When you’re too introverted to ask your roommates to please smoke outside.
When you’re too introverted to ask your roommates to please smoke outside.
If you’re a smoker or enjoy wrapping yourself in designer fragrances, Kyobashiya Curry’s doors are not open for you.
A couple of workers at the world’s largest electronics manufacturer Foxconn were seen telling off an old man during a smoke break saying “It’s none of your f**king business.”
How wrong they were…
Some day in the distant future, some type of intelligent alien life form will buzz past our planet in their highly advanced space ships and may decide to use their enormous, pulsating, telepathic brains to perform a quick scan of its inhabitants and cultures. They will no doubt be pleased to learn that our video games are just the greatest, and that we have devices that fill bananas with liquid chocolate. They will be saddened by our constant war and conflict and the Star Wars prequels.
Then, they will scan over Japan, with its bizarrely muscled figurines and its increasingly outrageous manga – such as this one that features a character who is a living cigarette modeled after a beautiful young woman – and go, “lolwut?” and speed off into the stars, yelling “NEEEEERRRDS” out the window of their space cruiser.
We all know that smoking is an unhealthy habit. Each year about 200,000 people in Japan alone die from smoking- (and passive smoking-) related illnesses. On a global scale, about six million die from smoking-related diseases every year.
In an effort to reduce the number of smokers in Japan, Japanese anti-smoking NPO No Smoke holds an annual video contest titled “Tobacco is Harmful to Your Health”, calling for original video submissions that raise awareness of the dangers and harmful effects of smoking.
The first-place winner of the video contest held in 2012 created a movie highlighting the simple differences between smokers and non-smokers in terms of financial cost. As we’re about to see, smoking is not only harmful to your health but a horribly expensive habit.
At my old job, my coworkers and I shared bathrooms with a half-dozen or so other companies that had offices in our building. For the most part, the men’s room stayed relatively clean, but about once a week, I’d walk into one of the stalls and find a pile of cigarette ashes on the floor.
Frankly, it was disgusting and exasperating, especially since the building had a smoking lounge. But hey, I guess the perpetrator who couldn’t resist the self-pleasing siren song of simultaneously taking a puff and a dump didn’t see what the big deal was. Here with a handy explanation, though, is some surprisingly wise Japanese bathroom graffiti.
You have to hand it to one-party systems. Despite their many flaws, one positive point is that they can get things done quickly. Over the past decade or so, Japan has been gradually reducing the number of public places where smoking is permitted, and raising the price of tobacco in baby steps in an effort to curb the once rampant smoking culture in the country.
In Beijing, meanwhile, from 1 June the entire city has been put on lockdown for smokers. From now on, anyone caught smoking inside any enclosed place of business will be fined. Just like that.
World No Tobacco Day is coming up again this 31 May. This is a day when smokers all around the world are encouraged to abstain from smoking, and it’s a day when smokers everywhere ignore said encouragement.
Personally, I plan to celebrate it by not taking up smoking on that day. It’ll be a challenge but I think I can pull it off. Others, however, are taking a more proactive approach to this event such as Sebes from Merlion TV in Singapore.
In honor of the holiday he has gone out and pulled “pranks” on unsuspecting smokers around the city-state. I would assume all of these pranks legally classify as assault, but then again I’m no Singaporean law expert… Let’s watch!
Smoking is commonly seen as a vice, health hazard, and sometimes a dangerous weapon, and in the eyes of most non-smokers, smoking has virtually zero benefits — be it to the person smoking, the people around them, or, well, pretty much the entire universe.
However, if there was one thing related to smoking that smokers and non-smokers alike could enjoy, it would probably these tobacco art pieces made out of nothing but cigarettes!
Many cultural guidebooks contend that eating while walking is considered rude in Japan. That’s not entirely accurate. Sure, walking down the street while munching on a hamburger will make you look gluttonous, maybe laughably so, but no one’s going to get offended by your mobile meal.
What will upset some people, though, is smoking while walking, and not just because of the horrible stink and health effects of secondhand smoke. Puffing away while moving down the sidewalk can be downright dangerous to nearby kids and the wheelchair-bound, as this manga artist’s illustration reminds smokers.
Compared to many other countries, Japan still has a very high percentage of smokers. The habit is so prevalent that even in cosmopolitan Tokyo many restaurants allow customers to smoke anywhere on the premises, and despite repeated pleas to refrain from smoking and walking to show consideration towards non-smoking pedestrians, many can’t be bothered to wait until arriving at their destination before puffing away.
