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“Toro is junk food for low income earners.”
August 25, 2010 4:26 PM   Subscribe

"The Japanese Tradition" was a series of nine short, parody "How To" videos that gently mocked the formality of Japanese culture, from comedy duo Rahmens (ラーメンズ) and Japan Culture Lab. They're available on DVD, but nearly all of them can be seen on YouTube, including Sushi and Ocha (tea).

They're impeccable pastiches of cultural instruction videos -- How To guides to the correct use of chopsticks, paper-folding, sparring, the etiquette of family holidays, how to make rice balls, the way of tea, the rituals of apology, the eating of sushi and how to clap in time.

The Japanese Tradition
1. Sushi
2. Ocha / Tea
3. Dogeza / Apologizing (Also.)
4. Tejime
5. Origami
6. Hashi / Chopsticks
7. Rice Balls

Similar series from Rahmens:
* Love Relationships Part 1: Theory
* Love Relationships Part 2: Theory
* Love Relationships Part 3: Practice
* Love Relationships Part 4: Practice

Rahmens were also responsible for the Japanese versions of Apple's "Get A Mac" ads.
"The Japanese ad scripts are almost unrecognisable, because bragging about your strengths is considered stupid and rude. Instead, the Mac shows class by remaining sophisticated, humble and controlled in the face of the PC’s increasing overconfidence and excitement. The punch lines, it’s safe to say, are lost in translation."
1. Nicknames
2. iLife
3. Viruses
4. Nengajo - New Year's Cards
5. Pie Chart
6. Restart
7. Security
8. Steps
9. Microsoft Office
10. Home Movie
11. Artist
12. Bloated
posted by zarq (54 comments total) 144 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've been trying to find that Sushi one for ages! Well. Not trying. But thinking about trying. I think it was on MeFi about five years back or so.
posted by griphus at 4:31 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Was it? Oh, hell. PLEASE don't tell me this is a double.
posted by zarq at 4:33 PM on August 25, 2010


I think it was on MeFi ...

Yep. Here.
posted by woodblock100 at 4:36 PM on August 25, 2010


Aw hell. :(

Hey, none of those videos are active anymore. I don't suppose there's any chance this post might survive because of that..... No? *sigh*
posted by zarq at 4:39 PM on August 25, 2010


Oh god I've ruined everything. Can we please keep this alive?
posted by griphus at 4:40 PM on August 25, 2010


Heh. Griphus, it's okay. It happens.
posted by zarq at 4:41 PM on August 25, 2010


It was three years ago ... who cares. Keep this one up!
posted by woodblock100 at 4:42 PM on August 25, 2010 [8 favorites]


This post does have a lot more material in it....
posted by The Whelk at 4:43 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow. That was awesome, and I just got through the sushi one. I thought it was pretty dry up until the line about the Toro, then it just got better from there.

"soak the sushi in the soy sauce until it is noticeably heavier."

I need to make some time today to watch these.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:04 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


A few years ago I was in a small audience watching a hodgepodge collection of independent videos, one of which was the "sushi" episode (As I recall, there was also a short "documentary" shot in Portland OR, portraying the bland patches of paint covering up graffiti as Art...I wouldn't mind seeing that again either). None of us knew it was a parody, until about the time the hand diagram appeared on the door curtains. For the next few days, my friends and I were saying "Maa maa maa maa" / "Oh toh toh toh" to each other at the slightest provocation.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:04 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bingo - man, I love YouTube!
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:09 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


You should have seen my surprised face when (spoiler..?)
he picked up the sushi, with his hands. *Rolling on the floor*. I think the Taisho would die of shock.
posted by uni verse at 5:12 PM on August 25, 2010


Loved these. Bought the DVD :)
posted by gen at 5:18 PM on August 25, 2010


Maamaamaamaamaamaa
posted by cmoj at 5:19 PM on August 25, 2010


The sushi one almost had me in tears and I'll do my best not to just binge on the rest.

It reminded of Look Around You, in a wholly wonderful and original way.
posted by Quantum's Deadly Fist at 5:19 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


"It's a small world." LOL!
posted by gen at 5:21 PM on August 25, 2010


Oototototo!

