It often helps, when I'm confronted with something in Japan that I find silly or stupid or insane, if I can think of its American correlation. Like, when I heard that the national weather bureau tries to predict when the sakura (cherry blossoms) will bloom in different areas across the country, and tracks the sakura front across the country from south to north each year, I thought that was kind of obsessive. And then I remembered that the meteorologists in Syracuse also include a fall foliage map in their TV reports when the leaves begin to turn, and recommend areas to visit to see the trees at their peak color.
Sometimes the whole "group mentality" still boggles this mind, but maybe a year ago I remembered something from sixth grade.
We were doing a group writing assignment, maybe a dozen of us together. One person started off a story with one or two sentences. The next person added to the story however they wanted, the next person added more, and so on, until we'd all contributed and finished the story. I'd done stories like this at my old school in the gifted class I'd attended, and they were great fun. Our stories were really crazy and entertaining. This story, though, seemed kind of bland in comparison, so when it was my turn I threw in something wild... I think it was martians. Some of the kids thought it was odd, but nobody really complained, and we continued. A couple minutes later my mom came to pick me up for a dentist appointment, so I had to leave the class before the story was finished.
The next day my teacher approached me, looking guilty. "After you left yesterday... we decided to change your part. We hope you don't feel bad—everyone was really worried about hurting your feelings—but we all thought your part was just too weird."
I. Couldn't. Think. Clearly. Everyone had waited until I left, and then formed a coup against my contribution to the story? They hadn't had the guts to tell me in person that they didn't like my part. My teacher hadn't had the guts to support me in my absence. Nobody had had the sense of humor to appreciate something the slightest bit nonsensical, nor the creativity to move on with the story whether they liked it or not. And the rewrite—oh heavens, the abomination that causes desolation! No more martian intervention; now the grizzly bear just decides of its own volition not to eat the old man. I think I'm more upset about this now than I was then, but I definitely knew that a cardinal rule of Group Story had been broken.
America: Land of the free, home of the brave, amen.