Traditions: Mode

コスプレ Anime Boom

コスプレ Anime Boom

If you keep up at all with the Japanese anime community in the US, you may know that last month, there was a big anime convention called Sakura-con in Seattle. Living only 30 minutes away from the convention, I attended the convention and was exposed to a whole new world. After this experience, I thought that it would appropriate for this month’s newletter to be on コスプレ(こすぷれ・cosplay).

コスプレ Anime Boom コスプレーヤー Left: Kame-sennin from Dragon Ball (form Sakura-con)

Brief History
コスプレ, as you may be able to guess, comes from the words “costume play”. It is said to have started in the 1960s with the rise of the Sci-Fi television boom. コスプレ gained popularity in the 1990s almost simultaneously with the anime 新世紀エバンゲリオン(しんせいきえばんげりおん・shinseiki ebangelion・Neon Genesis Evangelion). Today, the コスプレーヤー(こすぷれーやー・cosplayer) community is growing rapidly due to the vast コスプレopportunities such as conventions and the advancement of media technologies.

Types of コスプレ
There is no limit to cosplay. The two most common types of コスプレ would be: (1) cosplaying as anime, game, and manga characters and (2) cosplaying in uniforms such as maids or schoolgirls. But we often see cosplays of movie characters from the US such as Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Carribean or mascots like Domo-kun.

コスチューム
Most of the コスチューム(こすちゅーむ・costume) that コスプレーヤー wear are 手作り(てづくり・tezukuri・hand-made). コスチューム can be bought for most popular コスプレ characters, but mind you, they are not cheap. To think of the amount of effort and time these コスプレーヤーput into creating their incredibly replicated costumes, just blows me away.

コスプレ Anime Boom

Popular コスプレ
Recently 人気(にんき・ninnki・popular) コスプレ include: Haruhi Suzumiya (the Meloncholy of Haruhi Suzumiya), Kei-on school uniform, Amagami school uniform, Lina Inverse (Slayers REVOLUTION), and Dream Club host girl uniform. All-time 人気 are : Chun li (Street Fighter), Rei and Asuka (エバンゲリオン), Monkey D. Luffy (One Piece), L (DeathNote), and Final Fantasy characters.

Vocabulary

Kanji Hiragana Romaji English
コスプレ こすぷれ cosplay  
コスプレーヤー こすぷれーやー cosplayer  
コスチューム こすちゅーむ costume  
手作り てづくり tezukuri hand-made
人気 にんき ninnki popular

携帯 Cell phones

携帯 Cell phones

Take a look around you. There are people who are talking on skype on the droid, surfing the web on their blackberries, and using the navigation system on their iphones. It is quite impressive to think of how far 携帯 (けいたい・keitai・cell phones) have come even in the past few decades.

You've probably heard on some TV shows or tech blogs about how much more advanced Japanese 携帯 are. But really, how different can they be? Let's look into the latest developments in the 携帯 and also the 携帯 culture in Japan today.

携帯 Cell phones Left: a typical Japanese cell phone number pad Right: the newest separable cell phone design

So What's new?
Touch screen panels, cameras, and 4G network; you feel like you've seen it all.

But what about a cell phone that works as a credit card? IC chips that are built into the cell phone allow them to be scanned and used just like credit cards. This system was first introduced in 2004, and today, the おサイフ (おさいふ・osaifu・wallet) 携帯 can be used at some retail stores, almost all convenience stores, and many vending machines in Japan (photo to the right).

This past March, a Japanese 携帯 company announced a new an innovative design - the separable. While you can use it like a large touch screen sliding phone, the keypad and the screen can come apart, allowing people to keep their eyes on the screen (to surf the web, etc) while still talking on the phone. Also, (as the photo above) the screen can be propped up while the keypad can be used like a keyboard.

Difference of Japanese 携帯 keypad
One of the most common question that people have about Japanese cell phones is the keypad. How is it different from the US ones that would allow them to type in Japanese?

