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Old 2007-11-21, 09:22   Link #381
Kyuusai
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rembr View Post
There are tons of manga cafes near train stations btw.
I wasn't implying that there are no manga cafes near train stations. I was listing probable reasons for the difference in cost. Businesses closer to train stations likely have higher property costs to pass on to the customer, and proximity to a train station (or other areas with similar traffic patterns) is more important for a capsule hotel than a manga cafe, which affects average costs.
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Old 2007-11-21, 09:43   Link #382
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Spirits and Demons

I'm been thinking recently about how often supernatural forces appear in anime, even in shows that are set in the contemporary era. Are anime producers just using these themes for entertainment purposes, or are spirits and demons still a powerful cultural influence in modern-day Japan?

I ask this because the supernatural seems to appear even in shows that are not putatively about the supernatural. A good recent example is Dennou Coil; regardless of the pseudo-scientific explanation for the existence of the "other world" inhabited by ghostly "illegals" it still has a supernatural aura.

Obviously the supernatural is a topic for storytellers in Western cultures as well, but with the exception of shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the usual run of grade-B horror films, it's not a subject that gets treated with much respect by modern creators. In contrast, Japanese works like Miyazaki's Spirited Away portray the spirit world as a natural, though perhaps hidden, aspect of contemporary life. Given the enormous popularity of this film in Japan, one would conclude that the supernatural must have some cultural resonance with contemporary audiences.
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Old 2007-11-21, 09:59   Link #383
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japanese culture, well theyre like any other people on earth except for some difference.
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Old 2007-11-21, 22:26   Link #384
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
Spirits and Demons

I'm been thinking recently about how often supernatural forces appear in anime, even in shows that are set in the contemporary era. Are anime producers just using these themes for entertainment purposes, or are spirits and demons still a powerful cultural influence in modern-day Japan?

I ask this because the supernatural seems to appear even in shows that are not putatively about the supernatural. A good recent example is Dennou Coil; regardless of the pseudo-scientific explanation for the existence of the "other world" inhabited by ghostly "illegals" it still has a supernatural aura.

Obviously the supernatural is a topic for storytellers in Western cultures as well, but with the exception of shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the usual run of grade-B horror films, it's not a subject that gets treated with much respect by modern creators. In contrast, Japanese works like Miyazaki's Spirited Away portray the spirit world as a natural, though perhaps hidden, aspect of contemporary life. Given the enormous popularity of this film in Japan, one would conclude that the supernatural must have some cultural resonance with contemporary audiences.
Very good observations. I'll offer my perspective after growing up in the US with some Japanese family and friends and being surrounded by Japanese media, and then doing a good amount of reading on the subject.

I wouldn't call the Japanese population as a whole spiritual, but I generally describe them as "culturally atheist, but superstitious". Much like times past in the west, the religious establishments were the center of education and culture and the backbone of the community. Unlike the west, though, since belief and dogma are far less of an issue, there is not so much backlash against religious observance or cultural separation from religion, and historically there has been much "mixing" of the different beliefs or tales from different areas. Culture being inundated in a myriad of different stories, mythologies, fairy tales and beliefs that sprang from many centuries of life centered around a low-commitment shamanistic/culturally-borrowed religion and then suddenly being shifted into modern society without a clutch has brought the world a country with modern buildings beside shrines, a populace that observe religious customs even without believing, and general public that is willing to accept the supernatural in their everyday cultural products. ...and a whole lot of people who, at a certain level, will believe anything and everything (fortunes and horoscopes are big, big business in Japan, superstition is very common, wives tales hold strong... and this is not as strange as it is elsewhere).

There's also the fact that, according to many, weird crap happens. In western countries, there are plenty of tales of ghost sightings, haunted houses, ouija board experiments and the like, but in Japan personal tales of experiences with the mysterious supernatural are far more common, frequently run deeper, and as extraordinary as supernatural experiences are, they not generally considered as unusual. Many Christians and Jews will tell you that Japan "feels" different spiritually (I've read many use the word "dark" or "oppressed"), and won't bat an eye at the suggestion that such things actually happen. So, in the perspective of many, it's not just relatable due to cultural inundation but also personal experience.

