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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Pushing Ahead With Japan

While Japan is often considered to be on the whole a very considerate and polite country, it still has many cultural phenomena that seem to completely throw manners right out the window.

While I am sure anyone who has ever lived out in the countryside of Japan has seen both men and women watering the rice fields with urine—and there's nothing wrong with that, I am sure it would be frowned upon in the city.

Rather than talk about class differences, let's look at the culture of pushing and shoving.

I have, in the long past, witnessed from afar Japanese people push and shove each other in an effort to get aboard a train to find a seat… and screw everyone else, regardless of age or physicality.

I saw young men and women, and kids push each other to step aboard a train, while some poor old grandmother waits for the shenanigans to end so she can safely enter and not have to worry about breaking a hip in some bump and fall action.

Once aboard, the old woman - hunched over and with a cane, will mash her missing teeth together and attempt to tether herself to a handle near the door, standing directly infront of some now-sound-asleep young person who had just stampeded aboard mere seconds earlier.

This is not a one-off scenario, but rather a daily and multiple daily occurrence on much of Japan's public safety transports.

No one ever jostled me. I'm unsure if the Japanese simply didn't want to touch me (I don't think that, and never have until composing this possible option), or they don't want to rile up the gaijin (outside/foreigner) because he's not used to the Japanese way and he might yell or worse, hit us in gaijin anger.

I can't blame any Japanese from having that second thought… but rather than limit it to just the gaijin, perhaps it should be expanded to include the Nihonjin (Japanese person) as well.

While I haven't seen too much Japanese-on-Japanese anger while aboard the public transportation systems, there's NO reason whatsoever to suspect that it does not exist or that it could exist.

I've always been the type who is very much aware of his surroundings.

Even before the days of personal hand-help devices like smartphones, I've always observed my surroundings, because I am fully-aware that most other people do not.

I like to people-watch - even before I became a writer or journalist.

As such, when I walk onto a train, I will quickly eye up the usual suspects (observing hair, skirt length and dental probabilities) and then look about for places to stand or sit - preferably across or near one of the usual suspects. I don't need to sit atop them, as I may be a pervert, but I'm not that kind of a pervert. I simply appreciate the beauty in things.

I often like to look at the elderly and wonder what they looked like as a kid. I have found that for men especially, as they age and age and age, the more they actually look the way they did when they were wee kids.

The old women… I might observe some dolled up blue-hair and then imagine what she looked like as a 20-year-old. I don't consider them a GILF, but I do like to imagine things like that.

Anyhow, people watching.

As I used to live near the end of a JR (Japan Rail) line, finding a seat was never too difficult for myself.

But later when the crowds would crush on, I would spy some poor old grandma who lived through WWII and the food shortages and loss of family and gladly lift my well-muscled butt of the seat, and:

… Bowing, say "Sumimasen" point to my freshly vacated seat, and say "Dozo."

That's 'excuse me' and 'please'.

Sometimes I would get the wave of the hand in front of their nose like I just farted, but most of the time they would utter their unsmiling thanks in Japanese and gratefully sit down.

I never took it as an insult that they didn't smile… the thanks was enough.

By the way… do you want to see a shamed Japanese person? Do that for a pregnant woman or elderly person or someone with a physical hindrance… and then you can see for yourself how the rest of the train car's occupants will continue to sleep as though they were ever aware of what just occurred…

I only hope they feel shame…  and not just because it was a lowly gaijin that helped out an old Japanese person, but because they didn't do it themselves.

Oh… and you know every single eye was on me the moment I stood up and spoke Japanese to the woman… and you know they immediately dropped eye contact with me afterwards.

Look… I get that Japan is a busy place with people having strange things like jobs or having to go somewhere like school, and it something most people outside the country simply have no way of understanding this… this Japanese way of life (I'm being sarcastic here!)…

But on its way to societal oblivion with its negative population, Japan has lost (hopefully lost, as opposed to never had) a part of itself.

While the above to photographs (1960s at top, 1970s below - photos by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images, found on THIS website) show that pushing by a subway or JR employee is perfectly acceptable and even encouraged to ensure as many sardines can be placed into a tin can as possible so that no one is late for work, and is instead 30 minutes early… I wonder WHEN the Japanese found it acceptable to be pushed and prodded and squeezed in situations like that?

Platform attendants squeeze as many commuters as possible onto the trains on the Tokyo underground. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images). From April 28, 1972. Those are nice legs on the woman on the left.

By the way… I did take a crowded Tokyo subway train a few times with some Japanese sex machine I was dating… and I can tell you that at no time did anyone in white gloves even come near to trying to push me onto a train. Now… my Japanese sex machine… she seemed to get pushed and pulled quite often. Poor Shinobu and Junko. Yes, it was me doing that to them, as I would hug and shield them from other perverts or guys 'just doing their job.'

If public transit ridership is that heavy, then surely more trains or buses or snowboards are needed to run more often (they can't fit more passenger cars onto a standard-length station)… and, manners and common sense can return to the Japanese public transport rider.

Andrew Joseph

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