Sunday, May 06, 2007

Kyoto Protocol and Japan

I have to admit, once agin' I'm all confused. Sort of like when I repeatedly hear how polite folks are in Japan and then notice that it ain't exactly true.

Anyway, as everyone knows, people in Japan have a deep mysterious (and genetic) respect for, and love of nature that no other people have. It's the only country with four clearly distinct seasons so this is natural.

But I wonder if this is true, then why don't we get homes with effective insulation? Hot water pipes are bare, so we waste energy by losing the water's heat much more quickly than we would if they were insulated. Walls and ceilings have a bare minimum of insulation too. Windows are often single-pane. Our apartment costs as much as an apartment in Manhattan cost me in the fall of 1999, but 2 of our windows are not even designed to close tightly---air always leaks through. Not loving nature as much as the natives do, I had to put plastic sheeting over them to keep heated or air conditioned air inside.

I wonder why things are wrapped individually at the grocery store checkout in smaller plastic bags. Why do I get a plastic straw with every small 500ml juice or milk carton? Can't we just open it and drink from the carton? Why do the clerks at Precce wrap each glass bottle in a sheet of plastic foam? Do the bottles often break when carrying them in Japan? If so, does that small thin piece of foam help? Naturally these things originate in ancient Japanese tradition and culture, but one would assume that with such a great love of the natural environment that perhaps nature's health would take precedence over customs. But then again, I am not a pure Japanese, so I probably misunderstand the purity of heart that allows this seeming contradiction.

I also wonder, when I walk through Akihabara---Akiba---or other such areas in the middle of the summer, why are many shops operating their air conditioning full blast with the front doors open? Yes, the cool air is very attractive and can make one want to enter the shop, but wouldn't a nature-loving, Fujiwara-reading, neo-bushidoist be more concerned about the waste and environmental damage?

These are just a few things which seem to contradict the love of nature and the stance against global warming attributed to Japan. It seems that the only motivation for energy conservation is the extraordinary expense to consumers. Wow, that seems so human. I am sure that there is an explanation for all this. I am also pretty sure it is all just cultural thing and even though this stuff seems like waste, it really isn't and my perception is all due to the fact that I don't understand Japan. It's different here. Up is down. Black is white. Coercion is not coercion.

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