Meshi, Furo, Neru
I watched a movie last night, drive-in style on Osanbashi pier last night. It was pouring rain, so we sat under a roof in this beautiful wooden amphetheatre. The Yokohama skyline is awesome at night, with all the lights and the huge ferris wheel. We went out for a drink after the movie and found ourselves sitting next to a table of drunken pachinko players. They were loud and wasted and their ashtrays were overflowed with butts. We were chatting when suddenly one of the guys jumped up and held a bottle to another one of the guys head, and got REALLY loud. Hidemi told me after all was said and mellowed out, that the one guy was pissed that the other didnt speak to him using the honorific form of speech you use for people older than you or of higher status. 20 minutes later one of the guys fell on the table, smashing and spilling it over. Broken bottles, beer and cigarettes all over the place. The manager moved us to the next table and wiped our bags off and apologized like crazy. I felt terrible for the poor guy who had to mop it all up while these guys continued to be loud and act like idiots.
I told a couple of coworkers about it on luch break and they told me more about how rigid the social structure is here. The Japanese teacher said that usually when you meet somebody, one of the first things they ask you is your age, so they know how to speak to you. My assistant is married to a Japanese woman and says that she cried when he did the dishes one day because she felt like she wasnt doing a good enough job. She wakes up way before him to make his breakfast and his lunch, and opens the sliding doors for him when he gets home, draws him a bath... Western men may say cook me a chicken pot pie woman, but Japanese husbands are famous for only saying 3 words to their wives: "Meshi, Furo, and Neru" Food, bath, bed. Shoganai (c'est la vie)