I’ve started watching the new anime Kokoro Connect, a surprisingly deep anime series about members of a school Culture Research Club who find themselves switching bodies inexplicably. The word kokoro is one of my favorite Japanese words, so I thought I’d write a bit about it. Basically, it means the heart, but the philosophical and metaphysical aspects of it — it’s often translated into English as soul, spirit and mind. Kokoro is your inner self, similar to your soul, although there’s a more complex word for that particular concept (which is tamashii). The kokoro is thought to reside in the chest, in contrast to most Westerners, who would probably put the mind’s physical location as being inside the head. The concept of reading one’s mind is expressed in Japanese as kokoro o yomu (to read one’s heart), and the science of psychology is shinrigaku (lit. the science of studying one’s kokoro). There are other words in Japanese that correspond to other meanings of the English word heart, such as shinzo (the heart that’s hopefully beating in your chest right now) and haato (the English word rendered with a Japanese accent, which describes the classic heart shape). Learning a language is fun because it makes you realize that complex ideas can’t be simply brought over on a 1-to-1 basis all the time, which makes you reflect more on what language is all about.
The girls of body-switching anime Kokoro Connect;.