I’ve noticed in Western media that Japan, particularly Tokyo, enjoys a kind of image of a play to “play”, eat good food and meet pretty girls. Its nightlife is celebrated in movies like Lost in Translation and so on.1 I stumbled on this video on Youtube recently:
As other commenters noted, this video seems pretty suspicious with its bad English, and happy image of Pachinko (and that’s probably not his girlfriend), but it shows how this image of Japan the “exotic Playboy Paradise” persists, even when it’s totally inaccurate (you don’t “spend a night with a geisha”, for example).
This video offends me on so many levels. Really. I could write paragraphs about it, but I won’t. I think the video speaks for itself.
Yes, sushi and Mt. Fuji are two things people think of when they think of Japan, I understand that. It’s just so insulting to the vast number of people of diverse backgrounds (Japanese and foreign) who live there. But on the other hand, I also have heard of expats who only live in certain districts of Tokyo, never venture out or learn the language, and only live shallow lives until they’re old and broke.2 😦
I get the feeling that “expat paradises” exist in many places.
I even remember seeing a small, seedy expat area in tiny Grand Duchy of Luxembourg when I visited there on a business trip. I remember walking into this one bar in Luxembourg city with my coworker, whose bar owner who was Scottish, very drunk at the time (not because he was Scottish), and yelling all kinds of profanity at one of the customers. His friends were trying to hold him back. I thought they would get into a fight for sure, until the owner suddenly noticed me and said “nice jacket”. It turns out we both wore the same jacket! In another bar, I met a certain Dutch fellow who was a true expat, used his parents money to party until 8am every morning, and somehow everyone in the party scene knew him by name. That whole night was surreal.
I also think back to being a student in Vietnam. I briefly met this one man who was very arrogant and chauvinistic (not unlike the guy in this video), and he had some very hot Vietnamese girlfriends, who would ride in the backseat of his motorcycle. But as I learned later, such girls only wanted his passport (to get out of Vietnam) and his money. I also remember meeting this expat women who was extremely rude to Vietnamese locals when they tried to haggle over prices, and proudly rode an old Soviet-era “Minsk” motorbike everywhere, which was big, loud and obnoxious (albeit a collector’s item). Thinking back, I think that woman may have been genuinely insane. The man was clearly very insecure.
If I’ve learned nothing from these encounters, it’s that appearances can be deceiving, and there are a lot of confused and lonely people in the world.
Namu Shaka Nyorai
Edit: Posted a bit too early, fixed a few grammatical problems.
1 Hated that movie. It was pretentious and distorted Japanese culture in countless ways.
2 As the Buddha taught the lay-person Sigalovada:
7. “And what six ways of squandering wealth are to be avoided? Young man, heedlessness caused by intoxication, roaming the streets at inappropriate times, habitual partying, compulsive gambling, bad companionship, and laziness are the six ways of squandering wealth.