One interesting subject when thinking about Japan is the role of 国際結婚 kokusai kekkon, or international marriage, on society here. Currently about 4% of registered marriages in Japan are between Japanese and foreigners, with Japanese men marrying women from countries like China, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand, and Japanese women marrying men from South Korea, the U.S. and U.K. and France. In a way, choosing a partner from another country represents “coloring outside the lines” to the Japanese, and many find great happiness, though individual mileage will of course vary. Japanese females often have a rose-colored view of what international marriage is like, and my wife’s friends speak enviously of her for marrying an American, saying things like, “I’ll bet your husband does the dishes every night” (in reality she won’t let me in the kitchen as I’ll mess everything up). I’m also assumed to hold doors and chairs, cook an occasional romantic meal, and say “I love you” as I head out the door to work every morning, unlike Japanese men who (it is generally thought) never express their feelings, though I think they’re just going for the “stoic” vibe. Children produced by international marriage must surely be kawaii, combining down-to-earth Japanese common sense with the ability to speak English and selectively ignore the social pressures that Japanese are subject to. For the record, the first legally recognized international marriage took place in 1872, when a samurai named Minami Sadasuke studying in London fell in love with Liza Pitman and married her…though the marriage ended in divorce when Liza proved unable to adapt to life back in Japan.
One reason I like studying foreign languages like Japanese is the way it’s very introspective, allowing you to learn more about your own brain works. Everyone learns differently, and to succeed at language learning you need to find a strategy that works for you. (For me it was making sure I approached Japanese study from several different directions, e.g. doing my homework for Japanese class, but also transcribing sentences with vocabulary we were learning, translating JPOP songs to English, reading manga with compelling stories in Japanese, and so on.) One phenomenon I’ve learned is that, when you come across a new vocabulary word, it’s really hard for your brain to process it, or even recognize that a meaningful bit of information has been encountered. In Kyoto, we went to a 400 year old Buddhist temple and ate traditional vegetarian food that Buddhist priests eat called 精進料理 shojin ryori. I’d not encountered this word, however, and when I heard it it sort of went in one year and out the other, as if my brain had heard static rather than a spoken word. Then there are times when my brain will just refuse to learn a word, almost as if due to “bad sectors” on a hard disk. By some unwritten law, all Japanese cities must have a tower, like Tokyo Tower or Yokohama Marine Tower. When we went to Osaka we visited the tower there, which is called 通天閣 tsu-ten-kaku (“Tower Reaching to Heaven”) rather some sensible name like “Osaka Tower.” Although I’ve encountered the name of the tower many times before, my brain has always refused to learn the word.
Here some awesome news for fans of our visual novels and eroge titles: we’ve posted the popular upcoming game Girlish Grimoire Littlewitch Romanesque to the site for preorder! A fabulous game illustrated by famed artist
Oyari, the goal of Littlewitch is to teach two cute girls to use magic. There’s a ton of innovative gameplay, including teaching the girls magic, sending them on quests, teaching them more than 100 spells and 20 endings. This is the “Editio Perfecta” (perfect edition) of the game, which includes all additional scenarios from the game’s fandisc plus one all-new game route created for this edition. You can preorder the limited Deluxe Edition (which comes with a large game box, 3 laminated pencil boards and a detailed game manual), and you’ll get the download version free, sent to you on shipping day, so you can start playing right away. The game ships in a few months, so preorder it now!
We’ve got more good news: we’ve reduced shipping rates for all products coming from Japan, including SAL, first class airmail and (our favorite), EMS, which provides cheap, speedy shipping with delivery times of only a few days while including full tracking and shipping insurance. Everyone loves getting more anime artbooks, Japanese snacks and other good stuff for their money, and now you can!