Japan is a fun place — the people are nice, the sights are beautiful, and you get to have wacky “gaijin experiences” like seeing a sign on a train that says “Beware of Perverts” or “It Is Forbidden To Urinate Here” on a dark street. But no matter how much I like the place, getting sick in Japan just sucks, especially if I don’t have a cache of American medicine like Nyquil, Advil, Alka-Seltzer Plus, Dimetapp and other cures made for my big gaijin body on hand. In addition to U.S. medicines being stronger than their Japanese counterparts, there’s another difference: Japanese medicine bottles aren’t required to have child-proof caps on them. As a result, Japanese almost never know how to open a cap from the U.S., and I usually have to step in and help my wife when she’s trying to get a bottle open. Sadly, I’ve managed to catch a bit of a bug on the last day of Anime Expo. I’m still hoping I can recover enough to enjoy my first real Fourth of July in San Diego in years, but for now I’m going to bang the update out to everyone and head to bed.
Sooner or later, concepts that we take for granted in the West pop up in Japan, including what some might call “political correctness.” Over the past few years, Japan has been renaming some job titles that had a sexist slant due to the kanji they were written with. For example, the old word for a preschool teacher, hobo (literally “protecting mother,” not related to how it sounds in English) has been updated to hoikushi (“care-giver”), and the former term for nurse (kangofu, written with characters that meant “nursing wife”) is now kangoshi, which makes no reference to male or female. Some words haven’t been updated yet, though. A family with only one parent is often called boshi katei which literally means “household of mother and child,” but this word doesn’t serve its purpose very well if the single parent is male. And Japanese who spend several years overseas then return to Japan are called kikoku shijo or “a girl-child who has returned to their home country.” The term is used for males as well as females, despite the fact that the “girl” meaning is built into the word via kanji characters.
Sake (pronounced sah-KAY, with an accent over the second syllable), is the famous Japanese wine made from rice, what my grandfather used to call “saki.” One of the most popular alcoholic drinks in Japan, sake is enjoyed by millions of tired salarymen after a hard day’s work every day. Just like there are many kinds of wine in the world, there’s a lot of variety in types of sake, from dry to sweet, aged with some very high-priced brands of jizake (local sake, made only in one part of the country) out there. Among the more popular brands of sake are Ozeki, Shirayuki and Akagi (the latter is made in our home prefecture of Gunma), but the most famous sake of all is Koshi no Kambai, a popular brand from Niigata Prefecture, which as I’m sure you’re aware is the “rice basket” of Japan. In addition to referring to rice wine, the word sake (often with the honorific “o” placed in front of it, o-sake) is a catch-all for any kind of alcohol, just as the Japanese word for rice, gohan, can stand in for any kind of meal.
We’ve got some great new and restocked items for you today, including a big treat for Ghibli fans, Tales of Earthsea, the newest animated film from Japan’s most celebrated animation studio. We’ve got both of the standard and limited editions of the film, we’re happy to let you know that the discs are provided with full English subtitles and dubbed tracks, all optional of course. Check it out now!
Other great new items for you include new and restocked items, including great anime figures (including El designed by Yoshinori Tatake), more cool Hello Kitty items like the Animal Bobble Heads or the “Pass the Test” good luck charm for anyone studying or striving to meet a goal, great Tales from Earthsea toys, fun and wacky ways to clean your ears in Japan style, more bento related items, keychains featuring famous symbols of Japan, great pens from Japan, restocked snacks including Shigekix and Rock-Paper-Scissors Gummy, and wacky “Watering Kiss Mint Gum,” if you know what that is, and a bunch of 18+ items too.