近海る (Kin Kairu)

JET, Japan, Journalism and other J words

Archive for the category “Japanese Life”

“Love is Difficult for Nerds” vol. 1&2 and The Question of Balance

Carla: If you like her, you can’t keep lying to her about who you are!
Janitor: Hogwash! Lie forever, it’s the natural form of communication between men and women.
-Scrubs, Season 7 Episode 6: My Number One Doctor

Cover Vol 1Cover Vol 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How much do you disclose about yourself to a potential partner? To what extent, and how soon? Sure, it’s advisable to share a good amount of your interests, but what should or should not be held back at the beginning? There’s no real right answer to this, but living in a era where such a wide range of interests and hobbies exist, some of them are going to be lost on others. Perhaps it’s easier to find someone who already has a predisposition to your interests since they already understand the ins-and-outs of your particular like. It certainly makes for great common ground.

Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii, or “Love is Difficult for Nerds” as I’m personally translating it, is a massive seller among the respective audience here in Japan. Most recently the second volume outsold some major series when it came out at the end of March. With all the hype, the interesting title, and seeing the last two copies of each volume at the bookstore, I had to check it out. And it’s not hard to understand the popularity after reading: a slice-of-life rom-com with deep anime, manga, video game references and memes, posing some questions many of the readers are probably dealing with themselves.

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Newtypes

When I was tasked with helping a student adjust to their new upcoming life in America, I was a little confused on where to start. My fellow coworkers were just as uncertain, so I was basically given a blank slate as what to teach. I decided on lessons that would incorporate more complicated English, American history, and advice about moving to another country. When I began my first American History lesson, I asked her two questions.

“What do you know about American History?”

“Basically nothing,” she replied.

Ok, well, we got a lot of ground to cover…

“What do you think an American looks like?”

“Ummm, like a Native American?” she said with a bit of hesitation.

She always was a clever one.

I showed her a bit of a recent National Geographic piece that covers what “an American” might look like in the future. Simply, it’s hard to even define what an American looks like or “is” anymore with our population of rich backgrounds and cultures. I wanted to show her this because she too is a part of this change: A blonde haired, blue eyed Japanese-American citizen. Or in more modern Japanese slang, a “half.”

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“O MAI GAAA”: On Japanese-Altered English, Making Language Boring, and GRE Questions

Imagine you’re me for a moment: living in Japan for a few years, have a considerable amount of Japanese under your belt, and one day you find yourself at any given net cafe taking a four hour practice GRE test when this reading section question appears.

The Question

The Question

For those who, understandably, don’t feel like ruining their eyesight squinting at the small text, the left paragraph goes into detail about how Japanese commercials use foreign languages, from English to French and Italian, to heighten their sense of priority and significance. “The viewer usually does not understand [the foreign words], but the connotations of prestige associated with these languages are enough to warrant their use.”

The question reads as follows-“Which of the following would provide the best justification for the existence of English in Japanese commercials, despite the fact that most Japanese do not understand English?”

And from the variety of answer choices, the answer is #1-“To many Japanese, the mere voicing of an English word evokes a cosmopolitan splendor, thereby conferring sophistication onto whatever is being advertised.”

I would now like you to watch the following video which is a collection of Japanese commercials from early February of this year. Keep a mental track every time an English word/phrase (or what sounds like the Japanese pronunciation of an English word) is used or seen.

I think the important thing to remember here is that these commercials are not being targeted towards a foreign audience. These are made by Japanese people, for Japanese consumers. And yet, there was an exorbitant amount of English words/phrases interspersed within the ads.

Now, I fully understand the stance that most Japanese have learned or taken classes in English in some capacity, whether it is during their higher or lower education. I also have no doubt there are people on those advertising teams who do speak a fair amount of English. But can I just point out the ad featuring ninja-ladies and spouted “BE CONSIDERATE” and “CHANGE YOURSELF” was for boat racing?

And without the context that the Universal Studios Japan ad used “RE-BOOOOOOOOOOOOORN” to refer that the Jurassic Park ride was under construction and recently opened up, what the hell would that even mean to a) Japanese people who don’t know that word and b) people outside Japan who don’t know about the reopening?

