June 21st, 2013


Japanese diary 6

I'm back faithfully ploughing my kanji furrow. Those who travel the way of Remembering the Kanji find themselves turning up some very odd stones, though. At 250 kanji in, I've learned the symbols for gall bladder, paulownia, nitrate and decameron,* but not for person, money, to go, to see, life or city. In fact, I just checked a list of the 50 mostly commonly used kanji and only 16 of the ones I've learned are on it. Should I be patient, or is it permissible to moonlight a little and learn some of these other kanji away from Heisig's benevolent but firm tutelage? Will he find out?

* This one isn't quite as odd as it seems, since it appears that the Japanese habitually divide months into three ten-day blocks, called jun. The first is jōjun, the second chūjun, the third gejun. As I write this we are entering the gejun of June.

Here's another cultural query, addressed to those who may know. I've seen in a couple of anime now a fleeting reference to the idea that if two people are wearing similar clothes that may imply they are romantically linked. Of course, one does occasionally see couples doing this in the West as well, where it's generally considered a bit vomit-inducing, but is this way of expressing love sartorially more firmly established in Japan?

Meanwhile, I've been indulging myself with a rewatch of Kashimashi. I do love that series, and the way it makes my reader/viewer identification ping from one character to another like a pinball. Obviously, in one way I identify strongly with Hazumu, since what happens to her is literally a recurrent childhood dream come true (and on the negative side her ability to hurt those who love her through spineless indecision cuts very near the bone) - but Yasuna, in her secret isolation, lives a life I also recognize, and while I don't find myself in Tomari in the same way I sympathize with her fully, and find her reaction to the changes in her childhood friend utterly familiar. The series has all kinds of silliness around its edges, but that triangular relationship feels like my psyche writ large at times. (I do feel sorry for poor, excluded Asuta, however: it's hard to realize that your emotions don't matter because you are the Comic Relief.)