But if health concerns and etiquette complaints aren’t motivation enough to quit, perhaps the results of a recent poll will help, as it showed many Japanese women will immediately remove a guy who smokes from their potential dating pool.
Anime fans are used to all sorts of censorship going on in the foreign releases of their favorite shows, from painting over revealing outfits, to changing characters’ genders and relationships to “mask” themes of homosexuality, to even removing entire scenes or episodes deemed inappropriate.
But the Japanese release of a recent episode of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure has been censored even before being aired abroad. Not only is the reason for the coverups confusing, but the terrible job they’ve done has viewers wondering what the point of censoring was to begin with.
While progress has been slow and begrudging, anti-smoking movements are finally starting to gain traction in Japan. For example, smoking is largely banned in train stations, except for in designated enclosed smoking spaces, and even many of those are being removed.
Likewise, when smartphone advertising firm Adways moved into a new office, management saw it as a chance to rethink how to make the workplace more comfortable for nonsmokers, and came up with a solution that uses a mix of technology and simple common courtesy.
Although, Japan is still something of a smoker’s paradise compared to other developed countries, there are signs that times are a’changing with an increase in prices and no-smoking areas sprouting up across the land.
Anti-smoking groups often use dramatic stories and images to try and frighten or disgust people out of smoking tobacco. However, one simple poster hanging in a smoking section in Shinjo City, Yamagata Prefecture sends a chilling message of love to all their nicotine addicts.
A curious video uploaded to YouTube late last week has been raising eyebrows across Asia today, but perhaps not for the reasons it was originally shot. In it, we see a man smoking a cigarette on the subway in Taipei, mouthing off to those around him after they ask him to extinguish it. A few seconds in, however, and we notice that there’s something else not quite right.
Simply titled “Man posing as a Japanese smokes on the subway“, the video has already been viewed thousands of times, with nearly every comment after it saying more or less the same thing: “That guy’s not Japanese.”
Japan has a number of etiquette rules that might not be readily apparent to people from overseas, such removing your shoes before entering the locker room at the gym, or not wiping your face with the towel you’re given upon being seated in a restaurant.
Recently fashion model Nanao updated her blog with a post expounding the problem with another Japanese societal no-no: smoking while walking.
Japan has a long way to go when it comes to eliminating the public health hazards associated with smoking, but recent public policy efforts have caused a serious change in attitude toward smokers.
Smoking sections in restaurants and cafes are becoming smaller and increasingly more isolated, while fleets of bike-mounted enforcers hand out humiliating fines to those caught smoking on designated no smoking streets.
Finally, however, smokers can indulge in their pastime in peace at the Koshigaya Laketown shopping mall in Saitama Prefecture. A new specialized café, Smoking Café Briquet, caters specifically to tobacco connoisseurs with a variety of smoking merchandise and cigar and cigarette selections, with every seat in the house safe to light up in. It’s almost like being a character in Kaze Tachinu…
Ask someone to describe the Japanese people in ten words or fewer and more often than not ‘polite’ or ‘reserved’ will appear somewhere in the mix. Japan is known the world over as a safe, pleasant place to live where people are on the whole helpful and courteous; few people visit Japan and return home with tales of rude airport staff or inattentive waitresses.
When I first came to Japan, I had the pleasure of living for five years in a pretty little town in Fukushima Prefecture, surrounded by rice fields, rivers and some of the deepest greens I have ever seen. Of course, I experienced the warmth of locals’ hospitality and kindness first-hand, but it was only in when I moved south to Tokyo in 2011 that I came to understand the real meaning of the word manā (‘manner’), and began to appreciate how much more important it is in urban living.
Whoohoo, party’s on tonight! Happy, happy, joy, party rock is in the house tonight!! Drinking parties (nomikai) in Japan go off. Can’t wait!!!
But hold on… there’s a catch. It’s still common for smoking to be permitted in bars in Japan. You might not notice it, but as soon as you get home it hits you like a karate chop to the nose—the stink of cigarette smoke. Even if you weren’t smoking yourself, the second-hand smoke will make your clothes reek, right down to your stinky underwear. Yes, even if you didn’t expose your underwear. Yuck.
Could this simple trick be the solution?