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For a large chunk of Japan’s history, there wasn’t much time to think about the future. Instead, most people’s days were filled with more immediate concerns, like trying to figure out how to survive the civil wars that were all the rage in the country during most of the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries.

Things finally settled down in the early 1600s, though, and ordinary Japanese citizens entered into a long period of internal stability. Finally having enough time to muse about things to come, they came up with a list of predictions about Japan’s future, some of which are nowhere near how reality has turned out, and some of which were spot on.

The first batch of predictions comes from the Edo Period, which began in 1603 as the Tokugawa shogunate took control of Japan.

1. The fashion of young people, with loose-fitting kimonos and incredibly long topknots, will be unimaginably avant-garde.

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Kimonos and topknots haven’t changed so much as disappeared, although the former have experienced something of a renaissance among young people in recent years. Still, Japanese fashion has shown a steady trend towards less formal clothing in non-work settings, and a walk through one of Tokyo’s trendier neighborhoods is always bound to turn up at least a few flamboyantly funky ensembles.

2. Getting your hands on fresh, in-season bonito will become difficult, with the price of one fish rising to the present-day equivalent of several million yen (tens of thousands of US dollars).

Thankfully for seafood fans, this hasn’t come to pass. In the Edo Period, a whole bonito would cost you, converted into modern currency terms, about 200,000 yen ($1,855). These days, the going price for an average-sized 8-kilogram (17.6-pound) bonito is about 18,000 yen ($170). So while shortages are driving up the price of some foodstuffs in Japan, like unagi (freshwater eel), you’re still living in a good time if you love bonito.

3. Women will have a higher social status, and be able to use their money to buy men.

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They may not be able to buy them outright, but just about every major city in Japan now has host clubs where women can at least rent a man’s company for a few hours. Plus, as we recently pointed out, there are a number of ways women in Japan enjoy a position of power.

4. The aging society will cause red light districts to be overrun with the elderly.

Things haven’t gotten to this point yet, but it’s worth noting that some researchers predict that by 2050, more than half of Japan’s population will be over 50 years old. And while some seniors are likely to see their lusty urges fade as they age, others will figure they’re now old enough to be as pervy as they want to be, and it’s only natural that businesses in the skin trade will cater to this growing demographic. After all, we’ve already seen the opening salvo of grannies taking over as the starring characters in girl-rearing video games.

That wraps up the list of expectations from the Edo Era, which came to a close in 1868. However, the people of the Meiji Era, which came next, had their own set of predictions.

5. You’ll be able to talk to friends overseas using a wireless telephone

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Everyone with a cell or smartphone knows this came true.

6. Wild beasts will be extinct.

The vagueness of the Japanese language makes judging the accuracy of this prediction tricky. The way it’s phrased in Japanese makes it impossible to tell if they were referring to one species, some species, or all species. We’re giving partial credit for it, since in the time since the Meiji Period started, we have lost some of our animal friends to extinction, and the amount of contact we have with “beasts” in our daily life has become small enough that a couple of meerkats can draw a crowd just by showing up on the streets of Tokyo.

7. The Sahara Desert will be cultivated, and Asia and Africa will become major centers of civilization.

Asian and African nations have indeed seen a considerable rise in their economic and political power since the early 19th century. The Sahara is still a desert, though.

8. You’ll be able to circumnavigate the world in seven days

In the age of commercial jet air travel, if it takes you seven days to get around the globe, I hope you got a great deal on the tickets, because that is one crazily indirect route you’re flying.

9 Military air forces and air fortresses will come into being

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We may not have any floating castles, but yes, the age of commercial jet air travel is also the age of military air combat.

10. Mosquitos and fleas will no longer exist

We’re sure the fact that we still have both has some sort of great importance to the interconnected web of life on planet Earth. Doesn’t make us itch any less when we get bitten, though, or our dogs any more compliant when it’s time for a flea bath.

11. Without leaving home, you’ll be able to obtain colored photographs of places far away.

Coming to the very end of the list, it’s funny to see just how rapidly technology has changed the scale of expectations. The Meiji Period ended in 1912, when even producing a color photo to begin with was a difficult and expensive process. Now though?

▼ Bam – picture (in color!) of my desk in Yokohama, viewable by anyone in the world with an Internet connection.

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Color photos? Heck, we’ve got text and videos, too, giving us everything from the news, directions to anywhere you want to go, or recipes for anything we want to cook.

▼ Want to learn how to make some Jack-‘o-lantern steamed buns? Here you go.

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So while some might pine for Japan’s kimono-filled past, or feel trepidation about its horny octogenarian-packed future, the present is still pretty awesome.

Source: Naver Matome
Top image: Naver
Insert images: RocketNews24, Rapport Analysis, Googirl, Blogzine