Take a look at a Japanese keypad (photo to left) if you look closely, you see that they have ひらがな(hiragana・Japanese phonetic alphabet) characters. Each one of them represents a in the alphabet 行(ぎょう・gyou・row). The 『あ』 stands for the あ行, which includes あ, い, う, え, お the first 5 letters of ひらがな. Otherwise, it works similar to the keypads here. You press the key as many times as you get to the character you need, then you have the option to change the letters to kanji, and enter.

携帯 Cell phones A Vending Machine that accepts おサイフ携帯

Taking advantage of rate plans
A recently developed concept of 二個持ち(にこもち・nikomochi・the use of two cell phones) in Japan is popular especially among the younger population that uses 携帯 the most. Depending on which carrier offers the lowest monthly rates for specific services, people will buy separate cell phones for them.

The fancy cell phones in Japan are expensive, so some people may buy one nice cell phone as their main phone, then one of the very inexpensive of free ones as their second phone (usually for texting) with a different carrier. This can be done because the monthly rates in Japan cost much less than in the US.

Vocabulary

Kanji Hiragana Romaji English
携帯 けいたい keitai cell phones
おサイフ おさいふ osaifu wallet
ひらがな ひらがな hiragana Japanese phonetic alphabet
ぎょう gyou row
二個持ち にこもち nikomochi the use of two cell phones

ダイエット tips from Japan Diet

ダイエット tips from Japan Diet

新年あけましておめでとうございます (Happy New Year)! With the holiday-induced eating season out of the way, it is yet again that time of the year when we stand on our scales at home and make a 抱負 (ほうふ・houfu・new year's resolution) to get (back) into shape. To assist you on achieving your newly set goal, this month, JOL has compiled for you a handy-dandy list of "fad" Japanese diets for you to try!

ダイエット tips from Japan Diet 2011 is the year of the Rabbit

Morning Banana Diet
Perhaps many of you have already heard of the 朝バナナダイエット (あさばななだいえっと・asa banana daietto・morning banana diet). When this diet first broke out in Japan, it was literally impossible for people to buy bananas at popular supermarkets. Basically, you have bananas and water for breakfast every morning and you don't eat anything after 6pm. Perhaps because of how easy this diet is, plus the fact that it highlights overall well-being other than just eating bananas, if you really are looking into starting a diet from this list, this one is probably the best.

Natto Diet
なっとう (natto-・fermented soy beans) are sticky, slimy, smelly soy beans that are most certainly an acquired taste that many Japanese do not even like. Though not as popular as the 朝バナナダイエット, なっとう sales also went up dramatically after the introduction of this diet. If you can get over the smell and taste, all you have to do is just eat なっとう as much as you can during the day. Supposedly, eating なっとう prevents you from eating other unhealthy food. It is also very good for your overall health and digestive system. This diet probably lost its popularity for practical reasons.

Billy's Boot Camp/Core Rhythm
Now, these next diets are actually from the US. They are at-home workout videos that you may have heard of, but they do not have nearly as much popularity here as they did in Japan. Billy's Boot Camp created a pop culture phenomenon in Japan with its high-energy host Billy. Core Rhythm started becoming popular amongst popular celebrities and spread. If you can keep on track with workout videos and don't mind actually working out to lose weight, try and go out to find these.

Hip-bone straightening diet
Who knew that just rotating your pelvic bone in clockwise and counter-clockwise turns could help you shape up your stomach and lowerbody? Well, that is what the 骨盤強制 (こつばんきょうせい・kotsuban kyousei・hip-bone readjustment) diet teaches you to do. It looks like the laziest exercise, but this diet focuses on the core muscles and helps flatten the lower abdomen and waistline. Other than the turning exercises, you can go to a chiropractor and have them realign your bones, or do other types of exercises that supposedly realign your hip-bone, which makes your body lose weight more easily.

