What is the deal with Japan's smile merchants?

Originally published at: What is the deal with Japan's smile merchants? | Boing Boing


In Japan, we smile with our eyes.


So, in keeping with the premise of the article, the question becomes: did y’all beat Tyra to it?


This predates that.


Hopefully it doesn’t end up being an excercise in circular reasoning, or we have all wasted our time here.

You mean their comedy which satirised English society, including it’s then contemporary obsession with all things Japanese, by setting it in a fictional country that exaggerated all their own flaws?


From what I seen and heard online, Japan is still pretty masked up even into mid 2023. Yeah Matt had a very solid point about mistranslated and misinterpreted articles about Japan reaching the west so i’m not too surprised to hear about niche smile coach stories. And besides i’ve seen a lot weird rural america stuff firsthand over the years (heck I was in one town I haven’t been in years a few days ago because I wanted to avoid the real life SCPs that live there) so I would be hypocritical to think that Japan is weirder than us lmao.


Wearing a mask is convenient because I can put on the biggest goofiest smile I want when I think of something funny, and no one will wonder what the heck is wrong with me!


I just spent the weekend in Tokyo, and my rough count was about 50% mask rate on public transportation. It’s getting hot and humid, so a lot more people are going maskless these days.


Japan is so weird and wonderful.

I’m heading there with my happy mutant teenagers and long-suffering spouse in August for 3 weeks. Our trip plan: Tokyo-Kyoto-Hiroshima-Nagoya-Kanazawa-Tokyo.

Can anyone recommend some online resources to find some especially unique and interesting things to see and do?

Why are we so primed to believe Japan is an alternate universe where things like this could happen?

OK - let’s be honest - because there are a lot things that are different in Japan, from gadgets to various colorful subcultures, to its unique history, and social traditions. So if you have something made up relating to one of those things, it seems feasible Japan has a lot of social rules, and something that reinforces them doesn’t sound that far fetch to me.

That said, I don’t think that it is unique to Japan or any other foreign land. Add “Florida man” to the beginning of any wild headline, and one won’t dismiss it as impossible.

In the category of “sounds like that could be right”, at the space museum I worked at (which already had a plethora of fun facts of where every day items came from the space industry) we swept up bits of popcorn with this floor sweeper that was the Hokie brand. I had a few people convinced that The Hokie Pokie was actually from the Hokie Brand. I said in the 50s is was a radio and TV sales jingle, and they gave away a little record single as a promo. It was so easy to use, you could do this little dance while you swept up.


Not disputing your experience but on my daily commute I would say the mask wearing is still a lot higher than that, more like 80%, but that could be because there are fewer tourists at 06:30.
I still wear a mask on public transport but generally not elsewhere, my wife still wears a mask whenever she is in a shop as well.

Mask wearing was quite normal here before the pandemic and we should expect that levels will remain higher than in western countries.

The thing that really annoys me is foreigners thinking that mask wearing means that the person is scared of catching something, that is the opposite of why lots of people normally mask in Japan.


That’s a good point. It’s a very different crowd out and about on the weekend. 80% is closer to what I am seeing in Kobe, where there aren’t nearly as many tourists to begin with. (Not to say that it’s only tourists who are not masking, but none of the tourists whom I saw were wearing masks at all.)


Japan has less of a lead when it comes to gadgets these days. I remember back in the early 2000’s, here in the UK we were just getting the first phones with built-in cameras, but my Japanese sister-in-law had a flip phone with a much better camera, which could also do some kind of eye-detection and apply basic filters. All tech that was a couple of years away in the UK. (At the same time, the US was still back two years behind Europe).
These days technology is much more evenly distributed.


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