(originally published on October 29, 2010)
Each year, around this time, it’s highly recommended that you review your zombie outbreak preparedness plan – experts say it’s not a matter of if, but when. With a cremation rate of 99.85% (2008 data), Japan and their corpse count, or lack thereof, would seem an ideal place to to ride out a plague of the undead. In the text that follows I would like to analyze the pros and cons of the East vs. the West, so that each of us can make informed decisions regarding our own contingency plans for the impending zombie pandemic.
Japan’s Safety Profile
First, when we model out the spread of a zombie pandemic the most essential question is its origination. If the zombie outbreak first originates outside of Japan, and there are no signs of lengthy incubation periods, an initial assessment of the situation may justly lead many to flee to Japan as soon as possible. With very few corpses lying around in the ground, and an ocean surrounding the country, Japan seems to be ideally positioned as a place to not get your brains chewed out.
However, in an entirely different scenario, where the outbreak occurs in Japan, one can easily imagine the devastating consequences of being in the land of the rising dead. In a previous essay, Jim Hawe makes some excellent assertions that question the core of Japan’s safety profile. First of all, the geographic make-up of Japan could be tragically disadvantageous. Densely populated urban areas serve as ideal feeding grounds. And very little land to actually run to, coupled with the likely probability that other countries would deny you entry due to fear of contamination, certainly raises questions about Japan’s zombie outbreak preparedness.
The lack of guns and other heavy artillery has served Japan well in maintaing a safe, civil and peaceful society over the years. But, just a equally, this will be a crippling weakness as the unaffected desperately search for means to fend off their attackers. Although popularized as an ideal weapon in the Max Brooks novel “World War Z,” in reality any type of samurai sword would prove much more problematic than one might imagine. “Bladed weapons in general are not ideal because they will inevitably get stuck in things and become dull,” said Matt Mogk, founder and head researcher of Zombie Research Society (ZRS).
Culture Matters: Asian Zombie vs. Western Zombie
There is an important component that often gets overlooked when analyzing the fundamental zombie preparedness of Japan. And that is the cultural, and I would argue, genetic, differences between eastern and western zombies. For those who are not familiar, allow me to introduce the kyonshi (殭屍), the Asian zombie. Claiming ancestry in China, the kyonshi (which terrified the sh*t out of me as a child) have several noteworthy characteristics that, I would argue, make them less competitive compared to their Western counterparts.
Currently the only known way to quiet a zombie is to bash their brains in. This is a task that is as difficult as it is gruesome, and only slightly easier if aided by a shotgun. However, kyonshi can be sedated by tactically placing a small scroll with buddhist inscriptions on the forehead (as pictured above). Also, (and this helps in assisting the first objective) kyonshi are legally blind. They detect human presence from the smell of our breath, making a cornered escape realistically possible by simply holding your breath.
Kyonshi are also known to have hardened joints, rendering their arms and legs inflexible. They mobilize their bodies by hopping, extending their arms in front of them to maintain balance. While this can serve as an initial disadvantage, it is worth pointing out that, over time, their joints are known to soften, allowing them to walk and in some cases even run.
There is scientific literature that backs up the claim that Kyonshi hate mirrors and being pissed on. So as long as you have your vanity and stay hydrated you have several choices for defense, without resorting to shotguns and crowbars. Which leads me to my final point. Despite their obvious non-competitive traits, kyonshi should not be taken lightly. As Sun Tzu famously wrote in Art of War, “know thy enemy.” So store this information in an accessible location. It will undoubtedly serve you well as you seek survival.
Have a happy halloween
(Note: Although Spoon & Tamago considers the above information to be accurate and correct, it should not be relied upon as a sole means for evaluating personal zombie preparedness plans. Evolution and/or mutation of the zombie virus will always be a variable in said situations. Spoon & Tamago cannot be held liable for any of the said tactics proving ineffective or unimplementable.)