Welcome to modern Japanese!

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Linguistically on the Job

I had my first dream fully in Japanese the other day. Not to say this is a first: I’ve had plenty of dreams in the past that involved the other language. But this was the first time I had a dream almost completely in Japanese. Yes, I know dreams are just one of the things people should never talk about, so I won’t bore you with the details. I will say the dream had me speaking some pretty fast and wild Japanese, with words and phrases saved only for the dramatic. Out of what I remember, at least.

Most likely this happened because I’ve been actively studying and hearing the Japanese language every day for the last two years. I like to believe I’ve come far in my Japanese studies, but I still have a while to go. However, there are many times right when I’m about to practice I run into an all too familiar situation:

What happens when the other person you’re speaking to only wants to speak English?

Not only an issue in Japan

Not only an issue in Japan

http://www.itchyfeetcomic.com/2013/11/second-mother-tongue.html#.Ve5xlNK8PGc

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Korea Part 1: The Great Escape

Here’s a little bit of advice for any of you that may be traveling soon.

Do not miss your flight.

Do NOT miss your flight.

DO NOT miss your flight.

DO. NOT. MISS. YOUR FLIGHT.

DO.

NOT.

MISS.

YOUR.

FLIGHT.

As I arrived 20 minutes late to check-in for my flight to Korea, my world began to slowly crumble. Peach Airlines, the great airline they are, said I was completely out of luck since their self check-in system had a hard lock for time. I slowly walked out of their terminal, onto the transfer bus and went to the main section of the airport in utter despair. At least they had WiFi there.

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“But we got to play”: Haikyu!! and the Dynamics of Japanese School Sports

Recently, I’ve been pretty into watching an anime called Haikyu!!. The story follows the lovable scamp named Hinata: a dude who loves volleyball and wants to become the star on his high school team. He’s joined by the cast of Kurasuno High, who are all just about the sport of “NICE KILL!”s and “ONE MORE POINT!”s.

I’m still trying to nail down what exactly it is about Haikyu!! that has me so invested. Maybe it’s the characters who bounce off each other so well. Maybe it’s how the rules and tactics are thoroughly explained, even though I only know about the sport on a surface level, but perhaps it’s just the pure enthusiasm that spews out of all the players. It’s probably just all of these things, but honestly it’s the first sports themed show I’ve really gotten into.

However, I think a large part of what makes Haikyu!! succeed is how honest it is about the Japanese school sports system. Now, I cannot comment if any other shows have addressed the same issues, but Haikyu!! is one of the most realistic (no dinosaur extinction final moves here) sports shows I’ve seen. In that way, I think I connect with it a little more, which is what I would like to talk about today.

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Expectravaganza Part 2: My Ordinary Life

Read part one of Expectravaganza here.

Hey, if you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, I’ve been having a blast with a case of the stomach flu. So here’s your Japanese word of the day: 胃腸炎/いちょうえん or gastroenteritis as WebMD was so eager to correct readers on. Anyway, we’re “back on schedule” now.

This part will mainly consist of things outside of the workplace, so let’s GGGGOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

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A Year and Stuff

I have a much different tone of this same post in another draft folder. In that post, I don more of a suit and tie, and speak like a best man at someone’s wedding: make fun of yourself, the ones you love and the future that’s yet untold.

However, I’ve never been a best man and honestly I’ve never been great at the whole “wedding” thing, so reading it now is a little odd.

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A Tale of Perseverance

Now, for the other reason I haven’t been writing as much: I just got an internship! I’m not sure how much at liberty I am to say exactly where, but maybe I’ll have a chance to write about the experience in the future. To say the least, it’s something that will at least allow me to harness my Japanese and Journalism skills.

But this isn’t just any old internship, at least for me. It was my third time applying for it.

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A Tale of Endurance

There are two reasons why I haven’t been writing as much on this blog. And we’re going go over one of them today.

I officially have a black belt in Judo!

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