Things I Don't Like About Japan Kabuki Cho 01

One thing I feel strongly about is not over-idolizing a country like Japan, believing it to be perfect when in fact it’s just another country, with various positive and negative aspects. So here we go with eight things we (either me personally, or items submitted by our Facebook and Twitter users) don’t always like about Japan.

Anime industry issues.

I love anime, but not everything about the anime industry. Personally, I hate the way anime is funded using the Production Committee method, in which several companies create an entity with names like Magica Partners or the New Game! Production Committee, which are basically shell companies made up of the various groups that bring an anime into being: the animation company itself (Shaft, Kyoani), the copyright holder to the original manga/game/light novel (Kadokawa, Nitroplus), perhaps a retailer like Good Smile if there’ll be figures, and a company to hassle fans with YouTube takedown notices (Aniplex). All too often, animators and directors receive a flat fee, and nothing in the way of bonuses if their anime breaks all records, which is what happened with Shinkai Makoto’s Your Name. Remember how terrible anime industry salaries are, too. They should absolutely change this system so that when a hit comes along, everyone who made it gets a slice.

Japan and disabled access.

On the one hand, does some amazing things for the disabled. Near J-List there’s a free sports facility where disabled athletes can get all kinds of services, and many local athletes train for the Paralympics there. On the other hand, a disabled person trying to get around a Japanese city, especially an old one like Kyoto, will certainly run into difficulties getting where they want to go. That said, Japan has improved 1000% in the decades I’ve been here.

Tattoo taboo

Japan famously has a thing with tattoos, because of what can only be called quirks of culture. The original idea is to keep scary yakuza gangsters out of family-friendly public baths, and (not wanting to discriminate) they generally extend the no-tattoos rule to foreigners as well. Social ideas are slowly changing, especially with the arrival of thousands of Olympic athletes in 2020, many of whom will have tattoos. Here’s a list of 50+ tattoo friendly hot springs, too, if you’ve got tats and want to visit Japan.

Commercial whaling

Like Norway and Iceland, Japan famously continues hunting whales for “scientific” purposes. While whaling has been part of Japan’s culture in the past (it was served as school lunches when my wife was in school), it clearly has no place in modern society. Another reason I oppose it: they fund it partially with my tax dollars. Whaling isn’t profitable on its own and needs regular government assistance to operate.

Politeness took to the point of insincerity.

On the one hand, people using basic politeness to make social interactions go smoothly—not unlike TCP/IP packets on a network—is a good thing. But too much politeness can kill any real emotion you might enjoy getting to know a person. The wise foreigner will use a little more informality than a Japanese might, in order to break down these unnecessary social walls.

Gomi (trash) issues.

If you visit a park, you’ll generally not find any trashcans there. The sad reality is that some unsavoury Japanese would take the opportunity to bring their family trash from home and leave it at the park. So people are strongly asked to “bring your gomi home with you.” Properly disposing of your trash often entails knowing that Tuesday is burnable day and getting up before 8 to put the appropriate bag out for pick up, but following a lot of complex social rules (like, don’t put it out the evening before), or you’ll be frowned on by everyone in the neighborhood.

Food issues.

Japanese food is celebrated as being healthy, but this is somewhat of a meme, since my favorite dish (katsudon) easily breaks 1200 calories and most of my daily allotment of fats and salt. There are so many carbs in most Japanese foods because everything the Japanese love to eat contains rice or flour. Also, the Japanese have almost no vegetarian culture, and will unironically serve bacon-wrapped asparagus as “vegetarian” because they don’t know any better.

Why has Japan not built giant robots yet? Were waiting!

I know, right? We’re so ready for this to become real. Or at least catgirls.

Has anime ever caused you to think about a deep question, such as what your future life goals should be? Tell us about it on Twitter!

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Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and that means J-List is starting our Black Friday Sale, which runs from Nov 21 through Nov 27! During the sale, you can instantly save $5, $20 or $40, on orders from $1 up through $200. Got your eye on some fabulous figures, or giant butt mouse pads? Want to put together a big box of awesome snacks and bring it to the office holiday party? This sale is in addition to our 2x Points sale on all “naughty” products, too! Browse all the products here.