Friday, December 22, 2006

Paris syndrome

I've got a bunch of bizarre Japanese stories to blog...curiously most of them have appeared in the UK press rather than Japan. Perhaps it's part of the Christmas silly season, or a newly-posted journalist trying to make him/herself useful.

I'm not sure why Paris Syndrome has suddenly hit the news - it's an old story well-known over here (that BBC article even points out it was first described 20 years ago). What happens is that some Japanese have an unrealistically romanticised image of Paris, they go there and someone is unexpectedly rude to them, and they go into shock, have a complete breakdown and need to be repatriated by the embassy.

[I'd have thought the mountains of dog-shit on the pavements would be the biggest shock, but maybe that's peculiar to Nice.]

To be honest it's the sort of thing that sounds to me like an urban myth, but here's a particularly apposite "quote of the day" on japantoday.com with "French-style dessert chef" Yukiko Omori which seems to illustrate the syndrome perfectly:
When I went to Paris and entered a restaurant with a sign in Japanese and called to the waitress 'Excuse me,' in Japanese, she didn't turn around even once. It turned out she was Thai. So I don't want there to be so-called Japanese restaurants if they're inconsiderate toward guests and tourists.
Well indeed. How outrageous to not find authentic Japanese staff to serve in a "so-called Japanese restaurant" in Paris. You certainly wouldn't get Japanese people trying to make "French-style desserts" in Japan, that's for sure...

Of course the real motivation behind this quotation is to support the Japanese plan to certify "authentic" Japanese restaurants abroad. The irony of this will not be lost on anyone who has visited Japan, as the nation is second to none when it comes to bastardising foreign food to local tastes (Mayo and potato pizza, anyone? Or would you prefer a curry doughnut?). Not that there is anything wrong with a bit of local adaption in principle :-)

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

But you have to admit 99% of "Japanese" restaurants in Paris serve not so edible variation of various Japanese food. Turn the table around: Imagine a Parisian, taking a break from his US tour, enters a "French" restaurant, oh say in Hollywood... I can picture his rant already...

James Annan said...

TBH I have absolutely no experience of Japanese-style restaurants abroad but plenty of experience with non-Japanese style restaurants in Japan, and they are generally a very warped imitation of the real thing. But that's just my taste: no doubt the Japanese prefer them that way, which is why they sell that food.

French-style pastry shops (this woman's speciality) are a particularly common sight here, together with authentic curry doughnuts, potato salad sandwiches and cheese, mayonnaise and frankfurter buns etc...

This stupid woman's complaint wasn't even about the food, but the fact that they dared to employ a waitress who didn't speak Japanese!

Alec said...

I hope those people never come and visit Rapallo or Portofino !
Locals are so unfriendly, police forces so ignorant, prices so high and the quality of service so low that they really should suffer of the
"Portofino's Syndrome".
That's not a joke !

astrid said...

Alec said: "I hope those people never come and visit Rapallo or Portofino !
Locals are so unfriendly, police forces so ignorant, prices so high and the quality of service so low that they really should suffer of the
"Portofino's Syndrome".
That's not a joke !"

I agree, unfortunately the ligurian person are very very unfriendly.

Portofino still to be a unique place, anyway.

Just take a look here