24 Oct

Post 1: Why do Japanese students long for getting into Toudai? – Dragon Zakura

Post 2: 2Channel phenomenon in Japan – Densha Otoko

Post 3: “Rules” in Japanese restaurants – Shinya Shokudou


Being a freeter is a loser in Japan? – Freeter, Ie o Kau

15 Oct

‘Freeter, Ie o Kau’ is a television series which are broadcast in Japan in 2010. They story revolves around a ‘freeter’, a Japanese expression which is used for describing people aged from 15 to 34 who only work part-time job or unemployed, except housewives and students. Take Seji, the main character in this TV drama series, quits his job after three months. Without any dream and savings, he becomes a “Hikikomori”, a young adult who withdraws from social life. After realizing that his mother falls ill with depression, he starts working as a ‘freeter’ at a construction site and decides to buy a house for his family.

What is a ‘freeter’?

The blogs side of life has a post discussing ‘Japanese freeters’. The writer of that blog notes that “being a freeter now means to belong to the losers of society”. In general, Japanese students are always expected to enter a company right after their graduation. However, after the economic recession, it is very hard for young Japanese to find a full-time job. If they are unable to find any company promising them to hire them after they complete their studies, they are unlikely to get a regular job in the future. Since those who are not capable of entering a company after graduation always choose to work as freeters, ‘a freeter’ becomes a negative expression referring to loser of Japanese society.

Can a freeter be defined as a loser of society?

In other countries such as Australia, doing part time job is not a shame. It is very common for the Australia people to work as freeters rather than being full time workers. Most of the Australian ‘freeters’ believe that, as long as they can make money by themselves, they deserve respect from others. Moreover, not willing to be treated as a loser, some people refuse to do any part time job when they are still unemployed. This causes another social problem: People eventually lose all their confidence and become a “Hikikomori”, staying at home without any contribution. Therefore, to show respect to those who are willing to work and to prevent creating any further social problems, people should not define freeters losers of society.


The phenomenon of ‘Enjo Kosai’ in Japan – Baunsu ko gaurusu

11 Oct

‘Baunsu ko gaurusu’ is a story taking place within a 24 hour period. To start a new life as a college student, Risa decides to leave her family and to travel to New York. Unfortunately, just before picking up the train to the airport, she is almost raped and all her savings are stolen. At that depressing time, she meets two new acquaintances, Jonko and Raku, who try to help her recoup her traveling money. They do a string of ‘Enjo Kosai’ and successfully earn an enormous amount of money. However, things are getting worse after they meet Oshima, a boss of a group of Japanese gangsters.

What is “Enjo Kosai”?

‘Enjo Kosai’ (援助交際) is a Japanese term which can be translated as compensated dating. It is a practice that men pay women for a temporary companionship, with some form of sexual activity. Those female participants who are involved in ‘Enjo Kosai’ are mostly school-girls. They usually go karaoke with male participants for several hours and ask those men to pay for their time. The main reason why there is a growing trend of ‘Enjo Kosai’ in Japan is that more Japanese people, especially Japanese girls, become materialistic. To satisfy their endless material desires, they engage in ‘Enjo Kosai’ which enables them to earn money fast and easily.

Do not attempt to engage in ‘Enjo Kosai’

Betty Tam states that ‘Enjo Kosai’ is extremely dangerous. It is true because ‘Enjo Kosai’ involves illegal activities such as solicitation and prostitution. According to Atimes, since 2005, ‘Enjo kosai’ has been defined as an illegal activity in Tokyo. When a man requests having sex and directly pays for it by money during the date, he will be charged for prostitution. Participants can be penalized with 1 year in jail. Therefore, do not ever try ‘Enjo Kosai’, or you risk being arrested and eventually ruin your future.

