Japan and Weird Things

2017-05-03 14:40:08 | 社会
Aokigahara forest

Japanese spiritualists believe that the suicides committed in the forest have permeated Aokigahara’s trees, generating paranormal activity and preventing many who enter from escaping the forest’s depths. Complicating matters further is the common experience of compasses being rendered useless by the rich deposits of magnetic iron in the area’s volcanic soil.

Gesturing “go away” to communicate “come here”

Depending on your geographical location, the selfsame gesture can mean a variety of very different things, and not being aware of local customs can land you in trouble if you’re not careful. But one gesture that can be both problematic and confusing for foreigners in Japan is the “come here” hand movement that looks almost identical to the one many of us would use to say “shoo!” or “go away”.

In Japan, it is considered rude to beckon to someone with an upturned palm or by using the “come hither” index finger movement. Instead, one puts out their hand, palm-down, and “pulls” the fingers towards them. The problem is, unless paid extremely close attention to (the Japanese “come here” uses mainly the fingers, whereas the reverse, a Western “shoo!”, requires full and vigorous wrist movement), this gesture looks just like the person is trying to say “Away from me, peasant!” and can lead to all kinds of confusion.


Although Earth’s population is rising at an exponential rate, the Japanese are slowly dying off behind an aging infrastructure. Compounding the problem is a growing problem: the shut-in “hikikomori.” To be sure, every society is home to a small number of people who could be described as “reclusive”—though most of these recluses tend to be older individuals, marked with mental illnesses such as depression and agoraphobia. Japan’s hikikomore hermits, on the other hand, are decidedly young. They’re mostly disaffected teenagers and twenty-somethings, withdrawn almost completely from society. There is no precise explanation to account for the rise in hikikomori, though there are several known contributing factors, including the rise of the internet, intense academic pressures, and parents willing to shelter their children well into adulthood. Psychiatrists (many of whom are forced to make house calls to visit their patients), have only recently set upon the task of helping the group dubbed by some as “the missing million.”
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