The truth about living in Japan

Beyond the picturesque mountainscapes and vibrant red Tori gates lies a world of concrete skyscrapers and fashion victims.

Monday, July 11, 2005

It just gets worse

As if living here isn't punishment enough, especially as summer strikes with it's repulsive stench and the dripping humidity they call the rainy season.

There's some lie being circulated that Japan is a safe country with a low crime rate. I think there's just a low reported crime rate because the Japanese police are largely useless and there's just too many people, so crimes become impossible to investigate. But honestly, in all my years of life I've never been so exposed to theft as I have in Japan.

It's very normal for umbrellas to be stolen in Japan. It's so common that I have to wonder why people spend any money on umbrellas in the first place since it appears to me that there's a cultural umbrella trade that is most active on any rainy day. I, personally, have only had three umbrellas stolen. That's not many compared with the average loss.

Today I headed off to work only to discover my bicycle was stolen during the night, or even in the morning. Jeremy's bicycle too. Our bikes were parked on our property, behind the fence that borders our apartment building. This is the first bicycle I've had stolen, but I have had one vandalised by the psychotic old bitch who lived down the way from me in Kyoto.

Of course, Japanese people love to blame the crimes on "foreigners", with Koreans being their favoured target and all other non-Japanese nationalities close behind, but I have strong doubts that "gaijins" are responsible for my losses.

It's like the Japanese people forget about their own personal mafia, the Yakuza, who are seriously involved in criminal activity that has roots in almost all industries and even the government. Not that I think my bicycle has been stolen by Yakuza, it's not nearly a serious enough crime. In fact, in Japan it's just a daily occurence, when I report it to the police, they'll probably laugh at me.

This is NOT the crime-free country that it's depicted as being, not even close. I lived in Australia for 26 years and I've only ever had one thing stolen, my wallet. I've lived in Japan for less than 2 years. So there it is, the truth about living in Japan.

rain rain go away

The rainy season has hit Japan, seemingly a month late. I think Osaka hasn't been suffering too badly from what I hear, there were floods in Tokyo and so far I've hardly been caught in any severe downpours. Anyway, rain is rain and it's still annoying.

Jeremy and I were wondering what to do with ourselves today, we checked out 'the best of Kansai', a book I bought about a year ago, and it suggested the best thing to do on a rainy day is visit Panasonic Square, which shows how outdated the book is because we tried to go there once before and the security guard laughed and informed us it closed 6 years ago. So we weren't going to try that again.

Feeling stuck, we consulted our Kyoto 'Lonely Planet' which had lots of information on visiting temples and eating expensive cuisine, but nothing to do for entertainment on a rainy day.

There's always JJ Club, the multi-story arcade parlour with cheap rates and an abundance of games and other activities, if you don't mind getting very sweaty, but we were too tired for that.

Lucky for us a friend suggested we meet for a late lunch at one of the few Mexican restaurants, El Pancho in Shinsaibashi, so we jumped at the opportunity to do something on this overcast, but ultimately pretty dry day. I got my new glasses adjusted and Jeremy picked up his glasses. That's another story about a 25 minute optical dispenser (aLook in Shinsaibashi), honestly the fastest glasses I've ever bought. My eyesight is shit, and I usually need special lenses cut and polished, it usually takes about 2 weeks, but mine were ready in the promised 25 minutes. Jeremy's glasses took a few days for some reason, even though his eyesight is better than mine, maybe most Japanese people have crappy vision like me so the stronger lenses are more readily available.

Then we went shopping, looked at expensive sunglasses for Jeremy, baulked and didn't buy, and then saw 'Batman Begins'. So there you have it, we found something to do during rainy season. The same boring crap we would have done in our own countries.