So, I started taking Japanese classes a couple of weeks ago, and I really like what I’m learning. The language is actually very easy once you get the patterns down. Much easier than say, Latin or Spanish.
Anyway, as I’ve alluded to before, I like to immerse myself as much as I can when learning new things. So, I started watching a lot of Japanese films with English subtitles to sort of pick up on the tone and general “feel” of the language, even if I don’t know what the actors are saying. The subtitles do help a lot though – I occasionally see things I’ve learned in class and correlate them to the dialog, and it does help reinforce what I’ve learned. Most of the films so far have been from the obligatory Akira Kurosawa collection, and they’ve been incredible. If you’re not familiar with Akira Kurosawa, he’s like Spielberg, Hitchcock, and Kubrick all rolled into one – a national (and now global) icon. His stuff is studied meticulously in film schools worldwide and he was a genius.
Anyway, I digress. The point of this post is to say that I’m having a lot of fun learning about the culture in addition to the language, and I’ve seem some amazing things (Kurosawa’s movies), but I’ve also seen a lot of very weird things.
For example, Japan is freaking nuts about anything cute. The cuter the better. If its disgustingly cute by American standards, its just near perfect for Japanese folks. The word for cute, as the title of this post metions is ‘kawaii’, spelled with 4 hiragana symbols: ka wa i i -> かわいい.
Everything in Japan is かわいい. The tv shows, the toys, the video games (Nintendo anyone? games saturated with cuteness…), clothing, etc. I think I read somewhere there are 10,000 to 15,000 individually licensed Hello Kitty products alone (look at the link, you’ll see what I’m talking about).
There’s even a かわいい-ラジオ (kawaii-radio). And I have to say I’m hooked (on the station, not the ‘cuteness’). I like J-Pop, and I’ve been listening to that station for acouple of days. So sue me 😉
So, when listening to that station, you’ll usually hear a lot of good stuff, but occasionally some over-the-top cutesy songs. I heard one and then found its video – its really…weird:
See what I mean? Bizarre….
Anyway, I guess its not that bad – just a little much. I could even suppose its better than American pop culture – American music glorifies violence, sex, drugs, frivolous spending, lack of responsibility, etc – lord knows what influence that has on our youth and makes us all the more screwed up because of it. Perhaps we Americans can take notes – its better to be too ‘cute’ than too negative. Maybe playing more Nintendo games is a start (something I’ll have to work on – still a little hard for me to swallow just yet) 😉