iNJAPAN


Sexual attitudes
March 31, 2008, 10:58 pm
Filed under: + iNJAPAN

I think I’ve mentioned before that I am a little disturbed about Japan’s perverted attitude toward sex. I guess it’s hard to say that a certain country is worse than others, since in these modern times sex is used for everything – however, for me, there is something more disturbing about Japan’s sexual culture.
I don’t want to offend any Japanese people, and I guess nobody can say it’s wrong, since what is acceptable in a society differs from culture to culture. I’m sure there are a lot of things that are accepted in Korea but is shocking to other countries, like the fact that we eat dogs.

One of the shocking things about Japan’s sexual culture, is that they openly endorse sex with children. ‘The younger the better’ is a widely accepted attitude, and a girl of about 14 years old seems like the most desirable sexual object. They even have a term for this kind of preference for the young and cute, called ‘Lolicon (ロリコン)’ (another abbreviated English word for ‘Lolita Complex’). The original term comes from Vladimir Nabokov‘s book, Lolita, which is about a middle-aged man’s obssession with a 12-year-old girl. In Japan, there is a wide variety of child pornography that target the Lolicon market, where girls dress up in lacy, little princess girl dresses to look young and innocent but sexy at the same time.

Lolicon

They even have an anime character called ‘Pedo Bear’.

pedobear

Basically, he is a ‘pedophile’ bear, hence the ‘pedo.’

Even from their traditional clothing, the kimono, you can tell how historically, women were treated as sex objects.
The kimono basically is a robe, which you tie with a sash or ‘obi’ to keep the robe from opening.

kimono1

The obi is used for many reasons, the main one being to hold the robe together. Another is to put an accent right below the female’s breasts, a little above her waist, so that her legs look longer.
It is also used to hide the sexual qualities of a woman, by tightly constricting her breasts and covering her behind.
kimono_behind

However, it is also like tying her in a ribbon, as if she were a present to a man. And, if you untie the obi, it is very easy to take off her clothing. Also, you can see the obi is very big, and is made with a lot of cloth, and it almost seems like she has a bundle on her back.
The reason for this is said to be it is so that whenever a man wants to have sex with her, or rape her, she can untie her obi and use it as a mat or bedding, which is very disturbing for me.

Actually, I don’t know. I mean, if you think about it, it’s not that different from Americans advising their women to carry condoms all the time.
You know you’re gonna be raped, so at least have some protection. Right?
And this is like, ‘you know you’re gonna be raped, so at least be comfortable and have a mattress ready on your back.’
I guess the objectification of women is still bad, all around the world.

The shoes they wore were called ‘geta‘, which are like wooden sandals, and are also a good example of the oppression of the female.

geta

They say that the wooden sandals for women were purposely made uncomfortable, so they would have to walk slowly in a dignified way all the time, and also so that they could not run away from men.

Nowadays, the oppressiveness of the kimono has been replaced with more comfortable, modern versions. However, it is still considered sexy for a girl to wear kimonos, and it is popular for them to wear kimonos on holidays, special occasions, or just for fashion.

kimono2



Hanami
March 24, 2008, 1:00 pm
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Since it’s just past spring break. I will talk about how Japanese people spend their spring.

The most major event during the spring is called ‘Hanami’ which literally means ‘Flower(hana花) viewing(mi見)’.

The national flower of Japan is the cherry blossom, or the ‘Sakura’.
Sakura

The entire country is full of cherry blossom trees, and they are especially beautiful during March and early April when they are in full bloom.

Hanami is kind of like a picnic, where friends and families go to parks and enjoy the beautiful flowers.
One of the most famous places to go is Ueno Park in Tokyo. The park has more than 1000 cherry blossom trees and becomes one of the country’s most popular and crowded spots for hanami parties every spring.
Sakura3

Sakura4

As an American, you might think, ‘Viewing flowers?? How gay is that?’
However, being drunk makes everything better, and usually that’s the main point of the hanami parties.

