There are two ways to get people to talk shit about you behind your back at a Japanese restaurant. One is asking for ketchup in a sushi joint, the other is ordering a cheese gyudon. The former doesn't need an explanation (and if it does, why don't you take a long hard look at your life and figure out who exactly hurt you), but the latter might require a bit of context to make sense.
Gyudon is a classic Japanese dish of beef over rice. It comes in a hundred different variations, and one of them, the one with cheese on top, is apparently the preferred dish of losers who've probably considered banging the gyudon beef bowl to know what it's like to have their chopstick inside something warm. As with most terrible things, this mental image comes to you courtesy of an anonymous internet user. In 2018, someone working at a Japanese employment support center posted about the people coming around to use their services, writing that most of them "looked uncool, wore glasses, had childish hairstyles" and just seemed like they weren't having trouble finding work because of all the parties they were constantly invited to. To illustrate their point, they posted this pic:
That is a drawing by Japanese artist and musician Ibiryo, showing a young man ordering cheese gyudon. The drawing doesn't have any deeper or malicious meaning (it looks like it was mainly made for fun). But combined with the post making fun of Japan's young jobless, it went beyond viral, over time helping create a brand-new societal stereotype of so-called Chigyu (cheese gyudon) guys, i.e., unpopular, unemployed dorks who aren't even smart enough to be nerds. Then, to prove that no one out-randoms Japan, the whole thing got even weirder when the creator of the Yakuza games got involved in it somehow.
Back in July, Sega's chief creative officer and creator of Yakuza, Toshihiro Nagoshi, was invited to discuss an eSports championship of the Puyo Puyo puzzle game. Now, you might be wondering what insights could the guy behind a gangster simulator have about a colorful tile-matching game, and Nagoshi is right there with you. He looked kind of bored and unsure why he was there for most of the interview, so when someone asked for his opinion on the Puyo Puyo players, his social filter was at less than 0:
The auto-translation isn't great, but that level of blow-off is universal.
In a segment that was eventually cut, Nagoshi says that the Puyo Puyo players "look like they eat cheese gyudon," very much meaning it as an insult. The comment ended up bringing the Chigyu stereotype more to the mainstream, but, in the end, the Puyo Puyo community had the last laugh after the tournament's champion, Tomo-kun, won nearly $10,000, became one of the country's youngest certified eSport athletes, and celebrated his victory with, what else, a bowl of cheese gyudon:
So maybe the ultimate lesson here is to enjoy whatever you like and screw what the haters say?
Top image: H. Phavee/Shutterstock