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かわいい♡ ~What Makes the Japanese Love 'Kawaii' Things So Much ?~


Why do Japanese people love かわいい (kawaii or 'cute') persons or things so much?
It's very natural for kids to like such things but why does it even apply to grown-ups too?
If you go to places like 原宿(Harajuku) or 秋葉原(Akihabara), you see many kawaii things, and girls and adult ladies wear kawaii clothes like a little girl. <3
Isn't it weird? I mean if I am ,a 24-year-old girl, said that I'm 'cute' in English, it's ok...thank you! ...but...uh...ok..... because I'm adult and... you know what I mean.....
However, in Japanese there's no problem for using it as a compliment, but why?


The origin of the word was derived from an old word かほはゆし (kahohayushi) which meant 'It/she/he was so pitiful that you were urged to help them, and you felt sorry for them beacuse they were too weak and lovely.'
In ancient times, people considered things or persons that were small and fragile as good and beautiful,and so that word kahohayushi became kawaii.
かわいそう(kawaisou or 'pity') is also derived from the same word.


Do you feel like to protecting kawaii things?
Is it because you love them?
If 'yes', now you got that feeling. ;) <3
















もし答えがイエスなら、この感覚が分かったってことね ;) ♡



国歌 ~ Beauty of the Japanese Language from the View of the National Anthem ~

君が代は  【Kimiga-yo-ha(wa)】
千代に、八千代に 【Chiyo-ni Ya-chiyo-ni】
さざれ石の 【Sazare-ishi-no】
巌となりて 【iwao-to-narite】
苔のむすまで 【kokeno-musu-made】



These are the all lyrics of our national anthem 君が代 (kimigayo).
It was written more than a thousand years ago, and we don't know who wrote it nor meaning.

Is it that strange to you that the public doesn't know the meaning although it's written in their mother tongue ?
Japan is an island country and located far away from the Eurasian Continent, so we didn't have many interactions with other countries ,or a critical threat until 1853 when 4 big black ships came from the US.
Therefore our unique culture including language developed in its own way, and its comprehension often relies on our concept consisting of relatively united and similar ideas.

Going back to the subject, why does the song show the beauty of the Japanese language?
If I translate my comprehension of the song into English it could be as follows below.
I added ( ) as extra information.

(I wish) Your generations (or lives continue)
one thousand years , eight thousand years (like forever)
until (long enough) pebbles (now)
shall be united and become a great rock
covered in moss



Your generations (or lives exist because of your ancestors.)
(It has been continuing for) one thousand years , eight thousand years (or very long time.)
(Like it's long enough ) pebbles (in the past)
have become a great rock
covered in moss
(and so you have to appreciate your value, and have responsibility for it.)


In my country, we have even more interpretasions of this anthem.
Why is it so vague ? Couldn't the poet use longer words to specify or elaborate so that people could imagine his intention better?
I ,however, consider this is the beauty of the Japanese language.
You can have a larger space to imagine its meaning without all the details.
Perhaps it is how people who have relatively united and similar ideas who lived on isolated islands enjoy their words.











君が代は 千代に、八千代に 
さざれ石の 巌となりて 苔のむすまで 


( )は補足部分です。


巌となりて 苔のむすまで(長く続くことを願います)


君が代は (あるいは命は先祖によるもので)
千代に、八千代に (あるいは途方もなく長い年月をようし)
(今は)巌となりて 苔のむす(くらい)まで (受け継がれてきた。そのため、己の価値をよく理解し、責任を持たなければならない)  


なぜこんなにも曖昧なのでしょうか? この詩人は、受け手が彼の詩をよりよく理解するために、長く、明確に、あるいは入念に述べることはできなかったのでしょうか。




史上最も美しい「君が代」 / The most beautiful "Kimigayo" ever






盆栽 ~Bonsai, A Small Tree that Shows Mother Nature ~

In a Japanese garden, you happen to see small trees planted in pots or on trays and placed on a shelf.
These trees must know a lot of history of this place because some of them have been living for more than 500 years. One has a sign that says the tree is '820 years old'.


A 盆栽 (bonsai) is a short tree that has winding branches and its soil and roots are covered in moss.
It is one of Japanese arts which shows nature including cosmos, and the audience enjoy waching it because of its beauty or complexity, and the people are in touch with the nature through their lives.
A bonsai requires various techniques to make: trimming, coiling wires and the like in order to shape it according to one's tastes.
The art includes which to plant in/on or where to put on, and the appearance including surrounded by is important as well as its shape.


It takes decades to shape this small tree and it never be 'completed' since it continues to grow.  After all, it is alive.





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元号 ~ What Happens When the Emperor Passes Away? ~

What happens when the emperor passes away?
Forgive me for my impudent remark.
However, it is actually important for people in Japan.
That's because the passing of our emperor has huge impact on our lives.
You ask me how? How the passing of the Japanese symbol who doesn't have any powers over current Japanese politics or military could affect on us?


