Japanese Pop-Culture コーナー

connect_Matsuko Deluxe

The new year is well and truly underway now. I was watching a TV show the other day that introduced some changes that we can expect to see in Japan in 2015. Two of the predictions that intrigued me most were the introduction of hydrogen cars and more robots in the service industry. Looks like Pepper the Softbank robot is just the beginning. Let’s take a look at what else is new and trending around Japan.

Artist/Band: 西野 カナ (Age: 25)

Kana Nishino

Kana Nishino is not exactly a new face, debuting in 2008, however she is hugely popular. When asked who their favourite female artist is, most high school girls will answer Kana Nishino. Her latest song “Darling”, from last year’s album With Love, has a slightly country feel about it, featuring a banjo and acoustic guitar. It’s a great choice if you are looking to relax a little after listening to the ‘high-tension’ songs of AKB, SKE, HKT, NMB…did I miss any?

TV show: 世界の日本人妻は見た

Sekai no Nihonjin Tsuma wa Mita!
(“We saw the Japanese wives of the world!”)

The title of this show pretty much summarizes the plot. A TV crew travels the world looking for Japanese women who are married to a foreigner and live overseas. They interview them about how they met their partner, the local customs and culture, and then proceed to visit their house and look in the fridge. In classic variety TV programming style there is an MC and a panel to discuss the footage, answer occasional quiz questions, and provide comic relief. It is an interesting window into the Japanese fascination with everything foreign.

Celebrity: マツコ・デラックス (Age: 42)

Matsuko Deluxe

Originally a prominent essayist and gay-rights activist now working as a regular panelist on variety TV shows, Matsuko Deluxe is a TV personality known for having a critical view and fiery attitude. Matsuko’s own show is called “Matsuko no Shiranai Sekai”, which introduces him to things that he supposedly doesn’t know. He is also the spokesperson for Mr. Donuts starring in most of their commercials. Transvestite and transgender TV personalities are quite common in variety programming. Some of the other stars that you are likely to see regularly on TV are Haruna Ai, Ikko and Kaba-chan.

Anime/manga: 日本人の知らない日本語

Nihonjin no Shiranai Nihongo
(“Japanese that Japanese people don’t know”)

This is a cross between a book and a manga. A Japanese friend recommended it to me, and within just a couple of days I had read it and was looking for number two. It’s an easy and hilarious read for intermediate or above level Japanese. It is written by a Japanese teacher who works at a language school for foreigners in Japan. If the tumblr “I Just Can’t Today” is my life, then this is my life: part 2. There were so many things that I could relate to as a student of Japanese and as a foreign language teacher.

Word: Abenomics

The re-election of Prime Minister Shinzou Abe late last year will ensure that we continue to hear this word on repeat again this year. It is a combination of the words ‘Abe’ and ‘economics’ and is used to describe PM Abe’s economic policies. Some of the big news headlines last year that were linked to Abenomics were the dramatic weakening of the Japanese yen and the rising sales tax.

Jaclyn Thompson is a fourth-year ALT in Miyazaki Prefecture. Driven to Japan by her passion for Japanese study, she is slowly saying goodbye to her university-level English, and hello to Japanese fluency…is what she would like to say, but in reality she is saying hello to junior high school textbook English and talking at the pace of a snail. I’m fine thanks, and you?