28 June, 2017

What's your image of Japan?

Japan's worldwide image is one that includes technology, robots, sushi, and simple beauty. I find it hard at times to mesh that image with what I know of everyday life in Japan.

These three images go a little way towards showing my view. I captured them on one recent trip to my local grocery store.

First a car that's obviously been here a long time. But this is not just an abandoned car. It is parked in a rented space and it's been intentionally covered. So it's not an image of poverty. Cars depreciate quickly in Japan and also cost a lot to keep on the road. Every two years you have to have a mechanic do an expensive inspection in order to keep your car registered. Cars also cost a lot to throw away. 

So, why is the car here? Only the owner knows.

The Japan I know also makes do with what they have. This scooter owner has made a smaller lid fit this box, rather than buy a new box, presumably after the old lid broke. Yes, Japan is still a wealthy country compared to many, but there are many, especially the older generation, who will modify what they have, rather than buy new things. 

The idea that Japan is a technologically advanced country across the board is quite false. I don't know anyone who has a robot clean their house or centralised climate control at home. Almost no one has what many westerners would call standard technology: a dishwasher or a dryer. Most people shop with cash, not cards and fax machines were standard in households until recently.

I'd love to hear what other stereotypes have you heard about Japan. I'd be happy to look at them in future posts.


Sarah said...

I've never been overseas at all, so all of the things I associate with Japan are from movies, books, other people's travels, the media etc.
Sushi, kimonos, geisha, Pokemon, Hello Kitty, funky fashion, World War 2, emperor, fishing villages, bamboo mats, crowded cities, tamagotchi, skiing, mountains, land of the rising sun.

Wendy said...

Books are a great way to travel! Much cheaper and less stressful. That's a great list there Sarah. People often tell us they find "camping" and "Japan" hard to reconcile. I'm glad you've got "mountains" in there!