As far as I've been able to tell, like in the west, superstition and actual belief in the supernatural is a good bit more common among women than men.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Honey_and_Cleaver View Post
japanese culture, well theyre like any other people on earth except for some difference.
OK, we can stop the thread right here. That answers everything.
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Last edited by Kyuusai; 2007-11-21 at 23:47. Reason: Edited some glaring spelling and grammar mistakes. I'm sure I left more.
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Old 2007-11-22, 03:25   Link #385
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyuusai View Post
I wouldn't call the Japanese population as a whole spiritual, but I generally describe them as "culturally atheist, but superstitious". Much like times past in the west, the religious establishments were the center of education and culture and the backbone of the community. Unlike the west, though, since belief and dogma are far less of an issue, there is not so much backlash against religious observance or cultural separation from religion, and historically there has been much "mixing" of the different beliefs or tales from different areas. Culture being inundated in a myriad of different stories, mythologies, fairy tales and beliefs that sprang from many centuries of life centered around a low-commitment shamanistic/culturally-borrowed religion and then suddenly being shifted into modern society without a clutch has brought the world a country with modern buildings beside shrines, a populace that observe religious customs even without believing, and general public that is willing to accept the supernatural in their everyday cultural products. ...and a whole lot of people who, at a certain level, will believe anything and everything (fortunes and horoscopes are big, big business in Japan, superstition is very common, wives tales hold strong... and this is not as strange as it is elsewhere).

There's also the fact that, according to many, weird crap happens. In western countries, there are plenty of tales of ghost sightings, haunted houses, ouija board experiments and the like, but in Japan personal tales of experiences with the mysterious supernatural are far more common, frequently run deeper, and as extraordinary as supernatural experiences are, they not generally considered as unusual. Many Christians and Jews will tell you that Japan "feels" different spiritually (I've read many use the word "dark" or "oppressed"), and won't bat an eye at the suggestion that such things actually happen. So, in the perspective of many, it's not just relatable due to cultural inundation but also personal experience.
Nope, it is a sign that Japanese have not severed it's cultural roots concerning shamanist based on Shinto.
Japanese are not atheist, Shintoism and related folk tales teaches that everything both living and non-living objects has a spirit and that it turns into a demi-god once it turns 100 years old. They are called "Tukumogami” and revered both wrathful and/or merciful depending how you treated them during your posession.
There is also the concept of "Ichirei Shikon shinko" meaning worshiping of the 4 spirits, Nigimi dama, Arami dama, Sachimi dama and Kushimi dama standing for spririts of Friendship and/or peace, Courage, Affection and Knowledge.

You can always call it nostalgic notions since it is hard to say if Japanese really believe in them but it is a sign that we have not lost our cultural basis.
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Old 2007-11-22, 10:26   Link #386
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tri-ring View Post
Nope, it is a sign that Japanese have not severed it's cultural roots concerning shamanist based on Shinto.
Japanese are not atheist, Shintoism and related folk tales teaches that everything both living and non-living objects has a spirit and that it turns into a demi-god once it turns 100 years old. They are called "Tukumogami” and revered both wrathful and/or merciful depending how you treated them during your posession.
There is also the concept of "Ichirei Shikon shinko" meaning worshiping of the 4 spirits, Nigimi dama, Arami dama, Sachimi dama and Kushimi dama standing for spririts of Friendship and/or peace, Courage, Affection and Knowledge.

You can always call it nostalgic notions since it is hard to say if Japanese really believe in them but it is a sign that we have not lost our cultural basis.
Although I can see how one could take issue with the way I put it, I was trying to put across the same idea. I wasn't actually trying to say that no one in Japan really believes in the Shinto beliefs (I probably could have put it more clearly). For westerners, religion is doctrinal belief, but for Japanese, religion is more generally a cultural belief... That's understood by some one that's been exposed to both ways, but communicating that difference can be hard, which is why I put it the way I did.
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Old 2007-11-22, 18:09   Link #387
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyuusai View Post
Although I can see how one could take issue with the way I put it, I was trying to put across the same idea. I wasn't actually trying to say that no one in Japan really believes in the Shinto beliefs (I probably could have put it more clearly). For westerners, religion is doctrinal belief, but for Japanese, religion is more generally a cultural belief... That's understood by some one that's been exposed to both ways, but communicating that difference can be hard, which is why I put it the way I did.
As a general observation I understand where you are getting at and I believe we are on the same line and trying to convey the same general idea but I felt it was dry as an explanation not conveying Japanese affection towards what is called "super natural".

The abrahamic religion with it's doctrines and dogma is foreign to Japanese beliefs as much as Japanese shintoism seems foreign to the people who adopted abrahamic religion since abrahamic religion had severed nature from religion.
This is the part I though you had neglected within your analysis in which I wanted to point out, which is there is a basic difference within our cultural roots and that neither is better (or worse) from the other just different.

