"To the impartial eye, the world not only seems an unlikely one-off phenomenon, but a constant strain on reason. If reason exists, that is, if a neutral reason exists. So speaks the voice from within. So speaks Joker's voice." - Jostein Gaarder

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A Haiku for Dams

Ever since I finished reading Dogs & Demons: The Fall of Modern Japan by Alex Kerr about a month back, the way I see life in Japan has changed a lot. It’s a devastating book that lists up a massive amount of incomprehensible facts about how Japan works, and why it has become the way it is. It covers Japanese society, culture, economy and foreign relations widely enough to include disturbing facts that anyone who is interested in Japan, obviously including non-native Japanese people who live in Japan as well, should have it in their book shelves. The only problem is that it turns the illusion of Japan (supposedly of being a super-modern country parading at the very front in terms of infrastructure, technology, health care and whatnot), into what it really is; a country that faced sever problems after opening its ports to the world a mere 150 years back, booming after the Second World War and halting somewhere between 1970 and 1990, with a government abusing its people, its nature and its hopeful long-term visitors. If you can handle it, buy it, read it, and see Japan in a completely different way. You’re in for some big ass bumps on your way there. Or maybe that should be big ass tetrapods.

I could not have said it better myself.

After the first chapter, this book, with the cruel reality of it, turned from this pain killer to my endless suffering in japan that year, it turned into this scary fact about a country heading to a "concrete" wall of its own making, in the speed of Shinkansen.

Many people want to live the Japan Fantasy, it's hard to tell them that it's never really existed.


Blogger Golaniya said...

Thank you for linking to this blog, Yazan.
i am one of those who want to live the Japanese fantasy, though i prefer the Chinese- not sure it is a fantasy though.
i hope you keep posting on what is it like to be there in Japan, and keep linking to these blogs.
I would like to read Japanese bloggers too.
I wonder how is it like to take one of these trains, I am sure it is majestic at night.

June 27, 2007 3:31 PM

Blogger Wassim said...

Lot's of Japanese come to London Yazan especially where I live, which is particularly bohemian and hippy. I see them made up in weird fashions, following some art fad or rebellion. Consumerist to the max and about as much depth as a Haifa Wehbe "Best of" CD. One thing crops up in my mind constantly, they should have stayed fighting after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Anything but lose to the Americans and that way of life.

Maybe I'm being harsh and generalising about them?

June 27, 2007 7:30 PM

Blogger Yazan said...

My friend, u are not being harsh to the japanese, u are being harsh to the americans.

the real problems here are not american made, and what you are saying is not the product of american pop culture like it is back home.

It is the product of the historical and psychological development of japan, they have the same problems they had in the meiji period [late 1800s] Japan is a train that doesnt know where to stop, they started producing cement, now they cant stop, and they have to raise what they produce every year, and USE it, u have no idea what criminal environmental acts the japanese government have done to the japanese people and nature, and then u ask why a train cant stop or fix its rout, or slow down, because of the mentality thats for sure, but also because of the astounding levels of corruption and bureaucracy in japan, that have its roots in pre-war japan, the same rulers are still there...

Japan's problems are suicidal, I have not even started talking about their xenophobia and all that.
The japanese pop culture is not compareable to that of the americans, the japanese are by far the most ignorant population on this planet [that i had a chance to meet, and I've met many different people], I had to tell many of them where Syria is in relation to as far away places as France and England.

No my friend, they should not have fought, the atrocities the japanese have committed in manchuria and Philippines because of this mentality, far outnumbers that of the americans...

The country has an amazing culture and heritage, I am in love with so many parts of it that it pains me to see what is happening.

Golaniya, You need to know better about the chinese one, although I am all for having another pole standing up to the over-exaggerated might of the US and pushing it back to its size, i would not want china in there, china is one of the dirtiest economies in the world, and I mean that in the worst sense of the environmental aspect. You should read more into it, its scary to have people like these ruling the world, much as it is scary to have the cowboys at it.

I just got back from one of those 300km rides on the shinkansen, i cant tell u the feeling... u have to experience it for urself.
And btw, Nobu is norwegian, not japanese, u might be surprised to know that 90% of japanese dont speak nor write english.

If you wanna feel what it is to be here, at least the first 4 months, watch Lost in Translation. Only the few people who have been through that insomnia, and whirlpools of voices and traffic and cruel preciseness of Tokyo can really tell you how accurate and delicate the feelings in that movie. Sophia Coppolla outdid herself in there.

June 28, 2007 12:21 AM

Blogger Alisa said...

thank you for defending my country, yazan.

I am no fan of American pop culture myself, but Japanese pop culture is so saccharine and shallow it makes American pop feel like a nourishing four-course meal.

Blaming America for bastardizing local culture always strikes a chord with me. If you don't like it and you don't think its good- don't buy it! You know how Korea defeated Walmart? Real simple. They didn't shop there and it went out of business. Pop culture fulfills some kind of need that the youth seem to have- the important thing is to understand that need and offer them something more genuine that arises organically from the culture.

About the train being majestic at night, maybe it is, but the lights on the train are as bright as a hospital's so you can't see a damn thing outside. I never understood why they never thought to dim the fucking lights at night. But the view is majestic during the day and especially at dusk.

July 02, 2007 5:24 PM


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