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Veni, Vidi, What the hell was that? - 07-28-2010, 01:29 PM

I just spent 5 weeks in Japan, backpacking around Tokyo and southern cities.
Now I'm back home, and happy to be.

Before going to Japan, I didn't expect anything. But now... damn how do I put this.

I learned to hate and love Japan.

Tokyo is the most depressing city I've ever been to. People are either overworking and spending all their money in shopping centers or pachinko. Or they have stupid part-time jobs and aspiring to be like the other ones.

Tokyo is the most exciting city. Neon lights, crowds, this city is alive energetic. People move back and forth like fish in big metallic streams they call "Metro". At dinner or supper, restaurants are full. Even on week days, there would be people everywhere.

This is but only one of the paradoxical emotions I felt about the two-faced giant.

Of course I wasn't there to criticize Japan, only to see. But I couldn't just stand there and not think about right and wrong. Anyway, I'm still pretty confused about this travel experience as I just got back. But what I'm sure of is that there is something not very sane about the Japanese people, something I didn't appreciate at all. Cultural shock you might say? Maybe, but that would be too simple.

So this is a small message to all of you who see pink or even gray. There are other things in Japan than Mt. Fuji and Amine. And the dark side of Japan is even darken than you can imagine.

I'm not even sure of what I'm saying. Things seem so unclear. But I have this feeling that could be translated by the sentence : "What the hell was that country full of crazy people".

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07-28-2010, 01:53 PM

All cities are like this. I grew up in cities, and I've often felt the same way. While you may love the energy, the lights, the crowds, the convenience, cities can also be quite bleak.
I often felt this way in New York City. There is no "normal." For me, I always had a hard time with people. I didn't care who they were but at the same time I did. I was always surrounded by a thousand people, whom by the next day I'd never see again. Or, I'd be sitting down at one of a million restaurants in the city, and sometimes I'd think that somewhere in this city there's a much cooler spot I could be at, but I'm not because I chose this spot.

It's ironic, really. Here you are surrounded by many more people than the average person, but you feel even more detached from them.

I'm not a cynic; I just like to play Devil's Advocate once in a while.
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07-28-2010, 05:48 PM

huhu.. it might be late, but I really wanna say it..
"welcome" to Japan!

LiVe Ur LiFe
Don't do drugs!

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07-28-2010, 05:57 PM

I don't think the insanity is in the city or in the individual people, but in taking in all their lives all at once. That is what a major metropolis is: millions of stories taking place at the same time.
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07-28-2010, 08:13 PM

Originally Posted by MMM View Post
I don't think the insanity is in the city or in the individual people, but in taking in all their lives all at once. That is what a major metropolis is: millions of stories taking place at the same time.
Well said.

It's probably the same in all major cities.

I could say the same with the city where I live and it's no way near the size of Tokyo and not even near the amount of people!!!

Blame the others!
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07-29-2010, 12:09 AM

I think that as a backpacker, walking around the city - particularly during "work" hours - is going to give you a VERY skewed perception of people`s lives. The endless stream of people doing such and such that you see is only maybe a few minutes out of each individuals life. And if you`re wandering the streets, you`ll encounter the "outside" culture of others who wander about... Not the regular lives of regular people. Most of life goes on behind closed doors, in private locations.

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steven (Offline)
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07-29-2010, 01:22 AM

Haha, the inaka is the other side of that coin. People are certainly busy and overworked here, but the hustle and bustle is gone. You have more of that "my pace" (to borrow an "English" phrase from Japanese) feel here.

I don't really like Tokyo all that much either... but I always find it interesting how a lot of the buildings continue several stories underground. It's the same thing with all the people running around. The rushing figure that you see is only the tip of the ice berg, really.

I think the "salary men" (and women too) that reside in the city have it really hard. Some of them might have great pay, but what's the point? How do you figure that kind of standard of living? Maybe some people like it, but that would be hell for me. As far as I understand you show up early to work to impress the boss, work hard all day, go out to lunch with your co workers, and then go out drinking for hours after work on a regular basis. They get home past midnight and start all over again about 5 to 6 hours later. I've seen personal friends dissapear in this lifestyle... it's like they get sucked into the "scenery" of the Tokyo that you've described.

Again, though, you see emulations of this lifestyle in the inaka, too. It's to a lesser degree for certain though. What the hell is everyone working so hard on... or for for that matter? Even though I delve deeper and deeper into understanding Japanese culture, that is something I think I will never be able to have empathy for. It's just crazy from my perspective.
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07-29-2010, 02:06 AM

This is a great example of too much of a good thing. Five weeks is an extremely long time to spend in a foreign country. I am curious as to how many weeks in the love/hate began.
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steven (Offline)
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07-29-2010, 03:20 AM

I think there are people who fall into the condition of "culture shock"... I wouldn't be surprised if you could find some graphs talking about how long it usually takes people to start disliking somewhere. The first week or month or so is usually, according to what I have read about the subject at least, the best part of the ride. Then you start getting ups and downs at varying intervals until a pattern is revealed.

It's weird because I'd say that's just life... there are ups and downs. I think you'd just feel them more being in a foreign country.
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07-29-2010, 07:28 AM

I doubt anyone who loves hiking and being in the peacefulness and contemplative mood of nature really likes what they see upon entering a big city. If they did they wouldn't be so interested in leaving the city and work behind them in the first place. I'm sure it all seems bleak and pointless.

I consider myself a city person. I could not live in a place any smaller than where I live now. When I go on vacation I only go to bigger cities, it's just the way I am. I really enjoy the stark contrasts between the good and the bad of big cities. I don't think I would feel so strongly the good I do enjoy from them if they were without their dark complex underbelly. Much like real people I truly like, I enjoy complexity, I appreciate a bit of grit. I also enjoy feeling like one small fish caught up in the waves. It makes me feel calm and human. I know it's strange but that's how I've felt about it since I was a small girl living in a small town.

Sorry if that all sounds too odd.
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