Category Archives: Japan

Reification in language (and in politics)

In gestalt psychology, reification is when form is perceived beyond the explicit information that is sensed. Wikipedia offers these helpful examples:


From the three black Pacman shapes in A we perceive a triangle. From the two ying-yangs in B we perceive a wormy thing wrapped around a pole. From the spikes in C we perceive the bloody brain-splattered ball of a ball and chain. From the curves in D we perceive the Loch Ness monster (or simply a tree branch floating in the water if we’re skeptical).

Reification can also be aural. The principle is at work all the time in verbal communication. It’s what enables us to occasionally understand the speech of drunks, old men, or President Bush. And it’s the reason listening comprehension in a foreign language can be such a bear. Sure, you may know all the grammar and vocabulary being used by the person speaking in the language you are trying to learn, but the casual hurried mumbling of such a phrase as “Wanna touch my monkey?” that is no trouble at all to discern for the native speaker who has heard the phrase a million times before, can be total Greek to the language learner. With enough experience listening and speaking in the language the gestalt becomes easier to perceive.

Haven recently gotten involved in some recreational fansubbing (of Hello! Project videos, you guessed it), this is the roadblock I continue to bump into. I can’t ask the speaker in a DVD to please slow down or to please speak more clearly when he utters words I just can’t make out, even though those words may be known to me. Ultimately what this means is that I need more experience with the language I am attempting to translate to English, in this case Japanese, or that Japanese blows.

Reification can apply to politics too. What most of us perceived when the twin towers went down was an act of terror attributable to a dedicated group of religious fanatics from a part of the world far removed from us. But if you stare at the shapes long enough there is more to behold, oh yes, much more. Many things, wondrous things! Zionist conspiracies, oil/imperialism theories, New World Order plots, the end of the free world as we know it, an Orwellian nightmare in full bloom before our very eyes! Few people have the experience necessary to make out these disturbing forms, and few of those who do even see the same ones. The esteemed intellectual Michael Moore has been squinting at those shapes for some time now and is still finding new animals in them. What hope does the average person have of seeing what is unseen, of realizing what is unreal?

News in the Japanese idol scene

With the resignation of leader Miki Fujimoto following last week’s scandal (a scandal by idol standards, anyway)…

Continue reading

Miss Universe is Japanese

Looks like Miss Universe 2007 is the 美人 (beautiful gal) pictured here wearing her life savings on her wrists and an earring the size of a horseshoe. Not my type at all but none of them really are. They all rather look the same to me. Tall and slanky, long wavy hair, slitty eyes, prominent nose, dark skin (except for Miss Russia) seems to be the formula.

Well good for her. How often does an Asian win these things? This is the second time for Japan. Thailand has also had two winners, the 1988 one having had the name “Porntip Nakhirunkanok”. Har har har! How can a contestant with a name like “Porntip” not win? It almost isn’t fair to the other contestants.

Looking at the Wikipedia page, I learned that the Miss Universe pageant actually has a creed, which goes like this:

“We, the young women of the universe, believe people everywhere are seeking peace, tolerance and mutual understanding. We pledge to spread this message in every way we can, wherever we go.”

And what better way than by trotting around in skanky swimsuits? Ah well, if Osama bin Laden hates this kind of thing, as it’s safe to assume he must, then I can be all for it.

Japanese pop song titles

My friend and I came up with these:

Tears of Starry
Sexy Dust Panic!
I Just Waiting Your Smile
Yume Kanau MIRACLE
Do You Wanna Lovin’ me?
Autumn Recipe ~Make Magic~
Cry Cry Whisper
Be So Wild Boy
Calling For Gentle Mister
Koi no Suplex
Listen For Feel (It Emotions!)
Play Is Not a Game
Be Soft Kokoro
Leaves Crisis (To Me)
Wishes Be All Right!

Think of any other good ones? I plan to use these in a game I’m making.