Thank you, this is awesome. Knew aboutthe Sushi one, did not see the other ones.
posted by _Lasar at 5:22 PM on August 25, 2010


I've seen the meticulousness of the tea video among coffee fanatics. Specific grind, water temperature, mug insulation, measuring amount of coffee with a postal scale - it's all there. Check out the World Aeropress Championship recipes.
posted by meowzilla at 5:23 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, these are hilarious, and I say, for the benefit of any and all who haven't seen these before, LET THE POST LIVE! LET THE POST LIVE! Say it with me! LET THE POST LIVE!...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:40 PM on August 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Mac ads are cute, but is the punch line really lost? I didn't find them that different from the US versions.
posted by _Lasar at 5:40 PM on August 25, 2010


I love the Dogeza video, especially the part about the one-knee ninja bow you an use when you've violated the ninja code and fallen in love. Cheers zarq!
posted by supercrayon at 5:49 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


_Lasar, fwiw I don't think the punch lines were lost either. But by the time I came upon that article I was mostly done putting the post together and had been immersed in dry Japanese humor for a while. Thought I might not be the best judge. ;)
posted by zarq at 5:59 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah I didn't get that 'punchlines are lost in translation' bit at all: the Mac ads are all entirely straight and clear to me and quite easily understandable. No 'inscrutable Orient' here. Or, hey, maybe I finally have 'turned Japanese'.

Anyway, I totally want that costume the PC is wearing in #12, Bloated. Awesome.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:03 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I saw a Yamato w/ Cucumber sushi, I'd devour it in a heartbeat.
posted by WalterMitty at 6:13 PM on August 25, 2010


The apologizing one is almost as good as the video for Once in a Lifetime.
posted by dfan at 6:16 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mac: Stuffed (US);
Mac: Stuffed (UK);
Mac: Bloated (Japan).
posted by WalterMitty at 6:17 PM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Flagged... as fantastic.

Very much like Look Around You in spirit. Great find!
posted by bonehead at 6:20 PM on August 25, 2010


Love these.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:37 PM on August 25, 2010


I love these. What's up with the Ocha video where the translator "get's tired" halfway through and the translations stop? I remember seeing the same video a year or so ago with much better subs.

Anyway, my favorite ラーメンズ bits are the "Let's Learn Japanese" with various nationalities. Here's the American one.
posted by snwod at 6:39 PM on August 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Friend of mine has a theory that Japn and Briton have more in common then they think, for one, two district comdey styles. One is very cerebral and word based and draped in social irony, and the other is Zany Running Around in hilarious accents.

so the Look Around You comparison is apt.
posted by The Whelk at 6:46 PM on August 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh my God, this is absolutely hilarious! The sushi one had me laughing till I cried, and I really don't do that often.

Fantastic!
posted by Michael Roberts at 6:46 PM on August 25, 2010


Anyway, my favorite ラーメンズ bits are the "Let's Learn Japanese" with various nationalities. Here's the American one .

I loved it! Here's a version with subtitles.
posted by clearlydemon at 7:34 PM on August 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yamato with Cucumber is delicious.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 8:13 PM on August 25, 2010


[other post was three years ago, no one has flagged this and in fact would not have noticed it at all except for zarq's twitter, carry on...]
posted by jessamyn at 8:41 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


snwod: Anyway, my favorite ラーメンズ bits are the "Let's Learn Japanese" with various nationalities. Here's the American one.

The Italian one is my favorite.

Ibarrrrrrrrrrrrrraki.
posted by Dreamcast at 8:54 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love these, but I wouldn't characterize them as gently mocking Japanese formality so much as intentionally trying to lead foreigners astray and get them to embarrass themselves.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:07 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


These are fantastic! I saw the sushi one years ago, but I didn't know there were more--now I need to watch them all. Also, I'll add my voice to the chorus of people saying that these are like the Look Around You of Japanese culture.
posted by moss at 9:10 PM on August 25, 2010


I love these, but I wouldn't characterize them as gently mocking Japanese formality so much as intentionally trying to lead foreigners astray and get them to embarrass themselves.

It's kinda both, actually, in a certain way. It is a very funny and self-effacing look at what Japanese people most assuredly know about themselves: that they are very fastidious and show great attention to detail and protocol in many situations. It is also a commentary, I believe, on how these perceived traits are amplified and exaggerated by many non-Japanese when they comment on Japanese culture. So, I wouldn't say these are "trying to lead foreigners astray" as much as they are wry and subtle commentaries on how foreigners are already a bit astray, in their thinking on Japan and Japanese culture.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:22 PM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of afraid to watch these lest I internalize a joke I don't understand
posted by Blasdelb at 12:03 AM on August 26, 2010


I watched the sushi one and then followed on the youtube associated links to this guide on how to cook lunch for a bento box. I have been unable to tell whether the latter is a pastiche or not. It seems to be completely straight in all respect other than it is hosted by a poodle.
posted by rongorongo at 1:45 AM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Friend of mine has a theory that Japn and Briton have more in common then they think, for one, two district comdey styles. One is very cerebral and word based and draped in social irony, and the other is Zany Running Around in hilarious accents.

