"One hundred repetitions three nights a week for four years, thought Bernard Marx, who was a specialist on hypnopædia. Sixty-two thousand four hundred repetitions make one truth. Idiots!"
- Aldous Huxley, 'Brave New World'
Being Japanese is the Japanese religion. Far from Japan being an agnostic country, as seems apparent to people who comment on its laissez faire attitude to hereditary Buddhism and State Shinto, the Japanese are deeply religious: just not about gods. You can call it Nihonjinron, simple bigotry, or a kind of fascism, but it is ubiquitous, and as ingrained as Catholic and Jewish guilt.* It's successful for the same reason all religions get their own enslaved to obsessions: repetition of counter-factual shibboleths. Kierkegaard (because I am pretentious, but have actually read him) was emphatic the absurdity of Christian dogma is the point: you can only be Christian if you reconcile the absurdity of such things as a triune god in your own mind. So too being Japanese. 'And so it goes...'
So what? All in-groups differentiate from out-groups by their own traditions and sayings? Sure, Masons have their handshakes, aprons and absurd origin stories of the temple in Jerusalem, but who believes it? Rock climbers in North America have certain memes, though most of them are practical: 'step on my rope and you owe me a beer', don't claim you can climb anything you haven't, any hardware dropped you have to replace with new. Japanese shibboleths are impractical, demonstrably idiotic, and repeated ad nauseam: religion.
- 'Japan has four seasons', except it has more.
- 'Japanese are one people', except they are as polygeneous as the British.
- 'All Japanese are middle class', except there are erai-hito?
- 'Japanese doesn't have swear words'? Kuso-kurae kiisama!
- 'Japanese food is the best', despite everything tasting salty and varying on few themes.
- 'Japan is safe', despite yakuza, petty theft, and the fact that nearly every woman here has been assaulted.
- 'English is hard' except Laos has better scores, and Laotian is no more similar to English than Japanese.
- 'Japanese work harder than foreigners' except long hours do not mean what they think when national productivity is less than America's: it means they get half as much done each hour.
- Watching sunrise from mountaintops, no matter the weather forecast.
- 'Self Defence Force' has offensive weapons.
- 'Our peace-constitution'. Yeah, about that... How many Japanese do you think know it was imposed on them by their victors, at the victor's pleasure?
From the comments:
- "Japanese people are more 'in touch with nature' than Gaijin", what they haven't paved, I guess.
- "Japanese people can 'communicate an unspoken message between each other' because of their unique culture", like anyone can, except Japanese language and culture is wilfully vague.
- "Even a foreigner who speaks Japanese fluently, can never really be fluent because since they don't have Japanese blood (for what it's worth?), they can't understand all the cultural nuances that Japanese people inherently understand". Gaijin born and raised here as opposed to Japanese from overseas? In any case, maybe we couldn't be fucked if you're going to asses value by 'blood'.
- "We Japanese believe in forming a consensus before making a decision". Japanese consensus: the glacial and cowardly process of auguring their superiors' wants without anybody taking responsibility for communicating them, including their superiors.
Oh please, please help me remember more.
*I was raised the former of these two.