Sorry, everyone. The verdict’s in. You’ll never be as cool as Maru.
A 8.9 earthquake is really, really huge. The scale America uses is scary because the intensity of a quake is measured with exponential values. Meaning a 4.0 quake isn’t twice as intense as a 2.0 quake, it’s eight times more intense. Now look at the number again: 8.9. On a scale of 0-10. Scary. Plus, you’re a coastal country, so the tsunami that inevitably follows a quake of this magnitude only exacerbates the problem.
Japan is going to make it through this because the world needs their economy to get back on their feet, but also because the Japanese are an amazing group of people. Period. Who blogs about the amazing ideas Russia comes out with on a daily basis? No one, because Russia sucks. The Japanese have a repressed culture that somehow allows its people to think outside the box in ways the rest of the world marvels at. And for that, we love them.
In honor of how awesome Japan is, here’s a list of ten reasons why I love Japan, in the order they occurred to me:
Who the fuck would think that there could be billions of tiny, diverse ghosties floating around that effect us (Mushi-Shi), or that dreams could be your next form of therapy (Paprika), or that a young girl could work in a bath house run for (and by) spirits (Spirited Away)? And who else would write a fully-realized, philosophically-driven, action packed science fiction series on the future of human-cyborg robotics (Ghost in the Shell) that actually makes sense? The Japanese direct my imagination in directions I would otherwise never explore. Thank you.
I realize that raw fish has been a celebrated dish for (tens of?) thousands of years, but it was the Japanese who spread it across the globe for my pretentious Los Angeles palate to enjoy. It’s a simple pleasure that always makes me think, “Wow, the Japanese are geniuses. And bears. Bears who eat salmon all day and sleep all winter. Fucking genius.”
I’ve had two Pontiacs, and I’ve had trouble with them both. My roommate has had her Honda for over a decade, and she bought it used, and it’s still running just fine. Am I buying American again? No way. The Japanese know how to make a damn car.
The cutest, and most famous cat in the world lives in Japan. He has his own website, loads of YouTube videos, and millions of fans. His owner keeps us up to speed on his newest toys, favorite napping spots, and intense fear of crows. He’s the only life form (other than his owner) who I feel like I’ve kinda gotten to know over the past year, so his well-being was one of the first things that occurred to me when I heard about the earthquake and tsunami (sorry humans!). Turns out he’s safe, yay!
5. Samurai, Ninjas, Martial Arts
Where do I begin? The samurai bushido “way of the warrior” will never be replicated en masse the way it was in feudal Japan. The intense philosophy that ran throughout every aspect of the samurai’s life from the way they fought to the way they ate and slept is just incredible.
Raise your hand if you never wanted to be a ninja. You, you, and you; you’re all liars. EVERYONE wants to be a ninja at some point. I just learned recently that ninjutsu is not a martial art, but an art of war. Yikes. Awesome.
I’ve been practicing martial arts since I was 14. I earned two black belts, and now I work at a dojo where I get to teach kids how to be polite, work hard, and beat the shit out of their siblings who are too stupid or unlucky enough not to be included in class. With all my experience, I can safely say that everyone on the planet would benefit from learning a martial art (especially a soft style like hapkido or aikido).
It’s not just some 8-pixel side-scroller. It’s a virtual world. My generation grew up with the gray-box Nintento, and Mario was as real a character as any idiot on reality TV today. Nintendo set the bar for video gaming. It started an entire sub-culture. With a video game. Cultural references to the original Mario Bros. will never end. There will always be a “Sorry, Princess is in another castle” joke for unforeseen failure. Coins will always be shiny, floaty thing we all yearn for. Stars will always look like a chance at temporary invincibility.
Haha, oh my god. I can’t believe Godzilla is #7. Where was my brain. The Japanese took fear of giant monsters to the ultimate extreme. So classic. I still haven’t seen this movie, btw. Must remedy soon!
If you don’t know anything about the theater of Edo era Japan, wake the fuck up. The makeup, the masks, the nuances, the costumes, the stories… amazing. Google it. It’s the oldest form of theater (even older than the famous Greek tragedies). Kabuki centered around drama, love and all that mushy crap. Kyogen was mostly comedies. The actors were huge celebrities. Some even had trading cards. It’s true! And one of my favorite comics is based on the masks worn during these iconic plays.
I wonder if this should go under martial arts… haha just kidding! Can you picture one of these guys rounding a corner in full battle gear? Hilarious! But seriously, there’s a ton of ceremony that goes into every match, which are fun to watch. Giant dudes pushing brutishly each other out of a small ring? While the referee holds a fan and wears traditional robes? And the attendees get crushed whenever one of the sumo guys tumbles off the platform? What a sport!
10. Takeshi’s Castle
This is a little-known series that aired in 1989 that started the wave of shows that put normal people through ridiculous obstacle courses for the world to laugh at. America has a show called Wipeout that does the same thing. Genius.
I want to write more about each of these but I’m at work, and no one wants to read that much about this stuff (including me). Suffice to say, the Japanese people have my adoration and respect. Now if they could just give a serious apology about invading Korea, and the whole “comfort women” thing, that’d be great.
UPDATE: March 15, 5:32pm
Wait! I thought of another reason to love Japan: the Polysics!
I mean people do fun, silly stuff people do in music videos. The Japanese are clearly no exception, and for that, I love them.
Maru the cat lives in an apartment in Japan with an owner who has done the rest of us the favor of encouraging his eccentricities, filming them, and putting them all over YouTube. If you’ve been stressing about the complete lack of watching a fat cat do a sliding dive into an empty box, let me put you at ease. Maru is a big, fat, adorable sweetheart that will win over dog-lovers everywhere by intentionally cramming himself into tiny, lidded trash bins, and sliding comically out from under couches on his back.