The New Japanese Etiquette

The New Japanese Etiquette

Even ten years ago, the world seemed bigger. Japan still had a bit of that “Oriental” mystique, and visitors to its shores sent reports home of an exotic land populated by simple, if slightly daft, inhabitants:

“The Japanese are so friendly and polite!” (Actually, the folks who just gave you directions were Taiwanese tourists)

“Japan’s so safe and clean.” (Lots of countries are. Okay, maybe not the U.S.)

“The Japanese value harmony.” (Yeah, fear of authority will do that to people)

And visitors asked quaint, naive questions about cultural practices, such as:

“When and how should I bow?” (Not very often, and not very much)

“How should I eat sushi?” (Insert it in your mouth and chew)

“What’s a good gift for a Japanese host family?” (Buy a small, super-expensive cake from a Japanese department store, then take whatever horrible thing you carried from your home country and chuck it in the dumpster)

Minding Your Manners in Japan

Until now, I’d always maintained that visitors to Japan didn’t need some book on Japanese etiquette—oh my, you picked your nose with the wrong finger, how culturally insensitive—but instead could get by just observing others and using a modicum of common sense.

Apparently I was wrong.

I mean, well, Ken Seeroi’s never really wrong—simply overly magnanimous in this case. So that’s a good thing, right? Okay, let’s just say a bit mistaken, and leave it at that.

Because right now, there’s a tsunami overwhelming Japan’s shores, washing away all those minor niceties and subtleties of social conduct like so many matchstick houses. And I doubt there’s a seawall high enough to stop it.

The Unstoppable Wave of Screw Everybody Else

So maybe a month ago, I was in CoCo Ichibanya spooning downing this massive breakfast of vegetable and grease curry. Nothing like a spice-level 4 to really chase away the blues. And by blues, I mean hangover, of course. Granted, the laminated menu and plastic pitcher of water on your table don’t exactly qualify Coco Ichi as a fine-dining experience, but still they serve up a steaming plate of deliciousness that’ll make your heart stop, literally. I’d highly recommend it for anyone on a budget, suffering from anorexia, or training for the Tour de France. If you’ve got ten bucks and need a quick 2000 calories of saturated fat, it’s the place to go.

And at the counter was a young, black guy, sitting there eating curry.

I couldn’t believe it. None of the other customers could believe it either. The staff didn’t know what to do. Because he was eating and watching a video on his phone. And we were all listening to the same video. For some unfathomable reason, the guy wasn’t using earphones.

Honestly, I was stunned. Everyone in the place was looking at each other. I felt like, I don’t know, maybe I should say something? Like what’s the protocol here? White guy talks to black guy about etiquette of yellow guy? Or is it better for white guy to leave yellow guy to deal with black guy, and go back to eating brown guy food?

Finally, I just finished my carrots and potatoes and left. Ken Seeroi’s already got his hands full dealing with Japanese folks. I don’t need to add foreigners to the mix.

But two days later, it happened again.

Dining Out in Japan

I was in a rather fancy restaurant. Okay, I was on a date. Don’t tell my other girlfriends. We’d ordered a second bottle of pinot grigio and were eating this delightful fettuccine with langostinos in a garlic wine sauce, plus a black olive and anchovy pizza. And an arugula salad topped with avocado and ripe tomatoes. And an assorted cheese plate. And some salmon carapaccio with capers. She’s actually kind of a big girl, I guess. Healthy appetite and all. Hey, I don’t mind; Ken Seeroi’ll take anything. Whatever, that’s not the point.

So suddenly, in the middle of a mouthful of wine and fettuccine, the soft conversational buzz of the restaurant was torn to shreds by a blaring speaker. On the other side of the room, three middle-aged white women were huddled around a phone, guffawing at a video playing out loud like everyone else was invisible. I was like, Holy crap, when did this become okay?

