Cultural Villainy

This afternoon/evening, I found myself discussing various voice and talking style stereotypes in American English and in Japanese (from Japan, of course*).

It all started with seeing the film “Aladdin” in the cinema this afternoon, and then, over ice cream afterward, we veered onto Disney music and its composers a lyricists (and how amazing some of the greats are[!!!]).

Then we branched into the Japanese versions of this music, as the friend with me is Japanese, and she grew up only hearing the Japanese language versions of the songs.

We discussed differences I had found in the music, and why I thought each one was so… now that she has been living in the US for about a year, she saw exactly what I meant and genuinely understood.

“Colors of the Wind” sounds somewhat stressed and so compounded and busy in Japanese, yet the English sounds so open and contemplative, filled with deep breaths and space through the notes and the words… there are just too many syllables in the Japanese, and too many consonants in between all the vowels…

An American likely would be appalled at hearing the Japanese version of Scar’s voice, because the voice doesn’t match the type of villain that he is… it is not entitled and brooding and, almost like serial killer style, the voice of someone who is biding his time until his plot can unfurl perfectly to his advantage – until, at last, he is granted his dues, as Scar says.

To American ears, the Japanese Scar in pathetic and angry and holds no weight behind his short-man angry yelling of a voice, desperately hoping someone will listen to him and do what he wants others to do.

And yet, to Japanese ears, the Japanese Scar is exactly right: He is the stereotypical ‘bad guy’ voice and has that same ‘bad guy’ and ‘villain’ manner of speaking… the English version would sound just ‘American’, and have nothing special tied to it for Japanese ears.

And my friend was able to see and hear just these things, and mainly because she has become accustomed to hearing so many different ways of speaking that people have here in English (unlike Japanese English in Japan, which is pretty much always the same).

And, somehow, I found the whole situation to be fascinating and utterly fulfilling… I had never really thought quite so much and quite so pointedly about the translations and the voices of actors until today, though it certainly was not my first or, even, tenth time considering it all.

It had me feel an almost silly passion for Disney and, in particular, “The Lion King”, and yet I couldn’t find a reason not to care so much about it all – I love languages and music and seeing things in new ways, and these Disney movies had huge impacts on my childhood and, therefore, my life as a whole… they are a part of me… and I care about and love myself.

So, I guess I get to love those Disney films, too, silly little perfect details and all. ๐Ÿ™‚

By the way, I went into “Aladdin” with an attitude of its being a different film and perspective of the same story as the animated version…, and I thoroughly enjoyed the film – it was wonderful(!).

And it was filmed in Jordan(!)… how cool is that?!

I don’t often go to cinemas these days (in the US, anyway), but I am glad I went today – it was a lovely experience. ๐Ÿ™‚

*Does Japanese have a culture of native speakers anywhere else in the world?

Post-a-day 2019

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Dressed for Work

Tonight, I attended with my mom a sake mini-course and tasting event.

As predicted, every Japanese man was in a dark suit with a white shirt… however, the slight touch of color was found in a tie or pocket square in the Americanized men.

Also as predicted, there was a fabulous array of Japanese foods, the presentation was brief but extremely informative, and the tasting was hilariously wonderful.

While there, I considered strongly at one point what everyone else was wearing.

Beforehand, I had asked my mom, a person who is usually quite particular about dressing to the appropriate level for things, if I needed to change into a different dress than what I had on… I showed her the dress, which was a much nicer and more business-y version of what I already was wearing, and she didn’t think the change was needed…. she pointed out that she was wearing something quite similar, albeit slightly nicer-looking (same color scheme, different pieces).

We had been at an art film showing earlier on, and I had worn my current outfit for that and felt totally comfortable in my choice, but I figured it was best to check with her regarding the Japanese event.

Sure enough, once there, she commented that we should have known everyone would be in business suits and the likes, since it was a Japanese event… I reminded her that that was precisely why I had asked about my outfit ahead of time, and she rather shrugged her shoulders unconcernedly at this with an Oh, well…, and we moved on to enjoy ourselves, anyway.

