June 19th, 2017

What is it with the Japanese?

I mean really, what is it?:

[A] hotel in Japan…allows couples getting married to hire an alpaca to act as the witness.

Allows it? I’d say encourages it:

The hotel in question, the Epinard Nasu in Tochigi, even allows the animals to appear in the wedding photographs, before returning to the local zoo, which just happens to be next door.

When you see the photos, you may want an alpaca at your wedding, too:

That is one cute critter.

I have friends who raise alpacas, so I’m very familiar with them and the fact that they are indeed cute. But that one is cuteness squared. I think it’s the grooming—which makes it look like a large and loopy Bichon Frise—as well as the bow tie, that combine to put it over the top of almost unbearable cuteness.

24 Responses to “What is it with the Japanese?”

  1. mezzrow Says:

    It’s a Hello Alpaca.


  2. parker Says:

    Well neo, the Japanese are Japanese. Fads move like wildfire through their culture and the yearning for more fads is insatiable. And, what appears to us as a weird fad is fascinating to the Japanese. Plus, the Japanese are addicted to cutenss.

  3. I R A Darth Aggie Says:

    What if I want to marry an alpaca?

    What? don’t be such a speciesist!

  4. AesopFan Says:


    “A man previously known to French authorities for radicalism has rammed his car into a bus filled with police on the iconic Champs-Élysées in the heart of Paris this afternoon. [July 19]

    This is yet another “Known Wolf” terror attack. Virtually all terror attacks are committed by someone already known to authorities”

  5. leelu Says:

    As Gerard would say, “The Japanese. Nuked too much, or not enough?”

    I have NO idea.

  6. Cornflour Says:

    It’s hard to take this seriously; but, while in Korea, I learned that “cuteness” is highly valued in Korean pop culture, and that western weddings are a flexible, public, social affair. Most(?) couples also have, on the same day, a small, private, serious, traditional ceremony. And then comes the reception.

    Anybody here lived in Japan?

    For what it’s worth, here’s a Wikipedia paragraph on “cuteness” in Japan:

    Kawaii (かわいい?, [kaw͍aiꜜi], “lovable”, “cute”, or “adorable”[1]) is the quality of cuteness in the context of Japanese culture.[2][3][4] It has become a prominent aspect of Japanese popular culture, entertainment, clothing, food, toys, personal appearance, behavior, and mannerisms.[5]

    The word kawaii originally derives from the phrase 顔映し kao hayushi, which literally means “(one’s) face (is) aglow,” commonly used to refer to flushing or blushing of the face. The second morpheme is cognate with -bayu in mabayui (眩い or 目映い) “dazzling; glaring, blinding, too bright” (ma- is from 目 me “eye”). Over time, the meaning changed into the modern meaning of “cute”, and the pronunciation changed to かわゆい kawayui and then to the modern かわいい kawaii.[6][7][8] It is most commonly written in hiragana, かわいい, but the ateji, 可愛い, has also been appended. The kanji in the ateji literally translates to “able to be loved, can/may love, lovable.”

  7. CV Says:

    I don’t understand the Japanese extreme fondness for cuteness. I like cute animals and things as much as anybody, but it seems to me that there’s a thin line between Hello Kitty and much weirder territory, with a lot of, uh, interesting subcurrents. I recall taking my young daughters into a Kawaii shop and while they were ooing and awing over the cute lunch boxes and erasers, I noticed that the entire rear section of the store was filled with “cute” adult-theme items.

    Anyway, back to the alpaca, put a bow tie on an animal and they become adorable and cannot be mocked. Journalist Mark Halperin found this out the hard way when he encountered a dog in a bow tie on a Delta flight not long ago:


  8. Cornflour Says:

    CV Says:
    June 19th, 2017 at 6:58 pm
    “I noticed that the entire rear section of the store was filled with ‘cute’ adult-theme items.”

    While living in Korea, my impression was that “cuteness” was often used to domesticate adolescent sexuality. This could get a little weird, but it’s not an altogether bad custom. On the other hand, I never saw “cuteness” applied to adult sexuality. That sounds like the proverbial back-room pornography.