ダイエット tips from Japan Diet Bananas all sold out at a Japanese supermarket due to the incredible popularity of the 朝バナナダイエット

Vocabulary

Kanji Hiragana Romaji English
新年あけましておめでとうございます しんねんあけましておめでとうございます Shinnennakemashiteomedetogozaimasu Happy New Year
(今年の)抱負 ほうふ houfu (this year's) resolution
ダイエット だいえっと daietto diet

草食系男子 Hervivorous Men 肉食系女子 Carnivorous Women

草食系男子 Hervivorous Men 肉食系女子 Carnivorous Women

The Japanese, like many other societies, have gross generalizations or stereotypes of men and women. Men are to be strong and assertive in all social aspects, while women are to be gentle and calm. Recently these expectations or "ideals" are being challenged and gender roles in society are looking hazier.

草食系男子 Hervivorous Men 肉食系女子 Carnivorous Women Aesthetic Salons for men are becoming more and more popular

草食系男子
草食系男子(そうしょくけいだんし・sou shoku kei danshi・literally “herbivorous men”) is a relatively new term coined by cosmetic corporations and fashion magazines pointing to the rise of metrosexuality among men. They are straight men that are interested in things and activities that tend not to be associated with men. For example, these men care more about their appearance, which has spurred a mushroom of skincare and cosmetics lines specifically marketed towards men. In addition, cooking, baking, crafting, and other classes which were predominantly enrolled by women previously are now being taken by more and more men.

The 草食系男子 wave is sweeping through Japan, with a recent study showing that about 75% of men in Japan consider themselves 草食系(herbivorous). This movement is not just among the young, but also older aged men, as many of the customers who go to the Men’s esthetic salon are in their 50s or older.

Popularity of 草食系男子
Perhaps it is just another one of the shortlived fads that come and go like waves in Japan, but 草食系男子 are in some ways portrayed as the "ideal" men among women in Japan. A man who is not aggressive towards women could potentially also be a more faithful man. He also cooks and cleans for you - there are some positives!

草食系男子 Hervivorous Men 肉食系女子 Carnivorous Women

Vocabulary

Kanji Hiragana Romaji English
草食 そうしょく soushoku herbivor
肉食 にくしょく nikushoku carnivor
雑食 ざっしょく zasshoku omnivor
お薦め おすすめ osusume recommendation

ファッション雑誌 Fashion Magazine

ファッション雑誌 Fashion Magazine

Spring is coming and it's about time we start changing our wardrobes for the warmer days to come. Maybe you'll think about going out to buy new clothes - And before you do, why not be inspired by some of the latest fashion trends in Japan? 雑誌 (ざっし・zasshi・magazine) may be interesting to look through, regardless of whether you can read the words or not.

Like in the US, there are many different kinds of different Japanese fashion 雑誌. Even if you think "Okay, I'm going to get one!", it can be hard to navigate through all of the different covers. This month's edition of JOL will help you out a bit by introducing some of the most popular 雑誌. Afterall, ike America, such 雑誌 vary in style.

ファッション雑誌 Fashion Magazine Female fashion 雑誌 in a Japanese bookstore

Gyaru, Gyaruo
If you're a Gyaru or interested in becoming/dressing like one, pick up 小悪魔アゲハ (こあくまあげは・koakuma ageha). The first part of the title 小悪魔, literally translates to "little devil". It's a term used in Japanese that means "a flirt" with a slight connotation of them being manipulative. Caution: it does not mean "little brat", which is 悪ガキ (わるがき・warugaki)!

As for the aspiring Gyaruo, going for the "Men's egg" would be a safe choice. These two 雑誌 portray a mainstream form of Gyaru/Gyaruo fashion, but of course, there are many other 雑誌 that go along with other forms

The equivalent term for men, you could say, is サラリーマン (さらりーまん・sarari-man). Literally, "salary man". It's probably what the majority of Japanese businessmen would call themselves (unless their position in their perspective company is substantially higher). For young professional men's fashion, MEN'S NON-NO is one of the popular 雑誌.

ファッション雑誌 Fashion Magazine 立ち読み (たちよみ・tachiyomi・literally, "stand read") is when you read/look through 雑誌 (or any other book/comic/etc) at the store without paying. Watch out, you can get in trouble!

