10 Reasons the World Would be a Better Place if Japan Ruled the Earth

Okay, so strictly speaking, Japan’s wartime aim was control of the Pacific and not world domination.

However, if by some freak accident they had ended up inheriting the human race, things may not have been that bad.

Here’s why:

Punctuality

Britons still remember May 10th, 1934. This was the last time a British train arrived at its destination on time. A memorial service is held annually at Euston Station to commemorate the occasion and little children wave small Union Jack flags whilst a brass band plays repeated verses of ‘Rule Britannia.’

To say that Japanese trains merely ‘run on time’ is an affront to the Japanese rail service. Not only could you set your clock by them but Swiss watchmakers have been known to consult Japanese rail employees when creating their finest timepieces.

Hara-kiri is not an uncommon occurrence during Tokyo rush hour and bus drivers would run down their own grandmothers if they stood in the way of a timely bus-stop arrival.

(Not all of this is entirely true of course, but they are scarily punctual.)

Sushi

There are two types of people in the world – those who love sushi, and those lazy, burger-eating philistines who can’t stand the stuff.

Love it or hate it though, there is no doubting that sushi, made primarily of rice, raw fish and vegetables, is low in saturated fat, high in protein and a good source of important nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids. Whatever they are. Therefore it is no surprise that Japan has one of the highest life expectancies in the world.

The bottom line is: eat raw fish and you’ll live well into your 90s – deep fry your fish and eat it with chips and you’ll probably drop dead long before you receive your free bus pass.

Manga / Anime

In simple terms manga are Japanese comics, and anime is animation such as movies.

Most Westerners dismiss these as being exclusively the domain of children or the type of people who attend Star Trek conventions. In Japan, however, they are loved by persons of all ages and are an integral part of the culture – and with good reason.

Not only are they an impressive art form combining illustration and literature, but many of the storylines are out of this world. Put it this way – if Walt Disney had been a manga artist, Snow White would have screwed the dwarves before gouging their hearts out in an orgy of sexual violence. Enough said.

Cleanliness

We’ve all taken our seats in trains or aeroplanes to find suspiciously sticky trays, conspicuously concealed sweet wrappers and the brownest apple core in all eternity hidden between the pages of a free ‘magazine.’ This would not happen in Japan.

Watching the stewards turn over the Shinkansen (bullet train) between journeys was truly an impressive sight.

Their disinfectant smelt like cat’s urine and I ended up selling one of my kidneys to subsidize the train fare, but boy was my seat squeaky clean.

Japanese Toilets

A trip to Japan will certainly make you re-evaluate your views on the common WC.

Confusingly termed ‘Western-style’ toilets contain features such as heated toilet seats (for those cold winter mornings), a built-in bidet, and a nozzle which delivers a satisfying jet of lukewarm water directly on your anus. That may not sound that enjoyable but trust me, when it comes to basic pleasures, it’s at least twice as good as sex and knocks the living daylights out of chocolate.

And that’s not all.

Deluxe toilets contain features like automatic toilet lids with proximity sensors and some even play tunes that are scientifically proven to relax the sphincter muscle. I don’t know about you, but I would have loved to have been in the lab when they tested that one out.

Tokyo

Where else in the world would almost a million humans walk over a single pedestrian crossing in one day?

What sort of a place would list ‘dressing up as Elvis and hanging around in parks’ amongst its favourite Sunday afternoon pastimes?

Ice-cream ramen anyone?

Tokyo has more inhabitants in its Metropolitan area than there are in the entire nations of Portugal or Greece. Although it can seem a little weird to the uninitiated, it’s got to be up there amongst the greatest cities on this planet. Wouldn’t it be great if it was the capital of the world?

Bentō Boxes

Bentōs are traditional Japanese boxed meals usually consisting of rice or noodles with either fish or meat and a selection of vegetables.

The Japanese work ethic would probably put the rest of the world (except the Germans) to shame, but when it comes to their half-hour lunch break there is certainly no messing around. There’s none of that pre-packed sandwich nonsense – they want proper food, and for about two hours a day every major city in Japan loses itself in a frenzy of Bento–imposed madness.