so the Look Around You comparison is apt.
posted by The Whelk at 8:46 PM on August 25 [2 favorites +] [!]
They both have strong comedy-duo traditions, as well. They're both secular yet steeped in tradition. They're two of the most famous tea-drinking countries. Both are known for certain private kinks, possibly due to rebound due to strict social hierarchy (note: I am talking out my ass here). Both were island fortresses and hearts of empire. Oh, and if Britain:Japan::Ireland:Korea.
posted by jtron at 3:13 AM on August 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


You know that's not what the Japanese really eat, right?
posted by Jakey at 4:48 AM on August 26, 2010 [6 favorites]


I was at Rez fest when the film maker, who spoke no English, came to NYC specifically to show the first episode of Love Relationships to American audiences for the first time. The YouTube link kinda ruins it because it's got Japanese dubs over English dubs and Japanese subtitles over English ones, which is not at all how I saw it. BUT, I humbly submit that it is the best of all the linked videos. We're talking about a courtship instructional video that teaches you to do a hadouken in order to win your mate. Not in a video game. In real life. I adore those videos. But onto my story:

The director, who again spoke no English, did a q and a session after the screening. If you watch the love relationship series, you'll notice there's a point where they teach you to tell a joke. They tell you that the secret to telling jokes is to say something that's not true and then open you mouth wide and yell "Aaaaahhhh!" that is the signifier for joke, so people will then laugh. During the q and a session, the director had a translator, and at one point someone asked him if there would be more episodes of Love Relationships. The director gave an answer in Japanese that must have taken 15 years to say. It was a LONG answer. The translator then leaned into the microphone and said, "No."

Then the director yelled "Aaaaaahhhhh!" so we all knew it was a joke.
posted by shmegegge at 5:24 AM on August 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


I'm kind of afraid to watch these lest I internalize a joke I don't understand.

I've internalized a joke
that I don't understand
I feel like I'm a member
of some total stranger's band
I'm holding onto wisps of smoke
I need to hold your hand
I've internalized a joke
that I don't understand

The captain stepped right up to me
and threw me overboard
You're just a joke
he screamed to me
a joke I can't afford
so once again I'm set afloat
again I'm all at sea
all this water, that's the joke
that's gonna swallow me

Sharks are circling all around
I know my time ain't long
But here I am as usual
with another stupid song
and I think about the captain
his wish was my command
when I internalized a joke
I didn't understand
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:49 AM on August 26, 2010 [5 favorites]


Thank you, Jessamyn! :)
posted by zarq at 7:03 AM on August 26, 2010


Can someone explain the salt thing in the sushi video, please?
posted by Gordafarin at 9:01 AM on August 26, 2010


Salt at the door
posted by zarq at 9:08 AM on August 26, 2010


You mention they are on DVD and post that link. Is there a place/link where it would be easy for a non-Japanese reading/speaking US based person to order?
posted by OwlBoy at 10:38 AM on August 26, 2010


Yes Asia would be my first choice. They're a great resource for Chinese, Japanese and Korean movies and DVD's. This one's expensive, and I'm not sure what shipping would be.

Alternatives: I believe CD Japan and Amazon Japan will ship.

But it's a Region 2 DVD that may not play on many US machines. Something to keep in mind.
posted by zarq at 10:57 AM on August 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thank you Zarq, so very very much. I has seen the Sushi one many years back, but didn't realize there were more. I've now killed a good chunk of time laughing so hard I'm almost crying.
Japanese comedy often loves to make fun of themselves, but this adds a great foreigner’s misunderstanding level to common things too.

Gordafarin - The salt at the door is to drive away evil spirits / protect the guests while they are in the restaurant.
posted by Merlin The Happy Pig at 3:37 PM on August 26, 2010


I'd forgotten about not asking "Taisho" about their secret personal history and lost it right there.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 4:11 PM on August 26, 2010


In those Mac ads, is there a significance to the fact that the mac says hello with 'domo,' while the PC says 'konnichiwa'?
posted by Hargrimm at 6:25 PM on August 26, 2010


In those Mac ads, is there a significance to the fact that the mac says hello with 'domo,' while the PC says 'konnichiwa'?

Using "domo" alone, as a greeting, is more casual than "konnichiwa". More light and easy-going. One wouldn't greet, say, one's teacher or boss or superior with a simple "domo". So the Mac, of course, is more of a chill, easy-going and not-bound-by-restricting-hierarchies kind of dude.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:37 PM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


YesAsia offers free international shipping, fyi!

Thanks for putting all these together. I'd seen the apologizing one but none of the others, and now I can't wait until I get home from work so I can watch them!
posted by you zombitch at 9:49 PM on September 9, 2010


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