Japan: Hyperpoliteness for Profit!

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Pictured above: Creepy ass posters and creepy ass mascots.

People think Japan is a very relaxed and co-operative place, and it’s true, as this place is not Korea where people will be ready to stab you in the nuts if you invade their territory. But Japanese value competition and they have gotten the art of the deal down to the T. They don’t give a shit if something wonderful like breasts are going to offend someone or create controversy/kotaku articles about female objectification in video games. If it’s going to sale, you can bet your ass they won’t stop to nothing.

The Japanese language didn’t get this convoluted 3-tiers of politeness just because they like to live in peace and harmony with other people, no! If you know anything about Japanese history, then it’s all civil wars, wars against some other country and/or exploiting some nearby country. This whole politeness system was made to appeal to the most important person in their lives – the customer. The customer’s got the money, money is power and Might is Right is like the second motto for the Japanese.

Now, I’m not saying that the way Japanese live is bad, I’m just saying that there are two sides on the coin. Money being power is just like everywhere else, stricter hierarchical systems make people to forget their ego and do whatever the erai-hito says. (erai-hito means good person. Good not like Mother Theresa, but good like “Good dog!!” when your dog goes poop in the right place. Estonian word tubli.) The woes of consumerism is elitism – rich Japanese people unfortunately paint The Poors with a very wide brush of poverty, dumbness, and disease. You can bet that if there are some rowdy kids at an aquarium then the Japanese will remark that those are Poor (Rural) People Children, as if rich kids are all precious little angels!

The greatest sin of Hyperpoliteness for Profit is that it makes people expect the best fucking service every single time and literally everywhere they go. Why are the chewing gums wrapped individually? Why are the cookies triple-packaged and with a desiccant inside the packaging? Why do ad campaigns change every two weeks? Why are there special events for a Minions movie with fanfare, hookers, and blackjack?   It’s all to appeal to the Customer and to Get Their Fucking Money. America’s got sleazy sales guys, Japan’s got cute girls giving out tissue paper with an ad on it. Never pay for tissues again, but beware, folks. It all comes with a price.

What can the Estonians learn from this? First off, I remember working in a book store chain with corporational aspirations of branching out into Cinema and of becoming the top of the Entertainment Sales Biz in the Baltics and then in all the Europe. It sounds all great, but then they pulled half their books off the shelves to make more cover space and they proudly said that “an holiday ad-campaigns life span is 3 years”. Holy shit! 3 years of the same damn girl holding a book and smiling in front of a fireplace? In three years that girl has gone through puberty and is already worrying about career prospects! You can’t pull this thing off in Japan, as people would lose confidence in the company right away. What do you mean they are showing the same ad campaign as last year? Are they going bankrupt?

It’s a tough sales world here in Japan. But it all comes with a tons of waste and a hefty price tag, as the icebergs are crumbling and there’s a huge heatwave in Siberia right now. Nobody talks about those things in the news, no sir. The biggest news story of the weekend was that some politician was seen coming out a hotel with a strange man and that a new starlet posted “Fuck off!” on Twitter. After the news there was a show of Some People eating fried meat at Some Place in Japan and saying OISHIIIIIIIIIIIIii!! (TL note: it means delicious). Get The Money And Fuck The Planet.

O Katya, where art thou?

I am right here, still in Japan. I’ve just decided to work hard at my work and been under the weather a bit for not getting good sleep due to the god damn heat. It’s ridiculous! +30 all the time, day and night, rain and shine?

The trick is to keep humidity the down and air the rooms before sleeping.  Also cleaning a lot.

Anyway, I’ve been taking pictures of good ol’ promised land over here and things are looking up again. See ya soon!!

ELECTION SEASON

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Man I hate ELECTION SEASON in Japan. It’s loud, there are people in front of stations blaring their little propaganda and the politicians let their goons do all the talking while the politicians themselves just wave and shake hands. It’s telling as there’s a certain someone at the Diet who has to explain what happened every time she opens her mouth and no, she didn’t get herself tangled up in some political scandal again. I am talking of the Defence minister Tomomi Inada right now, because christ, I don’t even speak Japanese that well and even I know that she’s in trouble almost every other week since her face’s on the news again and those damn assholes at the political Wide Shows are pulling off stickers off the poor-man’s powerpoint (no seriously, they got boards with stickers on them and the MC goes all like “And now this is her rebuttal…” in all dramatic fashion as he pulls and reveals whatever was said. It’s ridiculous! People really watch this kind of crap?)

