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This week’s topic is based on an article that was published on the website of a major British newspaper recently. Actually, it was published just after the announcement that Tokyo had won the 2020 Olympic Games.

There were a lot of articles about Japan in British newspapers around that time because everyone was very interested in the topic, but I thought this one would give us the most to talk about.

Of course, this is a British newspaper, so the word “weird” in the title should really be changed to “weird (for us),” as these things are obviously not weird for Japanese people!

Japan has a bit of a reputation in Britain for being weird because of a TV show that used to show strange clips from Japanese TV. (I’m sure Kattie will remember this!) The most popular ones were from a game show that was translated as “Endurance,” although I have no idea what the Japanese title was. (Here is a link to a clip from it on You Tube.)

In the game show, contestants had to endure all kinds of physical torture for as long as possible. One I remember seeing when I was a teenager involved a group of men drinking lots of beer and then sitting in pools of ice water. The challenge was to resist the temptation to go to the toilet for as long as possible! Because of this show (it was really, really popular!), many British people tend to have a slightly warped view of Japan and the Japanese.

Anyway, I thought you might like to see how Japan is being portrayed in the British media. I thought it might also be interesting for you to know what aspects of life are seen as “weird” through British eyes.

I know there are a lot of TV shows about this kind of thing, and I’m sure you have heard a lot of these points before, but some of them may surprise you. Please let me know which ones!

Look forward to reading your comments.

PS It’s worth reading the comments on the original article too.

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42 Comments

  1. YU on Tuesday October 15th, 2013 at 09:50 AM

    Hi David and everyone,

    > Because of this show (it was really, really popular!), many British people tend to have a slightly warped view of Japan and the Japanese.

    I read in Wikipedia that Clive James, the M.C. of the program didn’t explain the fact on purppose that the all contestants were from Tokyo Big 6 universities and the show was the intercollegiate enduarance contest, similar to rag week in the UK to make it sound funny. Even if you ignore the fact, I think people in the UK still must have found the show weird, though!

    Anyway, this video clip reminded me of the fact that a famous Japanese TV program, called “風雲たけし城” was aired and very popular in Germany. The German title was “Takeshi’s castle”.
    As you know, Takeshi Kitano is famous as a film director in Europe now, but in “Takeshi’s castle” he acts like a professional comedian wearing a stupid lord(バカ殿) costumes, so some of my German friends asked me if Kitano, a film director and the stupid lord in Takeshi’s castle were really the very same person!

    I’ll comment on the article later.



  2. Biwa on Tuesday October 15th, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    Hi David,

    I couldn’t get to the ‘Endurance’ video from your link. (Could you, YU?) Anyway, it seems that the original title was ‘ザ・ガマン’ and was aired in the early 80’s. I’m sure I watched some of the shows, but it’s funny that I don’t remember a bit!



  3. David on Tuesday October 15th, 2013 at 12:13 PM

    Hi YU,

    Funnily enough, a British friend was just talking about “Takeshi’s Castle” the other day.

    Hi Biwa,

    Sorry about the link. Just search for “Japanese endurance game show” on You Tube. You will get lots of hits. As I said, this was hugely popular in the UK, but it left British people with the impression that all Japanese are crazy!



  4. YU on Tuesday October 15th, 2013 at 12:30 PM

    Hi everyone,

    I don’t think most of these things are weird as I’m Japanese, but there are a couple of things in them that I find weird, too.

    -Ganguro

    I don’t think it’s wrong information, but it’s old. I think Ganguro tribe has already extincted about a decade ago, but when it was the vogue, I found it very hard to understand their intents, too!

    -Kancho

    I would understand if it was done between very young boys in fun, but even adults sometimes do this in Japan. I personally don’t want to touch around the anal of other people, even from above the clothes.

    Here are some corrections to the wrong information.

    – Inemuri
    But Japanese business culture recognises the employee who works so hard they are forced to engage in “inemuri” – or napping on the job.

    No! You would get ticked off if you napped on the job even in Japan!
    I think “inemuri” is overlooked in the trains to work, but as you know, some of them are just pretending to sleep because they don’t want to give their seats to elderly people or other who need seats. The evidence is that they suddenly wake up and get off the train at their stations. We are such a kind nation!!

    – Double tooth
    Unlike the majority of the world, the youth of Japan are spending considerable sums of money on attaining uneven or “snaggle” teeth.

    Is this really true? I’ve never heard it.
    To be exact, I think we just leave our “double tooth” as it is because in Japan it is often considered to be attractive especially when girls have them, just like dimples on your cheek.

    – Hiding your thumbs
    It is a widespread Japanese superstition that if a funeral hearse drives past, you must hide your thumb in a fist. ‘Thumb,’ translate directly into ‘parent-finger,’ and hiding it is considered protection for your parents.

    Ah, 惜しい!
    The last part is wrong.
    Correctly, “If you don’t hide it, you can’t be present at your parents’ deathbed.”

    Lastly, I agree with this opinion.

