Your Friend in Japan

The Challenge of Cats and Paper Doors, and What We Can Learn From “Your Name”

Written by HotAnime

The Japanese language is different from English in many ways, including the way information can be left out of sentences when it’s understood from context, such as the subject and object. (My wife will often express “shall we go eat lunch now?” to just iku? “go?” since the rest of clear from the overall situation.) This built-in vagueness allows for interesting scenes in anime and manga in which a boy confesses his love for a girl, then changes his object to a plate of spaghetti at the last minute, based on her reaction. Another feature of nihongo is the way the language used by males and females can be quite different, with feminine-sounding pronouns used by girls (watashi for “I”) and and masculine-sounding ones for boys (ore for “I” and omae for “you”). Language and gender are big themes in the smash hit film Kimi no Na Wa (Your Name) by Shinkai Makoto, about a boy named Taki and a girl named Mitsuha who wake up one morning to discover they’ve switched bodies. When they interact with other people, they naturally use the “wrong” pronouns while in each other’s bodies, causing charming drama and humor.

Before I came to live in Japan, my impression of Japanese homes was that they were delicate things made of wood and paper. When I arrived here, I discovered that they were really…pretty much as I’d expected. Japanese homes are usually made of wood, with both “Western rooms” (洋間 youma) with normal furniture like sofas and chairs, as well as traditional Japanese rooms (和室 washitsu) with tatami mats and paper doors called shouji, which are actually wooden sliding doors with Japanese paper glued to the frames. There are a few problems with shouji, however: the paper turns yellow over time, so every couple of years you need to spend a few hours re-papering your doors. There’s another problem with the paper partitions: cats, who love playing with the paper and poking holes in it so they can pass through. If you’ve got cats in an older Japanese house, it’s likely you have lots of holes in your paper doors.

October is Super Sonico’s birth month, so we’ve got great items on teh site, like Sonico Dakimakura pillow covers with an original image created for us by Tsuji Santa. Even better, we’ve got the last stock of the Sonico Collector’s Edition, with the giant full-body mousepad, though there are only 30 so they’ll go fast. Best of all, you can get 20% off the Communication with Sonico English game on Steam until October 24th!

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