This difference probably stems out to difference in opinions from whaling to global warming and probably be a very interesting theme for an essay.
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Old 2007-11-22, 19:38   Link #388
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"Abrahamic religions", that's more than half of the world's population. First you would have to find an opinion most of them share before comparing it to Japan and finding it to be different. Not an easy task.
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Old 2007-11-22, 20:20   Link #389
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Originally Posted by Slice of Life View Post
"Abrahamic religions", that's more than half of the world's population. First you would have to find an opinion most of them share before comparing it to Japan and finding it to be different. Not an easy task.
Ah, Abrahamic religion is singular not plural, since the three are grouped into one and there are no other Abrahamic religion groups.
It is not that difficult to find a commonality among the three since all three are monotheistic religions and considers God to be above and beyond nature which is different from Shintoism point of view.
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Old 2007-11-22, 22:18   Link #390
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Well, debating the dominant western religions deserves another thread.
But I'll talk a tiny bit about it in order to draw an important contrast with Japan's Shinto.
(I use the plural "religions" because, while they all have the same roots, Islam is incredibly different in doctrine, claiming the others to be corrupt, and Christianity and Judaism, while they are SUPPOSED to be the same in doctrine, are often practiced differently). It's all semantics at that point, though. We're all really saying the same thing.)

Tri-ring, I think you brought up an excellent contrast that needed mentioning. I'd cookie your post, but apparently I haven't spread reputation around enough elsewhere yet. I wouldn't say it's right to say that nature and religion are severed in the Abrahamic religions, but I would not blame any one in the least for believing that that to be true! Most people don't know or practice just what is taught in that aspect. Speaking specifically from the standpoint of Judaism/Christianity (since I'm not familiar with the intricacies of Islam--perhaps it is the same), everything in nature has a spirit, and spark of the divine.

The core difference:
- Judaism/Christianity teaches that while everything has a spirit and spark of the divine, reverence and worship are reserved for the Creator alone, who charged man with the responsibility for taking care of earthly creation that he takes from. The religion's divine charge has driven the west's conservationalists (who get too little recognition, especially in the US) both as a matter of religion and culture. (I blame any differences on global warming and whaling on politics rather than religion )
- Shinto teaches reverence and worship of the spirits in creation, taking from nature as needed, but caring for it out of respect, reverence, and recognition, placing nature in a higher position than themselves.

Unfortunately, both sides have been neglecting their care for nature (the recent loss of so much of Japan's forests standing out in my mind). The reasons for this are different, though, and in a way can be linked to the differences in religion: In the west, destruction or neglect of nature is often a matter of arrogance, while the Japanese mindset is able to see nature everywhere, and often do not notice until it is gone--especially since until recently they've lived in harmony with nature as a way of daily life that few thought of taking special steps for conservation when the concrete and wires starting coming.
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Old 2007-11-23, 01:57   Link #391
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kyusaai
I wouldn't call the Japanese population as a whole spiritual, but I generally describe them as "culturally atheist, but superstitious".
I once heard a BBC radio interview with some apparently famous classical musician/conductor who dismissed the idea that an atheist could be spiritual. Obviously, I take exception to that opinion.

The problem -- as always -- has to do with how you define this thing called "spirituality."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tri-ring
Nope, it is a sign that Japanese have not severed it's cultural roots concerning shamanist based on Shinto.

Japanese are not atheist, Shintoism and related folk tales teaches that everything both living and non-living objects has a spirit and that it turns into a demi-god once it turns 100 years old. They are called "Tukumogami” and revered both wrathful and/or merciful depending how you treated them during your posession.
You're not wrong. But somehow, at the same time, you make it sound wrong.

You give the impression that the Japanese (and by extension, if I may, other East Asians) are very well-informed about the spiritual realm. By-and-large however, I agree with part of Kyuusai's opinion -- in general, East Asians are not well-informed about spiritual matters (not unlike people all around the world), and are, instead, more often superstitious than truly "spiritual."

But you are right in pointing out the different cultural perspectives that have arisen between Shintoism and "Abrahamic" religions. To be sure, Shintoism has also been influenced by Buddhism (as the Japanese perceive it), so I'm not so sure how "original" it still is today.

Generally speaking, and from my personal point of view, spiritual East Asians tend to be more accepting about the realities of daily life. There is an acceptance (not resignation) of old age, disease and death as inevitable phases of life. There is a vague belief in some sort of heavenly paradise, coupled with a far greater awareness of various kinds of "hells" for sinners. At the same time, there is also a vague belief in reincarnation, a belief in a next life blessed with good or bad fortune depending on your accumulated karma.