    – Opening presents
    On receipt of a gift, it is traditional custom to hesitate to open the gift until invited to do so. In the past the Japanese haven’t opened gifts in the presence of the gift giver. It is important to open the gift carefully as ripping the paper is considered rude.

    I gave a friend of mine a present at the birth of her baby the other day. It took me for days to choose the present and prepare for the hand-made(!)message card. I was looking forward to seeing her happy face when she see them, but she didn’t open the gift before I left finally.
    I know some people still hesitate to open the gifts in the presence of the gift giver in Japan, but I think many of you want to see their happy faces when they open your gift, don’t you?
    Unlike Japan, it is considered to be very rude if you don’t open the gifts at the presence of the gift giver in Germany, and that you should ripp the paper to show how excited you are to see what is in. It’s totally different from our old custom, but as for this, I prefer German style.



  5. YU on Tuesday October 15th, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    Hi Biwa,

    I could see the video.



  6. Biwa on Tuesday October 15th, 2013 at 01:06 PM

    Hi David,

    Thanks, I really got lots of hits. Now I know why I don’t remember the show! They’re really awful and stupid. I particularly hate the ones that forced the contestants to eat weird things such as a sheep’s brain. They really make me sick, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t really watch them. Some people might like these programs, but it’s a pity if British people think that we every Japanese like these things. I see a kind of ‘bullying culture’ in these games. I hope British people don’t have that kind of culture!

    Regarding the article, most of them didn’t surprise me! Even the trend of getting a ‘double tooth’ has been reported on TV since last year, perhaps. However, I didn’t know about the ‘rabbit island’ or the ‘gas masks.’ It’s funny that I get to know about my own country through the eyes of people from other countries.

    Hi YU,

    Regarding the present opening, I prefer the Western style, too. But I don’t think I rip up the wrapping paper because even the wrapping paper or the ribbons are something special that the giver chose for me.



  7. Biwa on Tuesday October 15th, 2013 at 01:08 PM

    Hi YU,

    >I could see the video.

    Oh, really? I still can’t. I wonder if something’s wrong with my computer…



  8. YU on Tuesday October 15th, 2013 at 01:48 PM

    Hi Biwa,

    > But I don’t think I rip up the wrapping paper because even the wrapping paper or the ribbons are something special that the giver chose for me.

    Actually, I didn’t know that most German people have a big collection of wrapping paper and ribbons in stock at home before a friend of mine showed them to me. They usually just wrap presents by themselves choosing one from the collection. (Or they ask shops to wrapp them.) Since then, I came to not really care about rip the paper.
    By the way, I don’t rip the paper in Japan, either. The first reason is that I know many Japanese people don’t like it, and the second reason is that some of them are very fine and recyclable. You can use them when you give something to other people! I’m such a stingy woman!



  9. Biwa on Tuesday October 15th, 2013 at 02:11 PM

    Hi YU and everyone,

    >I’m such a stingy woman!

    I don’t think so. My mother used to make book-covers for our (my sister and I) texbooks with those beautiful wrapping papers!

    By the way, I just received an e-mail from my sons’ school saying that there will be no school tomorrow due to the approaching typhoon #26. I can easily imagine them clapping hands and cheering ‘Yippee!!’ Is your son’s kindergarten going to be closed, too?



  10. YU on Tuesday October 15th, 2013 at 02:59 PM

    correction;

    >(Or they ask shops to wrapp them.) Since then, I came to not really care about rip the paper

    X wrapp O wrap

    X about rip the paper
    O about ripping the paper

    Hi Biwa,

    I’m not sure if my son’s kindergarten will be closed tomorrow. I’ll receive a message tomorrow morning. Actually, I want them to tell it to us earlier because I have to prepare for bento!

    By the way, I see 20~30 rolls of wrapping paper are sold in a set at COSTCO whenever I shop there. It seems that it is one of their regular items, so I wonder if people other than the Germans keep things like that in stock at home, too. If so, I kind of understand why western people don’t open the gifts very carefully.
    I’ve heard that Japanese gift-wrapping has a great reputation in the world. I guess that is one of the reasons why Japanese people often hesitate to open gifts carelessly. I mean, it’s too good to be broken and throw away soon.
    What do you think?



  11. YU on Tuesday October 15th, 2013 at 04:23 PM

    Hi Biwa,

    I’ve just got an e-mail from my son’s kindergarten saying that there will be no school(?) tomorrow, too. It’s scary that the typhoon is approoaching, but it seems to pass through before my son’s first sports day on Saturday!



  12. Akira on Wednesday October 16th, 2013 at 08:03 AM

    Hi,

    I’ve been living in the UK and I was surprised that this Japanese programm was on telly in the UK when I saw it at first. Coincidentally, I talked about this tv show in my class recently and I was also surprised that some of my European friends such as Italian and German in my language college had known it. They told me that it was so popular in their countries and they often watched it as they were child.
    Actually, I hadn’t known this tv show before I saw it. it looked a bit old fashion apparently and then I checked it on wiki and it said that tv show had been on tv before I was born, that’s why I didn’t know it.
    Personally, this sort of tv show is not my cup of tea really. I mean they’re a bit childish. I do prefer documentary programms such like BBC’s one which I always find fascinating and much educational than Japanese one.
    In my opinion, Japanese should make more educatinal programs otherwise Japanese will be still regarded as weird or strange people through these stupid programs.