Sakura6

Sakura7

People from every age group go and enjoy hanami parties, and it’s so crowded that it’s extremely difficult to find good spots to sit. A very common thing you can see during this period is a young rookie in a business suit sitting on a mat all day in the park, who is saving a spot for his seniors at his company to come and sit in the evening when they have their company’s hanami party. The poor young rookies are always extremely irritated and desperate, since they need to pick an outstanding spot to impress their seniors. Many fights and brawls occur also during this period.

A back story for cherry blossoms is that when Japan took over control of Korea, they deliberately planted cherry blossom trees in places of political importance, in order to make the Korean people love the Japanese flower, and make them think more like the Japanese people.
Even to this day, the Capital building of Korea is surrounded by cherry blossom trees.

Japan also attempted this in America, by presenting more than 3,000 cherry blossom trees to the city of Washington in 1912. Of course they said it was ‘to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan,’ but in their minds, it was a mental invasion and they seem to believe that the fact that Washington is covered with their cherry trees shows their power and influence over the American government.

Historically, the Japanese people are experts in replacing symbols for subtle mind control, and although it may be admirable from a tactitionist view, their manipulative mindset is somewhat disturbing at times.

* If you want to read more about this, you should try reading a book called ‘The Rising Sun’ by Michael Crichton.



Cosplay
March 9, 2008, 4:08 am
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I said that I would talk about Cosplay, so here goes.

‘Cosplay’ is short for ‘costume play.’ The Japanese people have this crazy tendency to create new Japanese terms by shortening English words, which is kind of hilarious sometimes. You don’t even realize it’s English until one moment the connection hits you. ‘Anime’ is a pretty obvious one, short for ‘animation.’ ‘Pokemon’ is short for ‘pocket monster’. ‘Sekuhara’ is used a lot recently, short for ‘sexual harassment.’ It goes on and on, like, ‘masukomi’ for ‘mass communication,’ ‘supa’ for ‘supermarket,’ ‘waapuro’ for ‘word processor,’ and ‘pasukom’ for ‘personal computer.’

Anyway, Cosplay has been around forever, but became a part of the popular culture in the 90s. At first it gained popularity as Manga and Anime became popular and people started to dress like their favorite characters. This grew with the amateur culture of Japanese, where amateur artist started creating short comics or stories that parodied their favorite Manga or Anime, and came together in conventions. Since the people who participated and came to those conventions were people who loved Anime, it became the perfect place for people to go, dressed as anime characters. These conventions have become huge, and they now also have many separate conventions just for Cosplayers.
One of the biggest conventions that has a long history is called ‘Comiket‘ (did you guess it? It’s short for ‘comic market.’)

Comiket

Now Cosplayers are not limited to just copying Anime characters – they dress up as popular game characters, movie characters, band members, and so on. The competition for them has gone up, too, so the quality has gone up. Not only do they create great costumes, but most of them wear professional make-up and hairstyles, and they even hire professional photographers to take their pictures. Many people have made their professions in this world by operating costume shops and creating costumes for their clients.
Also, it has gained popularity in other cultures, such as Korea, China, Taiwan, Europe, and of course, even the U.S.

Here are some great ones.

Lineage
This is a character from an online game called Lineage.

Cardcaptor Sakura
This is Cardcaptor Sakura, a famous Japanese Anime of the Clamp group. The Clamp group is actually a group of writers and illustrators that started out in Comiket and gained fame.

Angel Sanctuary Michael
Michael, from Angel Sanctuary, a really well-written and well-drawn manga.

Of course, the difference in quality in the costumes are tremendous.

From great
Gundam

to lame
Lame Gundam

to just crap.
Crap Gundam

Well.. okay. I guess you can maybe try and understand, “oh, not everybody has the money and time to make super good costumes. They just wanted to participate in some way. Give the poor guys a break.”

Sadly, some people are just psychos.
Sailor Moon Cosplay



X-Japan Regroups in SawIV
March 3, 2008, 5:01 am
Filed under: + iNJAPAN | Tags: , , ,

Okay, since this is fairly recent major news, I’ll start off with news about X-Japan.

For the first time since 1997, X JAPAN released a new song worldwide, called “I.V.” The song was used for the ending title of the movie SAW IV.

Saw IV

I did watch SAW IV, but I’m not sure if the song was used for the U.S. version too, or if it was only used for the Japan version. I think I was too horrified to have the compusure to pay attention to the soundtrack and think, “hmm.. this is the perfect song to be slicing your own face out to. I love X JAPAN!”

