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Japanese Ministry of Continued Weirdness

Japanese Government Department Tasked With Global Image Managment
  [vote for,

Japan has an interesting and unique culture that is well worth investigating. Upon modest investigation, the average foreigner will encounter numerous examples of delightful/disturbing cultural weirdness.

In most countries there are trees. In Japan there are trees too, but some of them are twisted and stunted captive trees maintained by skilled sado-arborists. Many countries have trains, suited for the transport of low-value cargo such as ore, commuters, or waste products. In Japan they have adapted the system to efficiently move humans around at near-jet speeds. Many people choose to eat fish that aren't horrendously toxic. Japan thinks differently. The examples go on and on.

Sadly, between international travel, the internet and other media, Japanese weirdness has eroded. There are numerous factors contributing to this, some of the weirdness was made up, some of the weirdness isn't that weird when you get down to it and some of it becomes normalized through exposure and even appropriation. How weird do L.A. residents find sushi when they've had California rolls for decades? Not very, that's how.

To stem the normalization and spread of understanding, I propose a government agency tasked with promoting and communicating Japanese cultural weirdness.

At a very basic level, arts funding could be preferentially awarded to promote really odd art*. Maybe the Japanese ambassador storms out of a UN summit, deeply offended by the Russian delegation's mention of Wednesday. Shocked tourists might post Instagram photos of cat- vomit flavored Kit-Kats. Trade analysts could discover that 87.3% of the world's toothpick output is bought by Japan. Australian car enthusiasts struggle to understand the purple dashboard light that illuminates only when reversing their imported car at precisely 9mph. Well-funded Japanese students swamp the application process of any University offering Welsh language courses. And so on.

*The best way to freak out the international arts community might involve the introduction of merit, and taste.

bs0u0155, Mar 01 2019

Chindogu https://www.tofugu....apanese-inventions/
[not_morrison_rm, Mar 06 2019]

Gomen nasai https://en.wiktiona...A%E3%81%95%E3%81%84
I humbly demand honorable forgiveness... [lurch, Mar 08 2019]


       You haven't but scratched the surface...
not_morrison_rm, Mar 01 2019

       Bun for the term "sado-arborists".
doctorremulac3, Mar 01 2019

       //I propose a government agency tasked with promoting and communicating Japanese cultural weirdness// I believe that was tried back in the 1940s.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 01 2019

       Sp. sado-arborists
pertinax, Mar 02 2019

       //Sp. sado-arborists//   

       Oh yea, thanks.
doctorremulac3, Mar 02 2019

       I was quite taken by the communal 'piss slippers' you have to wear instead of your own footwear if you go to the loo.
bhumphrys, Mar 02 2019

       For me its the bizarre mystical character whose balls expand so large as to crush its enemies. That, and 'Hello Kitty.' How popular is a cat that you say hello to or says helo to you but has no mouth and that's its whole reason for existence?   

       Kawaii is pretty strange, too. Maybe its the necessary yin to the Southern monster truck 'Murican yang.   

       You let a culture develop on an island away from the mainland, the pick up some odd behaviors...
RayfordSteele, Mar 02 2019

       Not playing...or it'll take all day
not_morrison_rm, Mar 02 2019

       What I find to be the oddest trend in Japan is this fashion for Hawaiian dancing that seems to have affected everyone. They often go the whole hog and wear those grass skirts and leis, and use authentic Hawaiian instruments for the music. I have no idea why it's such a fad.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 02 2019

       No, hang on, I was thinking of Hawaii.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 02 2019

       Here's how you tell them apart. In Hawaii they have Japanese people and mangos, and in Japan they have Hello Kitty and manga.
RayfordSteele, Mar 03 2019

       Amatuers....everyone one knows Hello Kitty lives in London, with her boyfriend Daniel.
not_morrison_rm, Mar 03 2019

       //necessary yin to the Southern monster truck 'Murican yang//   

       No! the Monster Truck yang is opposed by the Shakotan/Bozozuku yin.
bs0u0155, Mar 04 2019

       I've always thought it interesting that the following concepts:   

1. You are trash.
2. You are in my way.
3. I'm cutting you down with the sword.
4. I'm discarding you.
5. Prior statements notwithstanding, you at least merit the courtesy of an apology (albeit a truncated one).

       can all be rolled up into a single seven-syllable phrase. That's efficient... but weird.
lurch, Mar 05 2019

       <bookmarks this page to later find out what seven syllable phrase meets all of these requirements since he understands absolutely no Japanese other than arigato and feels stupid asking>   

       There is a minor parallel with HB and Chindogu - the Japanese art of things which are almost, but not quite, useful gadgets.   

