About Me

I'm Phil! American living in Japan. Teacher. Ex-independent professional wrestler. Student of Japanese. Traveler. Article writer for Mythic Scribes. Also written four manga, novels, and various short stories and poems. For my fantasy-related blog, check out http://www.philipoverbyfantasy.blogspot.jp/.


Drill Bits: random thoughts, bloggy stuff
Japan Hammer: topics about Japan
Story Time: stories I felt like posting

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Japan Hammer: Top 10 Myths About Japan Broken

Here's a picture of the "deadly kirin" that rampages about and destroys Tokyo! Uh, yeah...

So I always see all these videos and blogs about how Japan REALLY is. People have lived here for a bit and maybe that have a bad taste in their mouth. Or people haven't lived here and long to live in the land of rainbows and gumdrops. Well, this blog is going to shatter some illusions and conceptions about Japan. I've lived here for about three years now. I'm by no means an expert about Japan, but my wife is Japanese and I do live here, so I have some perspective on the matter.

Without further ado, I'm going to address the Top 10 myths about Japan and smash them into tiny little micro-myths. Japan Hammer, SMASH!http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

10. Are Japanese people racist?

You see tons of videos of this on Youtube and blogs that discuss it. You can type in RACISM IN JAPAN on Youtube right now and about twenty videos on the subject will pop up.

"Someone called me 'gaijin' in a mean way and now I'm going to pout about it and cry." So what? People get called far worse things everyday.

I don't believe in this idea that Japanese people are racist. I think they're "guarded" which makes sense considering 99 percent of the population is Japanese. Plus, a lot of their guardedness is warranted. Foreigners do have a bad reputation for running on bills, getting too drunk, picking fights, and being generally noisy. Not to say ALL foreigners act this way, but the conception has spread enough that some Japanese are guarded in regards to any foreigner. Does that mean they're racist? Maybe some of them are. But I don't believe in this idea that "OMG Japanese people are so racist!!!"

9. Is Japan like one big anime/manga/video game paradise?

Wrong. With the exception of big cities like Tokyo or Osaka, most of the quirkiness of Japan is widely over-exaggerated. Most places you go are just regular, modern cities with regular people going to work. Rural places have regular farmers. Some people may not even know any anime that you mention to them.

Sure, certain parts of Japan are a bit bizarre, but overall this is a pretty average country as far as people go.

8. Is Japan dangerous because of radiation and earthquakes?

Well, I'm not going to completely "break" this myth. The radiation crisis here is still largely unknown and there is no way of knowing the long-term effects. However, authorities and independent researchers have kept track of radiation in various parts and it has returned to normal mostly. There may be pockets, but nothing that's going to kill you if you step in it.

On the other hand, earthquakes are very prevalent here. Luckily, most modern buildings are built with incredible foundations. Even if a large earthquake hits, you'll more than likely be fine if you're in a newer building. My rule is "watch the Japanese." If they are panicking, then I panic.

7. Does no one speak English in Japan?

I'd suffice to say that if you walk up to a random person between the ages of 12-40 something, they'll be able to speak at least some English. Lots of people I've met in their 20s speak enough English to carry on a basic conversation. Take a shot in the dark if you don't speak Japanese.

However, if you live here, don't be lazy. Learn Japanese.

6. Are all Japanese women cute or hot?


However, there are some very beautiful women here. Hell, I married one! :)
What you see on the internet is not representative of all of Japan. I will say Japan has a very large ratio of beautiful women, much larger than a lot countries. But I guess I'm a bit biased now!

5. Is all sushi in Japan awesome?

Again, no. Some sushi I've had here tastes old and processed. Just because you're in Japan doesn't mean all the sushi will be great. Convenience store sushi, I'm looking at you.

4. Gross, I'm not eating octopus/squid/creature from the deep!

Be adventurous. Octopus actually isn't so bad once you get used to the consistency. And takoyaki is extremely popular here and delicious! Just because something has tentacles, doesn't mean it's gross. Unless it's like Cthulu or something.

3. Oh look, a foreigner, he must teach English!

This has been addressed on other blogs and videos. Just because someone is a foreigner in Japan doesn't mean they teach English. They might not even speak English. Sorry, but I am the walking stereotype at the moment. I'm an English teacher that speaks little Japanese. But give me time. I'll bust out of this mold sooner or later!

2. Is Japan super safe? (the opposite of number 8)

Yes, Japan is pretty safe compared to most countries. I can leave my wallet unattended and come back and it'll still be there. I've walked around all sorts of places at 2 or 3 am and not had anyone harass me.


Certain places in Japan can be dangerous. I had my bike stolen. Theft seems to be the most rampant crime here. Stabbings and fights have happened, but not often. If you go to notorious areas (Roppongi for instance) then you may find trouble more easily. But even Roppongi isn't THAT dangerous. Just have to be careful.

And now, the number 1 myth to break about Japan...

1. Godzilla is not coming

As many stupid jokes people have said to me about Godzilla or some other lame stereotypical Japanese joke, there is no proof that a giant lizard is ever going to attack here. Stop saying it. It's not funny.

So that's my top 10 list! Hope you enjoyed it.

Which myth did you think has the most truth to it? Leave a comment if you have questions for any other myths you may think of.


  1. Does Japanese cuisine consists of only rice and fish? I know they have McDonald's. What I'm asking is if any local places carry things other than sushi, rice, and fish.

  2. Oh yeah, for sure. There's plenty of variety. For instance, yakiniku (Korean BBQ where you cook your own meat), okonomiyaki (like a meat pancake?), tempura(fried vegetables and meat), and tons more. There are also "family restaurants" which serve a variety of food, mostly hamburger steak.