“It was a misunderstanding,” Ms. Inada would say to the camera 6 in the morning, eyes tired and weary. Poor lady, as you gotta be tough when you get involved with Japanese politics. It’s good ol’ 50’s campaign rallies mixed with some Post-9/11 Brave New World’s sensationalist media mongering.

But on the other hand, we got some good news as well – it’s really nice and warm here in Japan, +30 degrees Celsius and over every day. Drink some water and stay cool, folks!

There was a Tokyo Ghoul exhibition in Shinjuku Station

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Tokyo Ghoul has a small exhibition of fan-art in Shinjuku Station. I’m all about bringing art, culture and science to the masses, but man, I think my elitist dementia is bringing out my ranty side. I’m bothered by that people see a fancy frame and boom, everybody starts paying attention. Ooh, it’s got a fancy frame, so it’s art? I like art!

Oh, please! There’s a reason why there’s you can make a difference between a book and literature.  But I digress. I don’t wanna be one of those assholes who froths and says “FAN-ART BAD!!!”, since I’ve worked in a science museum and my job was to make science as accessible and fun to everybody, children and adults alike. God knows we need to stand against anti-intellectualism since we will head into a very dark age if we start normalizing quackery such as homeopathy and “University of Life” kind of shit.

These fan-art people sure do get a whole lot attention, but I know my good buddy tvk is making some great stuff, but to get attention in this world where everybody’s starving for the Next Big Thing™  but struggle to actually find quality content. Like, let’s think about it! When we go to an image aggregator, how much time to we spend on a picture or a funny gif? Not much, right? How many times to we return for the same user for different content? If we are really bored, then we go through our favorites and see the same content once more, but that’s rare. Even rarer, for my case at least, is going through somebody’s imgur content page for more stuff.

Now, the same thing might be for writing and music as well. If something is finally phenomenally good, catches the attention of some bored yokel at the right time with the right keywords, then you might get a buzz going on as a single artist. But as a starting person, then it’ll take a whole lot of time and leg work to get your work outside. Like they say, if the mountain doesn’t come to Mohammad, then the Mohammad will come to the mountain.

How does this tie together with Tokyo Ghoul Fan Art Exhibition? It has Recognition and Loyal Fan Base already, so no wonder these people would stop and gawk at this. I bet this would get the same attention even without the fancy frames, but it sure did get my attention as a person who doesn’t dig Tokyo Ghoul. But for the fans, it was seeing their favorite characters in the middle of Shinjuku, so their heart melted and they are ready to open their wallets for the Next Big Drop™ of Tokyo Ghoul.

This idea of recognition is what I used back in my science days as well. Kids don’t know about atoms, but they know about Legos. A piece is just a piece, but may pieces will create something different. Just like atoms, you know? There’s a whole lot of psychological dimensions into learning and attention grabbing and unfortunately our human brains aren’t as sophisticated as we would like to think. There’s this book called Thinking, Fast and Slow, which deals with how people think and why people fall for these parlor tricks of the mind. Framing as such is one of these tricks – you can serve a piece of information in many ways, but the observer will receive it in many different ways. It’s like a computer reading code from line 0 to line thousand, reading meticulously every single line and doing exactly as it says. If the code is perfect, it’ll execute. If not, then it will bug out. Our brains are seriously buggy and exploitable, but at least it doesn’t BSOD on us.

Marketing and mass media is actually a very delicate science and there’s a reason why PR companies reap massive profits from a simple press release or tweet. Being a youtuber is way more than just making great videos, being an artist is way more than making great pics and being a musician (that I identify as right now) is way more than pressing buttons on a synth. There’s a whole lot of analyzing and communication to be done during all this. That’s why people band up, as there’s strength in numbers and that’s what I’m also going for once I get like 5 songs up in my soundcloud. I’m actually hella excited to make some music here in Tokyo, as there’s whole lotta energy to be used here.

Too long, didn’t read summary: exciting things are ahead!!

 

 

Estonia and Japan

Tomorrow’s 23rd of June, the Victory Day for Estonia.  It was 99 years ago during the War of Independence when Estonians and Latvians defeated the German Landeswehr. This day is celebrated with a military parade in the day with our dear president Kersti Kaljulaid saluting each and every military branch. Well, that’s so much about the military history. Most of Estonians are actually waiting for the night to come, as the next day is Jaanipäev, the summer solstice, and that’s celebrated with lighting a bonfire, staying up all night (which is really easy as it’s literally 4 hours long) and copious amounts of grilling and drinking.

