A 3000 kilometer long dark cloud has enveloped Japan. It appears to have been completely missed by the experts, and we are concerned not to have once seen warnings on the weather reports. It seems to have gone completely unnoticed and yet is having a profound effect on the entire country. It has been detected recently by many of us at stippy, and after further investigation, is being widely referred to as the “Taihen Cloud”.
It is almost impossible to recognize the Taihen Cloud when one is on the ground surrounded by it, but once you know where to look, it is glaringly obvious, and its scope and intensity startling. Everything that lies under the cloud is affected by its unique power, and it affects every single person in Japan, every single day.
Said to be the northern hemisphere opposite of the cloud covering the “Land of the Long White Cloud” (Aotearoa, the land mass off the Eastern coast of Australia), the Taihen Cloud covers Japan almost completely from the tropical south to the freezing north. It is however said to be concentrated in relation to population density, therefore large cities like Tokyo and Osaka have the highest Taihen concentration levels.
A loose English translation of “taihen” (大変） is “it is hard, or difficult”. Everything that is taihen is much more difficult to do than usual. And the spread of the Taihen Cloud over the whole country has ensured that now almost everything has become difficult to do. This is not to be confused with “mendokusai” (面倒くさい), which means “it is a hassle for me to do”, which is not a reflection of difficulty, but more of the motivation or laziness of the person concerned.
The correct Japanese pronunciation for the cloud is taihen-kumo (大変雲), but is often mispronounced by young and old as taihen-kamo (大変かも), which also means, “it might be taihen”, and is commonly used in this nuance.
The Taihen Cloud makes everything about life, well, taihen. It is what raises the stress levels of people in Japan to unnecessary heights, and forces the difficulty levels of even the simplest tasks through the roof. It is what has caused Japan to lead the world in previously unknown phenomena such as Monday Morning Suicides, and “karoshi” (過労死, commonly referred to as death from overwork, however karoshi is not possible independent of the Taihen Cloud). It is what causes groups of people to stand around for excruciatingly long periods of time deciding simple matters such as what to eat for dinner, and then just as long to scrutinize the menu to make the difficult decision of what to eat. An advanced symptom is feeling the effect of the Taihen Cloud is the ad nauseas use of the phrase “dou shiyou!?” (どうしよう？ what shall I/we do?).
The moment when most people will feel the actual existence of the Taihen Cloud, is when they take off in a plane, rocket up into the sky and out of the local atmosphere. The subsequent feeling of having shed some weight, is the Taihen Cloud falling away from your shoulders. Unfortunately though, an adverse effect of the Taihen Cloud is that after a long period under its presence, it begins to permeate into the core of those affected, covering all, like a thick cloud of Taihen fog. As a result, when many people (even the unwary gaijin), fly up out of Japan into a taihen-less environment, for a period of time things can still appear taihen. The best therapy for this is simply time away in a relaxed environment, and can be accelerated by an afternoon or two of fishing brown trout out of a serene lake in the mountains.
One of the reasons the Taihen Cloud has grown so quickly, and on a national scale is its contagiousness. One person saying “dou shiyou”, can spark off others, and before anyone can stop it, brows become ruffled, and everything is too hard – the taihen pandemic.
As an unnatural meteorological phenomenon, theoretically the population of Japan should be able to take measures to effect the dissipation of the Taihen Cloud. However without the charisma and marketing budget of Al Gore, our inconvenient truth is that we do not have the means to undertake the national campaigns, lobbying and other efforts necessary to make it disappear over night. And in any case, this is probably much too taihen.
However, over time, with the right steps, we still hope that the Taihen Cloud can be overcome. The first step we would like to suggest, and here at stippy.com are considering petitioning the Japanese Government, is that the phrase “dou shiyou” be completely removed from the Japanese language. We would also suggest that this is complemented with the introduction of new educational programs focused on building vocabulary, to fill the obvious and uncomfortable hole in speech left by “dou shiyou”.
The old adage that realizing the problem is 50 percent of its solution likely rings true in the case also. With more awareness of the Taihen Cloud and its symptoms, and a concerted effort to introduce popular foreign phrases such as “no worries”, and “heaps of time”, things may not be as taihen as they seem.