Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Love as a need to fulfill: studies of the contemporary Japanese society



“Good evening, my name is XY. Please treat me kindly.”
“Good evening.”
“What’s your name?”
“My name is YZ.”
“Oh, what a nice name. Have you been here before?”
“No, but someone recommended this place.”
“Oh, nice. Did you go drinking somewhere else before coming here?”
“...”

A regular conversation at a hostess club in Japan. The men who come there, usually drained by work or society, or by their own boring personality, do not have much to talk about. It is usually the hostess that does all of the talking. In the case of a foreign (non-Japanese) hostess, sometimes positively racist remarks are made about how tall she is or how big her nose is or how white her skin, especially in the case of a white hostess. Then if the hostess is black, it is mostly assumed she must be either from the United States or some African country. But let us not talk about how racist the Japanese are. Let us talk about why Japanese men go to hostess clubs.
I often hear or read western people saying they do not understand why Japanese spend so much money at these clubs. Obviously it is the same people who have no real understanding of the depths of Japanese society and about how messed up it is. Though, if you really wonder why these clubs are so popular, can’t you tell that there must be something wrong?

One of the non-regular customers I encountered at my own work place, a man who was born in Hokkaido, told me he was very tired of the standardized conversation he usually had at Japanese hostess clubs. It was that remark that made me a bit more awake, though I was already very tired and worn out of the amount of standardized conversations I had that week. I asked him why people have these conversations here in the first place, and what he answered was: “Because most people who come here cannot even hold conversations like that.” There, you see, the Japanese are in a way retarded (as suggested by Ken Seeroi).
Of course we all long to have a conversation sometimes, and sometimes small talk is necessary. In the countries like the US and Australia, having a bit of small talk with a stranger or with someone you do not know very well is considered polite. Even in Europe it is considered polite, but it really depends on the people involved and the situation. However, that is a few minutes of small talk, not 30 minutes or even an hour, as in the case of Japanese hostess clubs. It makes you wonder if the Japanese are okay in their head - paying 3,000, 6,000 or even 10,000yen to have small talk with a pretty girl for an hour?

There are theories that say Japanese men go to these clubs because they do not want to go home to a nagging wife. They do not want any tiring conversation after a long day of work. I completely understand that but at the same time I understand their wives because most of them probably do not nag for no reason. Maybe the husband’s salary is too low or their working hours are too long or they spend too much money after work, or, if you are a very lucky wife (sarcasm), all three combined.
Still, the Japanese men, no matter how little they earn, how recklessly they spend, how little they care about the needs of their wife or family, want to be loved and cared for. Here comes the whole society crumbling down these days - our generation Y, who are obsessed with themselves. It does not matter so much what I do for others, it is all about our new-age so called ‘acceptance’ of everyone who is different: I deserve to be loved and accepted.
I cannot imagine what hostess clubs were for generation X people, especially in the bubble era. Maybe it was just an outlet for groups of salarymen to go to, in actual large groups, to celebrate whatever successful business deals they had made that day. In that case, it would surely be more understandable for the western mind because these groups do not come only for certain girls, and they do not spend their private money but the company’s (simply to celebrate, as you would spend money on a company party).

That is more the mind of generation X customers, but let us come back to our self-obsessed generation Y customers that come mostly alone or in a group of up to four people, though mainly alone or with just one male companion. Those people who want to be loved after a long day of hard(ly any) work but do not want to work for that love. Love, you would think, especially in the case of Japan, is a need one wants fulfilled. As Hiroki Azuma pointed out in his work Database Animals:

“The difference between animals and humans is that they pursue an unquenchable meaning to life. Animals, in turn, aren’t searching for meaning. They only want to have their basic needs met.”

Azuma describes these “animals” of the Japanese society as Otaku. I go as far as describing the regular Japanese hostess club visitor as Otaku. He just wants his basic need for love met. In the BBC documentary “Storyville: Tokyo girls” that describes the lives of idols and their fans, one female commentator even goes as far as saying that these men do not want to put any effort into a real relationship with a girl, they want to be loved and accepted without doing anything for it (watch it here; 38:59).

