Dec 14, 2008
Taipei, Taiwan

We left Japan this morning and headed for Taipei. Home with my mom for the rest of the year. A much needed break and the unparalleled comfort only mom can provide.

Here are some of my overall impression of Japan:

1. Japan is one large mall/covered arcade. Every train station has a department store attached to it, all urban centers in Japan (Osaka, Tokyo, Kyoto) are all centered around places to shop (i.e multiple department stores within blocks of each other).

2. You could get lost in all major train stations and or live there for days.

3. My favorite things in Japan is the Shinkansen, and the best bargain you can have in Japan is the JR Pass.

4. Sushi is incredibly fresh in Japan, even the 20% off ones that you buy at the super market after 5pm.

5. Japan has a really interesting relationship with sex, marriage prostitution, evident in the multiple red-light districts that is a part of every city or how high school girls will sleep with men for easy money to pay for things such as their cell phone bills or a new outfit.

6. The Japanese are incredibly polite but the politeness is a facade.

7. The Japanese culture is for the good of the many and not for the will of the individual, obedience is highly valued, they don’t even jay-walk.

OBEY CONSUME REPEAT feels like a good summary of my glimpse into the Japanese culture.

Japan certainly has many virtues, nearly a 99% literacy rate, and nearly 100% employment rate as well. It is extremely clean and modern, certainly a city of the future in many aspects. It is unparalleled in many of technological advances, such as a cell phone that can record and play TV shows, or with direct link to your credit card for you to make purchases simply by waving your phone at a censor. Yet the combination between advanced technology, obedience / lack of individual will, “strange” relationship with sex, pornography, marriage, rampant consumerism …. the combination only makes me think of movies such as Blade Runner or Novels such as The Handmaid’s Tale. None of which depicts a future that I am excited for or eager to participate in.

I think I will skirt the modernized cities of the world for a little while. I think I prefer something with a little bit of rawness, something with a bit of an edge to it for the next destination.