At this point, I thought about how everyone was probably just coming straight from work, anyway, and so they were all just in work clothes… and then I realized that I, too, was coming straight from work and that I, too, was just in work clothes…

I don’t have a corporate job in an office with a cubicle on a floor in a big building… or anything like it… I’m a writer and photographer… and, today, I was editing photos, and then sent them off to a client – much work accomplished for a single afternoon, actually… and this cotton dress and summer sandals are what I wore to do that… casual and cute, but not office business…

In “Hannah’s Life, Created”, a notebook I compiled a couple years back, while living in Japan, I have a brief description of what I want my work attire to be… tonight was a beautiful acknowledgement of my having achieved that desire, and, in that instant of noticing this, I was filled with a sense of calm confidence in regards to my life – I am doin a beautiful job of pursuing my goals and dreams and of becoming and being the person I want to be.

I’m not all the way there yet… I am there with some things, though, and I am well on my way to more and more at any moment(!!!)…. and I love it.

I really do love it.

Yes, it would have made sense to wear the nicer dress tonight… no, it didn’t ultimately matter for what tonight specifically was…, yes, it was amazing to notice what I did about being in my ‘work clothes’, and so was totally worth it this time to be a bit under-dressed…, and no, I never really quite fit in at Japanese events, anyway – Gaijin Smash to the max!**

So yeah… we had an awesome time at the event, learned loads about sake. – and yes, I am fully aware of how odd it is that I take such an interest in sake, when I drink just about no alcohol in the average month – and ate wonderful foods over wonderful conversations.

And I had a lovely discovery about my current status in life, and it tickles and overjoys me even now, hours later. ๐Ÿ™‚

Yay, life!

And thank you, God, for entrusting me with this piece of the path – I love this part, and I trust you fully, as I throw myself fully into this lovely hard work!

Peace

Hannah

**Man, do I miss my store Mister Maxx in Toride, Ibaraki!… like a cross between Target, Petsmart, and a bakery!

Post-a-day 2019

Comfort

At ease….

It’s funny to me, though totally believable, that my kakizome has already begun to do its work in my life for this year.

ๅฎ‰ๅฟƒ Anshin

It roughly translates to a combination of the following:

  • Peace of mind, freedom from care
  • Relief, be quite free from care (anxiety, fear)
  • Feel easy (about), feel at ease
  • Feel relieved, stop worrying (about something)
  • Feel reassured, be confident (of, that), be (rest) assured

And, somehow unforeseen by me, ๅฎ‰ๅฟƒanshin has found its way further and further into my daily life these past couple weeks.

I am actually excited about the near future and the present almost every day, even when I wake up in the morning (In case you don’t know, the morning thing is huge for me).

I am not fully where I want to be – not by a long shot – but I am actually moving there now, actively and effectively heading in that wonderful direction, becoming who and how I want to be every day and night (and morning) of my life.

And it feels amazing (including the muscle soreness)…

Thank you, ๅฎ‰ๅฟƒ anshin, for your existence, care, and support in my life… truly, thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

Post-a-day 2019

Lingo-bot Life

Occasionally, I feel a bit lame and down about my seemingly lessened and lowered Japanese skills. ย But then I have experiences like tonight, where, when speaking with a Japanese man, he was unable to come up with the right Japanese words immediately or at all – we all take longer to process, when we aren’t using a language all the time; even native speakers. ย When it happened tonight, I told of the many times I, myself, was unable to come up with an English word while living abroad. ย When immersed in one language, it id much more difficult to recall another, native or not, language. ย So, I just need to immerse myself more often in each of my languages, and that will help significantly – it is all still there; it just needs a bit of encouragement and exercise. ย ๐Ÿ˜›

Not that this is news to me – it was merely a welcomed reminder. ย ๐Ÿ™‚

Post-a-day 2019

Accomplishments

Today, I socialized while getting myself some of the good Japanese culture, and even a bit of the language, too.

