I have newfound sympathy for the tissue dispensers of Japan.
Ok that sounds a bit odd so here’s the explanation for anyone who hasn’t had a chance to wander the streets of Japan.
The humble flyer or pamphlet may be king in your part of the world but here in Japan the pocket pack of tissues reigns supreme. It’s unsurprising really in a nation so concerned with allergies, the flu and even the slightest case of the sniffles that they will don a mask without a moment’s hesitation that tissues would become the predominant force of street level advertising. Wander down any street in a major city, or in fact along any route with guaranteed foot traffic, say the front of a train station or the path leading to a university and you’re sure to encounter someone trying to hand you pocket tissues emblazoned with advertising.
In the past I’ve smiled, shook a hand, told them, “I’m ok thanks.”
Last weekend in Tokyo after doing some pre-wedding dance rehearsals, not my wedding, right by the entrance in Yoyogi Park I figured I’d managed my quota for mild embarrassment for the day.
One of the dancers that day is the man behind Sayonara Speed Tribes. We have a mutual friend and having met while playing poker, using pistachio nut shells in lieu of chips, we evidently know each other well enough for myself and the soon to be betrothed buddy of ours to be roped into handing out flyers/postcards for the screening of the documentary that night in Shimokitazawa.
So outside Yoyogi, quite possibly illegally, we set to the task of dispensing with a stack of around thirty postcards each, alternating between basic Japanese and English when we saw non-Japanese faces we tried to flog every last one of them.
Bousouzoku dokumentari de gozaimussssssssss.
Biker gangs in Japan documentary!
So how’d it go?
Well, it may have been a lovely spring day but boy did it feel frosty.
We were snidely laughed at by young Japanese men who thought it hilarious that a foreigner was handing out flyers and/or speaking Japanese.
We were flat out ignored by many people who simply refused to acknowledge our mere existence.
The young men did that too; it was quite the double act.
We were even dodged like the possessor of some virulent disease, the pedestrian taking an almost comically wide berth as they evaded our attention afraid we might breath advertising on them.
It was a nice reminder of why I often enjoy small city life so much. It’s not just being a little further south that makes where I live a bit warmer.
On the other hand though, some people did stop. Some even spoke. It wasn’t unrelenting cold shoulders and that made all the difference. Ten people in a row flat out ignoring you really is made all the easier by just one person paying the slightest bit of notice to you. Saying something, even if it’s saying, “no thanks” or just smiling and shaking their head makes an otherwise thankless task so much easier.
So if you took a flyer off me on Saturday, thank you!
And if you saw me dancing in the park… then let’s just pretend I was trying to give you a flyer.
Find out more about the movie and buy the dvd here.