Japanese extremism

The Japanese, I have discovered, have only one standard, and that is – perfection. When, after WW2, they were told by American engineers that they could allow a 1% imperfection rate into the manufacture of screws, they looked at themselves and wondered how to engineer a 1% defect rate into what was already perfect.

The Tokyo String Quartet, Tokyo guitar quartet, Tokyo Bach choir: they all play their selected western classical music perfectly. Japanese cars – we all know how they set the standard for defect-free manufacturing.

And now comes news of the Japanese hoarder of pornography, who was buried under six tons of pornographic magazines. I understand. It was a particularly Japanese obsession, not in his taste, but in the devotion he showed to collecting everything.

I cite the infallible collector of the world’s oddities, the Daily Mail:

 

A lonely Japanese man who amassed more than six tons of porn died when a huge pile of magazines fell on top of him.

And even more tragically, the man’s body was only discovered six months later when the landlord entered the flat to find out why the rent had not been paid.

The man’s lowly death was revealed by a member of the cleaning team, who said his company had been hired to remove the magazines discreetly in a way that would not be noticed by neighbours and the man’s family to save them from the shame.

The kitchen of the Japanese man whose body was recovered from under a six-ton pile of porn
How Japanese can you get?
  • The landlord waited six months before acting (as to do otherwise might impugn the honour of the lessee)
  • The cleaning staff sought to spare the family and neighbours the shame of the discovery.

Japan is a pagan shame and honour society, in which Buddhism and Christianity are important but definitely not the mainstream. As I have remarked before, Shinto is a religion unbothered by any conception of the Deity. But shame and honour: these people understand those feelings to the core of their beings.

All this is carefully explained in Ruth Benedict’s Chrysanthemum and the Sword

As to the porn-stasher, consider him an example of the Japanese penchant for perfection, in this case, for collecting the complete works of Japanese pornographers.

Bill Elder

“Shame” and “honor” dogmatism are born of natural need of rigid self control in a densely populated society living in limited space. Rules and personal manner is paramount in maintaining order in such a compacted populous society so honor is stigmatized as a virtue just as failure of social/cultural expectation is stigmatized as dishonor.

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