Friday, August 7, 2009

The Reality of the Situation Is...

You know, truth be told Tokyo is not an easy place to live. On one hand you live in the largest and perhaps the most modern city in the world; there are many great and wondrous things to experience. On the other hand you live in one the most corrupt,sleazy, and cut-throat cities in the world. I often say to people back in the states, `Tokyo is one hell of a place, You never know what to expect.` The stress of living here day in and day out changes people. Many happy mentally sound people come to Tokyo and become something very different. Maybe its all the readily available sex, under handed business deals, all night drinking bars, the over crowded public transport, corrupt cops, compromised politicians, or eerie isolation which makes Tokyo such a twisted concrete jungle. Yet, there is something about Tokyo which can strip a person of who they are and recreate them into a completely different person.

I read all these blogs that talk about all the cool and odd things in Japan, which are okay, but it is rare for me to read a blog post talking about the raw experience of living in Tokyo. There are many blogs which I enjoy reading. There are some people who put a lot of effort into their blogs. I am impressed by the fruit of their labor. Yet, I wonder about these people`s personal experience of living in Tokyo day in and day out. I guess they are not willing to expose the reality of living in Tokyo. I can only guess as to why many people are not writing about the hard edged Tokyo lifestyle which shapes the micro-culture of the city.

Anyway, Tokyo changes people. This I can say is very true. It does not matter if you are Japanese or Gaijin; this city will recreate you as a person. It is a tough city in reality. There is little room for politeness(unless money is involved). You have got to fight to get though the day sometimes. Everyone is in a hurry and few people care about anything not concerning their own life. A lot of people come to Tokyo with stars in their eyes. They cannot see the grit and hard pressed lifestyle which awaits them. I guess this is why a lot of people leave Tokyo within three years. You have to become a very hard person rather quickly to survive in Tokyo. Many people do not want to do that. They want Akiba weirdness and Harajuku fun time everyday. Once they realize things are not the way they thought; it effects them in a way which does not sit well with them.

They start to get a taste of the unspoken racism and bias which infects the city. At least one landlord will turn them down because they are gaijin. Some whore house down in the Cho turns them away because they are not Japanese. When they pull their first all nighter in Shibuya and realize after hours in Tokyo is even more crazy than they ever expected. Let them go weeks without anyone speaking to them other than for business. Enjoy Cup Noodle and cheap Beer for dinner a few weeks in a row. Spend a few night getting tanked at the HUB. Deal with `unique` personalities from your co-workers in your English school company. Take it all in and bit your lip everyday. Welcome to Tokyo.

As for me, I like this dirty little city. It fits me well. The reality of the situation is...Tokyo is a fucked up place but a hell of a town.


reesan said...

Hell yeah. I agree dude. Good post! I think that you have nailed it on the head. Everyone, myself included, avoids the hard-core, real-life shit in lieu of the starry-eyed, colonialist view.

From a personal perspective, I hope that one day soon I will get over it and start throwing out some articles of all the fucked up shit that I have experienced in that great land.

billywest said...

You know my take, I think.

For me, when I hit the town, I try not let myself get caught up in the hustle and bustle. I like to take it at my own pace, walking with my head held high and completely aware of everything around me, not with my head buried in my cell phone texting away, or playing DS, or fucking reading a novel as so many here do.

Yes, it is a twisted place, and it's for the taking, for anyone who has the balls to grab it.

Muza-chan said...

A lot of people asked me if I want to move to Japan. I don't... I already knew some of the things you wrote about, but that's just part of the reason.

Anyway, yes, I love Tokyo! But as a tourist...

TheGhost said...

I take it as it comes and refuse to give into shit that is way out of line. Yet, there are still times when I have to bite the bullet.

Orchid64 said...

People don't want to hear about real life in Japan. If you post about anything bad, ultimately you will be tagged as a sour "hater" and the apologists and Japanophiles will start attacking you. My first blog included a lot of what I would call balanced information about life here - not focusing on the bad or good, but just talking about Japan and the Japanese in a well-rounded way, and I got called a whiner about anything negative.

I think many foreign people who live here develop psychologically perverse coping mechanisms to deal with the bigotry around them. One is that they turn on other foreigners and learn to empathize with the Japanese who treat foreigners with prejudice. They do this because it allows them to live here but not feel that the prejudice applies to them, but rather to other bad foreigners who the bigoted opinions can more appropriately be applied to. If they don't take on this type of thinking, they'll be angry all of the time at the way they are regarded.

Most of the long-term foreign residents turn on other foreigners and the short term ones are too preoccupied with all of the trivial things. The short term people see Japan like an amusement park full of attractions to be written about and show pictures of. There are few who are neither apologists nor newbies who blog because the environment out there for them is decidedly hostile.

If you're interested, my first blog (which I long stopped posting to and am not attempting to drive traffic to) is here:

I don't know if I talked about the things you're referring to, but I certainly did not focus on the positive only.