Yesterday, I went to Daikanyama near Shibuya with my friend. Daikanyama is a very high-class shopping area full of boutiques. Of course, because of that, it's always full of beautiful girls and women walking around in high fashions and $700 dollar shoes. Because of this, I knew I had to dress up.
I had on an expensive custom tailored business suit... My friend, Shea, had on a polo-shirt and short pants. I was fashionable. Shea, was, well, frankly speaking, a complete embarrassment and stuck out like a sore thumb...
Everyone else is running around in winter coats and jackets but my friend Shea looks like he just stepped off the plane from Miami... Come to think of it, he did! (See the lady on the right with the gray coat? She is thinking, "My goodness! Look at that dumb foreigner! It's still winter time!" - (even though it is 65 degrees F!))
As we sat at an outdoor "convenience store cafe" watching the world go by, I spied a couple of foreigners walking on the opposite side of the road. They had a map in their hands and were obviously looking for a building. They walked back and forth a few times, looking at the map, then discussing just where in the heck they were going...
They seemed kind of lost.
Roadside convenience store cafe in Daikanyama
I said, "See those two guys? They're lost. And you know why they are lost?".... Shea just shook his head...
I screamed, "They are lost because the Japanese can't draw a map to save their f*cking lives!..."
Shea laughed. I knew then that I had to finally share the truth with the world about World War II that I have learned from living in Japan. And that's why we're here, dear reader. Move over Smithsonian Institute! Now I am going to relate to the world what I told Shea and that is, I believe, one of the untold true reasons why Japan lost World War II...
But first, some facts about Japan and the Japanese:
1) Generally speaking, to be politically correct, the Japanese are Cartographically challenged; meaning the Japanese can't draw maps. Nope. They can't.
If you've ever been to Japan before then you know that, while having a map is better than not having a map, when you are looking for a particular building in Japan, using a Japanese map is a sort of exercise in Zen Buddhism. The map can get you "sort of" close to your destination, but actually finding where you are going will require you to be able to connect with some other-worldly power like Obiwan Kenobi.
"Use the force, young Luke! Use the force!"
Besides using the force, you'll also have to ask several people where the building or address you are seeking is located. In many cases, even if you ask the next-door neighbor, they won't know.
2) The Japanese (well, at least my wife and all the people I know who live in Tokyo) have a terrible sense of direction. They never know which way is North, South, East... Whatever. They don't have a clue. I haven't been able to figure out why that is exactly but I think it is because Tokyo is such a massively big city with 40 storey buildings in a 360 degree direction all around you. Since the buildings are so high up, there are Tokyoites who have never seen the sun rise their entire lives! (You think I'm joking, but I'm not)... Since these good folks don't normally see the sun rise, nor set, they have no idea which way is East or West. (Unless they go to someplace like Guam - which doesn't matter about directions, because all the Japanese know about Guam is that it is a 3-hour plane ride away to an island and it is warm.)
Since they don't know which way the sun rises, they certainly haven't a clue as to which way is south.
3) In Japan, most roads do not even have names! You know that big road near my house where the buses go up and down on it? You know what its name is? Do you know what it is called? Nope. No one else does either. It is just called (depending on who you are talking to), "That big road near our houses that the buses go up and down on." I'm not making that part up either. In Japan, you have to be a true Zen Master to be able to decipher the craziness of the way roads are set up and what they are to be referred to as. Really.
4) And, on that issue, besides the roads not having names, since this is such an old country, the cities aren't set up like American cities. In America, the cities and streets are all relatively new (last hundred years or so) and lined up in a grid in rectangular blocks. The streets all have their own names and the blocks are numbered in a logical sequence. You know, "A" street, "B" street, "C" street, etc. with houses numbered in 100 blocks.
In Japan, the cities are hundreds of years old so it is an indecipherable hodge-podge.
So, dear reader, now that you know this information, this brings us to the point of the day and the real issue here: Knowing this information, you now know the truth why the nation that had not lost a war in 2500 years, a nation that hadn't been humbled in battle even once before, lost World War II...
It had to do with addresses, roads and the post office in Japan.
The Real Reason Japan Lost the War!
You see, the longer the war went on, the worst things got. By 1942, things were going very badly for Japan. Japanese forces were spread thinly all throughout Asia. Japan needed all the soldiers they could get.
All the able bodied guys were drafted and sent off to the front. Now, who were the guys who were probably in the best physical shape back in the 1930's and early 40s? Well, the people who were running around as part of their jobs! That's right! And who had jobs that required them to be physically fit and run around all day, everyday?
The guys working at the Post Office. Of course!
Think about it! Who says this: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds"? The US Postal Service does, right? So the guys in Japan say basically the same thing, but, as the Japanese are wont to do, the verbiage comes out a bit different. Here it is:
"Happiness is a loving each mail letter to be the delivery now!"...
Or something like that.
Anyway, the Japanese postal workers who ran around delivering mail all day were in much better shape than the guys sitting at office desks all day, so the government sent those guys off first to the front to fight in the war. And this caused all sorts of unintended consequences. Sure these ex-postal worker guys were rough and tumble and ready to go for the war effort, but, then who is left to deliver the important mail? Who could possibly decipher the address and the street system for delivering mail on time since the experts were now gone? Who could do these appointed rounds except the postal worker guys with experience who had been doing it for years and years? Nobody. That's who.
You see when US soldiers sent letters back home asking for help, those pieces of mail got delivered correctly, promptly and on time and because a brain-dead chimpanzee can understand the American road and address numbering system.
But, on the other side of the fence, when the Japanese soldiers wrote letters back home, those letters were now being delivered by confused housewives and replacement postal workers who didn't have a clue as to where anything was located. So whenever a Japanese soldier would write, "Trouble! Help! Send lawyers, guns and money!" then that letter would take an extra 3 or 4 days (more?) to get delivered...
And, you know, when the shit is hitting the fan at the front, 3 or 4 days is a lifetime.
And now you know the real reason why Japan lost the war.
NOTE: Don't believe me? OK. Take this test and see for yourself. Here is a map of a typical US neighborhood. See? Everything is in a line and the numbers are straight and logical. If you start anywhere and go one street and turn right, then turn right at the next street, then turn right once again, you'll wind up right where you started in the first place....
Next is a map of Harajuku. Chaos. This is typical of Japan's streets... If you start anywhere and go one street and turn right, then turn right at the next street, then turn right once again, you won't be anywhere near you started from; you'll be totally lost and up serious deep-shit creek! Try it yourself! Take the "Mike Test"; start at any point, A, B, C or D. Go up a street and turn right at the first street you come to, repeat... See? You are now totally completely and hopelessly lost... Especially since you can't read any of the road signs!
The good thing about all this, though, is that the Japanese are kind. If you ask them directions, they'll try to help you... Not like these guys:
I love Japan!
To my friend, Shea.