I’m sure no-one has a clue what half the stuff in these little boxes actually is (or at least I didn’t), but it’s all good anyway.

Religion

Before visiting Japan, I assumed Shintō was some sort of weird Japanese board game – like an Oriental version of Hungry Hippos, but somehow involving rice.

I was wrong.

It’s actually Japan’s primary religion and adhered to by a hardly insignificant 120 million Japanese. Which is pretty much all of them. I don’t know much about the actual religion although I do know there’s a fair amount of impurities being cleansed and probably something in there about tardiness, too.

There are loads of cool statues and some great gardens, but better still, no guilt, no holy wars, and no ritual killings. Moreover, with no regular services, you can observe whenever you want. Where do I sign up?

Nakedness

Considering how polite and reserved Japanese people can often be, bearing it all in single-sex public baths seems to be as commonplace in Japan as eating horses is in Verona (i.e. very!). I don’t condone either activity myself. As far as I’m concerned I see just about all the sausage I can handle in my weekly trip to the supermarket. (I also know enough about Mr. Ed to know he deserves a far better send-off than ending up braised and browned in an Italian casserole.)

But digressions aside, you have to give some credit to the Japanese for doing the right thing and keeping their nudity fairly private. You won’t find any nudist beaches in Japan. If Germans ruled the world, on the other hand, to quote Huck Finn – we’d probably all be: “naked, day and night, whenever the mosquitoes would let us.

Tipping

Am I the only one who thinks the world has gone ‘tipping’ mad? When I visited the States I was told to give the barman a dollar tip every time he handed over a beer, that taxi drivers 10% of the fare, and that waiters expect a 15-20% gratuity. Even the shifty-looking toilet cleaner wants a cut.

Where are we to draw the line? Maybe the burger-flipper at McDonalds deserves a couple of dollars for adding mustard so expertly.

Well, they don’t get paid very much,” I was told. Surely it’s not my problem that their career development didn’t work out as they had hoped. (Hasn’t he heard of Monster.com?)

It’s all immaterial, anyway, as tipping is a major faux pas in Japan. Offering a Japanese person a gratuity is the equivalent of kicking someone in the teeth and then pissing on their living room floor. Happy days!

To read more about Japan or to book a trip there, check out the following links:

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Photo credits:  mitch59, katorisi, Niabot, showbizsuperstar, LHOON, apple 94, kimmaki, Kalandrakas, sakamencho, olishaw

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Older comments on 10 Reasons the World Would be a Better Place if Japan Ruled the Earth

Gary Arndt
17 February 2010

Wow. I can’t believe you gave this article this title, and then made an excuse that were “only” trying to control the Pacific and Asia.

Don’t be surprised if this article totally blows up in your face. There are a bunch of people in Asia who would find this on a par with “10 Reasons the World Would be a Better Place if Nazis Ruled the Earth”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanking_Massacre
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_war_crimes

This title is really, really, really tacky.

backpackermatt
17 February 2010

I have to agree, with Gary. Moreover, more than half of this article is BS. Just because you enjoy Manga, Tokyo, and sushi doesn’t mean jack squat towards making the world a better place. Nudity? Honestly? Less nudity is what you come up with that would make the world better place? You could have touched on polite police, or a non-offensive military but rather you went for shallow, borderline ignorant points.

Sean Keener
17 February 2010

The author likes Japan. For someone who hasn’t been to Japan, or is thinking about going – there is some interesting thoughts about what makes it a great place/travel destination to the author.

Are you over reacting a bit Gary?

You are a savvy traveler and sounds like this piece does not resonate with you in a big way. That’s cool.

NANOU
17 February 2010

The first thing the Japanese would do would be to go balls out killing whales and claim it is for scientific study.

That is what they do , particularly in Baja California.

I am not convinced by your article. Perhaps you need to go outside of Japan to see the damage the Japanese do in reality.

jenabrams
18 February 2010

I agree with Nanou. Add that to the fact that most anime violence mentioned in this article is directed at females. Add to that the tolerance of child pornography and sex slavery that goes on in Japan. Most aspects of Japan noted in the article are true are fantastic (I currently live in Tokyo), but there exist serious problems that are an accepted part of society. They aren’t out in the open, but they certainly exist. They shouldn’t go ignored, and it would be quite frightening to live in a world ruled in such a way.