The tide just keeps rising and rising. Next, a white guy in Starbucks, having a Skype conversation with his girlfriend, sans earphones. Who needs to hear this? And by the way, No, the two of you should not take a trip to Spain and put it on your credit cards. Jeez, save up already; it’s called delayed gratification. Google it. Apparently, the smart of the phone doesn’t rub off onto its user.

Then later, outside at Starbucks, a white woman sitting at a table, listening to music. Again, no earphones. Lady, I know your phone came with them, and you can hear music better if you use them, so why are you doing this? Not everybody freaking likes smooth jazz.

Japanese Etiquette, Indoors and Out

But okay, I figured I’d take some time out and go for a run down by the river. There, I can get away from the crowds and breathe some fresh air. Or at least new yellow particulates drifting over from China. Very relaxing, plus it burns off a bit of that curry and pizza. Running, that is, not the horrible yellow dust. And as I’m gliding along like a gazelle, suddenly I hear the sounds of a festival. And I’m like cool, because I love festivals, and plus then I’d be obliged to stop and have a beer. So that’s a win-win. But as the festival gets closer, it turns into a short blonde girl with the loudest phone in the universe strapped to her arm. Like a fit version of Radio Raheem in a jog bra.

So I’m trying to picture this. Before you go running, you’re like, Let’s see, what would make this exercise experience even better? Drinking some Gatorade? Nah, that’s not it. Putting on a fluorescent top and some Oakley’s? Well, that’s a good start but…I know! What if I attached a speaker that’s loud as fuck to my arm so everybody around me could enjoy my workout too? Yeah, that’d do the trick.

Tourists in Japan

Now, I’m gonna go out on a limb and guess these folks weren’t Japanese. And that’s great—Japan loves tourists. Bring us your Yankee dollars. I’m sure you’re from some wonderful if terribly cacophonous country. But hey, it’s all good. When I visit your house, I’ll be sure to pack a a bag of tin cans and a broom handle. But if you choose to travel in Japan, you might give a moment’s thought to the nation you’re visiting. Screw worrying about using chopsticks or how to take a bath. That’s minor stuff. If you don’t have enough common sense to realize you’re bothering the shit out of everyone within earshot, maybe you should go back to whatever barn you escaped from and sit on your hay bale until you can figure it out.

The Japanese Viewpoint

Then, a couple of weeks after we’d had dinner, I met my lady friend again. She didn’t seem to have lost much weight. But, in for a penny, in for a pound I always say, so I suggested we go round the corner to this quiet little bar for some snacks and cocktails.

It was a still night, and a light rain was falling as we walked under a row of trees with branches lit from below, and I asked her in Japanese, “Remember the other night?”

“At the restaurant?” she answered.

“Yeah, you know, with the three ladies, watching the video. Do you think I should’ve said something?”

“Maybe,” she said softly.

“Like, what would you say?”

And for the first time in a long time, she spoke English.

“I’d say,” she replied in a thick voice, “Bitches, turn off the phone and be quiet!”

I was like Whoa, somebody’s been listening to Tupac again. This definitely calls for a couple Hennessey shots.

“Yeah, I guess that’d suffice,” I said.

“Leave it to me,” she said.

So there you have it. I don’t know what the rules of etiquette are in whatever obnoxious place you come from, but here in Japan, you might want to try turning off your speakerphone. This is not a small woman you’re messing with, trust me.

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  1. Loud speaking music imposed on others is becoming a global trend… maybe it’s the new way people use to express how they want to be perceived by others… I liked it better when they would just wear specific clothes to make sure everybody knew their affiliation to death metal, pokemon or whatever else…

    • Yeah, it’s certainly not limited to Japan. The lines separating private and public space are being redrawn. Apparently, once you give everyone a boombox, you open up a whole new world.

  2. For all the build-up, I’ll admit I was expecting a little more than “lately minorities listen to music loudly,” especially given that I see Asians doing it too.

    The point about just using a little common sense is good, though.