  13. Mika on Wednesday October 16th, 2013 at 09:14 AM

    Hi Akira,

    >Japanese should make more educational programs
    I have the exactly same thought as your opinion.
    In my case, I was born when the show was aired but I didn’t know it until David wrote.

    Hi David and everyone,

    The TV show is completely ridiculous for me and I felt nausea. I’m worried it might contribute to bullying behavior. Everyone knows each broadcast station has to make a show with high ratings; therefore there are some who are not care about anything but ratings. However, I believe that there should be some limits to go on the air. So, they have to konw almost all of Japanese people want to watch educational programs.



  14. YU on Wednesday October 16th, 2013 at 09:37 AM

    Hi Akira,

    Thank you for sharing your opinion.

    I don’t want to bring the same topic up again, but I don’t really think that UK TV is always more sophisticated than Japanese TV, and vice versa. Actually, a lot of documentaries are aired on Japanese TV, too, especially on NHK, but as you say, it’s true that there’re a lot of rubbish programs here. However, I think that can also be said about British TV or ones in other countries. Japanese TV sometimes introduces weird(for us!) TV programs in other countries(incl. in the UK), too. In fact, I often find them strange, but I don’t take them so seriously because they are usually the ones called “variety shows” in their countries. “Jokes” or “comedy” are part of their culture that foreigners hardly can understand, so I even think it’s a bit nonsense to complain about things like that. However, if the wrong political news was aired on TV in other countries by design, that would be a big problem. I think that is what we should really worry about.

    > In my opinion, Japanese should make more educatinal programs otherwise Japanese will be still regarded as weird or strange people through these stupid programs.

    I’m afraid, but I don’t really think people in other countries “seriously” think that the Japanese are strange just because of some rubbish TV programs. If that is the case, I think THEY ARE weird. Besides, I don’t think you need to change Japanese TV as foreigners please, either. Do you know any other countries that changed their TV as foreigners like?
    As I said in the last topic, there’re a lot of things that we should learn from other countries, but I don’t think we always need to go along with other people’s opinions.



  15. Biwa on Wednesday October 16th, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    Hi Akira, Mika and everyone,

    I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who hates these kind of programs. I don’t really think that every program should be educative or serious because lots of people like watching TV just for fun. However, as Mika said, there should be some limits, and it’s a real problem if the programs are giving warped views of Japan to people in other countries. I wonder if the UK and other countries have the same broadcasting system as we do in Japan. I mean, do the braodcasting stations also have to compete with each other to get high audience-ratings?

    Hi YU,

    So you didn’t have to make obento. But you still have to fix something for lunch, right? My sons eat at their school cafeteria on weekdays, but today I have to cook! I usually have some leftovers for lunch, but there’s not enough to fill up two big stomachs!

    As for the wrapping paper, I don’t stock any because there’s no space in my house(!), but I do stock some pretty plastic bags and ribbons. I use them when I give cookies or cakes to my friends. I personally like wrapping things, so when I receive beautifully wrapped presents, I try to open it carefully because I just want to know how the wrapping, folding or the ribbon is done. (lol!) Also, I sometimes receive homemade candies on Valentine’s Day from my students, and I always enjoy the pretty wrappings, too. I think many people enjoy wrapping presents, because even in Daiso(百均ショップ), you can find all sorts of wrapping materials.



  16. Biwa on Wednesday October 16th, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    Hi everyone,

    By the way, besides the 20 weird things in the article, I would definitely add a picture of so many people wearing masks. Not gas masks, I mean the white ones! Don’t you think so?



  17. Biwa on Wednesday October 16th, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    Hi David,

    This has nothing to do with the topic, but I have a question.
    It’s about the ‘adjective order’, and I know that ‘shape’ comes before ‘color’ from your A-Zbook. Some of my students are reading a picture book called ‘Buttons, buttons’ and there are sentences like ‘Red buttons.’ ‘Bear Buttons.’ or ‘Square buttons.’ When I had them draw their original buttons, one of them wrote ‘Five frog green buttons.’ Of course he meant ‘frog-shaped’, but isn’t this sentence a bit weird? Also, how would the order be if the shape was ‘triangle’? Would ‘Five triangle green buttons.’ be correct? All the examples in your book are words like ’round/flat/square’, and they’re not names of shapes(except square), so I wanted to make sure.



  18. YU on Wednesday October 16th, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    Hi Mika and everyone,

    > However, I believe that there should be some limits to go on the air.

    That’s true, but as many of workers in the TV world say today, the number of “extreme” programs like “Enduarance” has drastically reduced in these last few decades.
    As you say, those programs might be one of the causes of bullying culture in Japan, but it is hard for me to believe that only people who watch those TV programs bully the weak in our country. I think it was already here long before TV was born, I mean it has a lot to do with the society and nature peculiar to Japan and it’s very deep-rooted.

