The degeneration of Japanese men


Why foreign men are stealing all the Japanese women




This entry may hurt a bit (if you are a Japanese man), but the truth hurts. This entry is going to address the rising population of elderly people in Japan and the fact that the average age in Japan is not leaning towards younger, but older. This is a topic that is at the center of a lot of research, it is also at the center of the influx of foreigners to Japan.


My wife went skiing this weekend, it was her with some work friends. When she came back she had a lot of gossip to tell me. One of the stories was not even about her but about what her friends had told her. The story goes like this:


“There were a group of people on a group date hosted by a dating website. There were 30 people in attendance, 15 women and 15 men ranging from the ages of 20-25, all single all Japanese. While on the bus it seemed everyone was getting along, naturally the men and women talked a little and were friendly with each other.


However once they had finished the main activity the tour took them to a park where they could go for a romantic walk around the lake for 30 minutes. So the bus stopped and opened the doors and everyone got off… Everyone except for the men; almost all the men decided to stay in their seats and play on their phones or sleep leaving the women alone to take walks by themselves.”


This was obviously shocking, why would any man pass on the opportunity to hang out with an eligible woman if he was single himself? The answer to this goes back to the women’s rights movement in Japan. The woman’s suffrage movement came about in the 1920’s giving women the right to enter the workforce. After WW2 women began to get more and more prevalent in the workforce, but it wasn’t until the economic bubble burst in the 1990’s that women really came into their own.


After the economic bubble burst in the 1990s women were forced to work to make ends meet. First, they worked in factory jobs or just as office ladies and secretaries but as time went on women chipped away at the market making a position for women in the work force. As women have slowly gained power, they have put off starting families for work. Most families in my personal life have children after the age of 30, on family has a five year old daughter while the parents are late 40’s. This switch in power for women has had an adverse effect on men.


Because Japanese women are focused on work majority of Japanese men don’t see a point of trying and spend their income on themselves and immerse them selves in work or other self-centered social activities. This double edged sword – women focusing on a career and men focusing on themselves, has led to a rift in the Japanese community. Now many Japanese women, when asked in interviews (japan times, maybe) saw Japanese men as lazy and Japanese men saw women as self-centered.


Thus it is easy to see why there is a disparity of youth in Japan. But why are Japanese women marring foreign men? The most cited reason by women in multiple interviews and articles (Japanese times, gaijin pot, etc.) is that foreign men are motivated, they are looking to improve their social status and create a life, not “fit in” to a life. This is a national social problem that the government, as well a private organizations are trying to solve and is very complex. The reasons I have stated here are far from exhaustive, there are many more factors that go in to this social problem, such as parents wanting duel citizenship for kids, “English practice wives” and other factors.


As always I would love to know what you think of this social problem. Do you have extra information you could share? How do you think Japan could solve this dilemma? I would love to know your input so please leave it in the comments.


Test hell


What goes into Japanese high school entrance exams (Teachers perspective)

This time of the year is filled wit nothing but screaming teachers, crying students and yelling parents. What a wonderful time of year it is… testing season here in Japan, more specifically high school entrance exam season. So why all the drama you may ask, the reason  is that high school entrance exams are considered to have the same level of influence on a students life as US college entrance exams.

The reason, Japanese mandatory education ends at junior high school. Therefore students either end up at a high school, which can follow them their whole lives or in the workforce. In my 8 years in Japan I have had 4 out of an estimated 5,000 students enter the workforce right out of junior high school. They are then locked into their positions until they can work up the work ladder into management. That is why there is so much pressure on the students, the teachers and the parents to help the students.

So I will tell the story of a student who missed the exam and the fallout. This morning, students had to make their way to their perspective testing sites by themselves. There, students had to call the school to let them know they arrived. Following the test students had to call the school.

One student did not make it to the test site, and didn’t call the school, but out of 300 students the teachers missed this. The student spent all day wandering around and did not call the school once. Finally at the end of the day he went back home in tears. So, what is the repercussion?

The parents were angry at the school for not being there for the student. The school was angry at the student for not calling. The student was angry and upset because he can’t enter the high school he wanted because the test is finished so he will have to pick another high school and this will drastically alter the rest of his life.

All in all, living in another culture can be hard. Living in japan during this time of the year is hard for me because I still see the students as kids, not adults. But as always I would love to know the experiences that you have had and what you think of this education system and the stress put on the kids.

[As always, I have to reiterate that I am not an expert on anything I talk about and i am sure I have missed some important information about the responsibilities in Japanese schooling and the examination process. Please use these blogs as a jumping off point for your own research and share what you have learned with me here.]



Donald J. Trump


[Today will be a short blog because of lack of materials and input]


[Before we begin, I was made aware that there were several typos in my blog yesterday. I am terribly sorry for that and will try my best to make sure to double check my writing today. However I would like to say that it is a policy/ theme/choice of mine not to go to old posts and change them. I believe we grow from our past mistakes but we are not the sum of our mistakes so I do not correct older posts. ]


It has been 3 days since Donald Trump was sworn in as the president of the United States of America. It is obvious to on lookers from beyond the boarders it is a red hot point of contention for many Americans. Whether on the right, the left or the middle this president has caused more polarization, even before entering office, than almost any other president I have read about.