    Anyway, Korea and Japan have very similar cultures, but they’re definitely not the same. I’d happily defer to anyone with more experience in Japan. I’ve avoided self-analysis on the issue, but I find the “cuteness” phenomenon interesting.

  9. Philip Says:

    Back in the 80s, I had a little kit of Hello Kitty pencils. I cherished them dearly.

  10. John Guilfoyle Says:

    Hey Phillip…TMI

    just saying’


  11. huxley Says:

    I speculate that a culture, which is so rigid and demanding it has a word, karoshi, for death from over-work, and an area on the slope of their national landmark, Mt Fuji, known as the Suicide Forest where people go to kill themselves, must have some psychic escape valves.

    Excessive cuteness might be one such release.

  12. huxley Says:

    A few weeks ago I finished a book on Unit 731, the Japanese R&D biological warfare center from 1935-1945.


    I had heard of 731 before. The descriptions were horrifying — scientists cold-bloodedly infecting human beings with disease then vivisecting them to get the best data.

    But I had not realized the extent of their biological warfare program. The main center was a half-square mile in size. It included a swimming pool, top-flight restaurants, bars and a movie theater. A luxury assignment. Every microbiologist in Japan knew about this program. It wasn’t a bizarre, obscure, evil hobby like Mengele’s in one concentration camp.

    Furthermore, it wasn’t theoretical. The Japanese ceaselessly attacked China with Unit 731 products — bubonic plague, anthrax, cholera and typhus. The current floor for deaths is 580,000.

    That’s a level of darkness which is hard to imagine.

    Sadly the US became complicit by secretly giving immunity to the top Unit 731 people in exchange for the 731 data.

    I can almost buy the argument that if we allowed a Nuremberg-style trial, the data would have been made public for everyone to use. Almost.

  13. huxley Says:

    I don’t hate the Japanese, but they are a complex people. I’m only alive because we used the Bomb to end WWII. My father was a paratrooper in line for the invasion of Japan. Instead he went to Japan as an occupier and fell in love with the tea ceremony and Japanese architecture.

    As a teenager I fell in love with karate and in my twenties with Zen.

    There is a weird, beautiful, romantic strain to the Japanese which I also love. I was shocked to discover the hippie poet-novelist, Richard Brautigan, who wrote the surreal, hippie bestseller, “Trout Fishing in America,” was dearly loved in Japan. They practically had a ticker-tape parade in Tokyo for Brautigan when he visited Japan. Which completely flummoxed Brautigan who had become close to unknown in America by that time.

    My impression is the Japanese are in crisis (aren’t we all?) and struggling to find a way from the old to the new.

    We wish them the best.

  14. Hangtown Bob Says:

    As Vanderleun often says……..

    The Japanese…… Nuked too much or not enough???

  15. arfldgr Says:

    Son stationed in Sasebo for a while, now in waters playing games wiht the chinese…

    japan is veddy interesting..

    but baltics more so..

    The Russian Su-27 jet had air-to-air missiles under its wings and approached the U.S. Air Force RC-135 recon jet “rapidly,” coming within 5 feet of the American aircraft, the officials said.

    Once alongside, the Russian jet was “provocative” in its flight maneuvers and flying “erratically,” according to another official.

    Since June 2 there have been more than 35 interactions in the Baltic Sea region between U.S. and Russian jets and warships, but the incident Monday morning is notable because the U.S. military considered it “unsafe,” according to one official.

  16. arfldgr Says:

    oh, forgot to mention, they are also positioning nuclear weapons and in the pacific, moving troops and nukes to those tiny islands that dont belong to them.