    • It wasn’t that long ago that everybody in Japan wore kimonos and drank green tea. When a few dudes showed up wearing blue jeans and drinking coffee, I’m sure nobody thought it was a big deal. Then McDonald’s, 7-Eleven, and Starbucks opened up, and no doubt they were just viewed as novelties. And today? Japan looks like L.A., only with fewer Asians.

      But okay, I digress. Back to the smartphone thing. Because it looks like if you build in a capability, people will use it. Put in music, and suddenly the entire population is walking around with earbuds. When phones became capable of taking decent photos, people started taking pictures of everything. And with the ability to upload pictures, suddenly millions of photos of everyone’s dinner turned up online. Now we’ve got powerful speakers in phones, and more and more they’re being used in public.

      It’s just funny, you know? Japanese folks make such a big deal about how to behave, and thousands of articles have been written about Japanese etiquette. Honestly, all of that’s obsolete. It’s not Japanese etiquette you have to worry about any more—it’s smartphone etiquette.

  3. Big Japanese girlfriend listening 2pac, that’s a hell a combination you have there. But all in all, I guess tourists will always commit gaffe, of course they can use some common sense too. But, since we’re in the subject, in your good first days in Japan Ken, how much things outside of ” Japanese common sense” you did?

    • Man, all kinds of stuff. You could read a hundred books on Japanese customs and etiquette and still you’d make a hundred blunders. You’ve just got to pay attention and really notice how others are acting.

      The single biggest mistake I see newcomers to Japan making is: Acting the way you want to. Doing what you want—rather than what everyone else is doing—will immediately cause your behavior to stand out.

      Here’s an example: I went to a rather formal dinner with 25 Japanese co-workers. We all got a menu. When the waiter came around, I ordered what I wanted. That’s what the menu’s for, right? Then all the Japanese people looked at each other, until finally the boss ordered something. Then 24 people all ordered the exact same thing. Now that’s a Japanese behavior.

      That aside, probably the most glaring social blunder I made was getting on the trains in Tokyo. When the train arrived, I just got on. That’s what the train’s for, right? I didn’t notice that people were lined up to the right and left of every train door, waiting in queues until most of the people getting off had done so. I just dove into the first opening I saw, completely oblivious of the lines. I don’t know how many days I did that for before I noticed the lines.

      Still, Japanese people make mistakes too—standing on the wrong side of the escalator, wearing the toilet slippers back to the table, eating on crowded trains…it’s only that, as someone who doesn’t look “Japanese,” you’ll be immediately branded as “one of those foreigners.”

      • “I ordered what I wanted. … Then all the Japanese people looked at each other, until finally the boss ordered something. Then 24 people all ordered the exact same thing”

        He he. I’ve seen that film. 🙂

  4. I’d like to know where this kind of behaviour is acceptable. Unless everyone around have agreed that it’s ok, blasting audio on your phone should by definition fall four square in the category of things that disturb others. When strictly gauging the prevalence of blasting audio, living in Helsinki, however, personally can’t call this a common phenomenon, save for the occasional teen or foreign-language speaker on the commute. You’d expect more people to exploit the famous (likely imperfect) acquiescence of us Finns to “good” effect. My sampling could seriously use some more cafés and restaurants though, and more varied times of day. Guess I’ll just knock on some wood now.

    • Same here, Ken Seeroi is implying that there are other places where obnoxiously disturbing others with your smartphone is acceptable behaviour. In my country too, you’d have to use earphones and someone will call you out on it if you aren’t.

  5. See? That was one of the various culture shocks I got after returning back home.
    Since when was it okay to be so loud on trains, listening to music and videos on your phone without earphones …. and since when is it okay to just enter a train, play your fu**ing instrument, annoy all the people and then demand money from them because they were just so lucky to be allowed to listen to your damn music? WTH? …..

    But as etiquette doesn’t exist in this country anymore, I wouldn’t even bother to say something.
    If I did, I’d probably be beaten up and kicked down the staris of the next station by some drunk teenagers for NO reason.