Most importantly, there is the nonchalant belief that spirits (be they benign or malignant) are never far away. It's not so much whether we believe whether they are real or not -- their existence is not actually in question. Rather, it's more about whether you are (un)fortunate enough to actually see them.

The reason why many East Asians tend to think this way is probably as Tri-ring explains -- the influence of shamanistic religions still remains, however muted it may be in modern society.
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Old 2007-11-23, 06:05   Link #392
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Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
But you are right in pointing out the different cultural perspectives that have arisen between Shintoism and "Abrahamic" religions. To be sure, Shintoism has also been influenced by Buddhism (as the Japanese perceive it), so I'm not so sure how "original" it still is today.

Generally speaking, and from my personal point of view, spiritual East Asians tend to be more accepting about the realities of daily life. There is an acceptance (not resignation) of old age, disease and death as inevitable phases of life. There is a vague belief in some sort of heavenly paradise, coupled with a far greater awareness of various kinds of "hells" for sinners. At the same time, there is also a vague belief in reincarnation, a belief in a next life blessed with good or bad fortune depending on your accumulated karma.
Some people discuss as if Buddhism and Shintoism had merged and/or heavily influence each other to the point where it is difficult to distinguish one another.
First of all, I would like to point out that this notion is completely false and utterly wrong. Although some idea may have transpired Buddhism it is difficult for it to go the other way around since as discussed before, Shintoism does not have a established doctrine and most of the ideas are handed down through ritual and seasonal festivals.
Names of gods may have been swapped but meaning of a ritual is hard to change. It is like Christmas in Christianity, Jeusus was said to be born around April and has nothing to due with December 25th. The origin of Christmas is actually a pagan festival to celebrate the winter solstice. Since Buddhism never adopted any of the Shintoism festivals it remained intact and Shintoism never adopted any of buddhism festivals since they are based on Buddhism doctrine which has little to do with seasonal changes.

Next, to my knowledge, Shintoism never taught and/or associated itself with Karma and/or reincarnation which again is a Buddhism theology. In fact Shintoism to my understanding is about mortality and how it makes life beautiful.
I also do not believe that Shintoism have ever embraced the concept of heavenly paradise like Toaism and/or again Buddhism since to my knowledge Shintoism never touches the subject concerning the life beyond and centers it's ideals on this life only. This maybe the reason why Shintoism and Buddhism were able to teach in unison since one focuses on this life while the other teaches the next.
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Old 2007-11-23, 11:43   Link #393
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Originally Posted by Tri-ring View Post
Ah, Abrahamic religion is singular not plural, since the three are grouped into one and there are no other Abrahamic religion groups.
It is not that difficult to find a commonality among the three since all three are monotheistic religions and considers God to be above and beyond nature which is different from Shintoism point of view.
The question is, what are the real life consequences. Maybe I understood you wrong but it seemed to me you meant there was some kind of rough consensus about Global Warming in the "monotheistic world" (or even only among the traditionally Christian countries) which makes Japan's stance look notably different. And as for whaling, while Japan is in a minority position here, the minority itself is very heterogeneous. As Kyuusai, I would blame these differences on politics.

While it is a truism that religion shapes the world view, it's only one factor among others (e.g.: wealth) and not the great equalizer/separator. The influences are subtle and not so easy to nail down in terms of abstract values, let alone hard politics.
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Old 2007-11-24, 00:40   Link #394
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The question is, what are the real life consequences. Maybe I understood you wrong but it seemed to me you meant there was some kind of rough consensus about Global Warming in the "monotheistic world" (or even only among the traditionally Christian countries) which makes Japan's stance look notably different. And as for whaling, while Japan is in a minority position here, the minority itself is very heterogeneous. As Kyuusai, I would blame these differences on politics.

While it is a truism that religion shapes the world view, it's only one factor among others (e.g.: wealth) and not the great equalizer/separator. The influences are subtle and not so easy to nail down in terms of abstract values, let alone hard politics.
I think Kyuusai's post best discribes the difference concerning Abrahamic Religion and Shintoism.

Quote:
The core difference:
- Judaism/Christianity teaches that while everything has a spirit and spark of the divine, reverence and worship are reserved for the Creator alone, who charged man with the responsibility for taking care of earthly creation that he takes from. The religion's divine charge has driven the west's conservationalists (who get too little recognition, especially in the US) both as a matter of religion and culture.