The tensions that plague America are not contained just within the borders of the US, but flow overseas to every nation. Even in my small town the day of the debates, election and inauguration every TV and radio was tuned to one thing, Trump. It was very interesting to hear the viewpoints of my neighbors and students relating to president Trump, his cabinet, and his rhetoric.


What was interesting is that most of my students were leaning towards Clinton because she wasn’t as “mean” according to my students. While at the same time some of the teachers I work with were leaning towards Trump because he is a business man talks more like a normal person, not a real politician. Many of the farmers and fishermen that I know were also very excited to see Trump get elected because they knew he would help stop TPP, which means more business for them.


So, no matter where you are it seems that American politics will seep into the society. How will president Trump affect the world who can say – either way it is time to come together and mend the wounds done by violent protests and come together as not just Americans but as a united world to make it a better place for all people.

Stomach burster


An overview of funeral food in Japan


A month or two into dating my wife, I had to attend her grandmother’s funeral. Because I was dating the eldest daughter and pretty much considered part of the family I had to take part in the funeral. The day after the precession to the family grave is pretty much a blur of old people drunkenly laughing, beer flowing and more food that I have ever seen.


Today’s blog will not focus on the funeral it’s self out of respect and the fact that every family has a different tradition, but also because we just had another funeral and still have the food piled up in the fridge, so it is still fresh in my head – and stomach. So without further delay I will serve you up a fancy little morsel of Japanese culture through the eyes of a (Quappa in Miyagi dialect) quarter Japanese foreign guy.


The funeral began promptly at 7 AM, but the whole family was up at eight preparing a feast of fish, mochi, meats and veggies. From there all the guests arrived and the beer began to flow. The meal started with miso soup and simple rice, followed by salad and chawamushi (A steamed egg pate filled with fish cake, walnuts and crab meat). Once this was finished snacks were provided while the women cleaned (I tried to help out in the kitchen because I used to be a chef, but I was kicked out by my mother-in law).


After everyone was thoroughly stuffed and drunk, we all go on a bus to go to the shrine and ceremony hall. After the ceremony while we were waiting for the cremation to finish there was another meal served in the ceremony hall. More meat, and fish cakes were served as well as konbu soup (seaweed).


Finally after the ceremony had finished, we all got on a bus to another meeting hall where we all sat on tatami (grass mat floors) and were served the main course. The main course started with sashimi and miso soup, next came a traditional platter filled with various pickled veggies and veggies. After this came a plate of fish cakes and mocha finally followed by desert.


As you can probably imagine, this experience left me wondering how Japanese people – 1) walk straight, and 2) stay so skinny! While I thought this may have been just an isolated incident for a rich family member, I was wrong. Many different events have similar meals set and there has rarely been a time where I have left an event like a wedding or funeral hungry while here in Japan.


What do you think? Have you ever experienced a meal like the one I have? Share your experiences about your experiences with traditional meals from any country, I would love to learn about your experiences.

Demon child abuse


Be wary.


If you are a kid in Northern Japan this time of year, you have to be on your toes and your best behavior. Those kids who are not behaved are dragged to hell to be tortured by the demons for an eternity. While this may sound like a Japanese version of Krampus or “black Santa” as they call him in Japan, but this is a whole new level of child abuse.


Every year around the world Santa goes around the world spreading cheer and presents, but what happens after he is gone, when the kids don’t have to be on their best behavior anymore? Well, if you are in Japan you have to worry about Namahage/Amahage.


So, what are the Namahage? Well the short answer is that they are demons. There are many stories that tell of the origins of the Namahage, for example one story states that a king form China brought them with him a long time ago and they liked the land so much they stayed in Japan when the king stayed.


There are other stories reaching back to the origin stories of Japan and how some demons escaped hell and were left to roam around because they couldn’t do any real harm. The story you heat is dependent on the area you live in, but almost every prefecture has at least one story about these demons, or at last the people have a knowledge of them.


So what are the demons there for? Every year, during the first week or so of the new year a group of men are chosen to dress up in the traditional Namahage costumes and parade around the neighborhoods dragging heave metal chains, wielding giant swords and studded clubs. They go to people’s houses to look for naughty children to eat and take to hell with them.


If the kids promise to behave they can stay with their parents, but if they continue to misbehave they will be taken by the Namahage. This is a form of ritualized child abuse that parents gladly pay for to keep their children in line. This is a tradition that helpd to make kids behave and fit into the “norm” way of acting, something that is still very prevalent in Japanese culture. Now while this isn’t the worst thing that can happen to children it is something the most Westerners look down upon.


In the end, this is a tradition that has degraded from really taking kids until they almost die of freight, to the modern day “call a demon” service Who know what the future holds for this tradition in Japan, the Namahage may someday end up in just folk lore a bad memory of the parents of the next generation.


