It took me many years to understand the all-pervasive uses of that word. Whether it was crossing the street against the light, stumbling on a step or skirting around a group of kids on the street, the Japanese around would invariably say "abunai!" But really, was I such a danger to those children?
Finally it started to dawn on me that the literal translation of "dangerous" was not quite right. "Watch out!" or "Pay Attention" were perhaps closer.
On the other hand, maybe the Japanese did use "abunai" because of an inherent sense of danger. For such a "safety country", people here often seem to be afraid of the silliest situations. The lady delivering my kerosene advised me not to leave the blue plastic tubs outside the front door in case someone tried to set my flat on fire. Another friend said not to leave my chopping knives in the dish rack in case a burglar broke in; he could then use them to stab me. Really? People , what is with you?
These metaphysical musings really got me thinking: Danger. Japan. Oxymoron?
The myth of Japan as "The Safety Country" is slowly being eroded. It’s not just the issue of crime. Natural disasters; the crumbling health care system; food safety, building safety; product liability issues; air, water, ground pollution and transportation mishaps are reported daily in the nation’s newspapers. Is it any wonder the Japanese people feel their country is not as safe as it used to be?
So we set out to see just how dangerous Japan really is. What we found was lots of hype and a media culture frothing at the mouth in an attempt to exploit events to drive up their ratings. So we decided, if it works for them, maybe we should give it a go! Enjoy!