Tristan Cano
18 February 2010

Wow, now. Calm down children.

I would have thought most people would appreciate the tongue-in-cheek nature of the article. I mean, do you really think anyone on god’s green earth could ever seriously argue that Bento boxes made the world a better place?

Nevertheless, I suggest we hunt down this Tristan Cano character and burn him on the stake …

whygo
18 February 2010

Every nation has made (is making) mistakes throughout history. How is mentioning killing whales, violence in anime, and war crimes from the 19th century relevant to enjoying Japanese culture? I just took this as a “things I love about Japan” post. :)

Tristan Cano
18 February 2010

I disagree with jenabrams that most anime violence in the article is directed at females.

You’ll actually find that its the dwarves that get the raw deal.

Sharan Balani
18 February 2010

Seriously, Those of you that take things so seriously should not be on the intenrwebs. I found the article enjoyably humorous, relating to many things I do indeed love about Japan and imagining a world with the above features. It would be awesome. This does not mean its to be taken in a completely literal sense. Geez laugh a bit will ya

Fifey
20 February 2010

I can think of ten reasons why they shouldn’t, and number one (and maybe more than just the one) is anime fans. I do indulge in the odd series, but I did work experience at a games shop, and they are terrifying.

Scritch
20 February 2010

Tristan, something can be tongue-in-cheek and still in poor taste. Especially since the title and first two lines directly refer to events that aren’t simply bylines in history books to some, who are descendants or survivors from those cultures and countries that were affected by those “wartime aims”. That doesn’t make people who find your commentary offensive “children”.

Similarly, if someone wrote a travel post about modern-day Iraq or Afghanistan, and the richness of those cultures, but prefaced it with “10 reasons why the rest of the Middle East would be better off if the U.S. occupied it too”, there’d be a similar level of distaste and outrage.

We all have different tastes, and this list doesn’t seem hurtful in any significant manner any more than it is helpful. So to those who find it entertaining as a “10 things I like about Japan” article, that’s great, but I find it hard to believe you didn’t expect or don’t understand people’s objections.

folecr
20 February 2010

+1 Scritch

bagpacker
21 February 2010

“Whenever a taboo is broken, something good happens, something vitalizing.”

I know speaking of WW2 is hardly a taboo these days and the Henry Miller quote above may not be 100% relevant but I still think it rings true to a certain extent.

I can tell u that despite being a descendent of ‘those affected by Japan’s wartime aims’, I cannot see how anyone can read this article in 2010 and be offended by it.

In fact it made me giggle more than once. And isn’t the debate great … we want more!

Benny the Irish polyglot
21 February 2010

I love your writing style – absolutely hilarious article! Great job :D
Sorry for those offended, but the article is clearly not written seriously “it’s at least twice as good as sex and knocks the living daylights out of chocolate” – marvellous stuff! I genuinely want to go to Japan now after reading this, even though there is barely a shred of fact in the article :P :P

Richard Sutherland
21 February 2010

May 10th, 1934. God bless you son. *wipes tear with union jack handkerchief*

kimayou Meigui
24 February 2010

Honestly, I loved this article. It made me laugh on several counts and I even pulled some people over to read different sections. I currently live in Okinawa, which is a lot closer to Taiwan than Japan, but we are still priviledged enough to enjoy bentos, manga, the awesome toilet seats (I’m considering buying one for my next house, no matter what country I may live in), and, of course, all the sushi and soba we can eat. It’s not common to come across a writer with such a bold and humourous style and I love it! I’ll be keeping my eye out for more posts to enjoy!

I am sorry for those who were offended and I could take a sidestep and understand on some points why certain things may hit harder than others. Unfortunately, I do know there are darker aspects of the Japanese government and society that not everyone knows about (even I try to live in denial when I can) however, I do also see this as being strictly humourous. I doubt Tristan would join the forces to make the world Japan (although he may consider it–joking *grins*).

