It has been amonth since I’ve posted. I should post something.
I have been putting little effort into Japanese lately, if I’m to be honest. I’ve been mostly, when I do study Japanese, just looking at Japanese media and looking up things that might interest me. It is nice to have a sensei at these times, because she can help me learn things I don’t know, but I find that half the time, she doesn’t know either. In some ways I’m truly on my own, and in some ways I’m not, as is the case with most things in life.
It seems my life, as of late, has been nothing but finding the most effective distractions I can, and when those run out, moving on to something else. And I’ll say this about Japanese media, it does make a very good distraction. One person on YouTube commented that Japanese media tends to skew very deliberately towards positivity, and while I’m sure there’s a cultural reason for that, it’s a welcome change at the moment, and something I’m wholeheartedly in favor of. When your world seems to be collapsing around you, cute cats, or even cat-girls, aren’t an unwelcome thing.
And maybe that is the cultural reason after all. After all, Japan went through some very dark times before their current culture emerged. Maybe they’re just culturally sick of darkness.
I think I understand. A little, anyway. There’s only so much darkness that you can be assaulted with before you start to seek out a respite. Any respite.
But, paradoxically, I find my Japanese getting a lot better the less I study. Don’t get me wrong, studying is important, and I should do more of it. But I seem to have hit on an underestimated recipe for success – familiarity is just as, or more, important, than studying. I find as I consume media, I start to understand things I didn’t before, and with a surprisingly little amount of effort. It’s just about massive exposure much more than grammar and vocabulary study. It’s a bit like riding a bike – at some point, after falling off a hundred times, it just kind of clicks, and with little conscious effort. Your brain just kind of rewires, and there it is. It’s almost as important to spend an hour a day consuming the Japanese language, as it is learning it.
Japanese is a good distraction for me. But I always keep in the back of my mind that it’s life for Japanese people. It’s like the fish that says to the other, “how’s the water”, and the other responds, “what is water?” I guess in the same way I find Japanese people trying to speak English both cute, and a bit cringey. There was this one Japanese girl telling a story about how she had to write an English phrase on her hand in katakana using a pen so she’d be able to use it. I think she was ordering coffee. She told it in Japanese. I understood it. She had to think very hard what the word for “pen” is. I think it’s the same in Japanese (unless it’s a fountain pen…).
Anyway, this is a rambly post. I won’t lie and say my mental state has been the greatest as of late. But it is what it is. I don’t have any really useful Japanese tips, no really interesting Japanese observations… except for one. If tonkotsu is pork broth, and tonkatsu is a breded pork cutlet, is tonkutsu pigs feet?
Probably not. But it’s fun to think about.
It is Labor Day weekend in the USA. It is also my birthday. I am, unfortunately, in my mid forties. I hope next year is better than this one.