Just standing near the entrance of the train station and looking around, I notice every woman carries a glitzy handbag or wears trendy clothes. Men walking by also dress as equally stylish. A group of women in their 20's walk past me and are headed to Marui, ready to grab the next latest product trend. Another group of women sitting at the nearby Starbucks gab about their boyfriends, whether it be about how much they make, what kind of job they have, how they look, or whether they see an imminent future with them. A few men standing around talk about their latest experiences with women, whether at a Konpa (a meet up based on dating), or by meeting through some other means. A couple passes me heading towards the nearest new hotspot for delicious food, while a man next to me is playing with the latest Playstation Portable waiting for his next train to arrive.
Japan as a society moves quickly. Whether it be the next latest fashion trend or the newest piece of technology, people must have it. The Japanese are judgmental of your looks, your power, and your status. The pressure to to maintain these things, as well as follow the rules society dictates is even greater. When you live in a place where people keep quiet about their personal lives and show a second face, all the superficiality is just a mask for concealing their true selves. Society here is very materialistic, basing their happiness on obtaining or consuming the latest goods. People will do whatever they can to keep up with the next wave. While many others try to rally against this and pursue their own happiness outside of the norm, it is highly looked down upon.
This superficiality extends to even the communication. While it seems everyone is showing a kind face, you really do not know their true feelings. The Japanese like to call this type of face "humility," but is it really so? Boasting about yourself is not highly looked upon, in addition to making others jealous or making them feel green with envy. If I happened to sound boastful of something I was happy about, I was sometimes greeted with a genuinely happy compliment.. but other times greeted with a nonchalant counter-argument or realistic remark to bring me back down.
With a country so rich in technology, latest fashion trends, convenience and wonderful delicacies, I always thought, "Why are people so depressed out here? What would push as many as 30,000 people to commit suicide like this?" While I believe many countries suffer from this problem, I think Japan is especially difficult due to the pressure to conform.
Could this entire problem stem from the superficiality of the society? If the pressure from society to conform did not exist, could people live more freely and happier? Could it be that people are convincing themselves that they are happy, even though they are not?