I made this:

The fancy and “real” one is the white paperboard one, but I messed it up, so I much prefer my practice one on the newspaper (that’s why I put the hanko [stamp] on it, too).

It is the Japanese writing for Anshin, which means ‘peace of mind; freedom from care; relief.’

We did it as an activity called kakizome ๆ›ธใๅˆใ‚, which is the first kanji one writes in the new year, and it is an intention and wish one makes for the year.

I selected ๅฎ‰ๅฟƒ, because that is what I want in abundance in my life this year (I almost considered ใ‚ขใƒƒใƒˆใƒ›ใ‚ฆใƒ , which is not kanji, but is spelling out a word, and, in this case, spelling out the two foreign words “at home”, because I couldn’t find anything that seemed quite right for what I longed for in my life this year…, but then I found ๅฎ‰ๅฟƒ).

ๅฎ‰ๅฟƒ was perfect, as soon as someone wrote it down for me… we had discussed the meaning, which I really liked, but it was when I saw it that I loved it.

I don’t remember what the very top part is, but the whole thing includes the word for woman and the word for heart – those two kanji, combined with the meaning?… done deal – let’s do this. ๐Ÿ˜›

And, so, we did. ๐Ÿ™‚

Post-a-day 2019 (The last year of Emperor Heisei, Heisei 31 ๅนณๆˆไธ‰ๅไธ€ )

True to your heart

You know that feeling of being in just the right place, doing just the right thing for yourself and your life?

Today, surrounded off and on by Japanese people who live and work in Texas (mostly as language teachers) and a few non-geeky-but-maybe-a-tad-dorky-about-Japan US Americans, I found myself in just that feeling…

And it was delicious, and perfectly timed. ๐Ÿ™‚

Post-a-day 2019

Dinner and a shower…

Tonight, I ate the same food at dinner as I used after dinner to scrub my body in the shower.

Slightly absurd and utterly intriguing, is it not?

I’ll just tell you: It is.

You see, when I was living in Japan, I learned first in Okinawa about how this food that was regularly a side dish in Japanese meals was also found as the base for certain jiggling and super-foaming soaps – trust me, this was a very odd and confusing conversation for me to be having, especially in Japanese, as the shop workers tried to explain to me how something that sounds like the Japanese pronunciation/version of a drinking alcohol is actually a food, and that this food is what makes the jiggling, funny soap here in front of me.

Suffice it to say, I bought a few of these spectacular soaps, mind partially blown by the soap itself and partially by the whole discovery of its being something I somewhat often ate.

(The next time I use one, I’ll share photos, I’m almost certain – it is really cool!)

Now, this plant is called konjac, and is pronounced just like the alcoholic beverage.

Therefore, in Japanese, they are both pronounced the same way and written in Roman characters the same way: konnyaku.

(The signs had the Japanese written, too, but it wouldn’t have been the first time that I’d seen a foreign word written as though it were a Japanese word [e.g. using hiragana instead of katakana], so I didn’t trust it entirely.)

However, I eventually understood what non Earth it was – sort of, anyway – and suddenly started noticing it more and more around me in life.

Tonight, I cooked some “konnyaku threads”, which look like little knots made of about seven white strings of rubber each, and had them with some other Japanese-esque food I prepared.

Then, for my shower, I happily pulled out for the first time my “Natural Konjac Puff”, a body scrubber similar in size, shape, and texture to a cut loofah… except that it went from the rough and crispy of a loofah to the soft and squishy foamy of a sea sponge, once it was wet and soaped.

Also, when I first opened the package for the puff, I smelled the puff, and it had a very similar smell to my konjac food from shortly beforehand- that rubbery, slightly salty, and weird smell that isn’t exactly bad, but isn’t delightful either…

Totally odd and crazy experience.

P.S. Here is a great page that talks about konjac in mug more detail.

Post-a-day 2019