Ten Ways The Japanese Do It Worse

Those of you who read my previous article, "Ten Ways The Japanese Do It Better ", may think I'm an optimist, only looking on the bright side, working for the Japanese government, yadda yadda yadda... not so! Sixteen years of marriage to a delightful lady born & bred in Tokyo have given me an arm's length perspective on so much that's good about Japan - along with, of course, some of the bad.

Yes indeed, every silver lining has its cloud and it's looking a lot like rain, so without further ado "let's enjoy" Ten Ways The Japanese Do It Worse!

10) Pop Music: The Sound and the Fury

Morning MusumeMorning Musume
Anyone complaining about the lack of originality and dearth of talent on American Top 40 radio had better count their blessings now. It could be worse, MUCH worse... you could be listening to Japanese pop music. Known as "J-Pop", the sounds emanating from the country's speakers and headphones resemble nothing more than an endless succession of TV cartoon show themes interlaced with weepy ballads. How can a society that prizes harmony produce music that ignores the concept completely? Take a half dozen teenage boys or girls, give them spiffy hairdo's and matching outfits, put them on roller skates and get them to sing in unison... hey guys, 'N Sync is just a name, don't take it literally! (image via j-popcdart.com )

9) Television: Boob Tube for Dummies

Low-brow High DefinitionLow-brow High Definition
I'm not sure why TV in Japan is so bad, maybe everyday life is so stressful people just need an escape into mindless fluff? In general, Japanese TV is dominated by the 3 F's: food, foolishness and more food. It seems like all it takes to be a TV star in Japan is the ability to taste something, make a sincere expression and say "oishi" (delicious!). It's gotten to the point where foreign producers are taking Japanese TV shows and substituting their own English soundtracks - something that works especially well for shows like "Hey! Spring of Trivia" and Spike TV's "MXC", a re-dub of "Takeshi's Castle". (image via Gooseania )

8) Let's Enjoy Mangling English!

Let's Enjoy Everything!Let's Enjoy Everything!
Japan is a very well-educated country and English is taught in most schools. It's surprising, therefore, that seemingly everywhere one looks in Japan, you'll find horribly, tragically, hilariously misspelled English. T-shirts are notorious billboards for bad English, and almost every Japan-based website with an English language page is guilt to some degree. There are entire websites dedicated to showcasing outstanding examples of "Engrish", in fact one of the more notable is Engrish.com ! Japanese Engrish displays some curious patterns, such as the need to express "let's" and "enjoy"... even "let's enjoy", such as a billboard emblazoned with "let's enjoy sailing". My favorite, though, was a sign displayed at Tokyo's Narita airport that encouraged passengers to "Enjoy Your Fright". (image via Japan Gallery )

7) City Planning: Where the Streets Have No Names

Highway to Hello KittyHighway to Hello Kitty
In Tokyo, at least, the major thoroughfares have names, it's the side streets that go nameless. This is fine for long-time natives but it creates a problem for tourists. So you want to visit that tiny sushi bistro your guidebook recommends? If you don't speak Japanese, try asking the hotel maid to phone the place and then draw you a map. Even big city residents can get confused... which is probably why so many Japanese cell phones come with GPS capability. (image via Scorpions.com )

6) Space Exploration: The Wrong Stuff

Mars or BustedMars or Busted
Riddle me this: how is it that a nation that excels in large scale transportation projects and is a world leader in both electronics and robotics can't get it together when it comes to space exploration? I mean, put ASIMO on a bullet train aimed skyward and its "next stop, moon!", at least it should be. Is it a money problem, or a lack of will? The names JAXA (Japan's NASA) gives its space probes do indicate a certain wishy-washy attitude. The USA named its Mars rovers "Spirit" and "Opportunity", while Japan's Mars probe - the one that ran out of fuel - was named "Nozomi" ("Hope"). As in, "Hope it gets there"? (image via Patches Etc )

Jul 11, 2007
by Anonymous Even Steven (not verified)

What is "better" or "worse"

is arbitrary and a matter of opinion (which you are entitled to have).  I prefer to think of these things as "different" without judging them.

Jul 11, 2007
by Steve Levenstein
Steve Levenstein's picture

judgement day...

It may be that there's a fine line between Opinion and Judgement, and i think certain degrees of both are required when assembling ANY "Top Ten" listing. How can it be otherwise, unless it's a statistical list that ranks by the numbers. On the other hand, chances are every person who puts together a Top Ten list with a set theme is going to have a different list - based on their opinions and - yes - judgements. Just my opinion, of course :o)

 Since when did "judgement" become a 4-letter word, anyway?  

Jul 11, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Judgment is an 8 letter word, not 4

But it often spelled with 9, so 4 letters plus 5.

It isn't so much that making judgments is wrong but that when making cross-cultural comparisons, making judgments isn't really the best thing to do.  A culture should be seen and understood from its own perspective; one shouldn't use one's own culture to judge others.

Jul 30, 2007
by Ana (not verified)

An intance where I can say, 'LOL'.

I thought that was really good and incredibly hilarious!  Not judgmental as more 'What the heck?' ( I mean, it should definitely count for something that you did a 'better' article before you did this.)

And plus, Japan has pretty much the same attitude about us.  I can guarentee it.

Jul 30, 2007
by Steve Levenstein
Steve Levenstein's picture

Here's LOL-ing at you, kid...

Spot on, Ana, i never seek to criticize as it's not my place. What i write is taken from MY point of view, and that's usually somewhere between bewildered and bewitched. 

I'm totally certain that there's a Japanese version of me typing away on how odd WE are!

Sep 18, 2007
by Matsumoto Jun (not verified)

Whale meat

Whale meat is sooo tasty though! Its like super tender beef.

Dec 4, 2007
by Anonymous Tyo (not verified)

Kore mo

Totally great! I love your collections!

Mar 11, 2008
by Anonymous

the jpopmusic thing

You obiviously never heard of jpop before. Not all music in japan is like that. A famous lady name Utada Hikaru is a jpop star and she never does those things. It is more of a relaxing tune. At least Morning Musume isn't talking about sex, and they aren't fools all the time while singing. So get a life bitch lol.

Mar 12, 2008
by Anonymous

J-pop rocks!

J-pop rocks!

Sep 23, 2008
by Anonymous

No J-Rock rocks! XD

Lol there are lot of dumb things about each country :S

Engrish engrish!!

It's not as bad as American's who speak in Japanese with their original accent :S Like wtf

KAWAII urgh I hate it when people randomly add romaji to their sentences, epsicially that word :|

Lol desu desu desu

Dec 28, 2008
by Anonymous



I think America has things that make it even WORSE. Anyone care to list them?

Let's start with music. ;O Or lack there-of.