Japanese

Is that a Mexican skull with Japanese clouds and light rays?

mexican_japanese_tattoo_inkrat

This friendly young guy reminded me that even in Japan, “tattoos are not a crime.” I love how his shoulder piece combines Mexican and Japanese motifs. At Ink Rat in Koenji.

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#1 Olympics heart throb: Kohei Uchimura

Summer Olympics is not just about athletics, it’s also about hot athletes. My favorite is Japanese world champion gymnast Kohei Uchimura, recently profiled and photographed by the New York Times magazine.

Kohei is incredibly strong, precise, and focused. He’s the first male gymnast to win three consecutive world all around titles (2009, 2010, 2011). In Beijing he won two silver medals.

And his visual style combines stubble for macho toughness with tall helmet hair that screams mom and eyebrows that have been yanked and angled within a few hairs of their existence. Swoon.

I am selfishly wishing he wins plenty of gold medals, and becomes a regular image of corporate marketing in Japan. I’d much prefer to see young Kohei than skinny Ichiro. Maybe that’s just me?

Who will you be stalking this Olympics?

Japanese teens hiding behind face masks

A British news story purports that teens are hiding behind face masks “in order to retreat from society.” Blame is predictably cast on the economy and “social insecurities.” My favorite is the quote from the teen who claims to only take off his mask after running practice: “All I can say is that it somehow calms me down.”

My advice to anyone who wants “to look Japanese,” wear a face mask!

Learn Japanese with trial of Oshio Manobu

Ok. This is in very bad taste. But, I am hoping to improve my listening abilities by following the lurid trial of Oshio Manobu, an attractive if arrogant actor accused of providing ecstacy to a Ginza hostess and then abandoning her when she had a heart attack.

This story has many important angles: the first famous “lay judge” or jury trial since it was recently introduced in Japan, a story about drug panic in Japan (love the visual at the beginning where hundreds of pills are flying across the screen), its location in a super expensive Roppongi apartment possibly owned by the Peaches John bra shop’s female owner, and so on. Here’s yesterday’s summary in English.

Verdict is on Friday!

What makes the story mesmerizing for me, and probably for many Japanese female viewers, is the combination of Oshio’s bad character and his many hot looks. Is it wrong to think sexual thoughts of a bad person? Can you learn Japanese while feeling conflicted? (I have posted twice previously last December and August).

What do you think?!

Tanabata wishes at the supermarket

Today is Tanabata, a Chinese-derived holiday about celestial lovers. It’s also the opportunity to write your wishes on special trees. The tree where I left my wish is our local supermarket. Mine says, “I hope I pass the Japanese language test” (日本語のしけんにごうかくしますように).

Repulsed by monotheism, I’ve recently discovered how much I enjoy Shintoism and any type of Japanese superstitions. If there’s a stack of cards close at hand where you can write a wish, well, why not do it? For last week’s JLPT exam, I not only left this note in my supermarket, but I also left some coins and a quick prayer at our local Shinto shrine.

I love this child’s wish below. When he’s big, he wants to be a hairdresser. What would you wish for? And where would you leave your wish?

Studying for JLPT 3

Is anyone taking the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency)  tests this summer? They are offering new levels 1, 2 and 3. I am challenging myself to study for level 3, which will be really hard for me.

The website for the test is sooo difficult. If you click the link that says in English that you are taking the test within Japan, you get to pages and pages of information only in Japanese. According to the hubb, you need to buy the application form at a bookstore and then mail it in.

Hello, JLPT! Have you never heard of online transactions? Between the language and multiple steps for application, it’s amazing that so many people manage to take the test!

Which readers are taking the test in July? What are you doing to study? Thank you for sharing some tips or encouragement.