One way is because 元号(gengou),  also called 年号 (nengou)
Gengou is a way to count year, and it shows era as well according to our tradition,and so it is a calendar.
Today ,in Japan, we use 2 calendars .
One is the same as the western calender, and the other is the gengo.
The original ideal of gengou came from China, and the Japanese adopted a part of it: the concept "the emperor controls time"
However it developed in its own unique way, i.e., when the emperor passes the chage of the era occurs as well.
The current year is 平成29年 ( Heisei 29th year), and the date is the same as the western, and so today  'Aug. 25th, 2017' is 平成29年8月25日 ( 'Heisei 29 nen, 8 gatsu, 25 nichi' or 'Heisei 29th year, Aug, 25th'.). Heisei is the name of era.


Although we use the western calendar, we use gengou for official documents, in business and for some things formal and traditional.
With the current disscuion on abbdication, the effect on gengou is one of the major concerns.

















お茶漬け ~ A Modest Food ~

I woke up at 11 am.
Though it's nearly noon, my mouth, throat or stomach wouldn't accept ordinary rice or even cereal despite my appetite from healthy body.
Maybe it's because of the heat in the air, or the fatigue from last night.
But I found a solution.


お茶漬け ( ochaduke or 'rice with tea') is one of common foods in Japan.
People often eat it after drinking to meet their appetite, or simply when they don't feel like eating though they know that they have to.
This modest dish is made by pouring green tea or dashi ( fish/ sea weed broth) over boiled rice.
You add toppings on it according to your preference : umeboshi ( salted Japanese apricot) , konbu ( salted sea weed ) , salted grilled salmon, and the like...
You slurp the watery rice dish up in a short time even when you are reluctant to eat.


This simple dish lets you calm down when you get confused.


















桜 ~ Sakura, A Gate to Your Sensational Memories ~


While I was organizing my room, I found some pictures.
In these pictures, there are preteen kinds smiling, giggling ,or acting silly.
The phrase from the movie 'Stand by Me' represents them well: "I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?"
And behind them there are sakura trees in full bloom.


桜 (Sakura) is well known for its beautiful blossoms.
But why do Japanese people adore it so much?


When it comes to March ,when its potential season of bloom, mass media reports sakura-zensen ( a chart on a map of Japan which shows prediction of sakura bloom)
everyday, and the public check them day after day.
It's because the bloom only last for a week, and you have to cherish the limited time.
The fragility represents Japanese aesthetics, and people are in touch with that throughout their lives.


People gather under sakura trees and enjoy parties during its bloom. It's called お花見 (ohanami). Physical year starts in April and end in March in Japan, which is the same time as sakura blooms. It's good chances to associate with new people, and is so as to have farewells.


Everyone has good memories with sakura blossom, but at the same time remembers back some heartaches as well.
If you live in Japan,every spring, you remember people, friends or a person who saw it with you.
Perhaps these magical blossoms absorb a part of your heart, and you are urged to see it occasionally in spite of  the fact that the falling petals remind you of complicated feelings...


It's only been 4 months since that season.
I already miss it so badly.
At the end of the day, it is a part of my memory, as well as my pride...


























判子 ~ A Stamp of Your Identity ~

" What did you just say!? " I burst into laughter.
" I didn't know it was that important !" my Chinese friend cried over the phone.
Oh yeah...of course she didn't know just a stamp could be such an important thing here in Japan, and she lost her important hanko.


An 判子 ( hanko or 'stamp' ) of your name is essential thing in here.
Everyone has at least a few, because these are your signature or can be your identification.
An individual basically has four types of stamps of his/her family name.


①One is called シャチハタ ( syachihata ). It has a cap on which curved chracters are printed, and once you take off the cap, you just need to press on a piece of paper because it has buit-in supply of red ink. We use this kind as a signature for when we receive deliveries or for others relatively unimportant. In some cases, this kind of stamp can't be used because it's too casual.


三文判 (sanmonban) is a cheap stamp ,and we often use it as a  認印(mitomein) .
A mitomein is a stamp which is not officially registered. You can buy them in a stationary store or even in a 100 yen shop if your name is not too unique. We use it in business or for signing a contract. It is less valuable than 実印 (jitsuin). But it shows your responsibility.


③銀行印 (ginkouin) is a stamp registered banks where you have accounts.
Don't lose it ,or forget which one you registered in where. It is an identification of you.
If you lose it, it takes a while ( around two weeks to a month ) to change it, and during this time what you can do with your accounts is limited. You can't show this stamp to others, for your accounts' security.


④実印 (jitsuin) is the most valuable stamp, though its use is limited. This is an official stamp, and registered with a government office. Most people order this stamp specially, and don't show this one to others. It is used as an identification / signature but is of limited use for purchasing or selling a property, dividing your family's estate when a family member passed away and the like.


Don't underestimate the power of a 'stamp' when you are in here.
We even have more kinds of hanko especially in the business scene...











「え? 今何て言った!?」私は思わず大声で笑ってしまった。