One of the more common character archetypes in anime are 幼馴染 osana-najimi, or childhood friend. This has become a standard “character class” in anime stories that exists alongside the outwardly-confident-but-really-scared-inside senpai, the “genki girl” who loves sports, and the
twintail transfer student in a wheelchair who works as a eye patch-wearing robot maid and who’s secretly the ghost of a fox-spirit whose memory is erased every thirteen hours. In Japan, elementary and junior high school are part of compulsory education, while high school is “optional,” functioning as a miniature version of universities, with students attending schools that are right for their academic level or career goals rather than going to whatever school they live near. As a result, everyone generally has two sets of friends: osana-najimi they grew up with, walking to school and catching fireflies with in the summer as children, and their high school friends with whom they share the first steps into adulthood. While the drama created by a childhood friend who’s secretly been in love with the main character all her life is common in anime, in reality this kind of situation would be rare, according to Mrs. J-List. “They’ve been around you all your life, and know every embarrassing thing you’ve ever done. Who would be attracted to that? A childhood friend would be much less interesting than some new person who catches your eye as you go through life.”
Japanese food is famous for containing things not traditionally eaten by Westerners, like pickled daikon radishes (aka Mugi’s eyebrows) and natto, fermented soy beans that are hated by people from Osaka because of their strong smell. Many unique foods the Japanese eat come from the sea, including sushi (a word which actually refers to the vinagered rice it’s made with, not the raw fish part), sashimi, ika (squid or cuttlefish), tako (octopus), ikura (salmon roe), and fugu, pufferfish so poisonous it can kill you. While a lot of countries enjoy the taste of crab, one Japanese winter delicacy is kani miso soup, or miso soup with a crab’s torso floating inside for flavoring. (My wife loves to open the crab’s shell and scrape out his brains while I look on in horror.) The Japanese are fascinated with asking gaijin what Japanese foods they’re unable to eat, and the other day I was in Shibuya on business and was stopped by a camera crew who wanted to interview me about this. I told them one food I was not a fan of was shiokara, raw squid meat pickled in squid intestines and saltwater, so they naturally brought some out for me to try on camera. It was…not that bad, really, once I tried it properly and with an open mind. I doubt if they’ll use my interview for their TV show, since they were expecting a foreigner to react in disgust rather than eat it normally.
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