Monday, August 31, 2009

Culture shock?

As mentioned in yesterday's update, one of the kids at my high school died in a motorcycle crash.

Today there was an announcement about it at the daily morning meeting, the kids were informed during their homeroom, and then...normal sports day practice as though nothing had happened. With the exception of the student's girlfriend, who stayed in a secluded room all day presumably crying, I saw only one or two kids looking upset. The rest were running around giggling as always. The teachers put on their best poker faces and went about their daily business.

It's the most remarkable cultural difference between USA and Japan. When a teenger dies, USA is like a Jewish funeral, with days of mourning, wailing and weeping. Japan is like...well, Japan. "Too bad. It cannot be helped." And then back to the regularly scheduled program.

One day this society of endless "push on some more" is going to implode and there will be chaos. But until then, I somehow admire the Japanese in their stoicism and tolerance during tough times.


  1. When I was in high school, quite a few students died during my time there. 3 or 4 perished in car accidents on the and one committed suicide.

    Maybe that is just a derrivitive of statistics since i went to such a huge school

    Each time it was eerily business as usual. Announcements were made. We were informed as to the ever-present availability of counseling services and went about our shit. A blurb in the local paper and that would be the end of it.

    The really creepy thing that my school always did was some club would always make a huge hand-painted banner for the dead kid... like "RSVP SEAN" in bright tempura paints with hearts and personal messages scrawled all over it. They would post that up in the main hall. It gave me the willies.

  2. RSVP SEAN? You have been in Japan too long, boyeeee.

    At my high school when kids died it was a HUGE DEAL and everything kind of shut down for a couple weeks, everyone got carried away emotionally and pulled the HOW DARE YOU HAVE CLASS, JUSTIN IS DEAD crap. That was a bit much.


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