Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Puttin' on the Ritz...

You know, I spend so much time whining and complaining about Japan here on my blog, that sometimes, like tonight, I feel bad and want to give something back to my adopted home. That's right, I'd like to say something nice about Japan.

One of the truly (no shit!) good things about the Japanese is that they have a much healthier attitude toward alcohol, and drinking generally. I'm not saying that they have no problems here with, for example, alcoholism and drunk driving. Nor do I mean to suggest that these kinds of problems are accepted (although it's probably true that they're dealt with more quietly--Japan is not a "let's-talk-about-it" society). By "a healthy attitude toward alcohol" I simply mean that the Japanese recognize alcohol as a good thing in life, and they have no hang-ups about having a few beers in the right time and place. As a culture, I think it's also safe to say that the Japanese are also, on the whole, a lot more tolerant of people who may have had a bit too much to drink (there is, for example, no social stigma involved if you get shit-faced at the office party and make a horse's ass out of yourself--not that that's ever happened to me, mind you...).

Anyway, this leads me to the picture you see on the left, a picture of the back of a box of Ritz crackers purchased here in Japan. You can't see the whole box, but it's basically a variety of recipe and serving suggestions for the product. One of the suggestions is "Ritz with beer", and really, why the hell not? I ask you, however, would Ritz dare to have it's product mentioned in conjunction with alcohol in Canada or the U.S. (I'm not certain about the U.K.)? Why can't a potato chip or peanut company in North America advertise it's product as the perfect complement to beer? Hell, why can't North American beer companies show someone actually drinking their products? Beer is a legal product, isn't it? Why this hypocrisy? Where does it come from? (Yeah, well, those are rhetorical questions, aren't they, because we know exactly where this hypocrisy and others come from...)

It's a fact, ladies and gentlemen, that in several key areas of life, the Japanese are much more socially advanced, more civilized than North Americans.


  1. You know, in this day and age, most people are more civilized than North Americans - at least, those North Americans living south of the North American border.

  2. Although they tend to discriminate women to a certain extent, I do believe japanese culture is one of the most admirable in the world. I dream about visiting such a marvelous country (while living at it must be an entirely different story, though)

  3. Glenn, that may be true, but why do I feel so much more comfortable among the "uncivilized" North Americans!? (Um, you don't have to answer that...!)

    Usual Stuff, by Western standards it's true that there are many subtle forms of discrimination here. It's also true, however, that everyone here really has many freedoms--nobody is outright oppressed. Many young women, for example, have chosen to ignore their "traditional" roles altogether, and nobody is trying to "put them back in their places" (although I think a lot of men would like to see it...).

  4. I was just wondering earlier today what the hugely important distinction is that allows beer and wine advertising on television, but not ads for "hard" alcohol.

    I mean American television, of course.

  5. Actually, Moon, I think it was only a few years ago that Canada began allowing ads for the hard stuff on tv. I guess whiskey just has a worse reputation than beer...

  6. Reminds me of a thing me and my friends used to do when we were teenagers - eat as many crackers as humanly possibly then gulp back lots of beer. Much kudos was given to the one who keep eat the most crackers.

    But that's probably not what they had in mind for this 'serving suggestion'.

  7. Julia, thanks for dropping by and thanks for your comment.
    It's funny, but that's exactly the recipe idea they have on the part of the box you can't see in the photo! Really...!