People are getting weird...and it’s probably for the better.

in Hive Cross Culture !3 months ago (edited)

Walking around the streets of Akihabara is a little surreal right now. On the surface everything looks totally normal. The streets are filled and everything is up and running as usual, but there are all these subtle differences.

I notice at least 3 massive department stores have closed. To someone who is new to Tokyo, it may not be a big deal because there are a bunch of nerdy department stores still open as usual, but the variety seems to be shrinking.

It’s very strange for me to see three buildings right near the station totally empty. Half of the business here is tourism, and the other half is local nerds.

The local nerds and business men and women are still out in full force, but god have they gotten weirder. It seems like everyone in Tokyo has gone to one extreme or the other. A few have become more neurotic than ever, bumping into people, talking to themselves, looking around as if they are running from someone, rubbing their hands with alcohol repeatedly, barely aware of how they’re emotions show on their face.

Then there are some who just don’t give a fuck anymore, and I kind of love it. It’s really subtle actually. I think most people don’t even notice it, but it’s everywhere.

The convenience store clerks who used to act like robots will now respond to jokes or small talk. Customers make conversation with waiters. strangers sometimes even smile at each other, something that never happened, in Tokyo at least.

People don’t try as hard to look interested in what doesn’t interest them. People openly talk shit about politicians. Some people open up to you about personal things the first or second time they talk to you, when it used to take years. They’ll admit to the rules they have broken and don’t put on a shocked face when you talk about things outside of their comfort zone. They don’t expect you to fit into a stereotype. If somebody falls down, they don’t ignore it, they either look to see what happens or offer a hand.

I remember 10 years ago seeing someone fall down a flight of stairs in a movie theater and not one person offering to help. “She must be embarrassed, if she’s really hurt someone will call an ambulance but helping her up will embarrass her more”. That was the explanation I got from my friend. “But she’s probably going to be embarrassed either way, we might as well help her...” I thought.

There are, no doubt, many people who are sheltered and robotic and harp on every little thing, but they are slowly becoming the minority where they used to be an ultra majority here.

Last year I saw a young woman call the police when she noticed a candle lit in the middle of a quiet road with no cars.

“It’s suspicious and a little scary...” I overhead her say

“Really?” I thought? It’s a candle. Probably a kid fucking around.

4 police cars and a fire truck full of firefighters showed up 10 minutes later.


But almost all of my local friends and students were as shocked as I was, and some even felt embarrassed by such an overreaction. “I can’t believe I grew up in this country. You must think everyone here is so strange. This is why I want to go abroad.” One student said to me.

Maybe I’m in a bubble with all the outcasts and weirdos. Ok, I’m definitely in a bubble but o can observe well beyond my bubble and I feel something.

I was shocked at how many students say they don’t want to get a vaccine. “They made that in a few months and lots of people are reporting side effects”. This coming from a society that only a few years ago felt so judgmental that almost no one dare claim to others that the media lies or exaggerates or has an agenda.


I’ve been watching Aggretsuko, an anime that’s kind of like a cutesy animated style and less depressing Bojack Horseman that follows a regular working woman rather than an actor. It really gives you an accurate depiction of most of the people I interact with. Everyone is tired of the bosses who rose in the ranks simply because they were the oldest and most devoted employee. They’re sick of how older men can make sexist remarks without any repercussions or even an apology (as you can see from the expulsion of the Olympic commissioner). They are tired of going across the country on a business trip for 2 hours to thank clients that they could have thanked on the phone. They are tired of pretending to be busy and staying late at work when they’ve already finished.

The interesting thing about Japan (and something that I love) is that when people get sick of things, there’s much less outrage, but people seem to collectively agree that they’ve evolved beyond a certain habit or custom or idea or system. People just start ignoring it or opting out of it, or stop encouraging it and within a few months or years, it just falls away.

A perfect example of this is sexist remarks. People one by one stopped nodding or saying “yeah” and egging each other on, and so many people just stopped making them. Same with overtime work. People used to stay overtime just to impress their bosses, but one by one they stopped until eventually bosses stopped expecting it of their employees.

There are still a lot of things that could use some work here but I really think Japan has a nice future. It’s always slow to change, but when it does, it’s often for the better and without as much drama and fighting as other places. I hope that as people in Japan learn to express themselves more openly and directly, the rest of the world can learn what peaceful consensus looks like from Japan.

As for the rest of the world, I think things will be ok. Even my parents are saying “fuck it, let’s live in the moment. We can plan a future without being terrified when things don’t go as planned. Let’s focus on what we can change and forget what we can’t.”

Everything might still get worse before it gets better, but with everything that doesn’t kill us, we get stronger and more sure of what we want and what we don’t want.

We may look divided, but sometimes it’s just old ideas that need to come to the surface before they can disappear. If everyone ends up thinking more about their own well-being and comfort more because of what’s going on in the world, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, so long as they can eventually start to look for a middle ground of win/win.

