Here is a big JPEG of the latest version (1.6) of the Japan Hierarchy, and here’s a PDF you could theoretically print out. I created this masterwork, such as it is, with the Omni Group’s wonderful OmniGraffle software. While various personages who prefer to remain anonymous did provide a significant amount of credit-worthy input, I am solely responsible for its contents and maintenance.
If you are a Japan nerd in any capacity, you may find this moderately amusing.
I was inspired by Lore Sjöberg’s Geek Hierarchy to create a version diagramming the legions of Japan people. My hierarchy was linked, first on Lore’s Blog and then by a couple of high-profile bloggers (Gen Kanai, I think, and Joi Ito), finally hitting BoingBoing in July of 2004.
It also got passed around the Japanese web a certain amount.
In any case, there was some confusion that resulted in the discussions that followed, which I will now clear up, in classic FAQ style.
You stole this from The Brunching Shuttlecocks!
Actually, I got the idea from the Brunching Shuttlecocks, and that site as well as Mr. Sjöberg were always credited with the original idea of diagramming the sorts of ridiculous rules by which people stratify themselves. In no way did I fail to give credit where it was due. You’ll note that Lore himself was among the first to link to the hierarchy.
This is wrong, it’s much more complicated, real Japanese society is stratified according to…
First, it’s a joke. Of course it’s not accurate. Secondly, it’s not about Japanese society, it’s about people whose vocations, avocations, or hobbies relate in some way to Japan, but who are not Japanese themselves. If you’d look at the very top of the hierarchy, you would see that the entirety of Japanese society is above everybody else on the hierarchy.
Why don’t you add a sub-hierarchy for military people serving in Japan?
Because I don’t know anything about the military.
That suggests you know something about the rest of these.
It sure does.
I don’t know, some of those lower categories are pretty far-fetched—are there really people like that?
I want to stress that while the final category is indeed a joke, I have personally met or dealt with people in every other category. Yes, I have met people who insist on being called by a Japanese pseudonym when they are manifestly not Japanese, and yes, there are people who believe they were anime characters in a past life.
Cool, I want to link to it.
Feel free. Please link to this page, instead of direct-linking the image.