Now though, what if we see this all in a postmodern way, and think about the Japanese society as evolved, with the Japanese Otaku, craving love and fulfilling that need with anime characters, idols, and hostesses? Indeed all the needs we have in life can be fulfilled artificially in that way, and there is no denying that we all want to be loved. Now if that love can be consumed, is that so bad or is that maybe simply less traditional? It starts to become a very Science Fiction like scene at this point, and if we look at new movies, let me here throw in my deeply beloved Blade Runner 2049 as an example: it predicts a society where women, especially the ‘unreal’ women (holograms, androids), are consumable goods. Through making these movies, our society faces the change that is occuring these days: we forgot how to connect or we have no time to connect and build a reliable bond. Or are we simply too lazy and too self-obsessed to become anything more than Otaku?

Personally I see nothing wrong with hostess clubs. After all, women can consume the same sort of love with male anime characters, male idols (movie stars and musicians) and male hosts. From my neo feministic point of view, this is all very equal and I cannot criticize the mere consumption of love. However, we all have to be aware that the love we consume from those places is fake love. It is love that is meant to be consumed, it is wrapped prettily and it is prepared to be consumed. It is not real mutual love with a deep meaningful relationship behind it.

In that sense, is the Japanese Otaku community - that is growing dangerously big and difficult to distinguish from our non-self-obsessed more westernized crowd - simply the android society in the Blade Runner 2049 sense? Are we all less human than we think we are?

Friday, 23 June 2017

Work smart, not hard - don't be a fool, buy cheap! Latest Japanese fashion trends

Guys, I’ve had it with Tokyo. No, seriously. I’ve had it.
What, no hello, no hi how have you been? No, none of that. I became too much of a Tokyoite, looking fresh and oh so cool from outside but being bitter on the inside. Besides, who the hell even says hello here? Right, only people who study Japanese. Or store attendants.
By now I’ve just been in Tokyo way too long. And it’s true what they say, after the 4th, 5th, 6th or at least after the 7th year you will start hating Tokyo. Or grow bored with it. Or it’s a mix of hate, boredom and disgust, like in my case. Or you already gave in to everything and accepted it, then congrats. Or you lost your brain somewhere among the zombie crowds, in which case I feel sincerely sorry for your loss.

Either way, hey, I finally got out of the drained state (tokyo vampire lemonade hah) for a second, and lately I have been thinking of restarting this blog. There was so much I wanted to write about the last few weeks and finally, finally after watching 3 seasons of Sex and the City (yeah, I actually never properly watched it) I thought: hey, I should write! I should share all the things I have to say! Maybe there’s something useful in what I have to say.

Let’s start with all the cool stuff about Tokyo that’s still actually rocking, besides food (which will make you get stomach or another form of cancer sooner or later but let’s save that for next time):

Fashion

The fashion is still freaking awesome and cheap considering the not too bad quality (I am not even being sarcastic I can’t help sounding like that even when I want to praise Japan).

Yes, Gyaru fashion toned down and everything became really onee-san-y or leaning towards Kyabajo/Agejo-ish fashion because let’s be honest, those girls are basically the only group left wearing that fashion. Those or the freeters, NEETs and maybe some of the high school/universtiy students.

With the identity crisis among the Japanese and the rush of working women who are stressing through managing their household chores as well as their office (lady) jobs that demand more and more overtime hours, what time is there left for fashion? Actually if you look more or less decent after finishing a 50 hour work week plus additional unpaid work at home, you will be happy to just throw on anything and go out to have fun, if you still have the energy that is.


No idea where women like Sayo Hayakawa take the energy &time to raise a child alone on top of all of that work
(I swear I am not being sarcastic)

Where, I ask you, is the time to find your own identity or fashion sense? Or fashion, for that matter?
And hence, what you see these days is either the old gyaru-ish toned down, the childish-sweet inspired or the foreign inspired fashion. And by foreign I mean mainly European/American or Korean. I’ve mostly really seen a raise in Korean fashion (hence I probably don’t go out much anymore haha). There’s nothing much to see besides that. But at least it has become cheap!
Since the wages are dropping while taxes are rising (I feel like half of what I am writing should be put in a paper about Japanese culture), we can see that ‘I will buy it all as long as it is cheap & cute’ attitude. Fabric, quality, size? Yeah, don’t care too much about that, it just gotta be cheap.

