Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Loneliness and Suicide in Japan

While I was in Japan, even though it was short...I experienced a lot...Akira told me I probably went through more then most tourist ever do and maybe that's why my shock was so bad...but...during the witnessing of husbands with hookers at Love Hotels, and the groping, the massive massive xenophobia the Japanese have, and how, despite all the dysfunction...Japan itself is pretty wow.  Good wows, bad wows...just wow.  I can understand why the catch phrase WTF Japan?! caught on...it truly is...What ...the...Fuck....

But I guess it's just different...in every way...different.  Not bad, not good, just massively, completely different. 

During my time, I went through proper-ish marriage things, and introductions, ect... but I also saw the very real leading cause of death in Japan (number 5 cause of death according to the latest country toll)...suicide.

I'm not going to go into details of it...but I can completely understand it in Japan.

Japan. It's wonderful...to look at...okay...to be a part of it, if you are ever accepted as part of Japan...but the Japanese are pros at isolating themselves and everyone around them.  Everyone seems to be an island.  No real emotions seep around...and there's a strain to keep it that way. 

It's so easy to get depressed...I felt it in a lot of people.  It makes sense now...why CUTE is so important in Japan...in fact, I even saw on the news over there where they claim the kwaii market will save Japan's economy...or the sex rate or ease the suicide rate.  It's such a high pressured, cut off from other people society, that I can say, pretty boldly, most Japanese people do not even fall in love...because the personal interaction is so programed...it's impossible.  It explains why affairs and the sex industry are every day ordeals...or why housewives or women in general stay child like.  Japan is no place for true adult emotion.  Love? No...no Romeos there...save for maybe in the end there may be a suicide or two.  Separate bedrooms...saw that in full force.  Men and women, leading separate lives, as if the existence of each other is only for the benefit of society and the children, and even parents interacting with children is pretty low on emotions too...not saying the parents don't love their kids, all parents love their kids...but no hugs after a certain age...no I love yous...

The fact is...it's a very very programed society...void of expression of true emotion...down to the core family unit even. 

The programming is comforting...but only if you have everything society says you should have by certain age, sex, blah blah blah...so any failure to that leads to people isolating from you even further...til one day...bam! You kill yourself...or try to.  Broken hearts, loss of school or job...it seems to be a very unforgiving society...if you fail in any way you fall out of the conformity...and then, bam...extreme loneliness.  Just because you're different.  And trust me, if you're not Japanese, you'll be isolated anyway due to their xenophobia.

It's down right scary.

So...then...you know...there's therapy...but again...it's Japanese therapy, and I have serious serious doubts that it's effective in any form or way. 

So...in that respect...Japan's loneliness...broke my heart.  It is by far the main reason why I struggled there and why I doubt the move now.  I even started cringing at the fake laughter between school children.  So...  it's very very very sad to see that...but at the same time, Japan would not be Japan without such a society.  After all, rule number one in Japan is to follow the rules.  That's repeated in just about every ancient document I saw there.  Follow the rules.

I would highly suggest those of you dreaming of Japan...to do whatever you can to never get isolated.  Even I got extremely depressed when left alone, because even with the crowd, no one talks to each other...no one mingles and no one really cares so long as you're safe.  If you're in danger, everyone will be there, but oddly, no one is there when you are in danger of yourself. 

Here's an article...I've been getting some angry emails from expats who are so engulfed in their yellow fever, or anime, or geshia fetishes that even though they have or are in Japan, fail to see what I saw, but I'm not part of any of that bullshit.  I went to Japan and faced reality because I'm moving there, and God knows I'm far from having yellow fever, I can honestly say I found very few people attractive and those that I did were women.  Course...I'm a woman who loves a man with a full hearted laugh...which is why I fell for Akira...but I didn't hear any of those laughs, save from maybe the time I broke danced in the elevator to keep people from running out.


So please don't yell at me saying I'm bashing Japan, I'm not.  I'm pointing out shit so white geeks with weird fetishes who are depressed here don't go over there thinking it's something completely different and end up offing themselves anyway but over there because they have anime boob glasses on or some weird shit like that.  People gotta face reality.  The reality is...if you hate your life in the States, you'll most likely hate it even more in Japan because no one really gives a shit if you have problems or not and if you voice them over there, no one will want to even acknowledge your existence because your emotions make you weird so weird is avoided.  So....take care of your shit, and once you have moved on...if you want to live in Japan, pack the Prozac and go for it. 

