The Gender Divide in Japan- No Boys allowed?

If you have done any travel in Japan, you will, most likely, have encountered special “Women-only train carriages”. This usually makes for an amusing story to tell your friends, about how you rushed onto a train as the doors were closing, only to find yourself surrounded by confused, and occasionally irate, women. However, the reasons behind the special carriages are not as amusing.

At first glance, the problem seems to have started with widespread reports of groping on trains. The Metropolitan Police Department reported a rise in cases of groping or obscene conduct.

One explanation for the increase of reported offences is not that they are becoming more common, but that they are much easier to report. Since most people carry a phone, capable of taking pictures and videos, it is becoming easier and easier to report crimes. However, as the problem was gaining a lot of attention, the authorities decided to implement a new strategy, which, in my opinion, is a mistake: female only train carriages.


But first, let’s look at some reactions from Japanese women. Aside from the feeling of greater security, some women enjoy the lack of typically male smells and the ability to talk with friends without being judged. However, the measure has not been without controversy. Many mothers complain about being separated from their junior high-aged sons since, apparently, as soon as a boy becomes a teenager, he qualifies as a potential sex pest. Some women also worry that should they ride in a mixed carriage, even if they are with male friends, they will be seen as a ‘willing victim’ for sexual advances.

Most male commuters also object to being crammed against fellow sweaty salary men while women ride in comfort. And I’m serious about being “crammed in”, check out this video of the Tokyo Subway.

Unfortunately for modern society, the policy on trains has now spread to other public areas. The reasoning is more acceptable in some cases, such as segregated sleeping-cafés or hostel dormitories. However, gender-separation in other venues has provoked accusations of discrimination.

In the Taito City Library in Tokyo, 10 of the 50 seats are reserved solely for women, while a co-ed university in Saitama Prefecture has a women only café. Discounts for women on restaurant and bar menus or cinema tickets are common, and exclusively female gyms, hotels and bars can be found.

Japanese lawyer, Yukata Iwaki argues that this runs the “risk of breaching the laws of equality”. It should be clear to everybody that maligning all men as potential sex-pests creates an unhealthy environment for modern gender relations.

The legal system in Japan offers little comfort either. 95% of people arrested in Japan sign confessions, and Japanese courts convict 99.9% of those who appear before them. Thus, when men stand accused of sexual crimes in an already suspicious climate, it threatens to ruin their lives regardless of veracity. There have been numerous cases of people being falsely accused and imprisoned.

The recent case of Iwao Hakamada highlights how the Japanese police can use force, or fabricate evidence to achieve a confession, and once the confession is signed, conviction is a sure thing. Hakamade was sentenced to death, and spent 45 years on death row until eventually the evidence against him was proven to be insufficient, incorrect or in some cases, wholly fabricated. Incidences of suicide following false accusations of groping have also been reported, such as the case of Shinsuke Harada in 2010.

In fact, the legal situation is so skewed, that Tokyo lawyer Takashi Nozawa advises against claiming innocence in court. He even suggests that the best way to avoid conviction is for accused men to simply flee the scene and not report the incident to police. Opponents of female-priority policy argue that it promotes an anti-social atmosphere in which women are assumed to be unsafe around men. This atmosphere could prove toxic to modern gender dynamics.


The operation of the segregated trains ultimately relies on the cooperation and discretion of male passengers: it is not a legally enforceable rule as it breaches equality laws. Female-only spaces are but of company request. If a man goes into one of these carriages, the most he will get are some angry stares, or a request to move to the cramped mixed carriage. That said, continuing to vilify men in this way will not lessen the gap between the genders, but reinforce the idea that the genders are different and should be treated differently.


 For further reading check these stories out:

Colin Joyce, ‘Persistent gropers force Japan to introduce women-only carriages’.

Andrew Miller, ‘Has preferential treatment for women gone too far in Japan?’.

John Stuart, ‘Guilty and never proven innocent – every male train rider’s nightmare in Japan’.


What in the world is a potato party?

Have you ever heard of a potato party? No, it’s not a delicious new political group, but instead, a party… where you just eat fries from McDonalds…

Not this either

Not this either


We can trace this crazy phenomenon to Japan, of course. Last October, McDonalds started discounting their large fries in an attempt to get the Japanese people to start accepting the larger portions. Some students took this as a challenge, and attempted to scoff 23 large fries. After sending a photo of the attempt online, it quickly got a lot of love, a lot of hate, and a whole lot of re-tweets.

As the picture became more and more re-tweeted, a group of students from Okayama decided that their warrior spirits could easily handle a mere 23 large fries, and instead went and got SIXTY large fries. To celebrate this momentous occasion, they even had a special balloon made.


 If you’re going to consume 30,000 calories, you at least need a balloon

If you’re going to consume 30,000 calories, you at least need a balloon


The fad swiftly spread to South Korea where teens have been reportedly kicked out of mcdonalds restaurants for causing a mess, and disturbing other customers.


You can’t really blame the staff…



3 Japanese men, 10 burgers, what could go wrong?

Have you ever heard of Megwin TV?

If you’ve not, that’s understandable, since outside of Japan, they aren’t all that well known, they are however, one of Japan’s most prolific YouTube bloggers, uploading videos just about every day.

The group was started by Megwin himself (real name Ken Sekine), and has since expanded to include two of his friends, who go by the names Bandy and Falcon. Megwin regularly gives lectures about creating internet success and how the new “digital hollywood” is evolving. But how did they get this popular? By making awesome videos of course (with English subtitles, so we can enjoy them too!)

Take, for example, their burger eating contests, where they travel to America, and try to eat 1o hamburger combos in a day.


