All of my life, I have been hearing stories of the end of the world. When I was a little kid, my maternal grandmother liked to talk about the signs of the Rapture and how they were starting to manifest. She did so with a little smile which made it seem as though this was good news, but it scared the hell out of me when I was young. Similarly, I heard about a variety of other dates which were supposed to be the last day we'd get to spend on earth. Each day passed and we're still here, but that didn't stop people from talking about it. Of course, this being 2012, I can't help but be aware of the big end of the world prediction people have been talking about for years now, the Mayan prophecy. Though I know all of this is nonsense, having been indoctrinated in such fear from a young age means that such talk creeps me out emotionally initially and then I have to rationalize myself out of it afterwards. I hate such fear-mongering and fatalism, and I have been lucky to live in a culture which does not indulge in end-of-the-world talk for the past decade or so. Most of my Japanese acquaintances haven't even heard of the Mayan prophecy and those who have heard such end of the world talk dismiss it immediately.
Perhaps the Japanese, having suffered enough real horrors that felt like apocalypses, have no need of such fanciful speculation. I will miss living in a culture that doesn't seem to relish talking about the end of the world.