The battle lines were drawn eons ago.
One army stood spotless and gleaming with perfection, orderly arranged and with well laid battle plans.
The other army, disheveled and disorganized, but with a chaos and fire sure to give their aggressors a brutal fight.
As the two armies dug in across the battlefield, heated stares and words were thrown back and forth in equal measure, constantly parried back upon their hated enemy.
The first volley from the pristine ranks stopped the chaos army dead in their tracks.
“Are you going outside without a coat on?”
But chaos, undeterred, stood again and soldiered forward, spewing forth their own barrage of death.
The shining army of righteousness received their first casualties, their bright armor taking its first battering. But they too rose again.
“But you’ll catch a cold…”
This barrage cut across the entire line of the disorderly ranks, but was returned in full.
“No I won’t.”
The sloppy and threadbare ranks had now taken their swords out, their cavalry cutting into the beacons of Order. But Order doesn’t fall so easily.
“Yes you will, it’s cold outside.”
But chaos is wily too, and they’re never felled so easily.
“Colds are viruses, it doesn’t matter what temperature it is outside…”
And so the battle between sons and mother raged on.
And it continues to rage on to this very day…
…except in Japan.
I’m not sure how it happened, but moms won the battle here. While I spent my entire life outright rebelling against nearly everything my mother suggested, Men here seem to follow their mothers’ ever whim and wish.
Let’s take a look:
1) Winter: Mom used to tell me to put on a coat, wear a scare, gloves, hat, and about a million other things like that. I never did any of that. Oddly enough, I don’t get sick often either. Meanwhile, in Japan, I live in a place with a climate similar to the American South and I see people freaking out about the cold and dressing like a winter Gap ad. People are wearing thermal underwear, stomach girdles, and Haramaki. I didn’t know stomach warmers existed until I came here.
2) Bacteria and Cleanliness: Mom’s worked up the entire nation into a fervor of extreme bacterial fear. Even when there’s no swine flue, people are wildly panicked about wearing masks and avoiding dirt. I’ve never seen people wash so thoroughly. Remember when mom told you to wash behind your ears and you were just kind of “whatever” about it? Well, people go nuts with the back of their ears here. Showers take forever to get up to Mom’s standards.
3) Swimming: Mom always told you not to go swimming after you’d just eaten and then you went and dove in the ocean anyway and found that nothing happened and you didn’t die? Perhaps mothers lost this initial battle, so now when mothers wants their children to stay out of the water, they just tell them that the dead (especially here on the Seto Nai Kai) or Kappa will drag them down to the bottom and drown them.
4) Whistling: My mom wasn’t against whistling. She was pissed at her mom for always telling her to stop whistling (because it was bad for a lady to do). So I got a pass. In Japan though, it’s too imposing to go around whistling, as it might offend others. As such, mothers tell their sons that snakes will come and crawl down your throat while they sleep.
5) Summer: Mom doesn’t want you getting all burned out there on the beach anyway. Not only should you not swim, but you should also shield yourself from the sun. This is why you’ll find people wearing the same amount of clothes when it’s boiling outside as when it’s winter. While everyone is out in the sun and sand this weekend in America, the neighborhoods in Japan will be silent as everyone hides inside or goes shopping in a highly AC-ed mall.
6) Air Conditioners: But Mom wants you to know that AC is dangerous. You might catch a chill when you move from cold rooms to hot rooms or vice versa. The air is also unnatural and will dry you out if you sleep all night with it on. With all the chills and dry air, you’ll get yourself sick! I’ve had far to many people here tell me about the dangers of AC here. It hasn’t killed me yet.
7) Cool Fall/Spring Breezes: But no worries, Mom can’t be so crazy during the nice, temperate Falls and Springs. Oh yes she can… That refreshing night breeze coming through your window? That can give you chills too! Better close the windows and put on a stomach girdle!
8) Dependency: In Japan, you never said “I can do this myself, dammit!” Instead, you just stayed with mom, let her cook all your meals, let her do your laundry, let her clean your room, and let her wipe your ass. Until you’re married, you continue on living with mom. Eventually, you’ve become so cluelessly dependent on mom, you can’t actually exist without her unless you find a suitable wife to do the same thing. But watch out, Mom is over your shoulder like worm-tongue, with a heavy say in what girl you’re going to end up with too. Should you go unmarried and should something unfortunate happen to your mom, you’re as good as dead. You can’t even make eggs.
9) Mom Over Wife: Guys here always fall back on their mom. If an issue comes up between their wife and their mother. The mother wins. In days past, it was basically the mother’s job to make her son’s wife a living hell. It was also the son’s job to just sit back there and let his wife take the punishment. Perhaps there’s a karmic thing where the wife is just waiting to have a son of her own someday so he can get married and then she can treat his wife like garbage. I’m not sure how a man can stand around and let anyone berate his wife though.
10) PayBack: So they’ve lost the war, listening to ever whim and fancy throughout their lives. The son’s poor wife has done back flips to deal with her mother-in-law, to no avail. What happens next? In her old age, mother moves in with them. Now mother can better manage the son through his middle age and (with Japan’s long lifespan) into his senior years…aka: forever!!!
Japan, you’ve won this battle, but you haven’t won the war!