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Japanese Culture Questions and Answers (Q&A)

Lolita culture’s initial motive was a reaction against the strict norms that Japanese culture forced on people and the rebellion against traditional gender roles. It was an escape to childhood where everything was perfect and everything went the way they wanted it. It was also a way to have an ideal alternate identity that they could use. The motive has changed over the years and some people dress up as Lolitas for the fun of it. It is often confused as “adult women dressing up as sexualized children” but that is a giant misconception.

Lolita culture was a follow-up to the emergence of kawaii culture in Japan. Lolita culture started developing in 1980’s Japan. Its predecessor was the ‘doll-kei’ which was literally a DIY style to bring originality to the fashion style. Lolita culture was a combination of ‘doll-kei’ and other fashion cultures. Brands started adopting these handmade styles into their clothing lines which tended to increase their popularity among Japanese women. Lolita culture began in the Harajuku Shopping District in Tokyo. Lolita has many subsets and Victorian-era dresses are a trademark of every Lolita fashion. The first famous Lolita style was the Gothic style in which women dress up as Depression-era women.

Gothic Lolita

There are around 12 different subsets of Lolita and each one has developed its own niche. What makes Lolita unique is its DIY aspect and hence more and more styles keep emerging. ‘Visual kei’ was extremely important for its spread worldwide. The worldwide fame of Lolita skyrocketed with the ‘visual kei’ that J-Pop singers and bands adopted.

X Japan (Popularised Lolita Style)

The economic depression of 1990’s Japan and the anime boom went hand in glove with the development of this style and its increasing popularity. It's mixing with foreign influences furthered this style and the peak of Lolita culture was reached in the mid-2000s when it was a worldwide trend.

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It is incredibly sad to realize that suicide in Japan is so widespread, especially among children. According to a report from 2015, “Suicide has become Japan’s leading cause of death in children aged 10-19”. Common causes for child suicides in Japan are similar to other countries and include “school-related issues such as demanding school work or bullying … leading children to depression.”

The difference is that depression is not well understood in Japan and there is a shortage of psychiatrists available to help not just children, but also Japanese adults. Also, unlike in many Western religions, suicide in Japan is not seen

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Anime has been a part of Japanese culture since the early 1900’s but it really did not become an integral part until probably about the 1960’s. There was a period shortly before the end of World War II when anime was primarily used “to lift morale and commitment to the war effort”. In 1963, the first anime TV series such as “Astro Boy “appeared followed by “Sally the Witch” in 1966.

In 1968 a popular baseball-themed anime, “Star of the Giants”, was released and in 1969 a family drama, called “Sazae-san” was released and can still be seen on You Tube today, in 2018. It may even be the longest-running series in anime history.

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I do not think it’s necessarily true that Japanese people are not religious. According to the Government of Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, there are 3 main religions in Japan: Shinto, Buddhism, Christianity, and a fourth category they call “Other”. As of December 2013, there were over 180,000 Religious Juridical Persons.

A religious juridical person “means a religious organization that obtains juridical status through certification by a prefectural governor or the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology”. I don’t know how this number of religious organizations per population compares to the number of religious organizations in the western world.

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Japanese packaged food is so good because it is typically prepared seasonally, or onsite, so you’re getting fresh ingredients. Another reason is the packaging often “maintains the integrity of the ingredients”. For example, an Onigiri is “a seaweed wrapper encasing a packed handful of rice stuffed with a savory filling.”

Sounds simple enough, yet the packaging separates the nori (seaweed) and the rice — they only touch right before you eat the onigiri”. Even the packaging of snack foods is “often exquisite and elegant. Special care is taken to ensure that shapes, colors and designs fit perfectly in a symphony of tastes and textures”.

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At first I was going to answer this question by stating I don’t believe it’s true that Japanese people don’t accept foreigners but then I read a summary of a survey that did indeed show “foreigners in Japan face significant levels of discrimination”.

Japan’s Centre for Human Rights Education and Training conducted a survey in 2016 “so that the Justice Ministry could better understand what discrimination and human rights issues foreigners in Japan face, and to find ways protect their rights.” I now think racism does exist in Japan and it’s primarily for the same reason racism exists in other places, many people just don’t like diversity and don’t like people who are different from them.

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The Shibuya junction or crossing is famous for being the “world’s busiest pedestrian crossing”. It’s apparently a popular tourist attraction although I don’t completely understand why because I would not want to be caught in the middle of a busy intersection where every two minutes, the traffic lights change and “thousands of pedestrians all cross at the same time from five directions.

When the crowds meet in the middle chaos ensues.” Seem to me it would be easy to get hurt, but there are other reasons people like to visit, not the least of which is that it’s a great place to take photographs.

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The Emperor of Japan’s birthday, which occurs every December 23rd is an occasion filled with pomp and circumstance and is carefully choreographed. The royal family, weather permitting, makes several appearances on the balcony in the morning. Other celebration activities take place inside the palace during the afternoon.

Upon exiting the palace, visitors may walk through the East Gardens of the Imperial Palace but general access to the gardens is closed for the Emperor’s birthday. I’m guessing the gardens are closed because security personnel are needed at the palace itself but I don’t really know.

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(A) Karate

Karate is the martial arts technique developed in the Ryukyu kingdom, which was independent and ruled Ryukyu island for the most part from 15th - 19th century. However, was integrated into Japandue to the imperialistic policies of Japan in an early 20th century.

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According to the Statistics Portal, from 2008 to 2017 the number of men who committed suicide in Japan, per 100,000 people, was as follows: 36.6, 37.6, 35.8, 33.7, 31.1, 30.3, 28.1, 27, 24.5, and 24. The number of women who committed suicide during these same years in Japan, per 100,000 people, was as follows: 14.3, 14.3, 14.3, 14.8, 13.1, 13, 12.3, 11.3, 10.4, and 10.

Clearly, Japanese men commit suicide in rates almost three times higher than women. But, thankfully, the rates are going down and will hopefully continue to do so.

1 Answer

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