We can lead the way with our own behavior too.



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I've never been to Tokyo, I dream of visiting it as a tourist. I hope my dream will come true someday. I will believe!

I’m sure you’ll get here soon enough. Japan wants to open up for the olympics. We will see though.

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Sounds like you have a demographic shift :)

Oops! 😀

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We definitely gotta go grab some beers when I get back Japan side. In the states right now.

The vaccine thing really caught my attention. It's difficult to imagine Japanese refusing the vaccine.

It does make sense that those tourist electronic stores by the state would go bankrupt. No tourism, no customers. Is Carl's Jr. still there?

When are you coming back? Can you even come back now? Damn. Well tell me when you do!

I think the English studying adults I meet are not exactly the “norm” but the norm is being chipped away at pretty hard between subculture, foreign culture, tech culture and just random people getting tired of old BS. It makes me happy too because if people here learned how to speak their mind and connect easier, it’d be worlds beyond anywhere else I’ve been as far as awesomeness goes

Hope to see you soon

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Will be back in April some time. Ya, I've been going in and out since the start of the pandemic. Bit of a pain in the ass, but you do what you have to do.

Let me know... over at my new account or discord!

Great post. I hope Japan is waking up, somewhere has to!

Everywhere is waking up. It’s just painful and a lot of people are resisting it because sleep feels good 😛

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interesting dude!!
weird, awkward but damn interesting. I am curious how in 10 years this will all have effected people mentally. Or are japanese so weird in general already is that more the key?

lets see how it involves keep us posted man!

Japanese aren’t weird at all, they’re just traditionally polar opposite from Most English speaking cultures and some other European places. They are much more yin based in their interactions with the world, while the Yang is very strong inwardly. It’s the exact opposite for English speakers. Balancing these is going to be awesome and that’s why I am here

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A few have become more neurotic than ever, bumping into people, talking to themselves, looking around as if they are running from someone, rubbing their hands with alcohol repeatedly, barely aware of how they’re emotions show on their face.

Shiiiiii! I found that weird man

Lol try NYC. Big modern city stress breeds crazy but Tokyo is nothing compared to NYC where the crazies outnumber everyone else. Some are fun though! I’m probably a crazy myself lol. I’m move around to the music on my headphones way too much to be considered normal

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I know very little about Japanese culture, but this is really impressive! I don't understand how there could be so much disconnection! Maybe for me this is very strange because as a Latin person we usually express our emotions without qualms, in addition to being warm and joking (I think sometimes we go too far with jokes). I am glad that people are becoming more humanized, it is necessary to connect with our essence, feelings, emotions without so much fuss, because in the end we are that: Human beings; and as I always say, there is no evil that does not come for good ... although sometimes the bad outweighs the good. Greetings and blessings.

Conozco muy poco de la cultura nipona, pero esto que cuentas es realmente impresionante! No entiendo cómo pudo haber tanta desconexión! Quizá para mí esto es muy extraño porque como persona latina por lo general somos de expresar nuestras emociones sin reparos, además de que somos cálidos y bromistas (creo que a veces nos excedemos con las bromas). Me alegro que la gente se vaya humanizando más, es necesario conectarnos con nuestra esencia, sentimientos, emociones sin tanto remilgo, pues a la final somos eso: Seres humanos; y como siempre digo no hay mal que por bien no venga... aunque a veces lo malo supera lo bueno. Saludos y bendiciones.

Japan has yin energy facing outward and so this is the result. I really believe Japan has a massively important role to play in the development of human culture. In many ways they’ve already seeded a whole generation with anime and games, a few of which are so divinely inspired. Life here seems so rigid and strict, but that’s because underneath it is fluid magic awesome and it’s an intuitive protective mechanism to avoid exploitation, which still does happen. Very few people are aware of these dynamics and I also have to be careful about exposing them too ambitiously.

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Excellent reflection, looking at it from that perspective, you are absolutely right. Not everything has to be the same, on the planet, in the multiverse, everything has its nuances and its particularity. All the best.

People just start ignoring it or opting out of it, or stop encouraging it and within a few months or years, it just falls away - the best way to solve many problems.

I always knew Japanese are wise;)

It’s all intuitive! Nobody knows what they are doing lol, they just do it! But it’s always really really slow, it doesn’t really have to be, but everyone is focused inwardly.

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beautiful post, and I learned a lot about Japan, thanks for sharing!

... so all this change you think is from the corona situation? Do you know why people got affected in this way?

Partly from corona, partly long seeded frustration, and partly some loosening up in 2011 with the big earthquake, and also a lot more foreigners working in the service industry and rubbing off on locals

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Great post. I hope Japan is waking up, somewhere has to!

"esa vela encendida a mitad la calle", quizás era reflejo lo nueva cotidianidad que invadió al planeta entero... saludos :)

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