Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Hi everyone,

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?


  1. That old saying of money bringing happiness. I think some have that kind of mentality and maybe those are the ones depressed among so many with superficial/materialistic things. Or could be the total opposite of them thinking it'll bring them happiness but instead going in debt and more things to think about? Who knows, but I think that's why I'm thankful I wasn't born in a small country where pretty much you're watched on if you're trending with them or not haha.

  2. I tend to agree.

    Let's face it. Money is important in all of our lives. Noone wants to be dirt broke, right? I think when people confuse riches to be the sole source of their happiness, it tends to make people think anything can be bought with it.

    Money factors aside, whether you are going to school or working as a member of society, the pressure of going to a 'good school' or 'getting that good job' is far too great for some people.

  3. Is it true that Japanese language is limited so that deep philosophical ideas are difficult to express and that is why everything is superficial? Also please explain more about the "second face".

  4. My idea of the Japanese society is basically the one that is represented on shows, dramas, anime and manga, so when I hear it I can only think about aggresive women fishing men, workaholics, bullying, suicide, subcultures... As I learn more about Japan, I realize that people's emotions seem to be suppressed by façades built out of their expensive possessions and the people they keep around them (which are often treated as objects for show).
    Even though, Japanese people have an incredible capacity (or so I have seen) to convert the pain produced by social pressure into breathtaking artworks, for example, and I think that's amazing.

    It is undeniable that Japan is a beautiful country, but in the near future it'd be good to hear that its good points aren't only its unique culture and landscapes, but also its open-minded and progressist society.