Stereotype are interesting, it simplified some aspect of people and generalized it. Take example the stereotype of U.S.A, at least I can name 3 most-famous American stereotype. Letsee… 1st, they sue everything in any way they can; 2nd, people there carries gun every time everywhere, and they will use it if they received threats; 3rd, all American girls are bitchy and slutty. Well, thanks to Hollywood, I guess I can understand the 2nd and 3rd stereotype, but what about the 1st? Because of a case where a granny sue the microwave company for not putting a notice “do not dry cat inside”, most people outside U.S.A now think that every people in America like to sue others. So a certain event can revert into the making of stereotype, which mostly negative. But then, what about Japan? What kind of stigma did other nation judged Japan?
Well I say stereotype, but just pointing out the obvious would be boring. So lets make it a little comprehensive. Without excluding myself, I’m sure you could guess at least 3 or 4 stereotype of Japan that you have heard in your childhood (perhaps). Let me guess, the first one that pop up in your mind must be:
1. All Japanese people watch Anime and read Manga!!
Yup, I know what you’re thinking. “All Japanese People must have read manga and watch anime everyday, its their culture!!!” Well I hate to break it up to you, but not all Japanese People watch anime and read manga everyday. Sure, every kids in Japan probably watch Anime and read Manga most of times, but its the same with American where they watch Looney Tunes and read Superhero comic books. As they get older, they are prone to move their interest into other source of entertainment such as Novel and Newspaper, or even games. A serious obsession of Anime and Manga, where one will forget every other aspect in their life for the sake of their obsession, is what famously called an “otaku”.
But above explanation is a bit unfair, it differ the adult, the kids, and the otaku. Actually, many Japanese adults still enjoy reading comics and watch anime in their spare time. Why? Because most of Japanese hate doing nothing in their spare time. Or, other explanation, they want to know whats “hip” in the mind of teens. So if you met people in Japan reading Comic or playing Game in the train, even if its an adult, its practically normal for them.
Dully noted that in Japan, once someone deemed as an “Otaku”, they lose their social status and will be shunned by the society. Drastic, I know, but that’s what they call justice. For the order of conformity, society will not hesitate to carry out a social sanction. In order of conformity, one can hit the faulty and get away with it. That is why most normal Japanese household try to hide their Hikikomori son from the society. I have deliberated it in Here, for further reference.
Conclusion: Not True
2. Every Japanese people eat Sushi everyday!! That’s why they are so smart!!
“What? Eat sushi everyday?” is what i would say in my limited budget and sushi price range, but so does most Japanese. The lowest price of sushi you can find in Japan are the one you buy in convenience store, and the range would be around 8$ or 750.08 Yen per dish. For the sushi bar, where you take sushi from a rotating conveyer belt, the price would start from 100 Yen / plate and it will increase depending on the type of the sushi. Of course, the place where you eat also contribute to the price range. For example, if you eat sushi at Ginza, you’d probably spent fortune just for a taste of one. Ginza is, by far, the most exclusive and expensive shopping area in Japan, and the most expensive real estate in the world too.
“Fish menu. You know, Japanese household try to at least eat fish everyday.”
While it is true that all Japanese people don’t eat sushi everyday, they make habit of eating fish as often as possible. Fish is featured much more prominently on the Japanese plate, so much so that the average Japanese person consumes more than 154 pounds annually (or about a half pound a day). The Japanese are so fish-mad that they collectively consume 12% of the world’s fish, but account for only 2% of the global population.
There are several reason why Japanese people eat fish, and the most prominent one are the fact that Japan is the island nation. Considering 70% of the geographical state in Japan are mountainous, they find it hard to raise a large amount of livestock. Therefore, fish, in addition to its availability, is a cheaper alternative.
Conclusion: Not True
3. Japanese people have astounding punctuality!!
“Japan is trustworthy, because they value the sense of time” is what most people would say, and I agree with them. Japanese people does not make a habit of being late, because it is considered as condescending others. They have this obsession with being on time so that others do not feel degraded. The concept does not only applied to the people, but also on transportation.
Anywhere else in the world, a train running 90 seconds late would perhaps be considered on time. But in Japan, 90 seconds would foil commuters who depend on trains’ connecting to one another with balletic precision, often with only a couple of minutes to spare. This also applied to the airlines, no matter how big and small the plane is. Unfortunately, the obsession to be on time also led many accidents in the public transportation. Because of the pressure in keeping time, if the conductor or the pilot calculate the possibility of being late with the schedule, they tend to increase the speed of the vehicle. Increasing the speed has led many disastrous accident such as derailed accident and crashing toward the nearest building.
“The passenger and the conductor checking the arrival time, synchronizing with the schedule”
But its weird, isn’t it? They put an importance in making others see them as punctual, reducing the chance the other party to be insulted by their behavior. As one of the nation with tremendous growth, particularly economy, why does Japanese need to make other certain that they will be on time? Why should they care what other people think of them? Why can’t they adopt the culture of “fashionably late” from the American?
I believe there are 2 factors to explain this particular issue. Lets start with the most humble one, the concept of Honor. In Japan, each one of them believe that they have been put on a certain belief and trust, and it is imperative to not to break that link. Once you have broken a trust or two, the society will sees you as incompetent and the talk continues in degrading fashion as a part of social sanction.
“Society? Society play’s a part in ones punctuality?”
Oh yes my friend, and that’s exactly the 2nd factor in explaining punctuality; Expectation from the society. Every kids in Japan have learn to follow order, to obey, and to blend with the society. Hows that got anything to do with punctuality? Lots of it. Japan has a series of values and norms that must be followed, and they teach that to the people since kindergartens. One of them is punctuality. If you’re a Japanese person and you’re not punctual, it will be highly probable that you receive a social sanction, by the order of conformity. The mindset of conformity is deeply implemented in the mind of Japanese people making them scared to conduct a mistake. Making a mistake will betray the society trust, or so they believe. I have deliberated it in Here, for further reference.
Although most Japanese people are keen in keeping the track of time, we should not neglect the possibility that some Japanese people are actually inconsiderate in keeping with the time. That’s the problem with stereotype, we observe some to judge most. I do believe in the uncertainty of life, so I recommend you to not solely stigmatize all Japanese people as punctual
Conclusion: Most Japanese people are punctual, but It Depends
Contemporary, Japanese stereotype was made with the help of Dorama, Anime and Manga. The spread of the culture are so devastating that, in a way, create a general idea of what Japanese people are. And so the Japanese stereotype was born. But is all stereotype a fraud? I wouldn’t jump to that conclusion yet. As they say, if there is a smoke, there is fire. And at the moment, its my duty to prove you what is right and what is not, with data of course. I only deliberated 3 aren’t I? Apology, it seems I payed too much attention on the explanation and I forgot the word count. Lets save it for the next part of the article, another stereotype explanation. Can you guess what kind of Japanese stereotype I will present?