It's not like anime at all...Japan....and it's not a place to yellow fever it out.

It's a real country with real people with real problems....just like the rest of the world.


  1. I think a lot of the things you're talking about are pretty valid and I would agree with (the programmed interaction, the loneliness, etc), however try to keep in mind that there is a wide range of experiences to be had out there.

    Being white, being male, I think I had it relatively easy when I was living over there. Sure, I ran into xenophobia now and then, and I heard stories from others. But on the whole I didn't feel like every time I went out, people were afraid or surprised, or even that they stared at me or anything. That could be because I liked in a more urban area (a fair amount of foreigners live in Kobe and Osaka, and lots of tourists to Kyoto).

    If you're black, if you're a woman, if you go hang out in the countryside, you're more likely to get those negative and depressing reactions.

    And to be fair, I did meet a fair amount of younger people who pushed back against some of the norms, or at least they felt free of them when they hung out with me (maybe because I am foreign and didn't care). My ex girlfriend and I were affectionate, said "I love you," etc. I had friends and coworkers who did genuinely seem to care about me and often went out of their way to help me (one of my coworkers was supposed to meet my family when they visited, but my sister got sick and I had to cancel...so the guy drove over and dropped off some fruit and stuff in front of my door, then texted me that he hoped she got better soon).

    I don't mean to try to invalidate your observations or what you experiences, but just keep in mind that there are a lot of factors that go into one's life, wherever you are. Right now I feel pretty isolated being back in the States. Japan has a lot of shit going on and self-destructive societal trends, but there are plenty of good points to be found, too. Depends on where you are, who you meet, etc...

    1. Yeah I agree, I'm not bashing Japan by any means, we'll probably be back there next week actually...but it certainly wasn't the romantized version so many people have given me. My worse stares were in Tokyo...I even watched people avoid being on a seat with me or sharing an elevator...so those things hurt my feelings, but I also get that the fear isn't exactly racist, it's just because there isn't really much inaction so there isn't a norm reaction. Akira told me he's never seen it as bad as he has with me, and he was a professor for exchange students back in Sapporro...so I'm guessing it's because I have super huge eyes, or curly hair or something about me...that freaked people out.

      The emotional connection, yes...there is a decent amount of affection...but again, not really between Japanese to Japanese. Akira's mom hugged me and told me she loved me, but didn't touch or say a word to Akira, and Akira told me that he doesn't remember the last time he hugged her, and a lot of my other Japanese friends say the same thing. I get that they shun over affection...but that's a huge problem if you ask me because then common things like bi-polarism or rape often go un-noticed, and I saw that in full affect while I was there. I guess I've always seen suicide as a very selfish thing to do...so when I saw it there and within a family...it doesn't take a shrink to sum it up to the fact that the culture has people very disconnected from each other. Then two of my friends back there found out that their husbands had mistresses, one who I actually knew...but they told me they wouldn't have cared had the men taken the time to hide it from them because they would rather not know. And that's how I'd sum up even core family units when it comes to questionable emotional outbursts...they'd all just rather not know and pretend everything is okay so that funcution and production keep going. And I get that. I see where it benifits society as a whole to do, but...at the same time...I don't think I can ignore wrist cuts on my child and hope it corrects itself. Maybe it's just denial because something like that might be seen as a failure on both child and parent side...but I dunno. I thought Japan was beautiful, and people are very kind and life there is pretty neat...but that emotional cover up depressed me so much, so maybe it's just me or maybe it's because I'm middle eastern and muslim and we make everything about expressing love and embracing emtions that it just went against everything I value in a worth living life. I dunno...but it's certianly an experince, and I'm sure the experince is far from over. <3

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  2. (Whoops bunch of typing mistakes)

    Yeah, I hear you. You're definitely right - affection and the like between Japanese is of a different kind, and I've heard/read Japanese lamenting that fact. The mental disorders, especially depression, are ignored to an alarming degree.

    For a lot of people, their first trip to Japan is the one where everything is rose-colored and wonderful. Sounds like you jumped straight into some harsh realities, which is unfortunate. In the future I hope you get to see more of the good!