    > So, they have to konw almost all of Japanese people want to watch educational programs.

    ???
    “Almost all of Japanese people”??? Who do you mean? I’m not one of them, at least!(笑) Of course, I like watching documentaries, but I like rubbish(for you!) programs, too.
    As I might have mentioned here before, my aunt says the same as you, she is aroud 70.
    She watches only NHK because she finds other programs too rubbish.
    You’re free to say anything you want about Japanese TV, but please don’t forget the fact that there’re a lot of people like me who sometimes want to watch くだらない TV programs to laugh out to get rid of stress in Japan.
    Why don’t you watch only educational(?) programs like my aunt? No one forces you to watch TV programs you don’t like, right?

    以前、韓流ドラマが多すぎると批判する人に対してこういう言い方をナイナイの岡村さんがして、彼のツイッターが炎上してましたっけ?でも私は彼の意見に賛成です。私も韓流ファンという意味じゃなくて、ですよ。(笑)
    テレビを見るのも見ないのもその人の選択、自由だと思うし、番組の選択も自由です。もちろん子供の見る番組は親が管理すべきですが。私の周りにもテレビを見ない人いっぱいいます。でも大好きな人もいっぱいいます。テレビはみんなのものだし、NHK以外無料なんだからものすごく内容に問題ががある番組以外は一部の視聴者の意見で打ち切りにしたりする必要はないし、そういう権利もない、と思います。虫唾が走るほど嫌いな人ももいればその番組を楽しみにしている人もいるわけなので。くだらない番組が好きな人たちは知的な番組を失くせ、とは言ってないでしょ?まあ、でも意見が色々出るのは今後テレビが進化していく上でいいことだと思います。
    あっちの方がもっと悪いからこっちは許される、とは言いませんが、インターネット(掲示板)や携帯、過激なマンガやゲームなどの方がテレビよりももっと制限をかけにくいし、今日の子供たちのイジメの温床になっている気がします。



  19. YU on Wednesday October 16th, 2013 at 11:46 AM

    Hi Biwa,

    When I woke up around 7 this morning, the typhoon has already gone where I live(Shonan area), so actually, my son could go to kindergarten!

    My son usually takes obento with him only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but this week has an irregular schedule due to their Sports day on Saturday.
    My husband takes his obento with him every day, so when I make obento for my son, I have to make two kinds of obento because they don’t eat the same dishes. As you know, 5-year-old child prefers meatballs or sausages to きんぴら or 筑前煮! My son’s kindergarten asks mothers to make obento with only our children’s favorite dishes, or they don’t finish eating and start crying! I was very surprised when I heard it at first, but now I know exactly what they mean. They can’t handle 26 crying kids at once!!

    I’ll cook お好み焼き for our lunch, but I wonder if there’s enouch flour!

    See you!



  20. David on Wednesday October 16th, 2013 at 12:38 PM

    Hi Biwa,

    Shapes are tricky. “Square” is both a noun and an adjective, but “triangle” is just a noun. The adjective is “triangular,” so your phrase would be “five triangular green buttons” or “five green frog-shaped buttons.” The “rule” that shape comes before colour is just a general guideline, so it’s not always true. Personally, I think that “green frog-shaped buttons” sounds more natural than “frog-shaped green buttons,” although both would be okay. However, triangular green buttons” sounds more natural than “green triangular buttons.” It’s a very difficult area!

    As for the discussion about rubbish on TV, no one would argue that there is a huge amount of rubbish on British TV as well. Over the last few years in particular, there has been a boom in “reality” TV shows, and most of them are absolute trash.

    However, as Akira said, there are lots of really innovative and creative programs as well. I completely understand YU’s point about just wanting to relax and watch TV without thinking too much. I like to do that as well, and there are lots of TV shows aimed at providing relaxing comedy.

    But don’t you think that the “variety” programs in Japan lack, well, variety? Every night and on every channel it’s the same thing – some celebrity eating something; zoom shot on the food; celebrity says “Umai!”; other celebrities in the studio (whose face is being shown in a cut-out window) look pleased and applaud; and so on and on and on.

    I’m not saying that I object to programs like that; of course, I think they have their place. I just wish that program makers would be a bit more adventurous and creative, that’s all. YU said, “No one forces you to watch TV programs you don’t like, right?”, but what choice do people have when those are the only things on TV? I used to watch Japanese TV every day when I first came here because I wanted to learn the language, but I just got sick of seeing the same people doing the same kinds of things every day and on every channel.

    YU also said, “I’m afraid, but I don’t really think people in other countries “seriously” think that the Japanese are strange just because of some rubbish TV programs.” Unfortunately, I’m afraid they do (at least in Britain) because those programs are the only thing British people know about Japan. It’s like Japanese people who think that Britain is covered in fog and populated by people wearing hats and drinking tea!