Anyways, X JAPAN coming back is a huge thing for me. They are the first rock band I ever loved and totally changed my life. In Japan and Korea, it’s equivalent to Nirvana or KISS coming back.
Led by visionary genius Yoshiki (piano, drums, producer), X JAPAN sold more than 20 million combined albums and singles before disbanding in 1997. The group was born as a punk metal outfit in 1982, but became known for starting what was called “Visual Kei,” or “Visual Rock.” Their music gravitated more towards a progressive sound as they matured.

X JAPAN

Visual kei has influences of Western phenomena, such as Glam rock and Goth. For example, X JAPAN has stated multiple times that their biggest inspiration was from KISS.

kiss-band.jpg

Afterwards, Visual kei became a big movement in the Japanese music industry, and bands such as Luna Sea, Dir en Grey, Malice Mizer, and others gained major popularity as visual bands.
Also, it became a social movement, as fans of such bands began to dress like the bands for concerts, meet ups, and other events where they’ll see other people who enjoy Visual kei. Thus they joined in on the group of cosplayers, which are people who dress up like their favorite anime characters or band members. I’ll probably talk about cosplayers in detail in another posting.

It was heartbreaking when X JAPAN announced their disbandment, but it was even more heartbreaking when the guitarist Hide committed suicide in 1998. He was found hanged with a towel tied to a doorknob in his Tokyo apartment. Three fans died in copycat suicides, and of the 50,000 people who attended his funeral, nearly 60 were hospitalized and about 200 received medical treatment.
I was only 13 at that time, and I remember I skipped school for the first time in my life to go to a memorial service held by Korean fans. We all wore black, and burned Marlboro Reds (Hide’s favorite cigarettes) instead of incense, bowed to his picture, and shared an offering of Sake. We even put an offering of curry because that was his favorite food. OMG, it sounds so dumb now, but at that time it was a total tragedy for me, and I cried for days.

Of course, my parents severely disapproved of my taste in music. They thought I was a Satanist and believed that X JAPAN was the Antichrist. Teachers confiscated any Japanese material, and even the government had a ban against Japanese anime and music. At that time I was enraged at the closed-mindedness and conservativeness of the Korean society, but it also opened my eyes to the still-existing hostility between Korea and Japan. I guess it couldn’t be helped since Japan killed our queen in 1895 and occupied Korea until 1945.

Now that I know more about the seriousness of the issue, I understand the concern of my parents’ generation. I have also found out more shocking aspects about the Japanese culture that I was too young to know about at that time. I mean, who knew they would have a cute little bear that advocates sex with 13-year-olds?

X JAPAN’s lyrics are also shocking, but I didn’t know because, well, first, they’re in Japanese so I didn’t understand shit, and second, even when I found translations for them, they made lots of sexual references that I had no idea what they were about. Like, what the hell is an ‘electric cucumber’? Honest to God, I had no idea what they were talking about back then. I just thought, “Aww, they’re cute Japanese guys who think they’re cool when they speak English, but they don’t know they’re not making any sense.”

And I can’t deny that they kind of did have a bad influence on kids. Even in my own example, I was skipping school, and starving myself to save up lunch money to buy their albums, which were very expensive because they were banned by the government, and I had to go through illegal “black market dealings” to get real albums. Also, liking their music was the beginning for me in metal music, and led all the way to falling in love with the Super AntiChrist of the Universe, Marilyn Manson. haha.

However, disregarding the sex and violence, it also shows one of the positive aspects of Japan that I fell in love with. The openness of their culture where creative freedom is valued is very different from Korea. Also, their creativity doesn’t end with just the band. The fans contribute in their own ways by creating “fan-fiction” literature, and designing outfits and costumes. I guess that’s where Japan’s crazy design sense comes from.

Anyways, below is the link to X JAPAN’s music video for I.V., and a link to one of their old songs called “Kurenai.” For I.V., they put one of Hide’s favorite guitars on stage to remember him, and also used previously unreleased guitar samplings of Hide in the song.
Enjoy.

Kurenai