13 April 2006

The child in Japan

13 Apr 2006 - I have something embarrassing to confess.

I bought an irresistably adorable little soot ball in Japan:

I also have a soft spot for 隣のトットロ but try as I might, I couldn't find the Tottoro scarf hanger that Ms K had.

But while I have a soft spot for some Japanese cartoon creatures, it is still strange to me how much Japan loves its anime, manga and Final Fantasy humanoids. This trip too, I noticed and was baffled by just how often cutesy cartoons feature in the presentation of perfectly serious subjects like hospital ads and investment treaties.

Is this the Japanese society's way of reducing seriousness so as to reach out to the masses? Or is it just a matter of the society condoning the adult who doesn't want to grow up?

Perhaps Japan is just more tolerant about letting the child in adults show through, the way some cultures are more tolerant towards deviants.


When walking around the hip Harajuku on my last day in Japan, I was taken aback by what I saw in one of the shops. Clothes that are normally found in the kids section have now expanded thrice in size to fit the child trapped in an adult body.

The two Japanese attendants, 1.65 metres tall with very blond hair, were decked head to toe in Barbie costumes.

It felt very surreal to be looking at them, as if I was in Barbie Land or something. Yet there are the » maid cafes who specifically dress their waitresses like that to wait on the otakus hand and foot, even to address them as "Master".

Feminist sentiments aside, now that is bordering on strangeness...


  1. :) Black fur ball looks hardly adorable in the photo. I can only guess that it is adorable in its cartoon.

    Through my association with my Japanese acquaintances and understanding of the Japanese social structure, it would be difficult to find a more rigidly structured hierarchial system than Japan (at least in some profession), yet their child-like enthusiasm sometimes intrigues me.

    I must say some of the Japanese manga (cartoons) are hardly kid's stuff. It would be hard to ask most children to appreciate some of the philosophical nuances behind some mangas.

    As for the maid cafe, I know of a female Japanese acquaintance of mine who would turn ad nauseam (almost literally I suspect) upon hearing waitresses have to wait hand and foot on male customer and call them "Master".

    And come on, you are not believing that all gentlemen will like that?

    Food for thoughts.

  2. I certainly would like to believe that some gentlemen would like less acquiescing women. And it gives me great hope to actually know a few spunky Japanese women who think the same as your Japanese acquaintance :)

  3. And... black fur ball in the picture just happened to have a bad hair day!