japanese immersion
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Japanese immersion: July week 4

Introduction: a word on immersion

I will enlarge my Friday post’s definition (if it had any…) and call it “Japanese immersion”. In other words, I will write every Friday about the things I did to get immersed in Japanese. We all know that immersion is a key factor to language learning, but it is easy to let the weeks go by without actively immerse ourselves in our target language/culture. I can easily guess that immersion is not a problem for many fans of Japan. It is just something that happens because Japanese culture becomes a part of their life.

To me, it is a little different. Even though I love many aspects of the Japanese culture, I would naturally want to watch European/American films rather than Japanese, listen to occidental music rather than a Japanese one and so on. Only Japanese literature really fascinates me. This is why I have to consciously build up a Japanese environment around me because it will not happen naturally. I think that making a kind of report once a week will help me to keep in mind that I should watch or listen to Japanese productions. It is also a good way to share discoveries! I also hope it can encourage anyone who is lacking immersion context to find ideas to reinforce their Japanese environment.

Also, I thought that “Japanese immersion” can include reading the news. If I find interesting things, I will also talk about them here, but without really studying the articles.

So this week, we have:

  • Film 魔女の宅急便
  • Singer あいみょん
  • News: “we should not use public money for LGBT couples because they can’t have children” (!)

Film/Drama

I am still watching 孤独のグルメ and I love it! I thought it could be a good idea to watch it while eating, but the protagonist eats so much that I felt full before finishing my own meal, haha. I am watching the first episode of the 7 seasons first because I can access it for free on our TV (the first episode is always free, as a teaser). In the first episode of season 3, he orders a ホロホロ鳥の合わせ盛り. The ホロホロ鳥 is a guinea fowl. When the dish appeared on the screen, I was surprised to see that it was sashimi of raw fowl meat! I didn’t know you could eat raw chicken meat or fowl for that matter. 😲 It totally ruined my own appetite that day.

To encourage myself, I decided to watch for the nth time a classic among the Ghibli films: 魔女の宅急便 or Kiki’s delivery service. I was very happy because I could understand almost everything they say in the film (I had the Japanese subtitles on, which helped me). I understood much more than I did the last time I watched it. It’s great to have some films you don’t mind watching several times to check your progress.

In any case, Kiki’s delivery service is perfect for Japanese learners like me who struggle with listening and need something easy to gain confidence.

Singer あいみょん

I was looking for singers to listen to and I found very quickly and easily a singer I like: あいみょん. Aimyon was born in 1995 and made her debut in 2015 but became famous in 2016 with her single 「生きていたんだよな」. She writes her texts and composes her songs.

Her last title is 「マリーゴールド」 but my favourite song is 「愛を伝えたいだとか」:

I’m very glad I found a singer I like! I listened to her songs a lot this week… If you have singers/groups to recommend, please leave me a comment! I am a newbie in Jpop and Japanese music in general.

News: Mio SUGITA’s shocking and discriminatory opinion

NOTE: I don’t want to study the article here, just share what struck me. Usually, I would copy-paste the interesting passages in Japanese and give vocabulary but not translate them. Here, I thought it best to translate some of them, but first, I may have made mistakes, and secondly,  it is hard to find a balance between a natural English and fidelity to the Japanese. Me, I am completely lost between the two.

After reading the news in Japanese for some months, I am used to reading shocking statements from politicians. But what Mio SUGITA said surpasses all I have read until now. (I’m sorry, I think that this article is not in free access)

Mio SUGITA (杉田水脈) is a member of the LPD and a member of the Chamber of the Representatives.

In the magazine 新潮45 (issue of August), she published an article called “LGBT 支援の度が過ぎる” in which she criticises newspapers like Asahi or Mainichi who openly stand for the rights of the LGBT community.

But what really created an uproar is that she said public money (she says “taxes”) should not be used for LGBT couples. And she gives her reason: “these people don’t produce children, in other words, they don’t have any “productivity” (生産性)”.

Of course, this statement was highly criticised. Not only is it discriminatory against the LGBT, but of course, it extends much farther and concerns every person who doesn’t or can’t have children.

First of all, what she says can be easily refuted by the simple argument that LGBT couples pay taxes too. And this is what a member of the Constitutional Democratic Party did.

Among the criticisms on the social media, we find someone saying:

“Are we to say “let’s not use tax money on singles, heterosexual couples without children and all the people who, for all kinds of reasons, can’t have children because these people don’t have any “productivity”?”

Or even:

“Dividing the people according to whether or not they have a “productivity” and putting pressure on those who don’t, is it not similar to the eugenics thinking of the Nazis?”

Facing all this criticism, Mio SUGITA said that people should buy the magazine and read her article instead of criticising only a citation from it. But Mainichi said that if we read the whole article, all we find is contempt for the LGBT, who she qualified as “not happy”. She also said that if we are to allow same-sex marriage, some people might also want to allow marriage between brothers and sisters, parents and children, human and pet and human and machine.

japanese immersion1-a.jpg

Mainichi later devoted an editorial on the subject, openly condemning Mio SUGITA for encouraging discrimination and measuring people’s value using their ability to have children or not.