- Shinto teaches reverence and worship of the spirits in creation, taking from nature as needed, but caring for it out of respect, reverence, and recognition, placing nature in a higher position than themselves.
As for Global warming and whaling I may have overspoken in generalzing Islamic and Judasim with Christianity, but at another forum I am engaged in this hot debate concerning whaling where most who are against whaling talks as if there is a hierarchal right amongst animal species which fits into the whole steward concept while as a Japanese I consider each and every living thing has it's own right to live and that there are no permutation within species.
I am aware of the political aspects concerning the issue but I also belive that difference in religious philosophy written above also permeates amongst supporters on both sides making this issue more complicated.

Last edited by Tri-ring; 2007-11-24 at 00:54.
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Old 2007-12-02, 02:33   Link #395
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Strange debate I had with someone.

So I was having a conversation last night with someone that turned into a heated debate. It all started when the person I was talking to (the person is a relative of mine about 36 years old) basically said "Japan is the least sexual country on the planet." His basis had to do with the men how they aren't as aroused by their own women native to the country. Now this argument got in depth, since I don't believe such a bold statement can be made without having done extensive study for a long period of time...if a study can be done, and at 20 years old, I can honestly say I've had more exposure to Japanese culture than he has.

His defense were several reports that he could not provide evidence for in the present. Only at certain periods of his life. From what he read in several books and heard on the news. Now, I can't just take someone's word about that due to not having present evidence where I can analyze in depth how these studies were done.

I recommended to this person that I would propose to come to this site so I can perhaps get some information to further our investigation. However, he told me a site like this wouldn't provide us any help about Japanese sexual culture when compared to other parts of the world and would be bias. Which I disagreed, because I know a lot of people here could at least give some insight about Japanese sexual culture, which would only help, not hinder the investigation, even if everyone here hasn't traveled the globe.

I know this is a strange topic, but I honestly felt that the person I was talking with displayed a little bit of ignorance...by judging an entire nation's sex culture when that person hasn't even visited the country...and the only evidence that could support their claims were some reports that aren't currently present for study.

Are there any statistics that anyone could provide here that would further our case? Or any good factual information?
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Old 2007-12-02, 03:07   Link #396
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I know that there have been a few articles recently on Mainichi Daily News about sexless marriages (including some about what wives do out of the house to get their thrills), and a recent survey in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour put Japan very low on the table of sexual satisfaction (first link I found on a quick search).

Another quick look gives another poll putting Japan at the bottom. Make of them what you will, as I haven't had time to search out the actual original surveys.

On the other hand, if you do read through the WaiWai articles on MDN, the Japanese seem to be most inventive when it comes to getting their sexual kicks. They certainly seem to be one of the kinkier nations...
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Old 2007-12-02, 03:24   Link #397
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@bluejazz: The problem your relative probably got a whiff of is exceptionally complicated and has to do with:
1) the plummeting birth rate
2) the slow steady growth of women's rights and their expectations for their role in society
3) the resistance of men to these changes
4) the nasty little undercurrent that things "not japanese and Western" are somehow automatically cooler (including Western Women) .... that's a whole sociological phenomenom in itself.
5) the number of sexless marriages (which has more to do with the overwork/overtime nature of corporate duty for both males and females)

... in other words, he isn't *entirely* wrong --- its just the situation is rather complex and that's a terrible oversimplification of some facets of japanese society.
Japan's *culture* is quite 'sexy' and they don't have the same baggage that some society throw at sex (just their own particular baggage).
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Old 2007-12-02, 03:47   Link #398
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Well thanks for clearing the air with some of these links. I don't mind being wrong, I just want proof when a statement is presented.
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Old 2007-12-02, 03:58   Link #399
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As Vexx said it isn't entirely wrong but the situation is complex.
As for historical representation, he has no idea.
I am not sure I should be writing this stuff at all at this site but;

Spoiler for Concerning historical sexual life of Japan:
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Old 2007-12-02, 10:16   Link #400
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Quote:
Japan's *culture* is quite 'sexy' and they don't have the same baggage that some society throw at sex (just their own particular baggage).
I think this is easily represented by the huge amounts of playful sexual innuendo in many artistic representations, of which anime is probably the most prominent example, which aren't found in Western counterparts due to common sexual taboos of Judeo-Christian societies. In fact, I was wandering through a Wikipedian link-labyrinth the other day and I came across this quote in the Final Fantasy VI article page, by the guy in charge of the game's translation to English:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted Woolsey
...there's a certain level of playfulness and ... sexuality in Japanese games that just doesn't exist here [in the USA]...
...which is what the guy said to justify some changes done to the script and to some specific pieces of graphics.
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