    So, I think, even if stuff like that SOMETIMES happens in Japan, I wouldn’t care about it at all.

    Comparing my previous life in Japan with what is going on here now, Japan seems like a fairy tale bubble where it’s already a crime to throw cotton pads at someone. 😉
    And I miss that! (Not the cotton pads … *g*)

    • No doubt, Japan’s still better than a lot of places. Although “sometimes” has a way of becoming “all the time.” And given Japan’s propensity for following trends, I don’t see this as something likely to diminish in the future.

    • “Since when was it okay to be so loud on trains, listening to music and videos on your phone without earphones”
      Children playing games on their phone with speakers turned up, and parents who don’t care. I hate them!
      One of the reasons why I prefer my car nowadays. Taking the train turns me into a bitter misanthrope. Almost.

  6. First things I noticed getting into Hong Kong’s airport from Japan: folks listening to music without headphones, bare feet on the chairs, unflushed toilets. Now we’re doing the same to them!?

    • Yeah, maybe so. When I first moved here from the States, Japan felt like a more civilized country. And for the most part it still does, which is why it concerns me to see trends like this continuing.

      • You need 6 consistent data points to indicate a trend Ken. Sorry it’s the inner nerd on me. I’ll just go back to what I was listening to. Where did I leave those Dr. Dre’s? Ah fuck it, no one will notice. Everyone loves Taylor Swift…..

        • I literally don’t know who that is. Taylor who? You sure it’s a real name? Because it sounds a lot like “Flash Gordon.” Jeez, I left the States when Dre was still on the radio, and now I see videos of Snoop cooking with Martha Stewart. Your entire country’s gone mad, you know that? And I’m pretty sure we’ve now got the data points to prove it.

  7. First, I absolutely agree with you that people should consider their surroundings before letting the speakers be free, Ken. It’s smartphone smarts, eh? Tit for tat, though…If people want to be taken seriously when asking others to contain noise pollution (and I’m all for containing it!), then shouldn’t those same people be prepared to speak up at…say…sound truck noise? Even more so, smoking in a public place, a workplace or a restaurant? I’ve never played music on my smartphone in a restaurant, but now that I think of it – wouldn’t it be an (rather passive-aggressive, somewhat dick-ish) appropriate response to a group of middle-aged, I-can-smoke-here-and-you-can’t-stop-me types? At least I wouldn’t be having an impact on anyone’s health.

    • Although I share your dislike of smoking, when we get to the point where we’re being passive-aggressive dicks just to get back at other people, well, we’ve just gone from one problem to two. If I thought playing loud music was going change a tobacco addict’s behavior, I’d try it, but it doesn’t seem very likely.

      Japanese sound pollution, on the other hand, is a whole different problem. It’s completely nonsensical. This country is so quiet and still much of the time. People speak in low tones, and playing a stereo in your apartment can result in a visit from the neighborhood association. And then, you walk into the supermarket and there’s a loop tape loudly playing “meat, meat, I love meat,” or you walk by the station and the sound trucks with their giant speakers are projecting their messages at incredible volumes, reverberating back off the surrounding buildings into a wall of noise. Not to mention the gangs of kids who ride around at night on motorbikes without mufflers. It’s a freaking weird country.

      • Also, working in a typical open space office…
        I can’t stand Japanese clearing their throat loudly all the time! Probably a way to tell “Hey, I’m not feeling well but I still came to work, even I have 40 unspent holidays.”

  8. Awww man. Give it to me straighten Mister Seeroi sir – are the majority of these offenders my countrymen (Australian)?

    Love your articles my man.

    • Not to worry. I’d say most were American. Chinese are probably second, although I didn’t cite them in the examples I mentioned. Where Australians really seem to shine is in walking down streets drinking beer. I’d say you’re still number one in that.