“Rules” in Japanese restaurants – Shinya Shokudou

7 Oct

This is a 10-episode live-action TV drama based on a Japanese manga series called ‘Shinya Shokudou’ (Midnight canteen). This TV drama is played by Kobayashi Kaoru, and it broadcast in October 2009. The story revolves around an old fashioned all-night food stall which is located in a narrow alley in Shinjuku. This eatery names “Meshiya”, but customers call it “Shinya Shokudo” because it is only open from midnight to seven o’clock in the morning. Although its standard menu only consists of one dish, Pork with Miso Sauce on Rice, and three types of alcohol, Beer, Sake and Shochu, the proprietor is still willing to cook any dish that customers request.

Rules in Japanese restaurants

Most of the Japanese restaurants, like Shinya Shokudou, have their own rules. E_ting notes that ‘Shinya Shokudou’ has numerous ‘funny’ rules such as ‘customers are forbidden to order more than three drinks’ and ‘customers are allowed to order any dish as long as the owner has the ingredients’. Those kinds of rules have never dampened customers’ enthusiasm for having dinner in Japanese restaurants. Instead, customers are willing to follow the rules and come continuously because they can enjoy the owner’s hospitality, and can dine in a relaxing and heart-warming environment. This is one of the reason why Japanese restaurant are worldwide popular. However, not all of the Japanese restaurants manage to attract customers by imposing their own rules.

Notorious rules in a Japanese restaurant in Sydney

An online news article from the Sydney Morning Herald reported that in Sydney, a Japanese restaurant called Wafu was about to close within a few months due to its sequence of notorious rules which scared away its customers. Ichikawa claimed that she aimed at receiving respect from her customers. Following the rules she set was a way for customers to show their respect for her and her restaurant. There is a very interesting rule, which is listed in the photo at the right hand side.

“Say ‘itadakimasu’, when served”

Ichikawa, the owner of Wafu, believed that saying ‘itadakimasu’ before having meal is one of the fundamental elements of Japanese table manner. However, it is a Japanese restaurant in Sydney, but not in Japan. Ichikawa should also respect her customers, especially to those who have different cultural background. Customers have rights to have their meal in their own way, haven’t they? Or to put it another way, will you expect non-Christians to pray before they eat?

“Rules” in Japanese restaurants are supposed to enhance the relationship between the owner and customers, and also to create a comfortable environment for customers to enjoy their meal. Perhaps Ichikawa has already stayed at Sydney for too long that she forget what a real Japanese restaurant should offer to customers.

Lolita Subculture – Kamikaze Girls

3 Oct

Kamikaze Girls is a movie based on a light novel named ‘Shimotsuma Monogatari’, written by Novala Takemoto. The movie was premiered in 2004, and was released on DVD in the United States in 2006. This story centers around two girls, Momoko and Ichiko. They come from completely different backgrounds. Momoko is a Lolita girl, living in a small town in the Japanese country side. She has no friends but she does not care about that. Ichiki is a “Yanki”, a Japanese term which refers to a type of delinquent youth. They meet each other when Ichiko goes to Momoko’s house to buy clothes from Momoko. After that, Ichiko shows up at Momoko’s house every day and they become friends.

A popular subculture – Lolita

After watching this movie, you can understand more about one of the Japanese subculture, Lolita. Lolita is a fashion subculture which greatly expanded in Japan since 1990s. This is a popular fashion among Japanese musicians, especially males. For example, Mana, who is a Japanese guitarist of the bands Malice Mizer and Moi dix Mois, help popularizing Gothic Lolita. Lolita fashion style is based on Victorian-era clothing and costumes from the Rococo period. Mikotoneko has deeply discussed Lolita fashion in her blog. There are four main types of Lolita styles, which are Gothic Lolita, Sweet Lolita, Classic Lolita, Punk Lolita. Gothic Lolita and Sweet Lolita are the most popular Lolita fashion style in Japan.

Sweet Lolita

This is a Lolita style which is heavily influenced by Rococo styles, Victorian and Edwardian clothing. Pink, Peach or Pearl make up are highly used by Sweet Lolitas. Momoko is also a Sweet Loilitas.

