Japan is currently experiencing a huge boom in tourism, with an incredible 20 million visiting the country from all over the world– up 20% over the previous year — with visitors traveling to the country’s many shrines and temples and, oddly, owl cafes. There are frankly so many foreign tourists sightseeing in Akiba or Harajuku these days that it’s significantly altering the way Japanese interact with us, assuming that any given gaijin walking around must be a tourist in need of subway directions, and complimenting me on my Japanese, which is actually unwelcome. (The secret desire of long-term students of nihongo is to get to the level where Japanese will just shut up and talk to you rather than praising your language ability). One challenge for Japan is that, while there are lots of tourists visiting Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto, they don’t get out to more esoteric places like the northern Tohoku region. To counter this, various regions of Japan are doing things like inviting YouTubers to their corner of Japan to make videos introducing the areas to viewers around the world.
Suki desu ka? One of the first useful words a student of Japanese learns is how to say “like” (suki), which is pronounced quickly so that it sounds rather like the English word “ski.” This leads all students to immediately make the joke sukii ga suki desu ka? (Do you like skiing?), since the words sound similar. The word suki is often a student’s introduction to the concept that a word or idea in one language might have many possible meanings in another language, depending on the situation. Right off the bat, suki can mean “like” (in the context of your favorite food or hobby) or “love” (when said in reference to another person). Like all Japanese words there’s some ambiguity involved, which is the subject of more than a few misunderstandings in anime and manga. For example, a character might say suki desu about a slice of cake she was eating, but actually be confessing her love for a boy who was sitting with her. Once I saw a variety show in which former JAV actress Ai Iijima walked around New York, asking Americans kyonyu suki? which sounds like “Can you ski?” in English, but is really asking if they prefer women with large oppai. It was funny to see the Americans on the show nodding their heads for the camera at her question. Try it on your friends!
Our new monthly J-List Box snack, toy and ecchi boxes are a huge hit, and were happy to announce that we’ve got the boxes for December up on the site now! This month’s boxes are great, with two delicious snack boxes, a limited Studio Ghibli box, plus an awesome error box for everyone. These boxes ship out December 7th. Order yours now!