You’d think if it’s 23rd of June, then the night would be nice, warm, and dry. But unfortunately, it seems that this year too it will be rainy and it’ll dip all the way to 7 degrees Celsius in the night, so better make that bonfire a big one.

Times like these make me wanna be in Estonia, you know? I miss being in the cold and in the rain and with my friends. I am doing the exact same crap I usually did back in Estonia too – go to work, come back and play something. Well, now that I am living with my wife, then I actually do go outside every once and a while and have fun. Plus I got like  ridiculous amounts of money every month even though I’m making a bit better than the minimum. Plus me and my wife are really frugal, so instead of buying dumb shit all the time, we save loads of money and then spend it all doing dumb shit together, like trying to win a hand spinner from an UFO catcher. Which we finally did, by the way!

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This is what peak performance looks like, fellas.

I mean, it’s fucking great to finally not worry about money. They say money can’t buy you happiness, but that’s absolute nonsense. I like how everybody’s so orderly and how they value teamwork and co-operation over the individual. My mother-in-law said all this law and order is all superficial and they’d be ready to stab you in the back the moment you let your guard down. But let me tell you, I’d have a thin ice of civilization over the deep sea of chaos rather than dipping your toes into the water all the time as a reminder.

I think I can do way better in Japan once I get some N-level (N1 or N2) credentials. I can do way better once I get some friends as well. It’s just like my co-worker and mad scientist genius said about emigrating: “If you just go somewhere and come back, you’ll soon realize people are all the same everywhere. If you wanna go to Japan and live there,  make yourself a part of the community rather than getting into work-home-work cycle. Become an even better Japanese than the Japanese themselves.”

I think he’s got the right idea. It’s too bad that I got this shift-work job that I can’t really make plans too much ahead or make even a week-to-week commitment. But I do have this great little synthesizer and an internet connection, so I really looking forward to making a band or at least find some peeps to make music together here in Tokyo.

Ah, shit I forgot I was supposed to write a little bit more about the Estonians and Japanese. Anyway, my big idea is that Estonians and Japanese share the same genealogical and cultural heritage, as it’s super easy for Estonians to assimilate into the Japanese culture. Our languages have the same pronunciation, we are both hella seclusive with isolationist tendencies and we both go into this autistic frenzy when things are done in the way that they aren’t supposed to be. Plus we both can enjoy a good dose of poop jokes (christ allmighty I think I can write like a 2000-word feature article about poop jokes after a year of living in Japan. Seriously, it’s the biggest source of humor over here. If you ever wanna make a Japanese laugh, just make some fart and shitting noises and watch them crack right up. Go like “buri-buri-buri” and you’ll be their best friend forever.)

Anyway, it’s great over here, but now it’s time for something more. More cash, more wisdom, more glitz and glamour.

Takao-zan

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I had some friends over from Estonia and since they are active people, they suggested to go and climb Takao-zan at the end of Chuo line. Of course I agreed. I love mountains. My wife on the other hand has never done sports or anything and she gets tired quickly, so she had some reservations. We agreed to walk slowly and take as many conveniences as we can. Like this ropeway.

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It was nervewrecking experience, as you just sit there and hope the wind won’t rock you too hard, but once you get past the idea of falling then you can enjoy the ride. At some points the floor came too close to my feet, so I had to do some crunches.P1190707

The way to the top was beautiful and since we took the route with the ropeway, then the shortest route took us past the monkey garden and temples. The monkey garden gave me some serious Planet of the Apes vibes as you see these apes and you know that nothing has really changed. P1190729

Like look at this Diogenes. Is this what we could’ve been a millennia ago? P1190789

The route we took was peppered with all sorts of holy and sacred things. Like this tree that looks like an octopus. P1190849

Temples! So many temples all the way to the top! P1190846.JPG

Shrines! With foxes! P1190863

And finally the top itself. Man, think, so many mountains and what secrets these rolling hills hide. If you happen to be in a mood for a walk, then Takao-zan is the place to go.

When you gotta finish the parking spot but you forgot to bring the last pole

“Takeshi, what happened to the pole?”
“Boss, it’s gonna be great! You can ride your bike home, park it here and crack open a cold one as soon as you get off the bike!”
“Like a vending machine?”
“Yeah, but it’s gonna be better. It’s gonna be free!”

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Free as in Beer.
Beer Fridge
Musashino, Mid-May 2017