Maybe we SHOULD find this Tristan character and burn him at the stake, or at least throw tiny pebbles at him until he gets annoyed enough…(again, joking)

sqekcx
26 February 2010

I knew this article is not meant to be taken seriously. It’s a fun article. But I just can’t bring myself to like this article.

In the countries affect by Japan’s wartime aims, most people are fine with Japan. Some even love their culture and try to be as Japanese as possible. But once you put Japan and WW2 into one sentence, it is going to spark an irrational hatred and disgust towards the Japanese.

Guatemala Trader
01 March 2010

Where did you find this writer? Is there some Neo-Nazi enclave up in Oregon for war criminals of Japanese descent? Mel Brook’s “The Producers” stage show, “Springtime For Hitler” was funny. This is not. Japan was the first country to implement the scientific application of biological warfare. Something the Nazis and Soviets wouldn’t even do. My mother’s cousin was a sales representative of a British company working in Singapore when the Japanese took over. He was 6’2″ and 230 lbs. Because he was a civilian he was sent to one of the civilian prison camps. At first it was filled with women and children. Food, medical treatment and sanitation were in short supply. When people didn’t die fast enough the guards helped things along. He watched such civilized things as a guard smash in the face of a three month old baby with a rifle butt. He came out at 95 lbs. He lived until 79 but even up to the end had horrible nightmares about what he saw. Why do you think to this day millions hate the Japanese, most of whom still deny any wrong doing? I wonder if you would had published the article if the author said one of the ten items was the fact that the Japanese run a large portion of the world’s child porn industry?

bucho_ky
01 March 2010

The author is a travel blogger and unlike a neutral journalist, it is his job to be opinionated, spark a little controversy that brings traffic, and generally shake things up a bit.

By looking at the comment thread here, mission accomplished! Agree with it or not, its a good (and humorous) article.

Kaddimeister
03 March 2010

Well I for one raise my right arm to salute the author of this journalist masterpiece. I admire Japanese society and think the world would be a better place if they were in the driving seat. Okay, so a look at the line-up of Japan’s national soccer team, in which the inevitable mulatto Brazilian towers above ten team mates who’d have trouble convincing staff at Alton Towers to allow them on the rides, does not exactly suggest a master race. But just look at their tenacity, their dogged determination, their work ethic, productivity and respect for authority, and you realise: they are the pinnacle of human evolution.

To NANOU: “need to go outside of Japan”? I don’t think the author is Japanese. There can’t be many Japanese people called Tristan. Just scanned through the list of Japanese emperors. Not a single Tristan. Okay, so ‘Cano’ might sound vaguely Japanese, but if it were, you’d expect it to be spelt with a ‘K’ (how ignorant can folks be?). I think ‘Cano’ is in fact a Spanish surname. For example, the Spaniard Jose Ortega Cano is a master of that finest of art forms, Tauromachy (Bullfighting to the uninitiated). In fact, the tone and content of the article strongly suggests that the author visited Japan as a tourist. Get your facts straight.

Darker aspects of Japanese Government? We’ve all got em. Think: ‘Florida 2000’ or luxury housing for ducks in the garden ponds of British MPs.

And to those of you who choose to harp on about the many “ills” committed by the “Nips” during WW2, this is all I have to say: some 230,000 innocent Nagasakians and Hiroshimans peering bleakly through their epicanthic folds as Allied bombers approached to deliver their cruel fate. History is written by the winners guys. Let’s not forget that. (‘Nips’ incidentally, is a derogatory term which was coined in Churchill’s war room, where ‘Clits’ was also mooted. I feel shame and disgrace whenever I hear it being used).

I don’t agree with Bucho that it is the role of travel bloggers to generate controversy. Their role is to encourage people to visit countries or to advise them against doing so, not to conduct experiments in ethical boundaries. And this piece of travel blogging works. I know where I am heading to next, with a wallet stuffed full of Yen. In fact, as a life-long fanatic of all things ‘Axis’, I’m ashamed that I haven’t been already.

P.s., I can think of AT LEAST ten reasons why the entire Middle East would be a better place if it were occupied by the US.

VagabondQuest
03 March 2010

I lived in Japan for almost a year and I love Japan. I found this article nostalgic, the ten bring up good memory.