A new and unimportant hypothesis

by admin on May 20, 2013

So on the way to the curry shop I stopped by a bookstore, and performed a quasi-scientific enquiry. The original hypothesis was that Japanese people are becoming less negative on stocks.

Of course, the sample size was small, so this is merely an observation, and does not even deserve to be called an enquiry.

The section dealing with stocks was small. In fact, it was significantly smaller than that on taxes. There were almost no books on Abenomics, but it appears that there has been a decrease in the number of titles proclaiming either the end of the world or the end of Japan.

My general impression was that the negativity was less than my previous observation.

However, I felt that it might be more interesting to check out another hypothesis, namely: Are Japanese people becoming bored with their jobs past the threshold where they openly want to break out of the Corporate-Socialist system?

The reason for this change hypothesis is that there was a “featured books” section dedicated to exactly this kind of book.

The kind of book I’m talking about is like this:

奴隷 奴隷

“Stop being a slave, now that you’re in your 30s” (about how “common sense”, which I guess means the Japanese elaborate system of unwritten rules, is robbing you of your freedom)

考えてるつもり 考えてるつもり

“The psychology of people who don’t think about anything and just let things happen” (written by a gaijin, could be very popular in Japan)

世界を見ずに 世界を見ずに

“Are you going to die without seeing this exciting world out there?” (aimed at young people considering sacrificing themselves on the altar of Japanese big business)

お金が教えてくれる お金が教えてくれる

“The age of depending on a salary is over – doing nothing itself is a risk!” (sounds a bit like George Soros, but is about setting up a micro-business)

One interesting thing was that although it is possible to find books written by Japanese authors (and Japanese author books are those shown prominently at the front of the shop), a very large proportion of this job is books translated from English.

Bookshelf Bookshelf

I tried to look for whether there was a tendency for negativity versus positivity in the Japanese titles, and it seems that negativity is much more popular, although perhaps that is a necessity if you are telling people how to break out of a crap job.

Lastly, I went to the front of the shop and asked the woman and man standing there whether they have noticed any trends in these kinds of books.

The woman said that the reason for the promise display is “Go gatsu-byo” (May disease), whereby people get a new job on schedule like the blossoming trees in April, spend a month working hard and not asking questions, but then Golden Week comes around in early May, and the new recruits have time to reflect on what they are doing and why. And many people in fact take a few sickies in May, hence “May disease”.

The man mumbled that he did not know about books, but that certainly he had seen a significant increase in TV programs on the subject lately. He looked like a TV watcher.

I must have surprised them for firstly being highly non-Japanese in appearance and secondly for interrogating them on a matter other than the location of the manga shelf, and they quickly adopted the relaxed posture of a corpse in winter.

I cannot conclude anything yet on this subject, but it is my contention that there are the stirrings of a trend in this area.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Frank May 21, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Nice post. I think it was about a year or so ago that I picked up a book on Japan in the library in which the author did exactly the same thing – the book was about Japan’s lost decade and what the author did was listing out the yearly best selling titles during the lost decade and try to make a general observation as to how social mood changes during that time period. The result was quite interesting but I couldn’t remember the specifics. I think going into a bookstore is one of the most interesting way to research social mood and I am glad you did just that :)


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: