Sunday, May 27, 2012

Japanese Poverty Porn

Never heard of Pirate Bay?
After a few annoying weeks without a stationary computer, I'm finally back with a brand new up-to-spec computer. The biggest challenge to updating the blog is the choice as to whether spend the precious minutes I have to myself playing Sniper Elite V2 on the computer or to write a post...

One thing that struck me the other day as I was watching TV while cooking dinner for Mrs. Sunshine and a very ungrateful Toddler Sunshine was how Japanese TV-channels have a thing for shows of what I would like to call "
Poverty Porn". The format can be either a fly-on-the-wall typish documentary with commentary from the compulsory celebrity panel or it can be a reenactment with commentary from the compulsory celebrity panel.

The basic outline for these Poverty Porn shows are following (
or retelling) the hardships of a family down on it's luck and how they struggle to make do in Japan. Usually there's some twist on the person documented, like a divorced mother with 5+ kids (or for sadder cases; a widow), a younger person with a baby thrown out from the family home and whatnot. These shows come up from time to time and are not reserved for the public service channel of NHK but are primarily shown on the prime entertainment networks during close-to-primetime hours.

I find the shows somewhat fascinating but confused as to what the actual point is supposed to be as there's rarely any form of real conclusion or message behind them (at least for most of them as far as I've gathered) but just wallowing in the misery of the people followed. I did encourage Mrs. Sunshine to watch these shows when she felt it was tough to juggle Baby Salaryman and Toddler Sunshine while I'm away as she could at least think "well, I'm nowhere as bad as those folks" and that might be the real purpose of Japanese Poverty Porn?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Technical Difficulties...

The computer broke down on me a few days ago so please forgive me for a lack of posts until the new one arrives and is fully up and running in a week or two. Thankfully it had given me quite a few problems these last weeks and made me take backups of all the important stuff so not much data was lost.
I can't really be bothered to write too much with the paddy either but rest assured that I'll be back posting again shortly!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, May 6, 2012

So close, yet so far away

They're close friends (he didn't add a "san")
In Japan, how to address people correctly is a very important thing. Generally, the polite way of addressing people you know is with the last name, followed by "san". There are some varations on this with "san" being substituted for "chan" or "kun" which suggest some degree of affection ("chan" is mostly used for girls and "kun" for guys, but they can be used for both sexes). But generally speaking in a work setting, if you call people by their family names and add a "san", you can't go really wrong as it's usually better to err on the side of politeness than the other way around.

Among private friends it's much more relaxed. Calling someone by their family name and "san" is not really wrong, but can be seen as a little too polite and putting some distance between you and said friend. For really close friends you can drop the courtesy suffix alltogether and even call them their first names (although this should be agreed upon beforehand as it could possibly offend some people if they don't consider themselves as close friends as you thought...).

Last night, I met up with my old buddies from the previous consulting job, the Boy and Luke whom long-time followers of this blog might be familiar with since previous posts. The Boy was on a temporary visit back to Tokyo so we squeezed in a dinner to catch up on stuff and share some old jokes about the insanity of the office we lived through in the consulting world. The Boy shared a story that I found quite amusing and I will do my best to retell here.

His older sister got married to a Japanese guy a few years back. The Boy has been getting along well with his brother-in-law, sometimes meeting up for dinners without the sister and generally striking up a friendly relationship. All these years, The Boy has been addressing his brother-in-law with the polite form, calling him Murata-san while in return being called by his first name only without any courtesy suffix. This can be seen as somewhat acceptable as the brother-in-law is older than the Boy and as he's married to the Boy's older sister he does not need to extend the same courtesy to the Boy.

However, during a dinner they had together hanging out, the Boy had started to feel a little weird about addressing him as "Murata-san" as it creates a feeling of distance and the Boy thought that by now they had become such good friends that he could do a little more relaxed approach. So he very politely suggest to his brother-in-law that maybe he could start addressing him as "big brother"  (onii-san お兄さん) instead if he would be ok with that. He was met with a few seconds of silence, a cold stare followed by "No, I prefer if you address me as Murata-san". Awkwardness followed and the conversation never really recovered after this for the remainder of the dinner as the Boy's attempt to close the gap between them had been quickly shut down with no room for negotiations.

Let that be a lesson to you all.

(Does anyone know how to get rid of the double-line breaks that seem to be the default in blogger now since recently... It's really annoying me...)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Room for interpretation

Do you get it?

Last night me and Mrs. Sunshine had the following exchange, in English as we mostly speak that with each other;

Mr. Salaryman: Why don't I go to bed with toddler Sunshine and sleep with her and you put the baby to sleep? Then we can maybe get some peace and quiet... 
Mrs. Sunshine: Ok, that sounds good

Just a few seconds after the exchange I realized how wrongly it could be interpreted by an outsider... We're a pretty normal family, really, I promise!.

This also made me think of some of my fantastic commentators who post comments anonymously and always seem to take things literally and haven't figured out what this blog is all about (but still can't resist posting a comment). I think my long-time readers know what I'm talking about, those guys/gals who just don't get it however hard they try. I don't really mind them I just find it a bit puzzling, In any case, I'm happy none of them were around when me and Mrs. Sunshine had our exchange...
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