  21. YU on Wednesday October 16th, 2013 at 02:12 PM

    Hi David,

    > I just wish that program makers would be a bit more adventurous and creative, that’s all.

    I know what you mean, but I’m not tired of watching those “lack” variety programs using the same celeblities(for you!) and I guess many of us think the same way. If most people in Japan found them boring, I wonder why they still earn high audience ratings.
    This is what I always feel, but I think that many of regular writers here are intellectual. In my opinion, those people tend to prefer reading and look down on TV, variety programs particularlly, they might deny the fact, though. I think I have told you this before.

    > but what choice do people have when those are the only things on TV?

    As I many times(!) mention, there are a lot of creative programs here in Japan, too. I really wonder why you can’t see them, but I can enjoy them through the same device – TV set.

    > Unfortunately, I’m afraid they do (at least in Britain) because those programs are the only thing British people know about Japan. It’s like Japanese people who think that Britain is covered in fog and populated by people wearing hats and drinking tea!

    I’m afraid, but I think you’re a bit exaggerated. I’m not really sure about older generations, but who on earth in Japan still have such sterotyped images for Britain? What century do we live in? There are many ways to know about the world other than old variety programs imported from other countries. Today we can see what British people wearing, eating and thinking are through everyday TV news, the Internet or many other things. It is hard for me to believe that people in the UK are all old fashioned like that, but if it was really the case, I feel sorry for them.
    Anyway, it sounds like you’re saying people in the UK all believe that Japan is still populated by Samurai wearing a Kimono and a sword.
    Fortunately, my German friends(my husband,too!) were not like people in the UK you mentioned. They knew more about Japan(not only about Japanese TV) and they just enjoyed watching those silly Japanese programs for fun.



  22. Biwa on Wednesday October 16th, 2013 at 02:23 PM

    Hi David,

    Thank you for the explanation. They are really tricky! I looked up some words in the dictionary, and found out that ‘oval’ and ‘crescent’ are both nouns and adjectives. And the some of the nouns that have different adjectives are ‘rectangle”trapezoid”hexagon”pentagon”decagon’. (Children love these ‘-gon’ words because they sound like a 怪獣.)
    However, ‘heart’ doesn’t have an adjective, and ‘star’ had an adjective ‘astral’, but I don’t think people would say ‘two astral buttons’, do they? I think it’s more natural to say ‘star-shaped.’
    I wonder what kind of phrases a native child would say. And for my students, I guess it’s a matter of where I set the goal. Probably I shouldn’t correct them so much as long as they’re happily producing their own language.



  23. YU on Wednesday October 16th, 2013 at 03:01 PM

    Hi Biwa,

    Regarding “white” masks, I agree with you. I think people in no other countries than Japan wear “white masks” all the year around.
    About gas masks, I find them dangerous(物騒) and weird to wear when everything is in order, but I heard that some people in Beijin wear them when the air is heavily polluted, too.
    I don’t want them(the writer) call people in Miyake Island “weird”. It’s all for their safety and health.



  24. Biwa on Wednesday October 16th, 2013 at 03:29 PM

    Hi YU,

    >I don’t want them(the writer) call people in Miyake Island “weird”. It’s all for their safety and health.

    I totally agree.
    I just remembered another weird thing. I saw many young women wearing black tights (or leggings?) under their short-pants or lacy, extremely short skirts. Did they wear them because it was cold? Or did they want to make their legs look slenderer even though they were sweating?
    I know I sound like an old-fashioned woman by saying this…

    By the way, did you have enough flour? I cooked six packs of fried noodles!



  25. YU on Wednesday October 16th, 2013 at 04:06 PM

    Hi Biwa,

    Yes, I had enough flour to cook okonomiyaki for two(or 1.5?). You cooked six packs? I kind of understand it. I always feel the the potion for two or three in Japanese food is like for single! Anyway, if I had two young healthy sons like you, I would shop at COSTCO every weekend!

    As for “weird” black tights what you call… I’m おばちゃん, but I sometimes dress like that, too! Of course, I don’t wear an extremely short skirt, though…, but in summer I don’t wear them because my legs get sweaty.



  26. Biwa on Wednesday October 16th, 2013 at 08:58 PM

    Hi YU,

    Sorry, I realized that my comment didn’t make sense because I forgot to write ‘this summer’!

    I wanted to say that they looked weird and 暑そう because they dressed like that in summer!



  27. Fumie on Thursday October 17th, 2013 at 05:21 AM

    Hi David and everyone,

    I don’t remember watching “Gaman”, maybe I had watched it once or twice but I thought they were disgusting and switched the channel. For me they aren’t funny and they are rubbish.
    I also don’t like the program which people throw cakes on other people’s faces and I thought they are low tastes. I’m not interested in celebrity’s gossip so when those programs are aired I change the channel.
    I don’t want British people stereotype every Japanese people having those bad taste.
    Having said that people have different taste and some people like the program like Gaman and that’s why the program had high rating.
    I watch both educational ones and also same old English storied dramas (predictable stories) when I’m tired.
    There are rubbish programs both in Japanese TV and foreign TV.