       My money is on the back scratch guide. Link   

       NB the Hello Kiitty film is allegedly being knocked up Hollywood as we speak.
not_morrison_rm, Mar 06 2019

       Sp. weirdness, sado-arborists   

       They could take inspiration from Austin, Texas's "Keep Austin Weird" campaign.   

       // Chindogu //   

       The other day I mentioned my friend who has avoided becoming a member here and prefers to just ask me what's happening here every couple of weeks. Anyway, he claims Chindogu is his preferred silly invention club/subculture. He also claimed they have some single- digit-thousands number of inventions when I asked, while we have over 50,000, though according to him, Chindogu inventions have to be physically built to count, so it's not directly comparable. Before he brought it up I'd only seen it occasionally online, with the frequently used pictures of the toilet paper-dispensing hat for runny noses and the plunger hat for holding your head up while you sleep standing up on the train and such, and didn't know much about it.
notexactly, Mar 07 2019

       [-2fries] - that's "kiri sute go-men"

As in "kiri", with an "r" that isn't a Western vowel-r, it sounds more like a "d", except your tongue doesn't actually touch your teeth; from "kiru", to cut, implies the sword since it's being addressed to a person

"sute" from "suteru", to throw away, an action only done to garbage, hence the implication of trash (remember that the "u" in "sute" is unvoiced, since you're male, and the phrase is supposed to be spoken by a Samurai, and saying this phrase in a female voice would be an eyebrow-spraining incongruity [there are more sexist when/wheres in spacetime than feudal Japan, but not a lot of them])

"go", the honorific, because, well, it's Japanese and a little weird, don't lose track now; you're just killing somebody, not insulting them

"men" is a regret, sorrow, apology (and note that it's two syllables, "me-n", with the n [the last kana in the phonetic syllabary] denoting finality, you can hold that "n" in your teeth until the sword is wiped on the victim's rag clothes, I don't understand why you can take time for that but not for the poor peasant to get out of the way, I guess that wouldn't give the image that the movie director wanted to portray, but, anyway... ).
lurch, Mar 07 2019

       Yes, but what does Kiri te Kanawa mean?
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 07 2019

       I don't know Maori - but I do know the Haka is designed to insult you, your family, your status, your loincloth and everything it's purportedly hiding, and that puny little island you live on *before* they get around to killing you. It's only a difference in marketing.
lurch, Mar 07 2019

       //I don't know Maori// me neither, but apparently it's the second-largest island of Hawaii.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 07 2019

       //"go", the honorific, because, well, it's Japanese and a little weird, don't lose track now; you're just killing somebody, not insulting them//   

       Interesting. I get different definitions for "go" in Japanese.
From Google translate it is "rear" or behind or afterwards.
You say it is honorific. Does that mean something along the lines of 'noble' as in, "My sword is parting you from your perhaps noble heartbeat... sorry 'bout the family that put you in front of it." kind of way?

       'cause that's pretty bad ass.   

       Nah, the honorific is only a modifier to the apology; the only respect that the blade-catcher gets is that he was apologized to.   

       Looking up short words in Japanese is a hazard-fraught enterprise. English has over 2000 possible syllable sounds; Chinese, over 5000. Japanese has precisely 107. So you've got a language where almost every word you can say has at least a half-dozen homonyms. Even in casual conversation, there's often a situation where context doesn't sufficiently disambiguate, and you end up drawing a kanji character on the palm of your hand to show which meaning you really intend to use.
lurch, Mar 08 2019

       Sounds confusing...   

       Japan is very strange when contrast to the UK and USA in particular. For example in Japan there are trains which run at 250mph and arrive on perfect time, regardless of how many hedge clipping leaves or snow flakes there are on the tracks. These trains feature creative bonsai pruning classes where you can learn how to make amazing self portaits out of miniature trees on your journey, assisted by fawning geisha girls.
xenzag, Mar 08 2019

       Sp: transport of ore and low-value cargo such as waste products and commuters
whatrock, Mar 08 2019

       No idea how such an otherwise efficient culture ends up with such a horrific linguistic system. It almost sounds like Yooper, where there are only a few distinct grunts that refer respectively to 'fire,' 'snow,' 'beer,' and 'hockey.'
RayfordSteele, Mar 08 2019

       On the plus side, it's a strong combination of the K.I.S.S. principle, and plausible deniability.   

       The drawback is that it has created an entire nation of people who are completely confused by the concept of a pun.
lurch, Mar 10 2019


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