There there, girls, now let me introduce you to the shop that every girl and there Japanese mom is already shopping at: Puci Puri (actually: puchi pri taken from the french petit prix) / Qoo10


Let me tell you one thing, I have seen these sandals a lot and even in Shinjuku already... last summer! And they’re still going strong.


Also, want one of those trending mini Furla style bags but not spend all that $$? Save that money for your next trip out of Japan and go with this one!


I have bought these cool bags myself and they were cheap considering they look exactly like in the picture! Of course the quality isn’t that amazing but how amazing do they look?! The design is just art! This art smells quite a bit of plastic though, so be warned. But then again, I've seen one of the other versions hanging on the shoulder of a young woman in Kabukicho just 2 days ago!



If you’re like me and love the mere feeling of collecting and owning beautiful shoes and bags, this store is for you! However, don’t forget to notify the seller you buy from once your item arrived or else they won’t get the money you paid. For Japan it’s a quite new shop system to buy from other countries, directly from foreigner sellers and this has been heavily promoted since at least last year (I found it by chance through a purikura sales promotion mail).


The awesome comfy shoes that I bought, rarely wear because of the super thin heels but nevertheless needed to possess

Though be warned, that stuff is still cheap and that means cheaply made. Besides the bags, I have bought 2 pairs of shoes of which one was quite awesome and the other one rubs against my feet until they bleed but they also look quite awesome. I’ve also bought a shirt that I wasn’t very satisfied with, it had a way more unflattering cut than expected. So be sure to always check the reviews!

Do you have any experiences with that site? I would be glad to hear about your experiences. To everyone else happy shopping~

Sunday, 17 May 2015

the land of the eternal sun: egypt

Greetings readers who still did not get enough of me!
Even in May, haha. Are you all enjoying the longer hours of sunshine these days? As for myself, it has already been sometime but roughly a month ago I visited Egypt. My parents paid for this trip for me as a birthday present and also came with me. As you might know it can be a bit bothersome to go on a trip with your parents when you are already older but I could enjoy it anyway and had a great time with a lot of cool memories. I also made the city trips on my own and they were very fun!

I will spam you with a lot of pictures now again and not too much text, I hope you can enjoy this too!



At the airport and with the pick up service~


The first day we arrived at night... the room was spacious and great!




View when going out of the room



View when you go out from the terrace





 The beach was part of the hotel, so only for its guests.
You could do kite and wind surfing... originally wanted to do it but then had too little time.

 

Different side of the beach, with a lot of new constructions outside of the hotel area



Before I went on the trip to Kairo, I exchanged a bit of money (these were ~20€) and then the trip started at night. 

The trip itself was mainly just desert. Desert at night and then desert during day. I couldn't stop looking out of the window though because sometimes there was beautiful shores and beaches and sometimes there were cool hotel complexes (in the middle of nowhere, yes!) and then some interesting buildings solo. Probably for military purposes. And I have never seen such a beautiful starry sky!



Sunrise... really beautiful but it was also really cold.


Still not sure what those houses were haha



Then finally we reached Kairo!!





First impression: amazing! So different!



Traffic impression: amazing! So different! hahaha 

Actually there was also a little commuter bus travelling with an open door and someone was sitting in it as if he was just about to jump out into the traffic haha





As far as I remember this was an old graveyard area... and allegedly the people caring for the graveyard also lived in that complex.





So beautiful! I love this kind of architecture, so oriental!




Traffic rules were explained to me TWICE officially as: everyone does whatever they want (and they honk to warn you they will be coming from behind doing whatever they want lol)

 
 

Egyptian museum!

 

Actually I was not allowed to take pictures inside but while we had a bit of free time I walked around alone and was talked to by some guy... just a bit later I regretted not talking to him but I was always told to not talk to strangers D; Ahhh next time it will be different!


I am not sure if I was allowed to take a picture of that so I did it as selfie over my shoulder quickly. But very interesting! Not sure what was up there. I think either something was burned down or some bomb was set there before. Hence the burned down building on the other pictures with the statue.








A government building that for SOME reason was not finished in time. Very interesting.
The guide kept really quiet about these happenings though.





Then - pyramids!!


