OL is short for “office lady (オフィスレディ),” a Japanese-coined English word referring to a female office worker.
In early Showa period, “BG” or business girl (ビジネスガール), was used to refer to these female workers, but rumors at the time said BG means Bar Girl and prostitution, therefore Japanese media stopped using the term in 1963, a year before the Tokyo Olympics. To replace BG, a new term was needed. The term office lady was then coined in 1964 as a result of popular votes by readers of Josei Jishin (a tabloid magazine targeted for women).
Office lady usually refers to a worker whose position consists primarily of assisting others (secretaries) or clerical tasks. When a female employee is in an executive position, or in preparation to be one, she’s no longer called OL. As you can imagine, it’s a highly prejudiced term, so you may want to be careful when and where it’s appropriate to use it.
Around this time of a year in Japan, many stores start taking orders for ochugen gifts.
What is ochugen (お中元)?
It’s a Japanese tradition in summer where you send gifts to people whom you’d like to show gratitude to. It’s a custom of saying thanks to the recipients and also showing your intent of keeping good relationship with them in future. It’s basically the summer equivalent of oseibo gifts given at the end of every year.
Ochugen gifts are usually sent to recipients by July 15th in Kanto area and August 15th in Kansai area. Gifts are typically given to their business partners, clients, relatives, special friends, people you owe favors, etc. In many cases, people order presents at retail stores and have the stores ship them to recipients on behalf of the senders. This way, when gifts are fresh food or perishables, you don’t have to worry about them going bad in transit.
Beer is also a popular ochugen gift. It comes in a pretty packaging.
Like oseibo, ochugen gifts are wrapped in special paper called noshi.
In Japanese, when one says daiya (ダイヤ), it could mean two things.
One is short for diamond, as in precious gem. The other is short for diagram, and more precisely, refers to a service planning diagram used in railway and bus operation.
Daiya in latter case is a document showing exact routes and time schedules of public transportation. When you are using trains in Japan, sometimes you may hear announcements for “daiya no midare (ダイヤの乱れ).” It means daiya, or the pre-set operating plan, has been disrupted, and certain trains and buses may be delayed as a result of it.
Daiya could be disrupted by various reasons, such as bad weather, accidents, and natural disasters. When it happens, railway companies are not responsible for financial loss caused by delay, so they wouldn’t be able to pay your tickets back. What they can do though is to issue a certificate of delay (Chien Shoumeisho from Japan Word of the Day #44) that you can bring to work to legitimately explain why you were late.
As weather gets warmer in Japan, demands for ice cold beer becomes higher. “Frozen Draft Beer (フローズン生ビール)” is a recent popular summer staple offered by Kirin Beer where beer is served with icy, slushy foam made under -5 degree Celsius.
The frozen foam on top of beer has sorbet-like texture when you drink it, and it melts like cream on your tongue. The foam also keeps the beer’s temperature cool for longer time.
Want to try it?
Now you can enjoy this delicious Frozen Draft Beer at home using Kirin Beer DIY Frozen Slushie Ice Cream Machine!
It’s super easy to operate. You only need 4 C batteries to run the machine. Just follow the instruction manual and you’ll have your own Frozen Draft Beer. You can purchase it through Rinkya Direct now for only $54.00! Quantity is limited, so hurry!
Sharp pencil or shāpu penshiru (シャープペンシル) is a Japanese-coined English word that refers to a mechanical pencil. It’s also called shāpen(シャーペン)in short form.
Mechanical pencil used to be called kuridashi enpitsu (meaning “roll-out pencil”). In 1916, Tokuji Hayawa, the founder of Hayakawa Metal Industries who invented the first metal-cased mechanical pencil in Japan, called it “Ever Ready Sharp Pencil (エバーレディシャープペンシル).” This name was once patented, but Hayakawa had to sell the patent in order to pay off the debt from Great Kanto Earthquake. Later on, Hayakawa’s friend Fukui Shōjiro imported mechanical pencils from abroad and sold it as “Sharp Pencil” based on Ever Ready Sharp Pencil.
Hayakawa Metal Industries has since became today’s electronics company SHARP. SHARP’s name was actually derived from Ever Ready Sharp Pencil. Fukui Shōjiro’s shop, on the other hand, became today’s LION Office Products, a stationery company.
Kakigōriis a popular dessert in Japan that’s made primarily of shaved ice and sweet syrup.
It’s a popular summer staple in Japan and often sold at local fairs and matsuri (traditional festival) along with other popular items such as yakisoba, takoyaki, and cotton candy. Flavors commonly used for kakigōri include strawberry, melon, green tea, blue hawaiian, and condensed milk. Green tea flavored syrup is often topped with sweetened red beans.
Stores that sell kakigōri usually have recognizable flags printed with “氷” for ice.
Want to make kakigōri? There are many kakigōri machines available for sale in Japan. Some of them are manual (turn a handle with your hand), and some others are automatic.
Classical design of traditonal kakigōri machine.
Electronic automatic kakigōri machine.
It’s very simple sweet, but sometimes the simplest thing brings the most happiness to your life!
As many of you may already know, Sanrio runs an annual popularity poll called “Sanrio Character Award” to select the most loved character of Sanrio every year. For 2014 Award, Sanrio will open a limited season cafe in Omotesando to promote this exciting annual event.