Author: Masaki Watanabe

“Open Letter” to Son Studying in Japan: Things I Must Tell You …Though You (Think) You’ve Heard ’em All

And, this you’ve heard me say before, Japan is a very densely-layered ancient society with rich culture (e.g. variety of food) with strongly-held, complex values with constant, built-in pressure toward conformity that sometimes works in unfathomable ways. I’ve watched sensitive foreigners who want to gain acceptance, including those who are racially Japanese, even start seeing things and thinking like a Japanese without quite realizing it themselves.

Do Japanese Tend to Think There’s One Standard English?

After Japan, through her high economic growth period, joined the ranks of advanced nations and after the US and Canadian governments officially apologized and made some compensation in the late 1980s for their suffering in the past, Japanese North Americans have been able to live their lives without worrying too much about prejudice against Japanese culture for some time now. I wonder how many Japanese words still remain in their English, and whether new words have been adopted. There must be many readers who have first-hand knowledge.

More Young Females Leaving Japan For Konkatsu (Marriage Partner Seeking Activities) Abroad

“Many people set age 30 as a kind of time limit by when they want to acquire a skill and find a job,” said a can-do type from Osaka who worked as an office data processor to save money and came to Canada. Finding a “partner for life” by age 30 if possible, would be a reasonably natural objective for a woman—or a man. But such a crucial encounter, alas, cannot be planned the way acquiring English and other skills and finding a job can be. But at the very least, the pro-active drive with which these members of the once-upon-a- time “weaker sex” pursue their various possibilities deserves respect.

Does “Japadog” Sound Offensive?

In the Japanese language, the name is pronounced “Japadoggu” Because long words both foreign and Japanese are often abbreviated, “Japa,” as short for Japan or Japanese, is sometimes used. At an international university I attended in Tokyo in the 1960s, students from abroad were officially referred to as “non-Japanese” to avoid using the word “foreigner.” Japanese students and staff found “non-Japanese” too much of a mouthful, so they all said “non-Japa” instead. Pretty soon, Japanese students with mixed cultural and educational background were being called “han-Japa,” meaning “half-Japanese.”

Egalitarian Canada Kinder to Consumers Than Japan?

For an old timer still more used to windows one had to roll up and down manually, the array of electrically controlled mechanisms from seat position and height adjustments, seat warmers, and mirrors and the top quality audio system with 6 disc CD player turned out to be a novelty, but not a must. How many CDs can one listen to during a 30-minute ride? How often does one adjust seats? All these little amenities that people who live in big houses with electronic controls and indoor swimming pools might take for granted were in fact superfluous as far as our lifestyle was concerned.

How to Think of Life. As Something Cyclical or Linear?

Things that can be quantitatively measured, from one’s income to physical strength to one’s metabolic rate inevitably decline linearly. Such is life. Having accepted that, why not continue to reach for seemingly attainable possibilities? That would be my “reminder” for the new year 2010.

That “Mattari” Feeling…

Why don’t young Japanese these days want to venture out? Some say it’s because of the economic downturn but then, the Japanese were generally poorer in the old days. The columnist concludes that people would rather go to a hot-spring resort inside Japan where they can relax feeling “mattari.” Having apparently entered general usage about five years ago, the word “mattari” is nowadays even used by elementary school kids.