Street Fashion
If you're interested in the more unique branch of Japanese fashion, ストリート系 (すとりーとけい・sutori-to kei・Street Mode/Style) is your genre. FRUiTS is a popular 雑誌 for these style. If you want something girly-frilly, CUTiE may be for you.

For men, Samurai (侍・samurai) Magazine introduces a fairly casual ストリート系 fashion advice.

Vocabulary

Kanji Hiragana Romaji English
雑誌 ざっし zasshi magazine
小悪魔 こあくま koakuma a flirt
立ち読み たちよみ tachiyomi reading at a store without paying for the book / 雑誌/ etc.

The Cat 猫

The Cat 猫

If you've been to Japan, perhaps you've noticed all the 野良猫 (のらねこ・noraneko・stray cats) on the streets. Or perhaps you've noticed those cat sculptures at Japanese restaurants? And speaking of cats, what about cat ear cafes? This month, it's all about 猫 (ねこ・neko・cats).

The Cat 猫 招き猫 (left) designs are based off of 三毛猫 (right)

招き猫
First off, the beckoning cat dolls at restaurants. Those are called 招き猫 (まねきねこ・manekineko・literally, "beckoning cat"). Originally, 猫 were favored by silkworm cultivators in Japan because they catch mice. But as time went on and silk production dwindled, 猫 started to become a symbol of good luck for businesses.

Looking at the dolls, if the 猫's right paw is raised, it's said to bring in money. If the left is raised, it's thought to bring in customers. There are some with both arms raised, but those aren't too popular since many think it's too 欲張り (よくばり・yokubari・greedy). Typically, they are 三毛猫 (みけねこ・mikeneko・ calico cat), with three colors, often seen among cats in Japan. In fact, "ミケ" [mike; MEE-kay] is a common name for cats.

Love Cats? What about a 猫 Cafe?
If you love cats but can't own any because of your lease or roommates or parents, head over to the kitty wonderland that is 猫カフェ (かふぇ・kafe・cafe). That's right, a place where you can look through the "menu" with a bunch of 猫 photos and bios, then go hang out with your favorite. Or you can just relax and be lazy with the other cats. Some places will actually be like a カフェ, others will just be a mini 猫 zoo.

猫ミミカフェ
Don't like 猫? What about 猫耳 (みみ・mimi・ears)? On humans, that is. Jumping into the totally different world of Otaku culture, 猫耳カフェ are like maid カフェ. As a matter of fact, there's a lot of maid カフェ where the maids also wear cat ears. At these cafes, the waiters usually end their sentences with "~ニャン" (~nyan), or cat talk, since 猫 in Japan cry ニャー (nya-) instead of meow.

Typical 猫 Names
If you're thinking of giving your 猫 a typical Japanese 名前 (なまえ・namae・name), here's a few ideas for you:

  • ミケ・みけ・mike (as mentioned before)
  • タマ・たま・tama (literally "ball", but it's like naming a dog "Spot")

The Cat 猫 猫耳 maid

Vocabulary

Kanji Hiragana Romaji English
ねこ neko cats
欲張り よくばり yokubari greedy
いぬ inu dog

カラオケ Karaoke BOX

カラオケ Karaoke BOX

When you want to hang out with your friends, what do you do? Do you go to the movies, the mall, or the park? Whatever you answer is, it probably wasn't カラオケ (からおけ・karaoke).

カラオケ Karaoke BOX Your typical カラオケボックス

What is カラオケ?
カラオケ is short for 空 (から・kara・empty) and オーケストラ (おーけすとら・orchestra). Basically, it is an activity where people sing along an instrumental recording of a song of their choice. The lyrics to the song are displayed on a TV screen and you have a microphone attached to speakers.

Bar vrs. Box
The most common type of karaoke available in the U.S. are karaoke bars. This is where a karaoke machine is set up in a restaurant or a bar and customers go up to sing in front of other customers. However, in Japan, カラオケボックス (からおけぼっくす・karaoke box) are more common than bars. Unlike the karaoke bars, these "boxes" are individual rooms that you can rent by the hour. Each room is furnished with a table, sofa, and of course, a karaoke machine. At the lobby, you specify the number of people in your group, chose the brand of karaoke machine that you wish to use, and that's it! It's really quite simple.