  28. YU on Thursday October 17th, 2013 at 10:20 AM

    Hi everyone,

    I sometimes miss watching audience participation programs. There used to be a lot of those programs like “タイムショック”, “クイズ100人に聞きました” ,etc… when I was young. They were all nice, but I wonder why there are only few programs like them left these days.

    Hi Fumie and everyone,

    You aren’t interested in celeblity gossip? To be honest, I’m interested in it. I’m interested in all things in the universe! Hahaha! I’m joking. I’m not interested in physics or chemistry at all, either!

    Watching TV is probably the most effective way to get all sorts of information for me because it offers us sounds and moving pictures at once. The Internet is nice, too, but still TV is more comfortable for me.
    Actually, talking with my friends, I often realize that some of them don’t know anything about politics, some don’t know anything about entertainment(talents, movies, dramas), some don’t know anything about fashion trends, etc… If I step into the feilds they are bad at without knowing it, then the conversation breaks off and an awkward silence falls over us. That is very uncomfortable… Of course, I’m not saying I know everything around the world, my knowledge is very limited, but I enjoy more when I talk with friends who like to talk about any topic.

    It is often said, “Watching TV makes you stupid”, but I don’t really think so. I think they say so because they look down on people watching TV from the beginning. I think “Watching TV makes you of wide knowledge” because it contains every sort of information, from intellectual one to lowbrow one.
    So, I personally admire the winners of アメリカ横断ウルトラクイズ”TRANS AMERICA ULTRA QUIZ” as well as Nobel-Prize winners because the range of questions is very broad!



  29. Biwa on Thursday October 17th, 2013 at 10:28 AM

    Hi everyone,

    I was trying to think of some weird things about Britain or British people (of course, just for fun!), but I couldn’t. So I googled some articles and found this one. The writer is from Northern Ireland, and lives in Poland at the moment. He writes eight things he thinks are weird, but honestly, I don’t think any of them are that weird! If any of you are interested:

    http://bohemianbreakdancer.com/the-british-are-weird/



  30. YU on Thursday October 17th, 2013 at 01:41 PM

    Hi Biwa,

    Thank you for the link.
    I didn’t find them weird, either.
    Both writers of the links David and you posted use the adjective “weird”, but if “interesting” (興味深い、面白い) was used instead of “weird”, no one would get annoyed.
    Anyway, as for the link you posted, he explains like, “my polish girlfriend and I do things together and I write about them, making the events sound funnier than they actually were” in his profile, so perhaps he meant no harm to anyone. He wrote it only as a joke, I guess.

    Hi everyone,

    As for “Endurance”, I personally don’t really think that we need to care about how British people see us through those programs or we need to make more creative TV programs just to be recognized by them. It’s nonsense! It is only small part of Japanese culture and if they really still believed that Japan is strange just because of the program, that is their problem. I feel sorry for them. Actually, a number of TV programs from other countries are introduced in Japanese TV and I find some of them very strange, too, but I don’t judge the countires or people only by those programs because I know Japanese TV introduce them, making sounds funnier and more weird than they actually are, just like the writer of the site Biwa posted does.
    As I wrote, I read in Wiki that the show introduced “Endurance” in the same way as him. The M.C. received severe criticism later because he explained that “Endurance” was a “representive” Japanese TV program in his show, it is, of course, the wrong information, but I think it was just his joke to make his show sound funnier, so I don’t think it is worth getting angry about or worry about.



  31. Fumie on Thursday October 17th, 2013 at 09:41 PM

    Hi YU,

    >Actually, talking with my friends, I often realize that some of them don’t know anything about politics, some don’t know anything about entertainment(talents, movies, dramas), some don’t know anything about fashion trends, etc…

    To be honest, I’m like them. When people start talking about popular TV dramas,celebrity,popular TV programs, I can’t join the conversation. I know I’m a party-pooper but I don’t want to change the way I spend my life. I don’t want to watch programs which I don’t find interesting.

    Hi Biwa,

    Thank you for the link. I don’t find them weird, too.



  32. Anne on Thursday October 17th, 2013 at 11:01 PM

    Hi David and everyone,

    I saw all of the photos in the article, and some of them should be “cool and wonderful” things about Japan for me.
    As YU mentioned, some of the information were old and some explanations were close to the truth, but at the last stage, they were wrong.(惜しい!)
    I guess these things could happen when you read something concerning other countries. Anyway, it is interesting to see thing from the perspective of British people.

    As for TV programs, I guess Japan has a mixed reputation; cool and weird.
    A lot of anime are aired in various countries and many children are interested in Japanese anime and manga culture. I don’t remember the ‘endurance’ TV show David introduced us, but it is true that there were(and are) these types of programs. As I said before, I don’t see these types of programs so often, but sometimes do. I like ‘rubbish’ programs^^) I don’t think all the programs should be more educational. Isn’t that boring? Of course, there should be some”rules” to protect viewers, especially children. There are a lot of good TV programs in Japan, and I’m wondering why British TV shows introduce ‘look-like weird’ shows a lot. Why don’t they introduce other wonderful programs? I guess these ones are easy to catch viewer’ attention.

