It’s a myth that Japanese trains always run on time. They are, for the most part, extremely punctual, but to say that delays don’t happen is complete nonsense.

However, stories of rail companies apologising for their train departing two seconds late or one second early are exactly the kind of fodder that international newspapers lap up and, in doing so, they perpetuate the same tired stereotypes about Japan.

It’s not just newspapers that are guilty of perpetuating Asian stereotypes. The second episode of the first series of the most recent BBC Sherlock series threw in a load of East Asian things with little regard for accuracy or provenance alongside some patronising pidgin English. It was barely watchable Orientalism.

Imagine a Japanese TV show dressing a purportedly Italian guy in lederhosen with a string of garlic round his neck and a beefeater hat and you can begin to understand. And don’t get me started on “Lost in Translation”. It was more like “Lost in Casual Racism”.

I was caught out as well. Dancing was never banned in public places in Japan, as was suggested in a previous diary entry. However, many international press articles were written saying that it was and I foolishly went along with what they reported. I should have known better.

Western media’s determination to make Japan seem different and unusual so often gets in the way of any regard for the truth.

I don’t think visiting helps that much either unfortunately. With a huge language barrier and the forces of ‘omotenashi’ (hospitality) and ‘tatemae’ (masking your true feelings) in play, it’s pretty much impossible for a foreigner to pick up much on a flying visit beyond the fact that it’s “really clean” and the Japanese are “really friendly”.

Anyway, enough on the stereotypes. There was some rugby today. Georgia put up a valiant fight against the Wallabies, keeping within a converted try until just before the hour mark. They even managed to score a try themselves, going down 27-8 to end the tournament in proud fashion.

There will be one game tomorrow as Ireland, looking to secure qualification, face Samoa. The Italians, meanwhile, will continue to seethe about the fact they’ve been knocked out by weather. I can definitely sympathise with them. Firstly, there should have been a contingency plan in place for typhoons. Secondly, I’m sure contingency plans would have miraculously emerged if the boot had been on the other foot and it was the All Blacks facing elimination.

Such is the fate of smaller rugby nations.

Today’s Match
Australia 27-8 Georgia (Shizuoka Ecopa Stadium, Shizuoka)

Tomorrow’s Match
Ireland vs Samoa (1945 JST) (Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium, Fukuoka)

Expression of the day
不公平です! (fukouhei desu)
Which means…
(It’s unfair.)

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