Living in Japan means adapting to many things, not the least of which is modifying your native language. When I first got to Japan, I was told I spoke incredibly fast, and my students begged me to speak more clearly so they could understand what I was saying. Before I knew it, I was speaking “too” slowly, prompting my mother to ask me what was wrong when I talked to her on the phone. In my own personal dialect of Southern Californian English, I’d always referred to the thing you blow your nose with as a Kleenex, but in Japan, no one knew what I was talking about so I quickly reverted to “tissue.” I’ve learned to order a “Happy Set” for the kids at McDonald’s instead of a Happy Meal, and when I need to get some money out of my bank account I drop by the “Cash Corner,” or the ATM. I’ve also learned that the word “sauna” has three syllables, not two. Many Western foods seem to have morphed into some pretty odd forms here. For example, when it’s hot out, I might reach for some “ice” (what ice cream is usually called), and if I go to the local amusement park with my kids I might buy them each an “American Dog” (a corn dog) and “fried potato” (french fries) before we ride the “jet coaster” (roller coaster). Although these terms always feel odd at first, it’s spooky how easy it is for your brain to get used to them.
One television show we watch almost every week is Sanma’s Super Karakuri TV, a wacky variety show that does things like ask Japanese with no special linguistic abilities to answer questions in English while subtitles translate what they are actually saying for viewers, or hold impromptu quiz shows with drunk salaryman as they stumble home late at night, or put on competitions to see which famous star can create a gourmet meal for less than $3. As with most Japanese variety shows, the interaction of the host with the various “talents” (actresses, singers, comedians) who are on that week is one of the most important aspects, and where America’s Funniest Home Videos might just shut up and show you some more clips, this show will stop the action and try to get stars like cute-as-a-button idol Yuko Ogura to guess what’s going to happen next. Last night they added a new section, Gaijin Battle, in which foreigners who know an incredible amount about Japan do battle by asking questions to each other, like, of all the Ultraman brothers, which is the oldest, or what was the significance of the Bakumatsu (the ending years of the Tokugawa Shogunate) on modern Japan? Canadian otaku Robert Baldwin easily dispatched his challengers and maintained his lead.
We’re right in the middle of Golden Week, a cluster of Japanese holidays that usually fall near each other, which are Showa Day on April 29, originally the birthday of old Emperor Showa, aka Hirohito; Constitution Day on May 3, the date the modern Japanese constitution took effect; Green Day on May 4, a day to celebrate nature; and Children’s Day on May 5. While Golden Week is a nice break from the daily grind, it’s all but useless as a holiday, since the other 126,999,999 Japanese in the country also have the week off, too. Want to go to Tokyo Disneyland? Hope you enjoy waiting for six hours just to get in to the place. How about spending the day in Karuizawa, up in the mountains of central Japan? Oops, there’s a 30 km traffic jam of Tokyoites trying to get into the town. This is also the season of Koi-nobori, the beautiful carp-shaped kites which families with boy children display proudly to the neighborhood. Everywhere you look in Japan right now you can see beautiful streaming carp, seeming to swim upstream when the wind blows.
Comic AG is the popular magazine of translated “H” manga from Japan’s best artists, which gives you an amazing 80 pages of content for the low price of just $4.99. In addition to selling single issues and revolving subscriptions, we’ve sold handy sets of back issues in groups of five at a special price, which proved to be a popular way for our customers to complete their collections and save money. We’ve improved this sesame now, allowing you to buy any sets of five issues you might need, be it vol. 40-45, vol. 41-46, or the current issues, and save 20%. Comic AG is published by Icarus Publishing, and you can really feel their passion in each issue, with the super-accurate translations and the care they take with the printing, making sure to work from the original artist pages, not the published Japanese edition as most other manga publishers do.