Your Friend in Japan

J-List Reader Questions about Japanese Stereotypes Answered

Written by HotAnime

We’re all human, and are naturally susceptible to having partially incorrect stereotypes about a far-off country like Japan. As I do from time to time, I asked the users of J-List’s Facebook page to tell me some of the stereotypical views they have about Japan. Here are some of the responses I got.

Every car in Japan is an awesome performance machine.

J-List is based in Gunma, the setting for Initial D, and there certainly are a lot of awesome cars on the road. But as this picture of the parking lot outside my gym shows, most are boring sedans or fuel-efficient “kei” cars with super-small engines.

Japan’s pop-culture only revolves around anime and video games.

When observing Japan from afar, it’s good to remember that were viewing it through the “lens of the Internet” which tends to show us more of some things (say, modern otaku culture) and less of other things (say, historical dramas, which are less accessible to us). So the image we see is skewed. For example, Turkish and Egyptian bellydancing is growing in popularity in Japan, and my wife and I have been attending performances in Tokyo and Gunma. But you probably haven’t heard anything about bellydancing in Japan because it’s not the kind of thing that would explode on the Internet like a terrifying bear from Kumamoto.

Japan is a country of perverts.

It certainly seems that way, in part for the same reasons as the response above — we hear more about the “naughty” aspects of Japan than more boring subjects. On the other hand, many young Japanese today either aren’t interested in relationships the opposite sex, or would like to have a boyfriend/girlfriend but have other priorities.

There are lots of vending machines in Japan, including panty vending machines.

True there are millions of vending machines in Japan, one for every 23 Japanese people actually. 99.9% of what you hear about panty vending machines is urban legend though.

Every girl is flat-chested in Japan.

Shunka Ayami and Hitomi Tanaka might disagree with you.

Japanese eat noisily.

Ah, yes, that’s accurate. You’re supposed to slurp certain foods like noodles, and if you eat them quietly, as most Westerners do, you’ll get comments on how quiet you are.

In Japan, men and women bathe together.

While mixed bathing used to be common, unfortunately it’s extremely rare now. I’ve literally found only one mixed bathing bath in all my years in Japan, and I’ve been looking, trust me. These days it’s common for hot springs to have a private “family bath” that families can rent and bathe together in privacy.

Japanese are usually bad at “Engrish.”

This one is true. To most Japanese, English is something you study in preparation for your college entrance exams, then forget. While there’s more than a little funny English in anime, most of the hilariously translated signs you see online are from China, not Japan.

Japanese are racist/xenophobic.

This is certainly not the case. While Japan having a very homogenous population changes the social dynamics for some foreigners (if I visited Paris for Moscow, I wouldn’t stick out like I do in Tokyo) they’re certainly not racist or xenophobic about outsiders. Japan is currently undergoing a huge boom in tourism, and Japan is bending over backwards to make everyone feel welcome here. So plan a trip to Japan if you can!

Japan has the highest suicide rate in the world.

While it’s true that suicide is a problem in Japan, the country isn’t even in the top ten in terms of suicides per 100,000 people, ranking well below countries like South Korea and Lithuania. (Japan is #17 on the list.) Happily, the suicide rate has fallen over the past few years.

Are there really light beams and steam that prevent you from seeing naughty stuff?

This is true. No knows why it happens.

Sony, Aiwa and Toshiba are a few stereo types. Hitachi is my favorite.

Smug anime face

Every year J-List carries all the best anime, traditional, part, and sexy calendars from Japan for customers all over the world, and this year’s calendars are the best ever. We’ve just got in awesome calendars by artists like Kantoku and Coffee Kizoku. All our stock of these calendars are in now, and no more restocking can be done, so order the calendars you want now!

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