Monthly Archives: February 2014

Japan Word of the Day #47 – Nimaime/Sanmaime (Cool guy/Dorky guy)

Today’s Word is: Nimaime and Sanmaime (二枚目 and 三枚目)

Nimaime is a term that describes a handsome-looking guy with graceful manner. Basically, anything he does or says makes him look cool. The literal translation of the word “nimaime” is “the second one,” where the last syllable “me” is an unit of measurement for a flat object.

The term originates from kabuki industry in Edo period. When kabuki is performed, it is customary to post a set of eight banners at the performance venue. The first banner shows the name of protagonist. The second banner is usually reserved for a young, good-looking actor. Thus “the second one,” or nimaime, eventually became an expression referring to any handsome man.

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From right, the second banner is used for a cool guy, and the third banner for a funny guy.

The third banner, on the other hand, usually has the name of comic relief character. Thus “the third one,” or sanmaime, became an expression referring to a dorky, uncool guy. Although someone who’s described as sanmaime is generally not good-looking, it also carries positive connotation of being funny and lovable.

Examples of anime characters that fall in sanmaime category would be Lupin from Lupin the Third, Usopp from ONE PIECE, and Kuririn from Dragon Ball.

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The Most Mouthwatering Phone Stand Ever: Udon Smartphone Stand

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There’s been many smartphone accessories from Japan that look like real food, but I’ve never seen anything that’s this big before. Hamee, a Japanese online shop specialized in cellphone accessories, released Udon Samrtphone Stand that’ll make sure to keep your phone safe and still while constantly keeping you hungry as well.

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Japan Word of the Day #46 – Burakku Kigyō (Black Company)

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Today’s Word is: Burakku Kigyō (ブラック企業)

Burakku kigyō is a type of company that exploits employees in a way similar to sweatshop type employment in US. The literal translation of the term is “black company” or “black corporation.” While sweatshop problem mainly involves factory workers and blue collars, black company is usually a problem for office workers.

Black companies typically hire a large number of young people without requiring previous work experiences. They force their employees unreasonable overtime and amount of tasks without reward, benefits, or any promise of future prospects. In this sort of environment, an employee doesn’t gain skills that are specialized or portable enough to be useful in other companies, thus it does not help them build career experiences to switch to another job.

The term was coined in early 2000’s and has been around for a while in IT and recruitment industries. However, the major breakthrough of the term came in 2008, when a novel called “I’m Working at a Black Company and I Might Die Soon,” was published. (The original Japanese title is “ブラック会社に勤めてるんだが、もう俺は限界かもしれない”) In 2009, a live-action movie adaptation of the book was released. Burrakku kigyō was chosen as one of the top 10 buzzwords of the year in 2013.

Image source: Roudou Channeru

★Rare Sylvanian Families Auctions★

If you are a collector of Sylvanian Families, Rinkya is the place to go!
Here are a few examples of what we have currently on YJ Auction via Rinkya.

1) Sylvanian Families Epoch 50th Anniversary Celebration Set

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This special set of Chocolate Rabbits was made for celebration of Epoch’s 50th anniversary. The set was produced in a small quantity and was given to selected toy stores. Thus it was never meant to be sold as a product.
Near mint condition. Never been opened.

This auction ends at 5:16 on March 2nd, 2014 in PST.
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2) Sylvanian Families Mole Rat Family Early Models

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This is a set of Mole Rat family made in 1986. The set is in a superb condition with an original box.

This auction ends at 4:59 on March 1st, 2014 in PST.
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3) Sylvanian Families Dressmaker House

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Dressmaker is a very popular doll house among Sylvanian Families collectors. This set originally came out in 1994 and has been out of production for more than a decade now.
This auction is for a Dressmaker House in a brand new condition, with all the parts still wrapped in original packaging. Don’t miss this chance to get it!

This auction ends at 5:57 on March 1st, 2014 in PST.
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Find more Sylvanian Families items on Yahoo Japan Auction via Rinkya!

 

Japan Word of the Day #45 – Naka No Hito (person inside a character)

Today’s Word is: Naka No Hito (中の人)

Naka no hito” is an internet slang term for a saiyuu(声優), a voice actor casted for a certain character in anime and games. Naka (中) means “inside,” and hito (人) means “person.” Thus its literal translation would be a “person inside.” Here’s an example for how to use it in a sentence.