This was hardly an exhaustive article on the Nagahame in Japan and there is a lot more to the story. Today’s article was just meant to be a brief introduction to the basic background of this tradition. What do you think about this? Does your country have a tradition like this to keep kids in line? Would you order a Namahage to come to your house? Please share, I would love to know what you think.



An overview of the Japanese Sempai system

(As always I want to emphasize I am not an expert on this subject, so please do your own research on this subject and feel free to comment where I am wrong.)


Sempai! This is a word that you see in everyday life in Japan. Manga, anime and dramas all use the word and it is even seeping into western culture with the weeaboo and otaku crowds. But what is this “sempai” word and what does it mean and where does it come from, that is what I intend to tell you about today.


The history of this word is long and would take a very long time to correctly go through every point, therefore I encourage you to do your own research and use this blog entry as a jumping off point. Once you have done your own research I would love to know what you have found so please share your knowledge on this blog.


The history of Sempai can quite literally be traced back to the very beginnings of structured Japanese culture, especially in the samurai and warlord days where there was a hierarchical / caste system in place. Now at this time the word sempai didn’t exist, I am not sure what word, if any did exist. The hierarchical / caste system was prevalent in Japan Until the Meiji era when Japan was forced to open its boarders and deal with the world and become more westernized.


But it wasn’t until after WW2 where we see the true sempai system take form. There are a few economic books written about post war Japan and the building of the economy up until the bubble burst in the 1990’s that document the creation of the sempai system indirectly. There is a good resource list with some of those books on the subject available at wikepedia.


Before and during WW2 Japan was run with the imperial family as the head of the country and the ranks cascaded down from there. The war led to the ranks in society being solidified into an early sempai system. After WW2 this system was shattered but in order to keep order and build the economy businesses were created with the same military ranking system.


Many of the older leaders of the army, while being disgraced because of the loss in the war were brought into businesses and schools because their leadership skills were needed in the modern business environment. This set up the sempai system we know today. The sempai system in business is quite literally a senior system where people are considered sempai by the time in a business not by the skill set that they have.


The system was also incorporated into the schooling system to help build students responsibility and mold them into model citizens for the future of Japan. From then the sempai system has been around and has never changed. In schools the sempai system is simply a junior & senior system where sempai are responsible for helping with clubs and guiding their junior or “cohai” to be responsible students.


Overseas the Sempai system has been spun in a romantic light because of manga, dramas and other forms of media where the “sempai” is the source of attraction for the “cohai” setting up a Romeo & Juliet style story line. However as I have explained, it isn’t really a romantic ideal, just a cultural phenomenon that has been romanticized.


In the end there is a lot I had to skip over in order to keep this blog entry under the length of a university dissertation. The Sempai system has a long history dating back to well beyond WW2 and continues even to the present day. Is it a good system, or does it place too much rigidity on people, it is hard to say. However, it is a cultural phenomenon that all those in Japan or interested in Japan are sure to run into.


What do you think about the sempai system? Is it a good system or is it a bad system? Is there a similar system in other countries? I would love to know, please share in this blog.

Coldness builds character


Winter in School

Anyone who has spent time in Japan during winter can attest to just how cold it can be. Hailing from Colorado where cold is a welcomed sight to ski bums and sno shoers, I can handle pretty much any ammount of cold you throw at me. However, there is one place that I never expected the cold to hit me and it hit me hard when i first came to Japan…. School.

In American schools there is central heating and you would be hard pressed to find a modern school that uses abnything else. It is rare to find condensation on the windows of modern schools, too. But Japan is very different, and you may be surprised to hear how.

Japan famously makes their students clean their classrooms everyday to build responsibility and character in the students. However there is much more that Japanese schools do to help build student’s character. In the winter, (in most schools) the classrooms are heated individually and controlled via the teachers office control panel. At this time the rest of the schools are not heated in order to save on kerosene, which the stoves are run on.

Heating an entire school in this way makes sense, but it also keeps the rest of the school which makes the building very cold. When I asked the pricnipal that I work for why Japanese schools don’t use centralized heating, he gave me two reasons. One was that because Japan is a very moist country it is very difficult to build basements to house the equipment nescessary for central heating. The second reason was that working in the cold builds character and helps students appreciate the heat they have in their classrooms.

This was surprising to me, even after 8 years in Japan. By making students walk from class to class in the freezing temperature it halps them appreciate the classrooms. This also helps students build relationships because to stay warm students stay in the classrooms and interact with the other students there building relationships. This also teaches them to be tough because students clean the school even when it is freezing and some schools even have all the students shovel snow in the morning and during cleaning time.

All of this hard work goes into building the character and appreciation of the finer things in life. While this is a little much from a western point of view this is part of the culture of Japan. After 8 years in Japan as a teacher I am still learning to appreciate all the small things that Japanese people do, though I don’t clean with the students in the snow I an appreciate their character.


What do you think of this point of view? Did you clean your classrooms when you were in school? What was one strange thing that your schools made you do growing up? I would love to hear, please comment below.