Sunday, November 7, 2010

Oops / Consumption

I know.  I haven't posted in over a month.  That's four weeks.  I'm supposed to be posting once a week at least.  Ack, ack.

I've just been super busy with school work / activities.  I know that this blog is technically school work, but since I'm also using it to keep in touch with people back home I kind of put it last on my 'to do' list.

I guess this post I'll keep personal, and then after I process my pictures post another entry that is more 'anthropologically' focused.

So lately Japan has been good to me.  For the most part.  My classes aren't going very well though.  I think I may have overestimated my ability to change my sleep habits when I signed up for an 840 class and a two hour commute.  I long for the days that I can wake up a half hour before my class starts and make it in time.  It's kind of a vicious cycle because if I could just manage to get my work done earlier in the day I could go to bed earlier and then not miss the classes for which I was doing work.  Ah, well.

Aside from schoolwork things are going well though.  Somedays I feel like my Japanese is regressing, and others I feel rather fluent.

I don't particularly want to leave, but when I think about it more rationally I think that I really should.  Being here brings my grades down and makes me compelled to spend more money.  I should get a better handle on my self control before I return to Japan @______@

Also, I kind of miss the kinds of food I am accustomed to eating.  At first it was "Wheeeee Japanese food 24/7!!!"  but now I would kill for some super sharp cheddar cheese and greek yogurt with homemade granola.  Omyword.  Of course, if I lived in Japan permanently and had my own residence these things would be within my reach (maybe not convenient, but attainable).  I don't want to give the impression that Japan is totally lacking delicious cheese (although seriously, cheese standards here are lower).  

In my following posts I intend (seriously, intend.  whether or not I will actually is questionable) to post about the following:
- consumption in Japan
- sexuality in Japan
- English in Japan
- Foreigners and Japan

I have a lot to say about all of them, but I'm not sure I'll convey any of them properly.  Hm.  We'll see.


Consumption in Japan 

When I was first planning my trip to Japan my mother said, "Why would you want to go there?  They make video games about raping girls."  To my mother's credit, she just didn't want me to travel so far away from her.  But the point does stand: why do such video games exist in Japan?

{{ For anyone who is unfamiliar with the game I'm talking about, you can find a CNN special here: }}

This may seem like an odd way to start out a blog about consumption in Japan, but I think it's all relevant.  I won't get into the issue of whether or not producing such games is ethical (although I will say that I think banning them is unethical).  What I will say is that it is a perfect example of just how much the Japanese market caters to the consumer.

It's not as though there are more individuals in Japan that want to play such a game than there are anywhere else in the world in any other country.  What is different is that the Japanese market seems unafraid to tap into every consumer niche and cater to even the most subculture of interests.  Or at least this is the conclusion that I have reached.

Here are some examples below of the kinds of obvious consumer driven things I have witnessed in Japan:

This is a hair salon.  The name is "Moesham."  It is important to know the meaning of moe: via Wikipedia, "Moe (萌え?, pronounced [mo.e], literally "budding", as with a plant or adorable), occasionally spelled Moé, is a Japanese slang word originally referring to a strong interest in a particular type or style of character in video gamesanime or manga. "Moe!" is also used within anime fandom as an interjection referring to a character the speaker considers to be a moekko (a blossoming or "budding" girl)."  {{article here}}

This is consistent with what I heard on my tour of Akihabara, where this photo was taken.  According to our guide, at this salon you have your hair cut by a very inexperiences stylist.  So this really cute girl cuts your hair, and it is made even cuter because she messes up continually.    

This is a poor example of what I am talking about, but my second instance of consumerism in Japan is the way pets are treated.  Dogs here are like accessories.  This is also true in the US, but more so on the West coast and in wealthy neighborhoods with affluent residents. Treating animals like status symbols seems to be the norm here. 

I see dogs in strollers, dressed in skirts, in bags, and even being carried like babies around the streets.  It's a rare day when I see a larger breed dog.  They are almost always very small, very purebred dogs.  

Don't get me wrong, they are adorable in their stripped jumpers with petticoats.  It just seems a little over the top. 

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