「ヤムチャの中の人ってタキシード仮面と同じ人だよね」
“Yamcha’s voice actor (naka no hito) is the same as that of Tuxedo Kamen, isn’t it?”

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Naka no hito for the two characters above are Toru Furuya, who’s voiced for numerous characters including Amuro Ray (Gundam), Pegasus Seiya (Saint Seiya), Koyuske Kasuga (Kimagure Orange Road), etc.

The term was originally meant for voice actors only, but nowadays it is also used for anyone whose profession is to act out characters other than themselves. Thus any actors for live-action films (not just voice actors but Hollywood actors), people in charge of running corporate Twitter accounts (for example, IKEA Japan’s Twitter personality is quite funny and popular), people inside yurukyara mascot suits, and so on.

Pretty Cure Bananas Released! Total of 36 Pretty Cure girls are on bananas

Fruits company “Chiquita” released special sets of bananas in collaboration with upcoming movie “Pretty Cure All Stars New Stage 3,” which will be in theaters on March 15th.
There are different levels of sweetness to bananas.

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“Pretty Cure Bananas” are the most basic bananas. These bananas were made at zero-meter height (ground level). As the height of the banana farm increases, so does the sweetness. “Pretty Cure Bananas” have stickers of Cure Lovely and Cure Heart.

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“Chiquita Precious Pretty Cure Dolce Bananas” were grown in 600-800 meters above ground. These bananas are much sweeter and rich in flavor. Also they have more characters on the stickers.

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Inside the package, where you can’t see from outside, one of the bananas has a sticker with a randomly selected character from 36 Pretty Cures. You don’t know which one you’ll get until you open the package!

Here are all the possible stickers you can get.

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It’s kind of odd to have a bunch of pictures of young girls on bananas, but hey, that’s just Japan.

 

Image source: Chiquita

Japan Word of the Day #44 – Kanningu (cheating on a test)

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Today’s Word is: Kanninngu (kan/nin/gu カンニング)

Kanningu is an act of cheating while you are taking a test. It originates from a Japanese pronunciation of English word “cunning.”
Although someone who cheats on a test might be a cunning person, it does not work as a verb or a noun in English. In Japanese, it’s not a description of a person, but rather, an act of cheating itself.

There are several ways to do kannningu. One might do so by bringing “kanningu paper,” which is simply a piece of paper with answers to a test. Or recent generation of students could use cellphones to check on answers.
Either way, cheating is a serious violation of school rules in Japan, just like other countries. Let’s not try to do it!

Weirdest instant ramen packages from Japan

Japan has a variety of instant ramen available in any supermarkets, convenience stores, 100 yen shops, etc. Some of the brands even made their ways outside Japan, such as Sapporo Ichiban and Maruchan.
When you go to some local areas, you’ll find some of the weirdest instant ramen on shelves. Here is a list of 14 weirdest ramen packages!

1) Beware of bears! Ripe’n’Dry Hokkaido Ramen

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Just so you know, there isn’t any bear meat in this product. I assume Fujiwara Seimen, the maker of this ramen, used the bear image because Hokkaido is known as a home for many brown bears.
The ramen is supposedly very tasty, the noodle has been dried naturally for 3 days, and its texture is comparable to fresh ramen noodle.
Available on Amazon: salt flavor, soy sauce flavor.

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Japan Word of the Day #44 – Chien Shoumeisho (Delay Certificate)

Today’s Word is: Chien Shoumeisho (遅延証明書)

This is an unique practice formed in a society where trains and buses rarely get delayed or changed from preset schedules. Because of how unlikely it is for a train to be late, employees of businesses are expected to come work on time too. No excuse.
However, sometimes accidents and natural disaster do happen, and trains could be late. That’s when a “chien shoumeisho” or a delay certificate is issued by railway companies at your request. It clearly states on which date how many minutes a train was delayed. You can bring this piece of paper to your work and prove that the reason for being late is legit.

Below is an example of a delay certificate issued by Odakyu railway. Nowadays you can download an electronic version of the certificate from railways’ websites too, which makes things even easier.

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If you ever need to prove your reason for delay, it comes in handy!

 

Image source: Station Master