Stealing from Facebook AgainIt's now been almost 7 years since I left Japan. But through the magic of Facebook, I still keep in touch a little bit with the old expat community, and I can see what's trending on Facebook among the Japan expat crowds.
This article popped up today. It's from The Rising Wasabi which is basically like the Japan expat's version of The Onion--completely satirical and completely tongue-in-cheek.
Red Panic Button Activated After Foreigner Asks ‘Why?’
A red panic button was triggered at a local department store in Nagoya yesterday when a tourist dared to question the cause or reason for which something was done.
Staff working within earshot of the gaijin held their collective breaths after the foreign man asked ‘why?’ – a word whose implications bespeak so much evil that it should not be verbalized in public.
Et cetera....(the story goes on for a few more paragraphs, but I think you get the point. Also, "gaijin" means "foreigner" in Japanese).
The satire of the story is obvious. Japanese people do all sorts of mindless and stupid things without ever stopping to question why they do them. When a foreigner asked, "Why do I have to do this?" it throws them into a panic.
Like all satire, it has a basis in truth, kind of, but it's worth noting that every culture has lots of stupid things they do for no reason--including our own American culture. The only reason we notice it in Japan is because we are looking at the culture from the status of outsiders, and when you are an outsider you notice very clearly all the pointless traditions and rituals and customs. But in America we also do just as many mindless and pointless things without ever bothering to ask "why" every time.
All that being said, I'm going to cut the folks at The Rising Wasabi some slack, because I know when you live as an expat, you need some sort of outlet to vent, or you'll go insane.