Thursday, January 7, 2016

Books about Japan

Today I want to briefly describe my top three books about Japan. It is true that I read a lot of books about Japan, but these three I particularly like, because each of them describes Japan in a different way. Titles of books I want to mention are in Polish, but I am convinced that at least two of them can be also find in English version.
The first of book is called "Japoński wachlarz" written by Joanna Bator. It is  a must read for anyone who loves Japan and wants to go there. The author in a form of story recounts her travel experience with many amazing encounters. The book is written in an easy way to understand, and its content is extremely full of nuances about Japan and its customs. I read “Japoński wachlarz” after my first visit in Japan, when I knew about this country quite a lot (of course assuming that a gaijin can know Japan well ;) ) and I were really surprised how much one book can tell about Japan. Despite everything, even if I knew all along most of things described, I am pleased that this knowledge I learned through my own experience. Anyway, reading this book was a real pleasure and confirmed many of my assumptions about Japan. I strongly recommend it to every Japan’s fan!

The second book that I want to mention today is “Życie po japońsku” written by Janina Rubach-Kuczewska. This book perfectly describes the daily life, customs in Japan and its completely different point of view and mentality. I really like the way the author writes about living in Japan in late '70s and '80s. Some believe that this book is outdated, but for me it is a very important source of knowledge about Japan, other than all recently published books. I would recommend this book to everyone who likes reading about Japan and wants to confront this knowledge. “Życie po japońsku” is written in an easy to understand and enjoyable to read way. In the book can be found a lot of interesting, important information about Japanese mentality and places rarely visited by tourists.

The last book that I want to mention is “ W Japonii, czyli w domu” written by Rebecca Otowa (in English : "At home in Japan"). The book tells an amazing story of American student that following her passion for the Japanese culture had moved to Japan, where she met the love of her life. Eventually she married him and became a part of the Otowa family- family with over 350 years of tradition in Otowa(name of the village) near Kyoto. The life of an independent women completely changed when she had to submit to the Japanese customs. It was a hard experience for her, considering that she was married in '70s and lived in the Japanese countryside, where traditions continue to exist for many hundreds of years. This book is not controversial and is written from the perspective of forty years after marriage. The woman writes in a strictly Japanese way, so if you want to read a book with exciting stories about fighting for woman independence, you will be disappointed with the story of the humble older lady who writes in a strict way, coherent with the requirements of Japanese society. I warn that many novice fans of Japan, in particular women, can dislike this book.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Cosplay restaurants in Japan

In Japan theme cafés and restaurants are very popular not only among teenagers. Certainly there are many types of those cafés which amaze with its uniqueness and ingenuity. Typically the themes of restaurants are related to the characters from the manga and anime, or other well-known forms of pop culture, like Hello Kitty or robots. In Japan there are also many cafés with live animals, or waiters and waitresses dress  in a certain way to attract customers. Although this type of untypical cafes and restaurants is becoming more and more present in other countries, only in Japan it is so popular and often visited. The reason of course lays in the Japanese mentality. Most types of those dining places can be regrouped under a common name - cosplay restaurants, it means restaurants where the waitresses are dressed in a suitable manner to the satisfaction of the otaku ( maniacal fans of the world of manga and anime). They are usually dressed as characters from manga, sometimes their clothes resemble animal (they look like cats or bunnies). In Japan there are a lot of cafés related to Alice in Wonderland. Food and drinks at those cosplay restaurants always refer to the theme of the restaurant which along with the waitresses create a unique atmosphere. The staff treats the customers as masters and mistresses in a private home rather than merely as a café customers. The main objective is to give an impression that waitresses are "kawaii", it means really cute. The young Japanese girls, to please the tastes of men, lower the tone of voice and imitate the behavior of little girls to be seen as  sweet, clumsy girls.Waitresses in some of the cosplay restaurants can play with customers games such as cards or rock paper scissors, bot not only... It is true that they do not provide any sexual pleasures, because prostitution is prohibited in Japan, but it happens that the customers can arrange with a date with waitress (for example after winning special competition), or sometimes even massage of feet or hands. As in many other issues related to Japan it is hard to tell where is the border of morality that should not be overstepped.  But as I have previously written - in Japan there are a lot of different types of maid cafes but the waitresses do not offer a sexual benefits to customers. However, there are also cafes where waitresses wear skimpy clothes specifically allowing to peep on their underwear. Categorically I want to underline once again: this type of cafes are not used to hide illegal prostitution, as in the case of the Japanese, soap houses, but the fact is that the waitresses are supposed to seduce thier clustomers to make them come back again. For us - Europeans, this behavior can be scandalous and shameful, but in Japan it is tolerated.