    • I’ve encountered the odd bogan (ヤンキー?) playing music through phone speakers on the train, but it’s pretty rare. What’s not is a cacophony of Samsung whistle ringtones and iPhone ‘ding’ alerts on every journey. For all the talk of the efficiency of Japanese trains, the fact that everyone seems to obey the マナーモード rules is right up there when it comes to good things about their public transport system.

  9. I’m pretty sure I recently read an article about the return of boom boxes. I didn’t expect them to be so tiny. But yes, totally happening here in Europe as well.

  10. Coco Ichiban kicks my arse. I eat the spiciest curries, in fact my local Indian made a new category for me “super hot” and even the kitchen staff won’t touch it. But Coco Ichiban is different, I think it’s just tumeric and as much pepper as you want. A level 4 is a struggle for me.

    Speaking of my local Indian. I often listen to videos on my Android without headphones when I’m there. After 8, I’m the only customer and their “classic love songs” play-list is a crime against humanity.

    • Hmmm…if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of…ah, nevermind.

      Yeah, a level-4 is just about right for me. Five and I start sweating from my hair. Although I’ve seen a dude eat a 6 like it was ice-cream.

  11. Just reminds me of the days before air conditioning in cars and people would have their windows open listening to music. Never bothered me.

  12. That moment when the gaijin wishes the other gaijin would stop acting like… well, like gaijin. I know it so well.

    “And by the way, No, the two of you should not take a trip to Spain and put it on your credit cards. Jeez, save up already; it’s called delayed gratification. Google it. Apparently, the smart of the phone doesn’t rub off onto its user.”

    This is absolute gold!

    To be fair though, it is quite common among Japanese teenagers to play music on a loud-ass speaker phone as they ride bicycles in tandem around the neighborhood or gather outside konbinis. Also, they invented the Bosozoku.

  13. A propos of nothing and not to invalidate any of the comments above…

    It is hard for those who have not yet made the journey to Japan to understand the sudden communication isolation that those intrepid travellers (who haven’t studied Japanese) who make the journey to Japan suddenly find themselves in.

    For many newbies in Japan, written Japanese cannot easily be deciphered. Also, the little writing that exists in English letters in public Japanese is mostly brand names and slogans, so without useful meaning.This causes some stress for those people.

    Similarly, a newly-arrived foreigner in Japan trying to interact vocally with people, television and radio broadcasts around them is often trying to process a lot of what seem to be meaningless and stressful sounds. So more stress for the foreigner.

    In face of that, I can understand that some foreigners in Japan turn up the sound from their mobile device, either to create a comfort-wall around themselves of familiar sounds, or perhaps as a passive-aggressive barrier against the Japanese they hear around them.

    • All of what you say about Japan being an overwhelmingly alien environment for newcomers is true. But earphones do a much better job of blocking that out. And maybe it’s just a matter of terminology, but I wouldn’t call playing a speakerphone passive-aggressive. I’d say it’s just being a dick. Guess that’s just a matter of semantics though.

      It might be instructive to consider how this behavior would be perceived elsewhere. I’m trying to picture a quiet restaurant in the U.S., where three Chinese guys show up and start playing Chinese music. Or a Mexican guy starts watching Telemundo out loud. Or a couple of Iranian women start watching an Iranian video.

      I kind of don’t think anybody’s gonna be okay with that. Japan’s the same.

      • Apropo foreigners abroad and confusing signage, I learned Japanese at university and my first job after graduating was in… Hong Kong. Do’h! The first few weeks I would follow signs that appeared to say “railway station” and find I was at a tram stop.

  14. Hey Ken, big fan. You often mention having lots of girlfriends and stuff, but you always write as if you have no intentions on settling down. So I just have two questions:

    1) How do you structure your dating life? For me (in Yokohama), if I have a date come over, it really doesn’t take long for them to want to move in or make it a lot more serious. How do you handle that?

    2) Do you ever consider settling down with a Japanese woman (or any woman)?

    Thanks a lot man, keep on keepin’ on.

    • Hey, thanks for the comment. Tough questions, really.