Price
So... how much would a visit to the カラオケボックス cost you? Surprisingly, not very much at all. If you go by the hour, an average place would charge about 200円 (えん・enn・yen); approximately $2.5 US. There is also an option called フリータイム (ふりーたいむ・furi-taimu・free time) which is a カラオケ buffet. カラオケ companies will often split their operating hours in two (day/night) and have a フリータイム option for each.

For about 1100円, a person can sing for a maximum of 10 hours (ie. night time フリータイム from 7pm to 5am next day). There are even stores that offer 50円 for every 30min (only $0.64) as a weekday special!

The カラオケ Experience
Once you're in the room, you are free to sing, dance, and blast music all you want. Not only is the カラオケ experience like a private dance party, but it is also quite the stress reliever. You even get some room service; food and most drinks are ordered through a special phone, which are brought to you via the employees.

Don't know any J-pop? No problem! Along with the menu book with thousands of J-pop, カラオケボックス also provide foreign music menus, with popular Chinese, Korean, and English songs.

If you get a chance to go to Japan, and you are searching for something exciting and fun to do while hanging out with your friends, go to a karaoke and sing your souls out. I am certain you'll get hooked.

カラオケ Karaoke BOX Song menu book and touch screen remote/controller

Vocabulary

Kanji Hiragana Romaji English
カラオケ からおけ karaoke karaoke
から kara empty
オーケストラ おーけすとら okesutora orchestra
フリータイム ふりーたいむ furi-taimu free time
オリコン おりこん oricon  

アニメクール Anime Cour

結婚式

What is クール (くーる・ku-ru)? No, it's not "cool", though I guess アニメ (あにめ・anime) is, in fact, cool. クール, or cour, is a term that refers to the cycles or seasons of television shows.

A year of Japanese television can be split into four seasons: 冬 (ふゆ・fuyu・winter) starting in January, 春 (はる・haru・spring) from April, 夏 (なつ・natsu・summer) from July, and 秋 (あき・aki・fall) from October. The majority of アニメ and J-dramas fall within this cycle.

If you're up-to-date on current アニメ, then you've probably noticed that all of the shows are wrapping up with their last episodes. Now that it's October, you can look forward to a wave of new shows!

結婚式 氷菓 (Hyoka) is a popular mystery アニメ that just finished 2 クール

Number of Episodes
Generally, アニメ episodes air once a week. Each クール lasts approximately 13 weeks. Thus, アニメ seasons usually consist of 13 episodes. Recently however, there are many shows that don't fill the full season and end up between 9~13 episodes. These seasons are shorter than American television show cycles. Popular アニメ will sometimes carry over into two seasons- these are called 2 クール (つーくーつ・"Two" ku-ru・two cours/seasons). However, when アニメ series are more popular than expected, they will not last for two back-to-back クール, but will instead have a second season at a later time.

Air Time
Just like the American "prime time", there is a Japanese ゴールデンタイム (ごーるでんたいむ・go-ruden taimu・golden time) or ゴールデン (go-ruden), for short. This is between 7pm-10pm, but these time slots are mainly filled with popular talk shows and long-lasting popular アニメ like One Piece, which airs year-round regardless of the クール.

深夜アニメ
Many of the popular アニメ aimed at older and mature audiences are aired during 深夜 (しんや・shinya・late-night, or middle-of-the-night). Quite appropriately, these shows are referred to as 深夜アニメ. There is a common misconception that these アニメ have mature content, but that is not necessarily true. I've been surprised to see many minor-friendly アニメ are 深夜アニメ.

結婚式 Instead of the "guide" button on your remote, many households in Japan will have a television guide magazine or pamphlet that is purchased each month.

