Giri and presents

By Raven Bluford

The section in Geek in Japan about giri and presents is quite interesting to me because in some ways it is similar to what we do in the United States, but in some ways it is completely different. I found it quite intriguing that the gifts Japanese people give to people depends on the relationship of those two people, and that if you give a person a really good gift, but you just met them, they would be offended because they are obligated to get you a gift that is just as good. This is a little similar to the United States because almost everyone puts more effort and spends more on a gift for someone they are close to, as opposed to someone they just met.

Another thing that I found fascinating is that Japanese people give gifts to people for funerals, whereas in the United States it is seen as impolite to give gifts to someone who recently lost a loved one. Japanese people also give gifts on the first day of work to your boss or co-workers, while in the United States doing something like that is quite uncommon.

Japanese and French

By Raven Bluford

The other language that I am currently studying is French, which I have been studying for about 3 years. Although I found French to be definitely easier to learn due to the letters being the same as the English letters, I found that I enjoyed studying Japanese more. Before joining Japanese Plus, I had no prior experience with anything Japanese, so the fact that I had no prior knowledge about Japan or Japanese culture and I have enjoyed it this much says a lot.

Studying French didn’t really help much when studying Japanese, because there are completely different components that makes up the language and culture. One similarity that I did find between the two was that Japanese and French start combining numbers using mathematical expressions to make new numbers. For example, in Japanese 11 would be the word for 1 and 10 and when you add them it’s 11. In French the word for 80 is 4 and 20, which means you would multiply 4 by 20 to get 80.

Bingata Reflection

By Raven Bluford

bingata1After meeting the Kakehashi exchange visitors, a few of us went to go to this event where we were able to make Bingata.

Bingata is an old Japanese tradition, where you dye cloth and make different patterns nature-related, using various bright vibrant colors. We were given cloth that had a template to dye the cloth. When we dyed the bingata we were given palettes that had very light colors, which kind of served as the base before we added the darker colors. After adding the light colors to the cloth, we were given the darker colors, which would be added or even covered some parts of the light colors. It was quite different from painting, because instead of actually making long strokes, you just use one brush for dotting and the other brush for rubbing in that dot. This was quite fun because it didn’t matter if it was inside the lines or not, because once the bingata dried, the paint outside the lines would be gone.


By Raven Bluford

In the third chapter of Geek in Japan, the topic I found most interesting was the section about the importance of humility in Japan. The Japanese language holds many forms of honorifics to show respect, which in retrospect is different to English because it doesn’t have any honorifics and the language only really holds informal dialogue. The Japanese also show humility by not taking credit, even if they worked hard, because it shows that they respect the people around them who in some way had a contribution to their success. This is quite different from America, because we usually don’t acknowledge other people in our success unless it is a big accomplishment, in which case we thank our families but no one else.

Katakana Study Tips

By Raven Bluford

Learning Katakana proved to be quite difficult because almost none of the symbols looked the same and those that looked the same proved difficult to distinguish. One thing that really helped me was to relate the symbol to an action in English that made the same sound or a very similar sound.

For example, for “su,” the action I had for that symbol was a person opening their mouth to eat soup and the soup had gone down the mouth. The sound sou in “soup” sounds the same as “su,” so that is how I remembered it. I remembered another symbol in relation to this concept for the symbol for “nu.” The action I had for “nu” was someone with their mouth open eating a noodle and the noodle was on its way down the mouth. The sound noo in “noodle” sounds the same as “nu” and that is how I remembered this symbol.