      So on #1…are you speaking Japanese or English? I find that by speaking only Japanese, it’s easier to leave things unsaid. Direct questions are less common in the language, and people seem okay with a higher degree of ambiguity. I’m certainly not trying to lie, but I also don’t want to create unnecessary problems.

      It’s also a matter of self-selection on the part of the women. If I say, “I can’t see you this weekend,” some ladies aren’t okay with that, and basically opt out of the relationship. I guess I just date women who aren’t super clingy.

      #2’s harder. It’s not easy to find one good Japanese woman. You know, I read a quote by Lucy Liu years ago—something to the effect of, “If I meet a guy and he’s really into ‘Asian’ things, I won’t go anywhere near him.” I feel the same way with the women here. Most of the gals who want me are interested because I’m white. They just want me because I’m beautiful, like—what’s the opposite of a porcelain doll?—a big, hairy white-guy doll? Well, whatever, that. I suspect women with large breasts know what I’m talking about.

      So I end up with a whole different group of women. More Japanese, less expressive, more controlling, less inclined to spend an evening discussing existentialism and more likely to debate the merits of chocolate cake versus strawberry.

      So it’s not that I want to date a lot of ladies, but rather I can’t find one who seems to fit the bill.

      Along the way though, I’ve come to realize the risks associated with being a man in Japan (and elsewhere too). Women say they want to settle down with a man who’s good-looking, charming, and wealthy. So yeah, right back at ya—if I can find those same qualities in a woman, bring it on. We call that Ken Seeroi’s retirement plan.

  15. Hey Ken! Longtime reader.

    This question isn’t really related to the article directly, though some themes were reflected, but something I’ve always been curious about as a person that works in technology and then goes home and tinkers with video games and computers all the time.

    Pretty much everything I’ve read seems to indicate that Japanese have a crazy work ethic and when they do have free time, it’s often spent sleeping or doing work around the house. So what has always perplexed me is why they have a video game industry? I’d of assumed it was to sell to Americans and to a lesser extent Europeans, but the existence of so many Japanese exclusive consoles and games seems to contradict this, something that has made me want to study Japanese for the sole purpose of playing the games that never get English ports, though any interest in moving there faded for me over a decade ago (and was dealt a further death kneel as soon as I found your site :p)

    I remember when I was in high school I had so many friends with dreams of moving to Japan to be closer to this stuff, something that I probably harbored myself at one point, but it seems like based on a lot of the stuff I’ve read from you, it probably wouldn’t of worked out the way they expected. The Famicom (Japanese NES for anyone not familiar) sold well enough it ended up over here, but who was playing it? Kids? I have a hard time imaging Japanese adults getting home from work and throwing on a video game and getting absorbed in it for a few hours like I’m doing at age 30.

    • Thanks for commenting. Games are certainly popular in Japan.

      I don’t have a hard time imagining that at all. Perhaps your conception of Japan is a little off? Japanese people can be as lazy as anybody else. I can completely picture a salaryman coming home after a long day, tossing his clothes into a pile on the floor, microwaving a bowl of pasta, and sitting down to game into the early morning. He can relax while staying in his tiny apartment and having zero interpersonal contact. That seems very Japanese.

      Of course, I’m sure much of the gaming is done by children and teenagers. It goes without saying that they study a lot, but they still have free time. And what better way to avoid playing outside or meeting actual humans than by gaming?

      Actually, now that you mention it, I have a hard time picturing Westerners spending much time gaming. Guess I need to rethink that.

      • Hello Ken,

        there are so many westeners gaming all the time that in Germany there are groups in hospitals specializing on treating gaming addiction – or perhaps you made a joke about westeners not gaming?

        • No, I was being serious. I really have no idea of what’s going on outside of Japan, other than what Google News chooses to tell me.

          And what you’re saying—I mean, I believe you, but—it just seems incredible. For decades, people have been worried about being taken over by computers. And now apparently, we’ve made it happen of our own free will. Who knew we’d surrender ourselves so readily?

