Facts About Life in Japan That Could Baffle Any Foreigner
The Internet is full of different facts about Japan, so when it comes to their gadgets, architecture, and fashion, it’s hard to surprise us. We all know about Japan’s accuracy, work ethic, animal islands and square watermelons. But there are less obvious things happening there that can bewilder even the biggest fans of Japanese culture. For example, do you know what a “boredom room” is? Or that there’s a bookstore that sells only one book? The answers to these and other questions are right here in this article!
1. Japan’s “evaporating people”
There is nothing worse for a Japanese person than losing social respect. A failed exam, a loss of a job, a divorce, and debt are just some of the failures that cause people to banish themselves and their families over their indignities. Some people commit suicide while others disappear for good.
Somewhere between 80,000 to 100,000 thousand people disappear in Japan annually. Usually, neither police nor families go looking for these lost people because they assume that they’ve committed suicide. Speaking of these “evaporating people” is considered taboo, so it’s something people don’t really talk about.
For those who decide to disappear, there are 2 ways to do so. The first is to move to the city of Sanya which isn’t located on any map. Technically, it doesn’t even exist. It’s a slum within Tokyo whose name has been erased by authorities. It’s very hard to live there because of bad conditions and hard labor. The second way is to stay at home, change your job and steer clear of friends and relatives forever.
2. Otaku is another way to escape
Another way of disappearing that is popular among young people in Japan is living as an otaku. An Otaku is a person who lives a double life as their favorite anime character.
Those who decide to become an otaku disappear from time to time into alternate realities where, in costume, they find themselves. They create this reality at home by using anime attributes, wearing costumes of their favorite characters and leading a reclusive life. Some other otakus prefer to spend time in the clubs of the Akihabara area where different goods are sold specifically for them.
3. Friends and family for rent
Money may not be able to buy love, but in Japan, it can certainly buy the appearance of love. You can hire a professional actor who becomes whatever a client asks them to be. You can even rent a baby for a couple of days — there are agencies that will eagerly rent them out. One of these agencies is called Family Romance which was established by Ishii Yuichi 8 years ago.
The main objective of the agency is to help people cope with loss or loneliness. But there are different kinds of requests, for example, to play a role of a wife’s lover or to apologize for a businessman who made a mistake. Once, the agency even had to perform an entire wedding with the participation of 50 actors. The client had to pay $18 million for that!
This job has its downsides though. The actors are often single and afraid to lose themselves in the roles they have to play. Very few people know who they really are and they can’t talk about their personal lives — that is why other people are attracted to their fake personalities.
4. Towns behind walls
No, these aren’t stills from the movie, Pacific Rim where walls were built to protect people from monsters appearing from the bottom of the ocean. It is modern day Japan.
When a massive earthquake struck Eastern Japan in 2011 triggering a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima power plant, the government decided to build sea walls to protect coastal towns. The walls are 41 feet high. But even if a tsunami was bigger than the wall, the wall would delay flooding and guarantee more time for evacuation.
In the beginning, local people supported the construction of the walls but their opinions changed later. Some people feel uncomfortable, the walls are too high and block the sea view — some citizens say they feel like they’re in a prison. Some people, however, say that these walls are a guarantee that a disaster like that of 2011 will never happen again.
5. The “boredom rooms” for workers
Employees whose positions have been removed are usually fired. The layoff rules in Japan, however, are very different from those we’re used to and usually, they are extremely disadvantageous for employers. For example, early retirement packages at Sony are equivalent to as much as 54 months of pay.
Not willing to pay such amounts, companies came up with the solution of “chasing-out rooms” where employees have to spend their working days doing literally nothing. They can read special literature or watch videos online. At the end of the day, they have to file a report on these activities.
Sony doesn’t think that these “boredom rooms” are a bad thing. Critics say that the real point of the rooms is to make employees feel forgotten and worthless — and eventually just make them quit.