The guy at the entrance who checked the tickets surprisingly flirted with me (even though I looked like a hobo lol) and I found it very charming /blush/






My friieeenndss who invited me to do a selfie with them :D
Actually just the guy asked. And then when we didn't really fit together in one picture he asked the girl to go away (& she did!). I was so shocked I just said no it's alright and went away saying bye haha. 

... Then I realized that maybe it was his sister lol


There was a perfume oil house which sold essential oils and after that we went home.

Some days later at night there was a group of people gathered by the animation team of the hotel and we all headed out of the area downtown to go to a club :D


I drank cocktails with my parents at the hotel before going haha


Hurghada is so greaaattt, so much love, such a great atmosphere~

When we went to the first area we were supposed to go to we couldn't really get in because there was a random blackout. We waited for some time but it couldn't be fixed so we decided to go somewhere else.
 

On the way there.
Don't ask me why... I have no idea. Because German tourists? Haha


 
That Hard Rock Cafe was obviously a club but we could not get in either (I have no idea why, some kind of contract issue with the hotel it seems). We went back to the other place which was now finally lit!


 Then we danced, it was so much fun! 
The cocktail prices were rather expensive though and there were mostly foreigners.

 

 

There was a blackout again after about 20 minutes? Pretty lame haha.
 We went out and a guy from our group was like:

I was like: You have a drink there! (glass and drink taken from the club)
And he was like: Oh yeah, I know, wanna drink that?
LOL


This was all followed by one of the coolest parts. We walked away from that area and walked and walked and walked until we could, sometimes on the sides, see some desert-like areas again (totally normal though, everything is kind of peripheral unless you are in the inner city or hotel complex).

Then we were picked up by some van, kind of randomly, and we went inside with another group of people (actually Germans, while we were mostly Russians and our only pure German person had parted from us to stay at the Hard Rock Cafe). While we went on the little bus/van to our next destination, we drove really fast and damn it was so fun because they also turned on some club music and it was really damn cool haha



Then we went to another location were we danced, smoked some hookah, drank a little. Then we already went home.


Actually that was one of the better tourist-y rest rooms haha


The next day I went on a Hurghada city trip!


I loved how the mosque was constructed... totally reminded me of the Prince of Persia games which I always liked since my mid-teens~










That glare. All like: KISS ME. I AM BEAUTIFUL PRINCE.







 Left: Church for the Christians. Right: THE ATMOSPHERE.




After walking around a bit, I couldn't actually gather enough courage to cross the street on my own lol. Believe me, it is a fight.

The guide came up to me a bit later and helped me pass the street while others were shopping. We sat down for some time at the cafe nearby and talked. I had hollyhock-tea, it was very delicious!






A non-alcoholic cocktail which are very popular.
When I ordered a cocktail at the hotel bar during afternoon they asked me: 'With alcohol?' with a bit of shock in their voice lol. While in Germany, they'd rather ask 'Without alcohol?', right? haha


My last day at the beach! Oops you can see I had all-inclusive in this one haha. But I was so happy!

Also that last day I was swimming in the warm ocean and a jellyfish stuck to my body in thigh-high water. I was so surprised I almost fell head-over-heels lol. Wait actually I did fall head-over-heels but luckily not flat on my face haha.


At night I went out with one of the hotel staff who I became friends with (actually he said he wanted to marry me upon first sight lol) and we walked around the same area I went to during daytime before. 

I love how crowded and full of life the streets were around 8pm. All the stores very still open and everyone was still doing business it seems. In the cafes there were not too many people but it was a Sunday night anyway.



You read that right. Sexy mexy.


I was surprised this was labeled as 'orchid fruit tea' because I expected something completely different. It tasted like rice pudding.



And that's all. You can see the outline of the place quite well. I loved it!

I can definitely recommend Egypt to everyone who ever thought of going there, it's such a wonderful, great place to stay at!
It is kind of a bit of a poorer country though so if you are used very high standards of luxury, maybe it is not the best place to go for you unless you want to constantly stay in the hotel area.

Oh but let me end this post with something pensive & meaningful. Have you ever thought that a place that you view as very interesting and exciting has a completely different effect on other people? That all your feelings and impressions and the taste of the air is literally invalid for the other people with entirely different views?
Thinking of that made me remember a quote of a book that I read recently and want to share.

'The right understanding of any matter and a misunderstanding of the same matter do not wholly exclude each other.' 
Franz Kafka, The Trial