The End – The Doors
Last year, in Japan, we visited a theme park in the city of Beppu, in Kyushu, It boasted of being one of the region’s “Top 31” attractions. We had a good laugh about that. Presumably not in the Top 30, we figured.
I had been lent a book about Japan by a friend. Serendipitously, the book turned out to have been written by my anthropology supervisor from university (Professor Alan Macfarlane). So I was delighting (!) the rest of my family by infusing our adventure with ethnography.
It transpires that Japanese people actively avoid “Top 10” type lists. The round number implies, to them, that the length of the list was defined first, and then populated afterwards. What to Western eyes looks tidy, to Japanese eyes looks contrived. Where we might use the number of places on the list as a proxy criterion for judging candidates, Japanese would have to determine some other criteria for inclusion/exclusion. If a Japanese person were compiling a list, (s)he’d even be inclined to nudge the threshold for inclusion slightly in order to avoid ending off with a round number of entries.
For similar reasons, they tend not to sell things in tidy sets of 4 or 6, preferring odd and awkward numbers. (I bought a lovely set of 5 pairs of chopsticks – perfect for our family.)
That moment, I’ve decided, is here. It doesn’t really matter how. Even if it’s in the middle of a