    It was not immediately clear how close the U.S. military recon jet was flying near Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave between NATO allies Poland and Lithuania. This fall, Russia moved nuclear-capable ballistic missiles to Kaliningrad, putting some European capitals in strike range.

    but dont worry, they have a new one.
    Russia develops hypersonic 4,600 mph Zircon missileRussia develops hypersonic 4,600 mph Zircon missile
    Russian hypersonic missile reaches mach 8

    Britain Admits that Russian Missiles Can Blow Its New Aircraft Carriers
    Russia’s Hypersonic Missile System May Represent a ‘Quantum Leap
    Russia: Hypersonic Cruise & Satellite-Destroying Missiles

    can you imagine what would happen wiht one EMP?
    not to mention that they can shut out military Aegic system down with a simple swtich leaving the ships blind and defenseless

    China finishing South China Sea buildings that could house missiles

    China Ready To Deploy Combat Aircraft and Missiles To Disputed Islands

    Beijing places missile launchers on disputed South China Sea island

    why am i putting this here? ‘

    why do we not see wars coming?
    the people who have the attention of others draw us away… how many more people could have escaped the european theater if it was not for that kind of person?

  17. Nick Says:

    The Japanese cuteness thing is closely tied to the fact that they’re a very family-oriented culture but hardly have any children. Anything seen as childlike is adored, and the, um, natural age gap at which a guy should think fatherly thoughts doesn’t trigger a reaction (at least not the reaction you’d hope for).

  18. Snow on Pine Says:

    The Japanese are in a demographic death spiral, and just do not admit more than a few non -Japanese a year to live there temporarily, and even fewer to become citizens. They know that, absent a radical change in their immigration and citizenship policy, they as a people are going to wither away over the next several decades.

    It is virtually impossible for a non-Japanese to be truly accepted in Japanese society. Some Japanese academics even theorize that no non-Japanese has the genetic endowment sufficient to allow them to really learn the Japanese language.

    Then, you have the tremendous social and cultural pressure/tensions created by Japan’s abrupt transformation from a very insular, medieval, deeply traditional, hierarchical society in which Bushido was a major element, into a much more ostensibly democratic Western society, at least on the surface.

    I believe that these and many other factors have resulted in a tremendous amount of tension, and what we might call social and cultural “deformation” in Japanese culture and society and, thus, the bizarre trends we see.

    P.S. Some Unit 731 points:

    At the end of WWII Unit 731 did a very good job of obliterating evidence of their crimes, so a lot is not known.

    Unit 731 also experimented on POWS, perhaps some of them Americans. According to Congressional testimony their researchers had access to a POW camp containing Americans near their main Unit 731 facility in Harbin, and gave some of those American POWs various injections, and then returned to observe them.

    The number of those experimented on may have been as many as 10,000 or more, none of whom survived. Unit 731’s horrific experiments far eclipsed those of the Nazis in both barbarity and the number experimented on and then killed.

    Unit 731 is today the most well known of Japanese Chemical and Biological warfare research units, but there were several more shadowy units as well, scattered around Asia, we just don’t know that much about them yet, and perhaps never will.

    Virtually a Who’s Who of Japan’s medical community transited through and worked in Unit 731 during the 1930s-40s, and then emerged after the end of the war to occupy major positions in Japan’s society and medical community.

    So successful were the Unit 731 scientists in spreading diseases in China that many of the diseases they spread in China that weren’t native to the area have taken root there, and are now endemic in several areas.

    Toward the very end of the War Gen. Dr. Ishii, the head of Unit 731, wanted to take the bacteria whose weaponization they had perfected and load them on the high altitude incendiary balloon bombs that the Japanese were then sending across the ocean to land on our shores, balloon bombs whose landings on our west coast were little reported.

    Luckily, his idea was never acted on.

    It is true that the U.S. made a deal to give Ishii and his people immunity from prosecution in return for their slides and research results. After the end of WWII Dr.Ishii returned to Japan to take up his “medical research,” he was given a government pension, and after he died the Japanese raised a memorial to him.

    As of a dozen years ago, there was an annual Unit 731 reunion, held in Tokyo, where Unit 731 personnel gathered to talk about the” good old days.”

  19. Nick Says:

    I remember seeing a news report about Japanese automation. At the end of it the host asked the reporter why the Japanese use automation even in situations where a human worker would cost a lot less. The reporter said, well, basically, they have no people, and they’re too racist to bring in non-Japanese.

