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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.

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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 people’s dark side – Byakuyakou

7 Sep

Byakuyakou is a TV drama series based on a novel which is written by a famous Japanese author named Higashino Keigo. This story is about the journey of two children, Kirihara Ryouji and Nishimoto Yukiho. They have been in love with each other since they are very young. On the fateful day, when they are still primary school students, the little boy, Ryouji, witnesses his father raping his beloved girl, Yukiho, whom her mother sells her body for money. Ryouji feels so angry with and ashamed of his father that he intervenes and murders his father. Retaliating against the coldhearted mother, Yukiho plots with Ryouji to gas her mother to death. To silently bear this secret for self-preservation, they keep committing more crimes until the very end.

Japanese education encourages people to suppress their emotion

It is not surprising that all people have dark sides. However, they hardly disclose their dark sides unless they can no longer control their behavior and emotion rationally. Comparing to western countries, people in Japan are more likely to develop mental illness, which easily lead their dark sides revealed. According to a journal article written by Emily A. Butler, Tiane L. Lee, and James J. Gross, ‘the Japanese suppressed their emotion more than Europeans.’ They believe that this is the main reason why many Japanese people suffer from metal disorder. However, why do Japanese necessarily restrain their emotion all the time? This can be imputed to the Japanese educational system. Japanese schools exert great emphasis on ‘fitting in’ and ‘conformity’. Students are carefully watched in schools, to prevent any bad behavior, rumor and gossip’. Being monitored since they are very young, the Japanese people lack courage to be criticized and lose confidence to show their real emotion and different ideas.

Akihabara massacre is one of the negative results of over-suppressing emotion

However, it is not an encouraging schooling. Without any ways to express their own thoughts and feelings, many Japanese people suffer from serious emotional disturbance. Some of them even start behaving extraordinarily. Akihabara massacre is a good example. It was an incident of mass murder that took place on Sunday, June 8, 2008, in Akihabara. Seven people were killed and 10 were injured by a man called Tomohiro Kato. According to the perpetrator’s brother, Tomohiro Kato had an unpleasant childhood. At that time, Kato always felt pressure from teachers as he did not manage to achieve high academic results at school. Not knowing how to deal with his stress, he began to act violently and even attempted to commit suicide in 2006.

No doubt, Ryouji, Yukiho and Tomohiro Kato are the victims of rotten education system. If they are taught how to express their own thoughts and know how to develop their self-confidence, those tragedy would not have happened. Therefore, Japanese government should no longer neglect the defect of their education system.

2Channel phenomenon in Japan – Densha Otoko

15 Aug

‘Densha Otoko’ (Train man) is a Japanese movie, premiered in Japanese Cinemas in March 26, 2005. The story is all based on an allegedly true story formed by considerable amount of messages posted on 2Channel, which the most popular Internet forum in Japan. A 23-year-old “Otaku”, a Japanese term referring to those who are addicted to anime, video games computers or manga, successfully rescued a young lady, Miss Hermès, from being harassed by a drunken man on train when he was on his way home. Without any date experience, he began sharing his romance on the internet and sought advices from 2channel users on how to date Miss Hermès and impress her.

According to Hiroshi Hiyama and Lisa Katayama, 2Channel is one of the biggest online bulletin boards in the world. It consists of roughly 800 active boards with over 1000 topics, from politics to manga comics. Moreover, there are approximately 10 million visits each month and 2.5 million posts created a day. 2Channel brings a diverse group of people together and allows them communicating and sharing data with each other more easily and conveniently. The story of “Densha Otoko” explicitly illustrates this power of 2Channel. After preventing Miss Hermès from being harassed on train, the “Otaku”, nicknamed as “Train Man” on 2Channel, successively updated his situation, shared his feelings and even asked for advices on everything such as where to date and what to wear. Other 2Channel users enthusiastically offered enormous amount of suggestions to Train Man and posted plenty of Shift JIS art pictures to encourage and support him.  Alisa Freedman notes that the conversation between Train Man and other 2Channel subscribers created 29,862 posts only within 57 days and “Densha Otoko” online community was rapidly established in 2Channel. Despite the fact that most of the 2Channel users belong to different social classes, 2Channel unites all users together and form an unique community which allow them “meeting” various people who they seldom get in touch with in reality, and share feelings or opinions with each other. And probably, owing to various advices and support from different people, Train Man could eventually confess his love for Miss Hermès and successfully got her reciprocation.

Undeniably, social networks like 2Channel do exert positive impact on Japan society. It is well-known that social stratification is one of the representative Japanese cultures. However, this culture restrains Japanese people from different social classes freely communicate and share their ideas with each other. Thanks to the existence of 2Channel, they are capable of having fun in an online community, without being known their name and social classes. This Japanese social network not only changes the communication habit of Japanese people, but it also provides a platform for various people to gather together.

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