Friday, August 25, 2006

Superior Japan

Until a few years ago, there was a magazine called Nihongo Journal meant for those studying Japanese. It, like many Japanese texts was full of ninhonjinron or some similar crap to try to convince students that Japan was not only uniquely unique, but in the end, superior to any other country.

Here is an example from a few years ago. I was studying, and though I rarely use this magazine because I don't want to puke, I had never read this before. Tonight I did.

Basically, it is telling the story of a girl (Kyoko) who was visiting her Japanese friend. As soon as they walked into the house, the Japanese girl asked "Aren't you going to wash your hands?" Of course, this visitor was surprised as her hands weren't dirty at all. Well, the Japanese girl explained, from the time that they are children, Japanese wash their hands and gargle when they come home. This tidbit of stunning information (for me, for I have yet to see a Japanese wash his/her hands any more often than anyone else when they come home.) caused the visitor to by all impressed once again with the wonderful Japanese. As expected, she thought, a Japanese. The Japanese like cleanliness. She continued to think, if only them thar other (lesser?) Asians would do the same. In fact, if other countries in the world would pay the same attention to cleanliness as the Japanese, there would not be diseases like SARS spreading.

Stunning. As I have written, people go into trains in the winter and cough openly. At any time people will sneeze and often will NOT bother to cover their big mouth. The sound in a train actually hurts one's ears. I have seen cooks go into the toilet (once in Futakotamagawa, and once at the Tsuki restaurant in Sakuragi-cho Washington Hotel, use the toilet, and give one had a quick 1-2 second soapless rinse before going back to cook---or roll your sushi. I would say hand-washing is not especially noticeable in public toilets in Japan, certainly no more so than anywhere else I've been..

You can ride the train and watch many pick their nose and roll buggers. Yea, real clean. Look at this. Impressed? This, of course is something one wouldn't see everyday, (and most Japanese, as well as other peoples would be disgusted) but it obviously happened in uniquely "clean" Japan. Should other nationalities emulate that too?

Japanese people are usually personally clean, just like most people with good hygiene. Sorry, but otherwise, I don't see anything uniquely or especiallly clean about the Japanese.

I could go on, but this is the nihonjinron-type propaganda that people are fed when they try to study Japanese with some of the texts or magazines like this. I have met very few Japanese who will be as openly boastful, superior, and arrogant as the writer of this piece must be, but I suppose they are around.

Sorry about the unclear photo.

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