    This topic reminded me of a story from my friend.
    A friend of mine came to Japan and stayed in Cyubu area this May and June. When we met, he said to me, “Anne, can I ask you a question? Is it OK to air the program that young women in bikini treat middle-aged men during prime time in Japan?” It was father’s day. He happened to see the program and was so surprised at it. I’m not sure the situation in foreign countries, and it should be called “weird” or not, but I think Japanese TV is tolerant about these kinds of things.

    Hi Biwa,
    Thanks for sharing the article.



  33. ashmoleanmuse on Thursday October 17th, 2013 at 11:51 PM

    Hi David,

    In the first place, The Daily Telegraph seems to specialize in Japanese ‘weird’ things. Remember the article about a member of AKB 48 who shaved her head after breaking the love-ban-law?

    Ganguro

    It’s almost obsolete. I suspect that the article is rather old.

    Gunkanjima

    Gunkanjima is now a cool place. It has to do with 007, David, 007.

    Now I know that the article is rather old because it doesn’t refer to “Skyfall”!

    From Wiki:

    scenes would be set on Hashima Island, an abandoned island off the coast of Nagasaki, Japan. In actuality, the scene was set on an unnamed island off the coast of Macau, though based on the real-life Hashima. Sam Mendes explained that the location was a hybrid of a set and computer-generated images

    Hiding your thumbs

    It’s not widespread, and most importantly it is extinct. I guess people over eighty years of age still believe it though.

    It is important to open the gift carefully as ripping the paper is considered rude.

    I gave gifts wrapped with beautiful paper that I had selected to my American friends and surprisingly everyone opened them tearing the wrapping paper. Oh, and an English friend of mine did the same. Inelegant Westerners was my impression.

    Ash



  34. ashmoleanmuse on Thursday October 17th, 2013 at 11:57 PM

    Sorry for the messy html.



  35. ashmoleanmuse on Thursday October 17th, 2013 at 11:59 PM

    Hi David,

    Nakid festivals

    http://www.soglos.com/sport-outdoor/27837/Gloucestershire-Cheese-Rolling

    Different strokes for different folks.

    Ash



  36. amo on Friday October 18th, 2013 at 12:56 AM

    Hi David and everyone,

    I took a look at the article that you mentioned, and I found some of them are weird to me, too. Or should I say, I hardly can’t understand. for example, I don’t like “Ganguro” and I never thought that they were pretty. I don’t like double tooth ether and I had them too and I really hated them. After straightening my teeth, they don’t show anymore so I am glad. When I heard of “cuddle cafe” for the first time, I was very surprised and I still can’t believe that kind of cafe is exist.

    As for “Endurance TV show,” I can’t remember that at all. I checked the link and to be honest with you, I don’t like that kind of TV show, and can’t understand why this was hugely popular in the UK at all.

    >The German title was “Takeshi’s castle”.
    I visited the UK several years ago with my sisters. one day, we were at a cafe and a boy sitting next to our table. He seemed to notice that we were Japanese and kept saying “Takeshi’s castle is cool” or something like that. But we couldn’t figure what “Takeshi’s castle” meant at all, because we never thought that 風雲たけし城 had been aired in the UK.

    >I just got sick of seeing the same people doing the same kinds of things every day and on every channel.
    Same here. That’s one of the reason I stop watching Japanese TV except NHK.

    Hi YU,

    >I know some people still hesitate to open the gifts in the presence of the gift giver in Japan, but I think many of you want to see their happy faces when they open your gift, don’t you?
    Most of all people around me open the gifts when they receive, so I can see their happily faces. But if my friend hesitate to open the gift I just simply say “Please open it.” Don’t you do that??

    Good night and sweet dreams,
    amo



  37. ashmoleanmuse on Friday October 18th, 2013 at 09:12 AM

    Hi David,

    “wrapped with beautiful paper”

    “the” is necessary before “beautiful”, right?

    Ash



  38. YU on Friday October 18th, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    Hi Fumie,

    I’m sorry if my sentences have offended you, but I’m not saying that I object to your way of life or you have to watch programs you don’t like. I think I wrote so in my comment to Mika. You don’t need to change your ways of thinking at all, but what I wanted to say was that being interested in various areas(even seemingly rubbish ones for you) could enrich your life and you will lose nothing from knowing. This is just my motto, but of course, you’re free to choose your way of living.

    Hi Anne,

    > I don’t think all the programs should be more educational. Isn’t that boring?

    Exactly! As David mentioned, even rubbish programs have their place, too. The only thing I can’t agree with is that how could someone say British TV airs more educational and creative programs than Japanese TV. Has anyone counted it? Has anyone checked all the programs? If not, how did you judge British TV programs are more creative? I think it’s just a biased view.

    Hi Ash,

    > It’s not widespread, and most importantly it is extinct. I guess people over eighty years of age still believe it though.