Vocabulary

Kanji Hiragana Romaji English
アニメ あにめ anime anime
深夜 しんや shinya late-night or middle of the night
クール くーる ku-ru cour / television season
ゴールデンタイム ごーるでんたいむ go-ruden taimu "golden time" or prime-time

Japanese アイドル

Japanese アイドル

If you've had any exposure to Japanese celebrities or media, you've probably heard of AKB48 or Johnny's Jr. - Those young boy bands and girl bands the fans go crazy for. They can be singers, dancer, actors, tv personalities, etc. They fall in the category of アイドル (あいどる・aidoru・idol).

Japanese アイドル AKB48, one of Japan's most popular アイドルグループ

Popular アイドルグループ
There are many アイドルグループ (ぐるーぷ・guru-pu・group), but one of the most popular is AKB48. As the name states, there are 48 female members and they're based out of Akihabara (hence, the AKB). They're a product of an ever growing アイドル boom and their innovative marketing styles (ie. the 48 girls compete in yearly popularity rankings determined by the fans) have proven successful, setting them apart from the countless others. As for male アイドルグループ, Johnny's Jr. Entertainment (known in Japan as ジャニーズ (じゃにーず・jani-zu・Johnny's), wins hands down. It's an entertainment agency with hundreds of members. It's the agency responsible for the creation of many successful アイドルグループ like SMAP, kat-tun, and Hey!Say!Jump!. The interesting thing about this agency is that the president, "Johnny" never comes out in the media. He's the mastermind in the dark. The biggest difference that's seen in these groups is that the female アイドルグループ tend to change their members often while the ジャニーズ ones don't.

アイドルBoom
As mentioned before, there is a growing アイドル boom in Japan. It seems like everyone just wants to be in on it. Many regions are taking over AKB48's concept of specifying a certain location and there are now many ご当地 (ごとうち・gotouchi・regional) アイドル. For example, Aomori prefecture is known for its apples so they created りんご娘 (ringo musume・literally "apple girls"). Their members are all assigned an apple name (ie. Red Gold, Fujiko).

スキャンダル The one common rule among アイドル seems to be that they are not allowed to (openly) date. Purity tends to be a strong selling point for these groups. Therefore a スキャンダル (すきゃんだる・sukyanndaru・scandal) can be fatal. Recently, one of AKB 48's top tanking members was caught spending a night with a man on some celebrity gossip magazine. While a common response would be to fire her, the member claims to have decided to shave her head (an old way of showing determination or apologizing in Japan) and publicly apologize for her actions. She was taken out of the main AKB48 and put into their "reserve" group. It caused a big outburst among angry fans and critics.

Vocabulary

Kanji Hiragana Romaji English
アイドル あいどる aidoru idol
グループ ぐるーぷ guru-pu group
ご当地 ごとうち gotouchi regional
スキャンダル すきゃんだる sukyanndaru scandal

ファッション・ウィッグ Fashion Wigs

ファッション・ウィッグ Fashion Wigs

If you're in school, it's right around the beginning of a new school year. We've mentioned this before in past newsletters, but the new school year in Japan starts in April. Nevertheless, summer vacation in Japan is a good time for students to be free, perhaps more so than in the US. That's because many Japanese schools have stricter rules about dress-codes (usually school uniforms) and manners. A common rule in elementary through high school is the "no hair dye" rule. Concidentally, recently there's a growing demand of ファッション (ふぁっしょん・fasshon・fashion) ウイッグ (ういっぐ・uiggu・wig).

ファッション・ウィッグ Fashion Wigs Gyaru and Gyaru-o ウイッグ

ファッション・ウイッグ in general
ウイッグ are becoming a ファッション staple in Japan. It's unclear what exactly prompted the sudden hype - perhaps just an effective marketing scheme from the manufacturers - but popular Gyaru models and 読モ (dokumo: short for 読者モデル; どくしゃもでる・dokusha moderu・literally "reader models" or amateur models who claim to be fans of the fashion magazine) like Tsubasa Masuwaka were often seen in the media talking about their ウイッグ experiences.

