Your Friend in Japan

My Trip to San Diego and Mexico, and How to Count Chopsticks

Written by HotAnime

While I’m usually in Japan this time of year, I’ve actually hopped back to San Diego to take care of some local work I needed to get done. While back home, I’ve been enjoying some of my favorite American foods, like proper peanut butter (the stuff in Japan is way too sweet), pickles (the Japanese pickle everything from eggplant to daikon radish, but they’re just not the same as proper Vlassic dills), plus things like cottage cheese and celery, which you don’t think about much until you live in a country that doesn’t have them. Since I was in the neighborhood, I also decided to pay a visit to Mexico, home to so many anime fans these days, and sample a traditional Mexican breakfast as well as some of the booming wineries in Ensenada. It was great fun!

Studying Japanese involves getting used to new concepts, including learning to read non-Western characters (hiragana and katakana are quite easy to pick up) and becoming comfortable with a new word order. Another unique area of the Japanese language are the “counters,” special words for counting objects based on their shapes, similar to the way groups of animals are named in English, e.g. a herd of horses, a flock of birds. The counter for flat objects like a sheet of paper is 枚 mai, while you use 個 ko for counting round, small objects, or 畳 jo for counting tatami mats, the universal way to express the size of a room in Japan. One of the most common of these counting words is 本 hon, for counting long, cylindrical objects like sake bottles, samurai swords, umbrellas or trees. (Fun fact: 六本木 Roppingi means “six trees.”) Foreigners are likely to use this word when counting chopsticks, since they’re the right shape, but the counter for a pair of chopsticks is actually 善 zen, a word which Japanese themselves are often too lazy to use. Being a foreigner, I always go out of my way to use the correct counting word, saying something like おはし、一膳ください o-hashi, ichi-zen kudasai (“please give me a pair of chopsticks”), mainly because Japanese don’t expect gaijin to get this word right and it’s fun to surprise them. If you need chopsticks or Japanese study products, J-List has your back!Anime calendar season, Ikimasu!More great news for fans of 2017 anime calendars: the huge bulk of anime calendars has been posted to the site, with hundreds of popular calendars based on your favorite shows and characters, with top artists like Kantoku and Coffee Kizoku and many more. Best of all, we’ve got an Earlybird Special Sale going. Preorder your calendars before Sept. 30 and get 15% off!

About the author