Culture Shock – Column

cultureshock1200Culture Shock

Photos and captions by Chad Van Wagner, our man in Japan

One thing that’s remarkable about the experience of living in Japan is that while the day to day novelty may wear off, the human mind nonetheless insists on hanging onto the weirdness factor of your surroundings. I’m seeing stuff that may well have not raised an eyebrow back in Cowtown, USA, but I still have some pretty odd reactions when I see it here.

I suppose Twinkie Man and I should just resign ourselves to the idea that using gay pixies to sell meat will never seem normal.

It does beg the question, however, as to just how friggin’ odd we look to the Japanese when we wear T-shirts (or, uh, get tattoos) with kanji we don’t understand. It’s the weirdest thing. Despite the obvious snickering going on here, this is the result of someone, somewhere, speaking English much better than you can probably speak Japanese. They can sure as hell speak English better than I can speak Japanese, that’s for damned sure.

All language fumbles aside, my inability to read what’s staring me in the face has seriously underlined just how annoying and preposterous advertising, packaging, and public communication in general can be. As a product of advertising himself, Twinkie Man seemed a bit uncomfortable admitting this, but here it is.


You’re never too young to start drinking.


Apparently, bacon makes you gay.


Trepanning is just the ticket for that misbehaving dog!


Just another damned “Let’s get plowed and brush our teeth” place.


The Japanese are much more polite than I. I never check.


They wanted to do that “Victory Sign” thing. They’re learning.


This is accurate since, of course, girls don’t poop.


“If your dog shits, there must be no regret.”


You can get ANYTHING groomed here.


“Hello! I’m a cute dog. Please crack open my skull and feast on my brain.”