This is what shocked me in the news this week. Just when victims of the eugenics law start raising their voice, hearing such a statement is astonishing, imho.

Conclusion

I think I found the right format for my Friday post! I feel encouraged to absorb more Japanese culture and the more I do it, the more I love Japanese. I think I was too absorbed in JLPT things last year and books this year and narrowed in some way my contacts with Japanese. It is a shame because Japanese cultural production is so diverse,  that anyone can find his or her own path to the language/culture. And it is true that immersion helps a lot, not only to improve but to maintain the desire to improve.

4 Comments

  1. nahcirn says

    On your recommendation I checked out 愛を伝えたいだとか and was wondering if you can interpret it a bit for me, ’cause I’m kind confused by it.

    It seems to be about some kind of unrequited love, or someone not being able to build up the courage to go out and meet the person he loves, but…. Is it entirely from the man’s perspective? Is he the one who can’t build up courage? That seems confusing ’cause in the video it’s あいみょん who’s holed up in her room, maybe I shouldn’t take the video so literally. And what about the line about “Even if there were a giant cake you probably wouldn’t eat it”?

    I’d like to hear your opinion since the song seems to resonate with you.

    And thanks for recommending it, by the way. I usually don’t like J-Pop but this one is pretty catchy. I especially like the way she rattles off “少し辛くて 少し酸っぱくて 甘ったるかったりさ” in the beginning, I embarrass myself each time I try to mimic it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, I am also confused by the lyrics! To me, it’s from the boy perspective only and I ended up thinking of the song as the description of a single day, beginning with the morning and ending with the light fading (?). I think, as you suggest, that the boy can’t build up the courage to declare his love and is only imagining that he will do it. It’s only a “dream”. But hopes are strong at the beginning and fade away as the day goes on, as it becomes more and more obvious that they won’t meet. Even lighting candles and preparing a cake (maybe the image of a romantic evening?) will have no effect. I fancy that the guy, rather than taking action, prefers to sink into his imagination and build false hopes that inevitably fade away when the day approaches its end and it becomes harder to pretend they will meet. This is why he regrets that the light goes down “early” because it also means the dream is fading away and the reality comes back: just him in his dirty and familiar clothes.

      Haha, I don’t know, this is the image I have. I could not translate the lyrics, there are too many details that I don’t understand, like the thing with the window or the egg. In a way, I think that I also like this song because it has its part of mystery and is open to interpretation.

      Liked by 1 person

      • nahcirn says

        「部屋の明かり 早めに消してさ
        どうでもいい夢を見よう」

        The way this is phrased makes it sound like he’s “turning the lights out early” so that he can have “inconsequential dreams,” rather than regretting the light going down (esp. because 見よう is in the volitional form).

        But I think even if you interpret it this way, the meaning is essentially the same as what you said: The dude doesn’t want to face reality.

        Which is really complicated, because since she’s the one singing, it’s almost like she WANTS this guy to make a move (「完璧な男になんて惹かれない」maybe a hint that she’s actually attracted to this guy, because he’s not perfect) and she’s singing from the guy’s perspective to try to understand why he’s not 愛を伝えてing her? OR maybe the above-mentioned line means that she’s putting this guy in the friend-zone, which is why he’s frustrated, and which would also maybe explain the cake bit.

        I looked at a Japanese blog post trying to explain the lyrics, and the way they interpreted 「完璧な男になんて惹かれない」と君が笑ってたから悔しいや was simply that the speaker is frustrated that she is “considering” 完璧な男, and not “considering” him. That sounds a little strange to me, but maybe it’s some subtle Japanese cultural thing that I don’t understand. Although it does seem to match with my friend-zone interpretation, since a common facet of the friend-zone is that girls don’t see their guy-friends as possible sexual partners, so they talk more openly with them about relationships and such. Or there could be a mega-complicated meaning here, where it’s actually both at the same time: The girl is subtly hinting that she is interested in the guy, but the guy interprets it as friend-zone material and is frustrated by it. But I might be overthinking it.

        At any rate, I definitely think you’re right that lines like 今日は日が落ちる頃に会えるの? refers to meeting this girl in dreams, not reality. That’s pretty cool.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Oh yes you’are right with the turning off the lights, sorry!

          So Japanese too have a hard time interpreting the lyrics! That is reassuring! 😀 I like your interpretation of the friend zone, maybe we can relate it to the second paragraph, with the balance of tastes… I don’t know…

          In any case, I found a cover of this song called 男性版, by Ryoji Takarabe, with a remake of the music video but in a guy perspective.

          As you say, there are many ways to interpret the fact that she sings as a boy, but when a guy is singing, it somehow seems simpler! I like his singing too!

          Like

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