    I think it IS still widespread. I know it’s just a superstition, but I can’t help hiding my thums when a funeral hearse drives past, although I’m far younger than 80! Am I too superstitious? 🙂

    > But if my friend hesitate to open the gift I just simply say “Please open it.” Don’t you do that??

    I usually do, but I didn’t do it this time because she looked very exhausted from looking after her two young kids, 0 month and 3 y.o. all day long, every day, besides she had to care of her guest(me). I also imagined she might just want to open it with her husband when he returns because the gift was not only for her, but I finally don’t know if she is such a person who always hesitates to open gifts at the presense of the gift giver or she was just too tired to open it on that day or something else. Anyway, I left her home within 15 minutes.



  39. Biwa on Friday October 18th, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    Hi Ash,

    >I guess people over eighty years of age still believe it though.

    I’m not over eighty, but I do hide my thumbs! Ha-ha!

    Hi YU,

    Thanks for your comment to the article. 🙂
    As you say, he just tried to make things sound funnier, and moreover, he’s a British himself so the article probably gives a different impression from the one that David referred to. By the way, I didn’t understand some of the expressions such as ‘Gordon Bennett!’ or ‘charm the knickers off the slag.’ These are really difficult!

    Hi Anne,

    >A lot of anime are aired in various countries and many children are interested in Japanese anime and manga culture.

    I’m often surprised to see hundreds of ‘adults’ wearing costumes of manga heroes or heroines in other countries. I also heard that きゃりーぱみゅぱみゅhas done a mini-concert in San Francisco recently, and many fans were dressed exactly like her and danced and sang along with her. I don’t know what attracts them so much and I can’t even pronounce her name correctly! I always end up saying ぴゃみゅぴゃむ…To me, they are weird!



  40. Anne on Friday October 18th, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    Hi YU,

    >how could someone say British TV airs more educational
    —I guess there are some understanding among people that BBC represents all the programs in the UK. For me, the image of BBC is quite educational because of the language learning programs, but there are a lot of other programs from BBC. By the way, I like BBC learning programs on the web. It’s very educational and helpful to improve your English.
    One of the things I sometimes enjoy watching it on You Tube is “Little Britain.” Sorry to say, I don’t think it’s educational but is full of humor and funny. I guess some will find it weird.
    Here’s the link:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0zUOzkHwAE&list=TLEyCYvsm1XYoXCi2dZTt5yxttqorqDHLo

    Hi Biwa,

    > I always end up saying ぴゃみゅぴゃむ…To me, they are weird!
    Not only in Japan but also in verious countries, コスプレsummits have been held, and I’m always surprised with their fashions.
    Yes, きゃりーぱみゅぱむ is very popular in foreign countries. No wonder if you see young people dressed up in anime characters. きゃりーぱみゅぴゃむlooks like the anime character for me.



  41. Biwa on Friday October 18th, 2013 at 01:24 PM

    Hi Anne,

    Thanks for the funny video. I don’t think I got all the jokes, but it was still funny! Actually, it made me think that Japanese TV shows are lacking these hosts who make the audience (and the guest, too!) laugh by what they say or by their jokes. I think that is one of the reasons why Japanese celebrities just endlessly slap each other or repeat some strange actions which are not funny to me at all. It’s a pity because Japan has a good tradition of making people laugh by their talks such as 落語.



  42. YU on Friday October 18th, 2013 at 02:21 PM

    Hi Anne and everyone,

    I think program makers usually either focus on making programs to satisfy as many viewers as possible to get high audience ratings getting more money from sponsors or making educational and creative programs to attract some intellectual viewrs and try their skills. It is easier for NHK or BBC to try creative programs because they don’t really need to care about audience ratings or sponsors like other TV stations as they are depend on our TV reception fees. Some educational program lovers might say all TV stations should follow the ways of NHK or BBC, but then you will end up paying the fee to all sations. I doubt if they are please to pay it… So, I said, “No one forces you to watch program you don’t like, you should watch only what you like”. You can watch TV gratis except NHK. No TV station is a charity organization, but I think TV stations like NHK or BBC are closer to it than others.

    > For me, the image of BBC is quite educational because of the language learning programs

    I think English is a language that people in the world want to learn the most because it is the most global language today. So, it is easy to attract many people in the world, however, I agree with you that they have a lot of good language learning programs for non native speakers like us. I sometimes use them, too.
    By the way, do you know NHK offers some Japanese language programs in many foreign languages on web, too? I was surprised to know that my husband can learn Japanese in his language with their programs.

    Hi Biwa, Anne and everyone,

    As for きゃりーぱみゅぱみゅ, I heard in some “rubbish” TV program(!) that it is even only a part of her name! I personally find her very kawaii and I don’t very wonder why she is popular in other countries, but I have to admit that I was very surprised to see thousands of people gather and get very excited at 初音ミク’s concert in Japan and other countries. As you know, 初音ミク is even not a human, she is a virtual music singer(?) made by YAMAHA.