The rules of the game are simple: they drive to a restaurant, and whoever’s colour is touching the ground when they arrive, has to order the most popular combo on the menu, no matter how big it is. This of course leads to some pretty funny moments…


1- The “hirarious Engrish”

I’ve taught English in Japan for two years now, and I’ve gotten used to the way they pronounce things. The poor staff however, have no idea that when the guys ask for “za mohsto popyurah conbo” they really mean “the most popular combo”…




2- For a guy in his mid-thirties, Megwin is a bit of a big kid…

Megwin himself is the star of the show, and he shows off by having an unusually outgoing personality (for a Japanese person anyway)…

burgergod megkid


3- The size of the burgers

This being america, they have some pretty big burgers available…



4- The overconfidence falls apart

Of course there was no way they could eat all that meat, plus it doesn’t help when they make mistakes with their orders…



give up

5- Extra challenges are issued.

Put a few guys together on a road trip in L.A. and of course there will be shenanigans…







There are a whole load of other great moments, so you should really check it out yourself.

The videos are available here:

A dream come true (for me at least)

I have a word for people who don’t like capybaras.

In the interest of good taste, I won’t say it here, but suffice it to say that it’s an unpleasant word.

Just look how serene they are

Just look how serene they are

Prior to coming to Japan, I had only glimpsed capybaras from afar, but seeing as they were essentially dog-sized guinea pigs, which can also swim, it’s safe to say that I was smitten. Here in Nagasaki however, we have a “biopark”. The Biopark is like a zoo, except you can interact with the animals. Seeing as capybaras are just about the most amazing animal on the planet, they swiftly became the most popular attraction, with whole sections of the gift shop dedicated to the world’s largest rodents, with t-shirts or dress-up capybara dolls.

You can show your love with t-shirts

You can show your love with style

It's dressed as a cow, our argument is invalid

It’s dressed as a cow, your argument is invalid


This coming July, a zoo in Shizuoka Prefecture is opening what they call the “capybara Rainbow Plaza”.

Artist's impression of the fun

Artist’s impression of the fun

The plaza will feature opportunities to play with the capybaras, feed them and learn more about them, but the real attraction… swimming in a hot spring with them! Just imagine it, an entire pack of dog sized, water loving rodents swimming around you!


Now while that thought may be enough to give some people nightmares, I am not amongst them. I will be leaving Japan in late July, so perhaps before I leave, I will have to pay the Rainbow Plaza a visit to see them in action…



What’s your type? (A guide to blood and condoms)

So there I was, trawling through the Japanese net, looking for something to post for Friday, and what do I see? A list of odd condoms available in Japan, you can check out the original post here: (

However, the one that caught my eye were the supposed “Blood Type condoms”.

Yes, it's a real thing

Yes, it’s a real thing

I did a little bit of digging into these condoms and found out more information about them.

Type O – It would seem as though the type O condoms are the normal ones, although they do advise the users to seek a woman with type AB blood for “hot love” but also to tolerate how selfish they can be in the sack.

Type A – Or “featherlight”, as they may otherwise be known. In Japanese blood-typing, A’s are the stolid, dependable type, who apparently need a little extra stimulation to get them going, hence the extra-thin material.

Type B – Classic ribbed here, B’s are independent souls, but it appears as though they are not independent lovers, since they seem to care about their partner’s enjoyment too.

Type AB – AB’s are supposedly the most organized and thoughtful, so it comes as no surprise that their condoms are also the most technologically advanced. Not satisfied with mere ribs, AB’s go in for diamond shaped studs, to try to increase their potential.


But WHY is blood type such a big deal here?

Well, the answer to that is tied up in a whole load of attempted genetic typing of humans and sub-humans, so we won’t get into it here, but suffice it to say that today, in Japan, one of the first things people will ask of you is your blood type. Seriously, there’s nothing sinister about it, it’s similar to western astrology or other pseudo-science.


If there’s one things that can’t be racist, it’s bath salts.

So instead of looking into the all-too-serious-and-depressing history, let’s look at the amusing present, and tell you a little more about the various blood-type personalities.

They wrote BOOKS about the different types

They wrote BOOKS about the different types

Type O people are often referred to as “warriors”. They are flexible, out-going and driven… for a time. They have the perception of being quite flaky, and quick to give up on projects for something else, even if the project is going smoothly. While they are working on something, they can be driven and ruthless, but that doesn’t always last long. However, they are also the most popular and social blood type, and often take the centre of attention. Japanese people view this type as the best type.

Type A’s are called “the farmers”, and have a shy, reliable demeanour. They are supposedly uncomfortable in large groups, but can keep a cool head should the group start to panic or argue. They crave responsibility and will focus on a task obsessively until it is completed. While this makes for very skilled, artistic and succesful people, they can also be very stubborn, arrogant and obsessive.

Type B. Ah, “the Hunter”. This is my own blood type, so you’ll forgive me if I forget some of my own poor traits. Or you would, if my type wasn’t a bunch of forgetful folks. We are apparently also very individualistic, preferring to trust ourselves and follow our own creative instincts than anybody else’s. When we’re not working on a task however, the individualism comes out in a kooky, free-wheeling manner, which creates fun, even if we don’t always remember why we decided to try to cram 10 pieces of sushi in our mouths at once…

Type AB. This is where Japan gets it’s oddballs. The AB’s vacillate between driven and relaxed, reliable and easy to stress, fun and… not fun. Japan likes these people the least, since they’re so unpredictable, and Japan loves order and predictability, their wild side doesn’t have a place here. They are the kind of people who will offer to help you move a couch, but only you pivot around the corners in just the right way.