If I haven't stated this plainly before: the Japanese people are bizarre. Maybe it's not fair to brand the entire population, but why stop now eh?
I was really bored today so I went into the centre of Nagoya to have a walk around and there were Christmas decorations and music everywhere. But a Japanese Christmas is different to the one we know - here, it's more of a couples' holiday, a bit like Valentine's Day. They buy each other presents or do something romantic - apart from that, it's just a normal working day. There's a bit of peer pressure to be in a relationship in the run-up to Christmas, so some girls tend to just start dating someone around November in order to have a boyfriend - and therefore, presents - on the day itself. Then those poor blokes find themselves single again come the new year. You might think those girls are right slags but dating is such a slow process here - they dance around each other for a while, then go on loads of group dates with friends, maybe then break off into proper dates and perhaps THEN start holding hands, with months or a year usually passing before even a first kiss. So they're not slags, just materialistic users.
So why all the decorations if Christmas isn't even a holiday here? Why indeed. These are some of the things that seem strange to me about here - Christmas, Halloween, the love of baseball and Starbucks are all arguably part of the Americanisation that's happening pretty much everywhere but sometimes in Japan it looks to me like they're trying really hard to be something they're not - I can't quite put my finger on what exactly is a bit off. Though with blue eye contacts, skin whitener, weird fake eyelid things to give "Western" looking eyes and cream to turn nipple skin from brown to pink all on the shelf in drugstores, it's pretty clear that some Japanese girls are definitely trying hard to be something else.
The materialism is undeniable though. Shopping is basically the number one national pastime. I can't shop here - all the shops, apart from H&M and Uniqlo, are ridiculously expensive. Today I wandered into a shop full of people, thinking it must be affordable since so many people were buying stuff, but it was about 200 big ones for a hat, never mind any clothes. The shops like Louis Vuitton or Chanel, that are usually tumbleweed-worthy at home, always have customers here. I've been told that there's a lot of personal debt here, as people take out loans to buy clothes and nice cars and keep up the general illusion that they have money, when they really don't. I don't know if it's true or not, but it makes sense.
I am aware that I sound like a total knobface preacher type - exactly the type of person whose blog you want to read - but the superficiality just gets a bit frustrating now and again. And this is coming from someone who loves buying crap, spending money, posting pictures of my dinner on Instagram and generally being quite superficial too. Again maybe I'm just exposed to an unfortunate demographic in my job, surrounded daily by the girliest of teenage girls trotting along in five inch heels and curling their hair in the classroom.
I'm not doing a great job of showing my affection for Japan, the Japanese or my students, who I do actually love (for the most part). There really is so much that I like about here; it's just much easier to write about the strange or different stuff and no fun to gush about all the things I love, like puppies and rainbows. Well, that's what I tell myself as I increasingly feel like a moany geriatric, complaining about technology and the length of girls' hemlines. Whatever helps me sleep (on my too-thin, too-short futon in my small, noisy apartment) at night, right?