Lolita becomes a label rather than just a style

Vanitatum notes that Lolita challenges not only the mainstream fashion, but also the label of women and men. Lolita style attracts both sexes, aged between 10s and 30s. No one really cares if one is a girl or a boy, as long as one dresses in Lolita style. Therefore, now, a new but negative label is put on Lolita fashion style: once you dress in Lolita style, you will be defined as a narcissistic person, who exactly behaves like Momoko, living in her little own world and showing no awareness on reality.  However, no one have right to judge anyone’s fashion style. There is no rule forbidding man dressing like a cute child. Being associated with Lolita style is just a way for those Japanese people to express themselves. Others should show respect for them.

Japanese good manner in 311 earthquake – Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

3 Oct

This Japanese anime is called Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. It broadcast on Fuji TV in 2009, two years before the 311 Earthquake. This story centers around two young siblings, Mirai and Yuki, and a single mother named Mari. One day, Mirai and Yuki go to visit a robot exhibition in Odaiba. Suddenly, a massive earthquake in Tokyo 25km under the sea at a magnitude of 8.0 occurs.  These siblings, Mirai and Yuki, and their family are scattered. After the earthquake, Mirai and Yuki meet a female motorcycle courier called Mari, who is trying to reach her daughter and mother in Sangenjaya. These three stay together and try their best to go back home safely.

The patience and calmness of the Japanese people

Despite the fact that Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 broadcast before the 311 earthquake, it is interesting to find out that numerous scenes of this anime actually happened in 11th March, 2011. In this anime, most Japanese people still stay calm after the large earthquake. They wait for instruction with patience, queue up for food and drinks without any complaints, and assist each other without selfishness. Before the 311 earthquake, it is hard to imagine that people in reality can still behave as usual after such a large earthquake. However, Japanese people made the scenes come true.

Well-educated and civilized Japanese people impressed the world

Jing Gao states that Japanese patience and order makes their country deserve admiration besides its wealth. After the earthquake, rail traffic was totally paralyzed. However, most Japanese people either waited in the station patiently or walked home in an orderly way. In shelter, all of them lined up properly and wait for necessities without any complaints. ‘It would be uncivilized to try to push or to shove, and what good would it do anyway?’ an earthquake victim called Kojo Saeseki said.

Although the 311 earthquake is an immense tragedy, Japanese people still manage to respond in a calm and orderly way. People from other countries should learn from them.

Many recent TV dramas are based on comics – Nodame Cantabile, Liar Game

7 Sep

Nodame Cantabile

Nodame Cantabile is a manga written by Tomoko Ninomiya. In 2006, it was adapted as a television drama which covered events up to volume 9 of the manga. The story is about the relationship between Nodame and Chiaki, who are the students studying piano and conducting respectively at Monogaoka College of Music. Nodame falls in love with Chiaki at first sight, and Chiaki is impressed by Nodame’s piano talent.

Liar Game

Liar Game is also a manga series written and illustrated by Shinobu Kaitani. This comic was adapted into Japanese TV drama in 2007. At the beginning of the story, a girl called Kanzaki Nao receives a package which contains 100 million yen, and a letter informing her that she has been chosen as a contestant of the Liar Game Tournament, in which all contestants are required to beguile other contestants of their money. When she is losing in the first round of the game, a man named Akiyama Shinichi appears and starts assisting Nao in this game.

Why are comic-based TV dramas  so popular in Japan?

John Stevens states that top Japanese TV dramas are usually adapted from the stories of Japanese comics, such as Liar Game and Nodame Cantabile. He believes that the the main reason why comic-based Japanese TV dramas become a trend is that the stories of Japanese comics usually have interesting content and charming characters, which manage to attract more young TV audience so as to boost the viewership ratings.

Original Japanese TV drama vs Comic-based TV series

In fact, original TV dramas are more popular among Japanese people though there are more comic-based TV series broadcast in recent years. “I am Mita, Your House Keeper” is an good example showing that Japanese audience are more interested in original TV dramas. The view rating of  the last episode of this drama was approximately 40%, which make it the highest-rated TV series over last decade. This proves that it is still worth spending time and money on creating more original TV dramas rather than only focusing on production of comic-based TV series.  Therefore, in order to produce a successful TV series,  effort should be exerted on creating impressive original stories instead of wasting time to find interesting stories among comics.