          • Hello Ken,
            I have been thinking a lot about it since I wrote to you yesterday. I thought you might not be up to date with change in the societies outside Japan.
            I do not know about changes in Asia…

            I love the internet, I love computers, I even play pokemon go, but I have serious worries concerning internet security, people gaming, not looking around them or talking to each other, literally not looking outside the airplane window after landing in a new city because looking at the screen.
            I saw this in the USA for the first time two years ago and now I see it everywhere.

            There are many people in Germany who do not finish school or education because of gaming, it is in my line of work, so I know about this rising problem.

            It is normal, completely normal for young people to name gaming as their most important hobby, even for those who are not addicted or anything.

            I thought about Japan, and perhaps people in Japan are able to handle gaming better because of the strict work ethic: even if gaming after work, the Japanese would not skip work so easily or get to work late because of gaming??

            I do not know if we have surrendered to computers, but we have definitely bitten more than we can chew in my opinion. I am sure for example, one of the next big problem with atomic plants will be computer-related.

            They do not know what they are doing, so yes, perhaps you are right and we have surrendered:-).
            Many greetings,


    • Hey Steve,

      I’m not sure if you’ll see this comment, but indeed, when I came to Japan and expected to get “closer” to the games I knew and loved as a kid, I was mostly disappointed, for several reasons:

      1) Most Japanese college students (my peers at the time) seem to not care much for video games, or it’s something that was in their distant past. You don’t see 20 year olds waiting with baited breath for the next Zelda or Final Fantasy release like many Americans do. Sure, those people exist, but it’s almost shameful to admit it among your friends, and it seems (to me) that many people choose to enjoy it privately rather than openly. Getting drunk and chasing girls are the only two acceptable hobbies for a typical Japanese guy in college.

      2) Conventions and other gaming events are not as fun or creative as they are in the west. Gaming seems to have a certain stigma in Japan, and people who attend conventions are overwhelmingly males of the same demographics. You don’t see quite the energy, passion, or creativity that you see in western cons. Japanese conventions feel even more “nerdy” and subculture-esque than western ones. (also a fair bit harder to make friends)

      3) Since Japanese people have way less free time than westerners, console games and MMORPGs are dying hard, and fast; instead, they are being replaced by crappy, mindless smartphone games that can be played anywhere, anytime (think Candy Crush). Grown Japanese salarymen are absolutely addicted to these games, and even major developers like Square Enix have admitted that moblie gaming competition is such a big issue that they’re not even sure how much longer traditional gaming will survive.

      Sorry to paint such a gloomy picture here, but I’ve lived in Japan for almost 4 years now, and trust me, if you want any kind of social aspect to your gaming experience, it’s much easier to get your fix by staying wherever you are now. Gaming culture in Japan seems past its glory days.

  16. …one more thought:

    Look at us.

    We have information on the internet, we communicate quickly between germany and Japan- and yet, the everyday changes in our respective societies we can not know or have a gut feeling about easily.

    I find this fascinating and I know it, so I travel to compensate a little, to know a little more, but many people think the world they see online is the real world. It is often said the world has become smaller because of computers, I do not really think so.

    Greetings to Japan:-)

  17. …and this is why I am so thankful for your blog, thank you for writing about the things you see, from the inside.

    Now I should stop thinking and writing:-)


  18. Hilarious and 100% accurate. One month after moving here and I still see this crap on a daily basis. The loud ass conversations too!! Savages!

  19. You are spot on. These people probably think they are serving as cultural ambassadors, spreading Western music across the world with their smart phones in Japan. Or at the very least that they are expressing themselves. I’m sorry to hear that this is happening in Japan as well. When I was a college student studying in the library, I would often hear students blaring their music or jabbering loudly into their smart phones while they record a Snapchat. It’s annoying here in the US where at least you have relatively more space to get away from them; I can’t imagine how much more annoying it is in Japan where there isn’t.

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