhide”, Japanzine March 08. More serious attempts at an explanation tend to start with Japanese lacking certain hormones, but as countless researchers have proven that behaviour such as British boys getting roudy is overwhelmingly cultural this might be a classic case of “many a true word..”

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