Japanese society is rapidly aging and the birthrate has been declining. Yet this is still a country where people don't seem to mind being treated or spoken to like babies. Manners posters are not uncommon on public transit here in Japan nor are they unheard of in other countries. But look at this example of cartoon chickens having a lively conversation on the subway and annoying fellow passengers. "Shhh, you're talking a bit too loud," the poster says. A yellow-hatted manner-police creature is blowing a whistle ("pi-pi!") to warn and shame the naughty birds. Despite having been written without kanji (just as children's books are), the poster is obviously aimed at adults, judging by the size of the chickens in relation to the rabbits sitting next to them.
I personally have no problem with manner posters telling people not to talk loudly while using a cellphone, but this poster essentially is telling people not to talk at all. Train cars are generally really quiet in Japan, as if you are in a moving library. People are exhausted from work and want to be able to sleep as soon as they sit down it seems. So any volume level of chit-chat could be construed as "too loud."
While we're not talking about fines or ordinances here, I feel like I am paying a price every time I see this kind of thing in Japan. Posters like this just enforce an attitude of "be on your best behaviour in public" which always comes across as a bit Big Brother-like to me. No amount of colorful and "cute" artwork can disguise that fact.
at 5:49 PM
I found this personality quiz on the internets a while back and finally got around to taking it. I think it was supposed to enlighten me or something. Maybe reading it can help someone else if not me.
If something is forbidden, do you want it less or more?
I want it, more or less.
Is there an area of your life where you feel out of control? Especially in control?
Can my whole life be considered an area?
If you unexpectedly had a completely free afternoon, what would you do with that time?
I’d probably do my laundry.
Are you comfortable or uncomfortable in a disorderly environment?
Not very comfortable, but not uncomfortable.
How much time do you spend looking for things you can’t find?
I’m looking for the meaning of this question.
Are you motivated by competition?
No. Is that the right answer?
Do you find it easier to do things for other people than to do things for yourself?
I find it easier for people to do things for me.
Do you work constantly? Or think you should be working?
No. Can I take a break from this quiz now?
Do you embrace rules or flout rules?
I like rules when they are in my favor and break them when I can get away with it.
Do you work well under pressure?
No, but I might work more quickly.
What would your perfect day look like?
How much TV do you watch in a week (include computer time spent watching videos, movies, YouTube)?
10 hours maybe. This doesn’t include porn.
Are you a morning person or a night person?
I am a mid-day person.
What’s more satisfying to you: saving time or saving money?
Time IS money. Is this a trick question?
Do you like to be in the spotlight?
Only if people are looking at me.
Is your life “on hold” in any aspect? Until you finish your thesis, get married, lose weight?
I tried to put my life on hold, but I think I got disconnected.
What would you do if you had more energy?
If you suddenly had an extra room in your house, what would you do with it?
Stare at it and wonder “How did I never realize I had an extra room in my house?”
What people and activities energize you? Make you feel depleted?
Creative people and sex energizes me. Sex with creative people makes me feel depleted.
Is it hard for you to get rid of things that you no longer need or want?
I want to get rid of the need for things, but it is hard.
Do you get frustrated easily?
No. Is this quiz over yet?
On a typical night, what time do you go to bed? How many hours of sleep do you get?
Since I live in one room, I typically go to bed as soon as I get home. As many as I can get.
If at the end of the year, you had accomplished one thing, what is the one accomplishment that would make the biggest difference to your happiness?
Not to care whether I am happy or not.
at 4:27 PM
Look at these jokers. They think they are so cool. I found this photo on facebook after looking through the profile of one of the people on the "People You May Know" suggestions. That's the girl who was suggested, the one in the center with her eyes closed. I don't know her, but I have to admit that her super thick eyeliner and blonde hair sort of turns me on. HOW DID FACEBOOK KNOW THAT??
Anyway, what I am curious about, though, and have been curious about in Japan for some time now, is the use of masks. People wear masks here to cover their bad teeth or when they have a cold or when they think they are going to catch a cold or when they have allergies or when they don't want to catch a cold or when they just feel like wearing a stupid surgical mask and looking like a surgeon who got lost on the way to the hospital or like there is some SARS outbreak or worse.
But the thing that really gets me is that people have no shame in posing for photos with a mask, as can be seen here.
People talk about Japan being cool. Sorry, Japan. Wearing a gauze mask on your face is not cool.
Or maybe it's so uncool that it is cool? Again, look at these jokers. They obviously think they are the shit. (I'm not even going to mention their matching t-shirts or the fact that they are drinking ZIMA cause they are probably in a gang and will kill me.)
I am really getting tired of seeing people wearing surgical masks. Really. Not just on their faces, but pulled down under their chins while talking, eating, smoking a cigarette. Or hanging off one ear while chatting on the phone. And especially in photos, smiling and posing as if it is completely normal.
at 5:58 PM
I hate this bathroom symbol cause I don't know which is the men's room and which is the women's. I am color blind. So don't tell me you can tell by the colors because the two figures on the left look almost like the same color to me. So imagine you can't see the color. Which is a man and which is a woman? I would think the one with the big pointy breasts is a woman, wouldn't you? And the one with the protrusion around the waist is a well-endowed man. I hate having to walk into a bathroom and look for the urinals to know that I am in the right place. It's embarrassing. Seriously bad design.
at 4:15 PM
Saw this poster in a bar in Kichijoji. Remember when Japan seemed like it was ahead of the rest of the world because everyone used Mini-Discs? I even bought an MD player/recorder Walkman around 2000. MDs never took off in the US, and then came the iPod. Even though it's a dead format, they are sort of a beautiful piece of design, as this ad clearly wants to emphasize.
at 6:08 PM