Undersea tunnel projects

Last month, supporters of a proposal to build an undersea tunnel to link Alaska with Russia renewed their efforts. Such a tunnel, if completed, would be more than twice the length of the Channel Tunnel which links Britain to France.

Presently, debate ensues over a proposal to build an undersea tunnel to link Japan to Korea. Such a tunnel, if completed, would be more than four times the length of the Channel Tunnel.


The fact that the concerns over the practicability of these projects are all mainly economic in nature proves the technical feasibility to have ceased to be an issue. But those economic concerns aren’t small. Eurotunnel, the company which manages the Channel Tunnel, still operates in the red.

Let’s airily assume that all economic problems involved in undersea tunnel construction and management can be happily resolved. Would there then be anything preventing us from building a tunnel from California to Hawaii? A transatlantic tunnel? A transpacific tunnel? Actually, I would not expect to see any of those until something like so-called Vactrain technology can be realized. Who wouldn’t like to be able to travel from London to New York in less than an hour? (Hey, why is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed raising his hand?)

H/T to Japundit

Japanese have sex the least

You already know they have one of the lowest birth rates in the world, but would it surprise you to learn that Japan, with its enormous sex industry (approximately equal to its defense budget in size), its love hotels, its porno comics in every convenient store, is according to this survey the nation where the fewest respondents report having sex weekly? Interestingly enough, the place where they screw around the most, Greece, has the exact same birth rate as the place where they screw around the least.

I had some thoughts on why this might be so but don’t really have anything hard to back up my speculation so maybe I’ll leave the cultural analysis to someone else. (If you’re thinking there might be a reverse correlation with which nations have the longest working hours, you’d be wrong; Greeks, Poles, etc work pretty hard actually)

H/T to Hey! Neat! JP

Moral Bankruptcy in East Asia

Recommended reading for those even moderately interested in international relations in Asia is this piece by GI Korea on the moral bankruptcy of those who point the finger of shame at the Japanese for deplorable behavior they long ceased to practice, while uttering not a peep about the deplorable behavior that goes on in their own backyards right at this very moment. The sexual slavery of North Korean refugees in China, for instance.

The state of international affairs today is that the outrage against nation states which have come to generally respect basic human rights will be disproportionately louder and shriller than the outrage against nation states which generally still don’t. It shouldn’t be hard to figure out why this is.

Hello Kitty Vibrator

As advertised: “Ostensibly lacking a mouth, Hello Kitty cannot object to what you are doing with her.

Who wants one?

hello kitty vibrator

(Actually the toy reads “massage tool”. So even the sex-crazed Japanese have some taste still. All of you who got to my blog through a search engine query for the word “sex” can go now. You heard me, git!!!)

Robots Stealing Our Jobs

Hahaha! Anyone who’s ever been to any big Japanese city can attest to the fact that you can’t get from the subway to the supermarket without somebody thrusting a free pack of tissue paper into your hands (with some ad written on it). Yes, people actually get paid to do this.

But now there are robots who can perform this vital task!


Follow the link to see a short clip.


They have a word in Japanese to describe a person for who physical appearance matters (more than your average person) — migui or 身食い, derived from the Chinese characters for “body” and “eat”. Just leave it to the Japanese to concoct rich words like this. Theirs is a culture where appearance really matter, maybe. (apologies if you clicked on that link. I’m afraid the damage is permanent)

The context within which I hear this word used is when speaking of male/female attraction. I have a hunch I might be migui, but how would I know? It would depend on how much appearances matter to the average person, and the average person isn’t telling it straight, or are they?

While both males and females claim in self-report that physical attractiveness is not of primary importance when choosing a partner (Buss, 1989), the single best predictor of satisfaction with a “blind date” is facial attractiveness for both men and women (Walster et al., 1966).

Consistency and Individual Differences in Facial Attractiveness Judgements: An Evolutionary Perspective

Actually, there is a consistent explanation for this apparent contradiction. Can you figure it out?