  20. Snow on Pine Says:

    Japan’s demographic death spiral is, of course, because young Japanese are no longer getting married, forming families, and especially not having children the way they used to do. Japan now what a 2015 Japan Times article described as “…an aging society full of sexless couples having fewer and fewer babies.”

    Traditional Japanese society pre-Admiral Perry was apparently a very robust society. Now, not so much, and I think the abrupt political, cultural, and social transition from that traditional pre-Admiral Perry society I mentioned above has a lot to do with it.

    Thus, we have bizarre trends like young Japanese who tell interviewers they do not want to have sex, and young Japanese women who do not want to marry having small dogs they wheel around in what are essentially baby carriages, spending enormous amounts of money on dressing them up and on pampering them.

    The vital spark has just gone out of Japan, and I don’t know that anybody knows just how to restore it; how do you reanimate a society that has lost it’s will to live?

  21. Nick Says:

    I wonder about that. Is it something new, or has it happened in the past? Would we even notice it in the historical records? Would an accurate genetic history of it look any different than that of a genocide?

  22. Snow on Pine Says:

    As I’ve written here, I believe that Japan’s forced and abrupt transition—from a unique ancient, isolated, feudal, hierarchical, very conservative, social, cultural, and political system with, among other unique philosophies and ways of life, Bushido at it’s core—into one that is superficially Western, is the most likely major factor explaining why Japanese citizens have apparently lost their will to live.

    From it’s most primitive beginnings in 4,000 B.C., Japan slowly developed a unique culture and way of life, a large part of it (including the Japanese written language) based on Chinese models. Things accelerated with the introduction of Buddhism in 552 A.D., and Japan’s civilization developed into one that was quite unlike anything we had here in the West.

    Prior to Admiral Perry’s forcible “opening up” of Japan in 1854, Japan had been deliberately isolated from the rest of the world for some 250 years.

    Generally, no one was allowed to travel outside the Japanese islands, and those who tried to leave, or mariners who, say, were shipwrecked and finally made it back to Japan were, by decree of the Shogun, routinely killed.

    The several centuries prior to Perry were ones of relative peace under a military government, the Shogunate, which united the country after decades of turmoil and civil war.

    After Perry, the Samurai class, believing that they needed to develop the wealth and power that Western nations had so clearly demonstrated, and being more flexible than other classes, started to adopt various Western inventions and ways of doing things.

    Then, came the Meiji Restoration of 1867-68, which essentially overthrew the Shogunate and restored the power of the Emperor, with the aim of making major changes aimed at gaining the “agency,” the power and wealth that the Western powers had.

    Large landowners, the Daimyo, who had been the major power center in Japan, were removed from power and their lands confiscated by the Emperor, and the economic bonds between the Daimyo, whose payments and grants of productive rice growing land gave the Samurai their livelihood in exchange for their service, were severed, the Samurai class was quickly disestablished and then disbanded, and a semblance of Western democratic government was put into place.

    Japan made many fundamental changes in it’s society and culture, took many steps aimed at becoming a modern, Western power—they fought a successful war with Russia demonstrating their new power, and ended up fighting WWII against us, but something essential was lost in that hundred years of massive and fundamental transformation.

    Thorough all this change the Imperial Family and Household still exists, but it apparently has diminishing power.

    Would the Japanese, could the Japanese, recreate some semblance of the old ways of life and the culture and philosophies that undergirded it?

    Would that reignite Japan’s will to live?

    But would that also, almost of necessity, result in a newly aggressive Japan?

    Who knows?

  23. huxley Says:

    Snow on Pine: Great comments! In line with my thinking about Japan but deeper.

    The Japanese are a remarkable people, but it does seem they are choosing slow demographic suicide. I wish they weren’t, though I certainly don’t have any answers.

    These days I’m not overly sanguine about the future of Americans and Europeans either.

  24. Nick Says:

    The three big losers of WWII have among the lowest fertility rates in the world. There really was a cultural loss of will to live. I think it hit Japan worse because of the extent of the subsequent famine. Additionally, for a culture that was based on ancestor and emperor worship, renouncing the leadership and the fallen was particularly jarring.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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