Japanese culture offers many unique features that are hardly found elsewhere in the world, and Japan is now one of the most industrialized and advanced societies in the world. Japan is a highly urbanized country famous for its technological advances, which mixes its modernity with a millennial past.
Its millenary culture coexists with the capitalist and consumerist model that characterizes it , which can cause pathologies as strange as the Hikikomori. Well, in today’s article, we will talk about a condition that almost exclusively affects tourists from this Asian country: the Paris Syndrome .
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Paris Syndrome: what is it?
The Paris Syndrome is a psychological condition experienced almost exclusively by Japanese tourists who are very disappointed when they visit the city of light , that is, Paris.
In 1986, a Japanese psychiatrist, Hiroaki Ota, gave his name to a new illness, which he says occurs because Japanese tourists are disappointed when they visit this European city and it does not meet their romantic expectations. This condition is considered an extreme case of culture shock, causing symptoms such as anxiety, dizziness, sweating, delusions and even hallucinations, according to medical reports. But, why does the Parisian city make the Japanese sick?
According to the French psychiatric magazine Nervure , the Japanese feel a tremendous disappointment when they visit Paris, caused by unrealistic expectations about the city of the Seine. Paris is the city of love, fashion and glamorous people, and therefore a very popular destination for Japanese tourists. In Tokyo, the capital of Japan, it is possible to find French pastry shops or luxury stores like Chanel or Louis Vuitton due to the great admiration they have for the Parisian culture. About six million Japanese visit Paris every year.
An idyllic image of Paris that does not correspond to reality
The Japanese media associate the city of Paris with romantic films such as Amelie, in which romanticism is present on every corner.
They think that French citizens are very friendly and the city is governed by a harmony in which order is part of everyday life. But when the reality of the modern city of Paris does not fit with the expectations that many tourists have and are able to experience in their own flesh the rude behaviour of some waiters or the confusing transport system, they begin to suffer the symptoms of the Paris Syndrome. Japanese tourists are unable to cope with the exhaustion caused by the language barrier and the culture shock , which causes them serious problems of psychological stress.
An article in the newspaper ABC reports that the Japanese embassy in the French capital makes available emergency hospitalization services for the treatment of this syndrome. In fact, the Japanese embassy located in Paris repatriates up to 12 Japanese citizens per year to recover from the shock, states the magazine Very Interesting . This institution has a 24-hour helpline.
Causes of Paris Syndrome
Paris is an incredible city, with very romantic cafes and restaurants and beautiful places to visit, such as the Eiffel Tower. Paris is a culturally rich city, but it is far from meeting the expectations that the Japanese have of the city of love. Japanese society is very disciplined, and Japanese citizens are very calm and are used to living in a very vertical and hierarchical society that values the group over the individual, thus relieving tensions and conflicts and achieving social harmony.
Japanese tourists are greatly impacted by the quality of service in Paris and when they experience the behaviour of some French citizens they are unable to understand it. The French may seem rude even without wanting to be .
In addition, the level of English is poor in France, so the communication barrier is a reality. The atmosphere in Paris can be tense, the Parisians can be really aggressive and verbal aggression is a reality. This is very visible in some metro stops that connect to the suburbs, where the presence of pickpockets and common criminals can be really dangerous. The truth is that the level of unemployment is high in this country and racial conflicts exist, especially at night. This means that Paris can become unsafe , and tourists are easy prey for pickpockets because they always have money on them and are a bit absent-minded.
Visiting Paris: a bad experience for some Japanese citizens
In the idyllic vision of Paris that Japanese citizens have, the streets are full of attractive people, which is not always the case.
The Japanese expect everything to be beautiful, and touring the depressed areas of the city (for example, by train) can come as a shock to them. Paris is a city worth visiting, but for some Japanese it can be a bad experience .