There's actually a Japanese word for "wig", which is かつら (かつら・katsura) but there's an association of baldness with that word, which must be why the more commonly used term is the English one. In fact, when you image search the two words, the difference in target audience is apparent. Now with the internet, ウイッグ are becoming more affordable. Even the affordable ones are starting to have features like heat-resistance.

Just for women?
The short answer is no. However, there's a stronger stigma for men to wear ウイッグ, just because there's the strong association of baldness and かつら. However, if you were to go online shopping to メンズ (めんず・menzu・men's) ウイッグ, you'll find a whole range of Gyaru-o to Korean actor hairstyles.

For School So going back to the ウイッグ for school idea. There's a growing selection of black haired, conservative 通学用 (つうがくよう・tsuugaku you・literally "commuting-to-school purpose") ウイッグ. It's for students who otherwise would not pass the school regulation on haircuts/styles. In Japanese schools, there are often teacher standing by the entrance checking students on their appearance. If you are caught breaking some rule (ie. wearing makeup, un-tucked shirt, dyed hair, etc.), you're normally instructed to fix it on the spot or in severe cases, instructed to go home until the problem is fixed.

ファッション・ウィッグ Fashion Wigs An example of a typical 通学用ウイッグ.

Vocabulary

Kanji Hiragana Romaji English
ウイッグ ういっぐ uiggu wig
かつら かつら katsura wig
メンズ めんず menzu men's
読者モデル どくしゃもでる dokusha moderu amateur models - "dokumo" for short

Let's talk about Neko! 猫

Let's talk about Neko! 猫

If you've been to Japan, perhaps you've noticed all the 野良猫 (のらねこ・noraneko・stray cats) on the streets. Or perhaps you've noticed those cat sculptures at Japanese restaurants? And speaking of cats, what about cat ear cafes? This month, it's all about 猫 (ねこ・neko・cats).

Let's talk about Neko! 猫 招き猫 (left) designs are based off of 三毛猫 (right).

招き猫
First off, the beckoning cat dolls at restaurants. Those are called 招き猫 (まねきねこ・manekineko・literally, "beckoning cat"). Originally, 猫 were favored by silkworm cultivators in Japan because they catch mice. But as time went on and silk production dwindled, 猫 started to become a symbol of good luck for businesses.

Looking at the dolls, if the 猫's right paw is raised, it's said to bring in money. If the left is raised, it's thought to bring in customers. There are some with both arms raised, but those aren't too popular since many think it's too 欲張り (よくばり・yokubari・greedy). Typically, they are 三毛猫 (みけねこ・mikeneko・ calico cat), with three colors, often seen among cats in Japan. In fact, "ミケ" (mike; MEE-kay) is a common name for cats.

Love Cats? What about a 猫 Cafe?
If you love cats but can't own any because of your lease or roommates or parents, head over to the kitty wonderland that is 猫カフェ (かふぇ・kafe・cafe). That's right, a place where you can look through the "menu" with a bunch of 猫 photos and bios, then go hang out with your favorite. Or you can just relax and be lazy with the other cats. Some places will actually be like a カフェ, others will just be a mini 猫 zoo

猫ミミカフェ Don't like 猫? What about 猫耳 (みみ・mimi・ears)? On humans, that is. Jumping into the totally different world of Otaku culture, 猫耳カフェ are like maid カフェ. As a matter of fact, there's a lot of maid カフェ where the maids also wear cat ears. At these cafes, the waiters usually end their sentences with "~ニャン" (~nyan), or cat talk, since 猫 in Japan cry ニャー (nya-) instead of meow.

Typical 猫 Names
If you're thinking of giving your 猫 a typical Japanese 名前 (なまえ・namae・name), here's a few ideas for you:

  • ミケ・みけ・mike (as mentioned before)
  • タマ・たま・tama (literally "ball", but it's like naming a dog "Spot")

Let's talk about Neko! 猫 An example of a typical 通学用ウイッグ.

Vocabulary

Kanji Hiragana Romaji English
ねこ neko cats
欲張り よくばり yokubari greedy
いぬ inu dog