by Ewa Nowogorski
Japanese social drama is something that should be juxtaposed as it hugely contradicts the harmonious ideas and peaceful mentalities of the society.
Time and time again, you have heard that Japanese people do not like to stand out and avoid conflict as much as possible, but there are exceptions to this idea that completely crush it.
Much drama goes on at school as well as in the workplace, but it does not get as bad as cat fights and fist fights between people who have qualms with each other. But clashes between senpai and kohai can get quite intense, especially during the adolescent years.
In Japan, there are few things people take more seriously than clubs, and to be part of a club requires a huge commitment of time, energy, and often money. In high school and university especially, you are expected to bow down to the whims of your seniors, and you have fewer rights and privileges than them. They will always receive preference for supplies and activities, and the juniors will always be “on the bench” and on cleaning duty. To fail to turn up at club events, even when sick, can have a serious impact on the club, and not just the absent member, so they sometimes have to pay a fine.
When the drama gets really bad, you will often see people yelling or scolding, with the other party down on their knees kowtowing in apology. I have heard about it and seen it myself. Clubs are really intense. There is a little-known rumor that it’s hard for international students to get into clubs at university when they’re studying abroad or even full-time because Japanese students reject or discourage their application, shutting them down with things like, “it’s a really tough club. Are you sure you can handle it?” Being ghosted by your club is not uncommon either. Japanese students do this because they do not think foreign students will be able to fully commit and might slack off.
There also tends to sometimes be drama during after school cleaning duty and during breaks in between classes. This is where you will see the most bullying and senpai to kohai harrassment. In America there is no divide between older students and younger students, and any social drama that erupts is usually do to personal vendettas.