Quote Japan

Interesting, odd, outrageous or informative quotes about Japan

Will Ferguson- quotes from “Hokkaido Highway Blues”

“Priesthood is not a calling in Japan; it is a hereditary post. Training and proper knowledge are absolutely necessary, but a deep spirituality is not mandatory. As in so many things in Japan, it is proper behaviour that is the essence of worship”

Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 140

“Asked if there is widespread racism in Japan, the average Japanese will be aghast at the question. They equate racism with overt acts of violence, which are rare in Japan. But it is a racist nation. It is racist in the deepest, purest meaning of the word. In Japan, race is taken as being a tangible definition of someone’s talents, worth, and membership. And that is racism at its most refined; an unshakeable belief in the primacy of blood”

Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 135

“He smiled. It was a smile of sadness, an expression that is deeply Japanese. I used to be baffled by smiles of sadness, but now I think I understand. These smiles reveal emotions even as they seek to conceal them. They say, I am sad and so I will smile in the understanding that you will realize it is only a facade that hides a hurt too deep for tears.”

Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 133

“In Japan, where the women live longer than any other group on earth, where men- especially the men of an older generation- rely so heavily on women and are so lost without them… a widower is one of the saddest figures imaginable.”

Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 133

“A recently retired schoolteacher, he spent his free time reading English dictionaries. ‘I read ten pages a day. So far, I have completed three lexicons of vocabulary. It keeps my mind busy and increases my abilities.’ It also explained the extensive, if somewhat eccentric, vocabulary.”

Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 129

“Mac [Makoto] had been to America and his English was good, but idiosyncratic. ‘Florida was hot excellent. They had alligator crossing signs down on the highways. Crazy wild.'”

Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 170

“‘I don’t see how the man you met could have possibly been a direct descendant of the Oishi. He was either pulling your leg- or he was a ghost.’
‘But I have his business card,’ I said, brandishing it triumphantly. ‘How many ghosts carry these?’
‘In Japan,’ the teacher assured me ‘even ghosts carry business cards'”

Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 168

“Shyness: in Japan, it’s the universal excuse. If I am ever hauled into a Japanese court, I plan on using it as my defense.
Me: Awfully sorry about the manslaughter charge, m’lord. But you see, I am very shy.
Judge: And do you feel ashamed about what you’ve done?
Me: Yes, Your Honour. I feel great shame. Shame and shyness.
Judge: (to bailiff) Release this man at once!”

Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 167

“The only problem Westerners have with eating raw horsemeat is that (a) it is horsemeat, and (b) it is raw.” Paul Berger, quoted in Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 51
 
“Chicken Namban was, the shopkeeper told us with a certain amount of misplaced pride, invented right here in Miyazaki, though how much work went into thinking up fried chicken with mayonnaise is debatable” pg 51
 
“Chicken Namban… [is] ‘Barbarian-style Chicken.’That’s right, barbarian. You may want to pause a moment and wonder what sort of reaction you might get in the West if you opened a restaurant offering ‘Jap Noodles’ or ‘Yellow Menance Sushi’… Mind you, I suppose it could have been worse. They might have named it Big-Nosed, Round-Eye, Butter-Smelling, Couldn’t-Make-A-Car-To-Save-Their-Lives Chicken” pg 52

“In Japan, people are often referred to not by their name but by the role they play…As a foreigner, you in turn play your role as the Resident Gaijin, like the Town Drunk or the Village Idiot” Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 45
 
“Looking back, the biggest culture shock about Japan was not the chopsticks or the raw octopus, it was the shock of discovering that no matter where you go you instantly become the topic of conversation. At first it’s an ego boost. You feel like a celebrity… But you soon realize that in Japan foreignersare not so much celebrities as they are objects of curiosity and entertainment. It is a stressful situation, and it has broken better men than me.” Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 45
 
“Miyazaki… was once the Budget-Minded Honeymoon Capital of Japan, a poor man’s Guam. Guam in turn is a poor man’s Hawaii, making Miyazaki a city twice removed from greatness.” Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 50
 
“like walking into a bad zombie movie” entering a pachinko parlour, according to Will Ferguson, Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 51

“Changing jobs is as traumatic in Japan as divorce is in the West” Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 56
 
“Grounded in traditions, mesmerized by novelty; I can think of no nation better suited for the postmodern world” Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 56
 

“[Sumo] is, and I think I am being objective in my assessment, simply the greatest sport in the history of the universe. In Japan, rotund pale flabby guys are considered the epitome of masculinity. Don’t you just love that?” Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 57

“she laughed, covering her mouth with one hand in that highly annoying, yet oddly endearing way Japanese women have.” Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 16

“The word harmony in Japanese has the same cachet that the word freedom has in the West” Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 26

“a birdwatcher once told me that Japanese snow cranes bow to each other during their mating dance because, well, they are Japanese birds. Apparently, were they American birds they would shake hands instead” Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 33

“During their brief explosion, the cherry blossoms are said to represent the aesthetics of poignant, fleeting beauty: ephemeral, delicate in their passing. The way to celebrate this poignancy, naturally, is to drink large amounts of sake and sing raucous songs until you topple over backward.” Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 6

“My first two years in Japan were spent teaching English… The students… studied English- or should I say, English was taught in their presence. Nothing ever seemed to sink in. Years of classes and endless tests and still they couldn’t master the intricacies of a simple ‘How are you?’ When I tried to have the most elemental of English conversations with them they looked at me with blank expressions, shrugged their shoulders, and said ‘Wakaranai’ (‘Huh?’) They did this, I believe, just to annoy me. Don’t get me wrong, these teenagers were polite and studious and well-mannered, but they wese still teenagers, and teenagers are pretty well insufferable anywhere you go on this planet.” Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 7

“The phonetic symbols (the kana) are easy enough, but the Chinese hieroglyphics (the kanji) are about as accesible to me as, well, Chinese hieroglphyics. If God had wanted me to learn kanji, He would have given me a bigger brain” Hokkaido Highway Blues pg 13

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