Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Japanese

Rich people always need to make more and more bundles of cash  -- which they can pile up in the basements with old newspapers -- even as Japan cuts social services and pensions, and the economy gets flushed.   

When the national toilet backs up, the rich can just move to some other country.   Who cares if Fukushima glows in the dark?  Or Tokyo is underwater?  Or a few million children die?
One function of  "nation branding" trickery like "Omotenashi" is to distract.   

Like "patriotism", it provides cover --a fig leaf for all sorts of unpleasantness 

 Japan, for example,  is among other things famously tourist-unfriendly – an insular, mono-lingual, conformist society that is not really comfortable with people who look different and act differently.     

The Tattoo thing is a problem for the zillions of foreigners who got a bluebird tattooed on their arm backwhen.

 Forget going to the onsen!     Yakuza Whore!

Then there are all the rules... and just generally crappy service. 

Check into a hotel, pay an exorbitant rate for a tiny room, a tiny, hard bed, and bad air-conditioning.  Then, sneak your girlfriend in to avoid paying the extra charge (up to double).  Drag yourself out of bed in the morning with a hangover because checkout is 10 AM.  Whoops! -- your bill is about 30% more than you thought -- due to charges added for non-existent service, consumption tax, and stuff you don't understand at all.   

Basic Rule in Japan.  Service= you pay extra.  
Sorry -- fuck you very much.

So, "omotenashi" and the "kawaii", "Cool Japan"  culture cover all this up nicely -- more pixelations.

You will notice that definitions of "omotenashi" vary.

JAL, or example,  likes to talk about "pure hearts" -- referring to the Omotenashi Bra, I guess. And "intimate" stuff, the "soul of Japan" -- tying this back a few hundred years to the Tea Master Sen no Rikyu, who by the way, probably had a few tattoos.

Renowned for his influence on chanoyu, the ‘way of tea’, Sen no Rikyū ... espoused that only through dedication with a pure heart can you share a special moment with your guest. With this, Sen no Rikyū established ... omotenashi ...  a completely selfless approach to receiving guests... to create an intimate environment ....

  Sen no Rikyu  was forced to commit seppuku in 1591.  

In  one of those "selfless"  moments the Japanese are famous for --showing the “dedication of a pure heart” -- or at least a pure bowel -- he first cut out a chunk of his intestine and wrapped carefully it  -- to "share the special moment" with his patron, that particularly nasty piece of work, the Shogun Hideyoshi, who was at the time unavoidably occupied elsewhere screwing Sen no Rikyu's daughter.  

"Omotenashi" is alway about fucking somebody.

 Just try complaining about something to a Japanese service person.   

He or she will apologize abjectly -- but tell you "there are rules".  No compromises.   

 Sorry -- fuck you very much

And if you fly JAL and want a little leeway on your carry-on luggage -- forget it. 

 Sorry -- fuck you very much

There are other problems with this concept as we will see in my next blog post

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