Buggers Travel Japan 2014: 5 Shocking Japanese Cultures the Buggers Experienced


Every country has its own cultures and the way they do things. Japan is well known for its culture of all things weird and creepy and just fantabulously awesome. But because one only reads about all those different practices and cultures at home through their computer screens, one can never really understand or experience the magnitude of how these practices work in real life. All that computer stuff is just scratching the surface, because when the Buggers were in Japan, we were pretty much culture shocked by many of the Japanese cultures.

Cultures like...

#5 Politeness

One of the things which struck me the most when the Buggers and I were in Japan was how insanely polite and helpful the Japanese people are. Everywhere we went, people were bowing and stringing together long sentences which probably included quotes like "live long and prosper" and "have a fantastic day ahead of you". Doors were held open, smiles were beaming across the cold faces, complete strangers would offer their help whenever they saw that you needed it. And the bows. Everyone is bowing at you, and I found myself bowing back because it was overwhelming.

Here I am bowing together with a total stranger at a well in a castle somewhere. 

Here's a fun fact. Japanese people are so polite that they don't offer their seats to the elderly, because the elderly would literally FORCE you back into your seat if you as much as half stood up for them. True story.

#4 Helpfulness


We could get lost in the middle of nowhere and a Japanese person will come right up to us and ask us if he could help us in any way possible. It's happened a couple of times; when the group of us were just standing in the middle of the street consulting our maps, and a random Japanese lady would approach us with a smile and try her best to lead us to wherever we wanted to go, Engrish or no Engrish. There was once when I asked directions from a lady manning the counter at a pharmacy. Without even picking up the loose change from her previous customer or even closing the cash register properly, she stood up, walked out from behind the counter and freaking walked me to the right direction. Mind you, she just left the counter unmanned. You can't do that here in Malaysia without the cash register and half of the counter snacks "disappearing" into some sticky fingered man's pockets. Which leads me to...

#3 Criminality

In Japan, Bugger Marcus noted an interesting fact. There were so many chances for Japanese people to commit petty violations; crossing the road on red, not paying for a meal on the automatic machine, jumping through the train ticket machines, stealing money from an unmanned cash register, y'know, the sort of things that Bugger Marcus lives for every day. The fact that he, and later me, can even think about all the potential crimes we could have committed, while NONE of the Japanese have even done so, goes to show how different our mentality and their mentality are. They don't even cross the road even if it's late at night and there are no cars around. If the light's red, it's no go. In Malaysia, we just rush across every single traffic light, red or not. Okay, there was that Friday night when we hit the streets of Namba and almost got carried away by callgirls and their well-dressed pimps. But let's not go there.

#2 Servitude

We ate out a lot while travelling around Japan. And most of the service in these restaurants are excellent, they would welcome you, sit you down and offer any assistance you may need (see above Politeness and Helpfulness). But here's where it gets a little scary. Their service is so good that the customer need not do anything at all, but to enjoy. Once, I tried to refill some tea for our table, only to have the manager literally snatch the teapot away from me, offer a small growl of displeasure and then help to refill our empty cups with a smile. I suspect it's ingrained in their system to serve, and to never let the customer serve themselves. It was not an isolated incident, because the same thing happened with the old lady serving us at our ryokan. She grabbed the teapot away from me, fear in her eyes, as though making me pour my own tea was a criminal offence. It is still pretty mind-boggling.

#1 Pornography

Those gleaming eyes.

Look, we're not above admitting that yes, we do watch porn once in a while (anyone who tells you otherwise is either a liar or Bugger Seah). But the porn industry in Japan is just another level. We went into a 5-storied Japanese Adult Video (AV) shop in the middle of Osaka, and no one batted an eyelid. In fact, I think the store employees greeted us with a smile, a bow and a wish for me to be happy and prosperous; I can't be sure because there were boobs everywhere. In fact, I'm not so sure what exactly happened in that shop (on account of all the sights and sounds) but I remember not being able to get out until we've reached the top floor, where an elevator waited to take us down. Still, the openness of the rest of the browsers (made up of young men and their grandfathers) and the general politeness of the employees ("Hi, I work at XXX Porn Shop!") really made us all think long and hard, no pun intended.

Man, I miss Japan already.


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