OTAKU

Otaku are people who are literally obsessed with certain manifestations of pop culture, generally manga, anime or video games. Indefatigable collectors: manic, in fact.

In our country, on average, only the experts in Japanese things (not necessarily otaku) or those who deal with comics and cartoons know the meaning of the term, nor the editorial production has delayed specifically on the subject (if we exclude Generation Otaku by Azuma Hiroki, published by Jaca Book or the novel Train Man, by Nakano Hitori, published in 2007 by Isbn and which has an otaku as its protagonist).

Elsewhere, however, there are Westerners who study otaku, sometimes even enthusiastically embracing their spirit. This is the case of the American Patrick W. Galbraith, anthropologist and researcher, who recently published the book Otaku spaces.
The term otaku originally meant "your home" and was originally used as a second person honorific pronoun. It is in the Sixties that it acquires a new value: science fiction enthusiasts use it for the owners of rare books, as collectors.

But it is subsequently that the word takes on a completely different connotation. When, for example, the science fiction writer Arai uses it in an essay: this could have led to the emulation of fans and the total distortion of meaning compared to the beginnings.

As mentioned, it is not a neutral word in Japanese: it indicates someone separated from the real world, projected into a universe of fantasies and monothematic fixations, often with connotations of sexual deviance.
Even today it is difficult to dismantle the negative imagery that surrounds the otaku in Japan and which is closely intertwined with the terrible news stories that shocked Japanese society in the late 1980s.

In that period, in fact, the crimes of the serial killer Tsutomu Miyazaki who killed and abused four minors were discovered. A huge collection of horror films, anime, as well as video fragments and images of his victims was found in his home. From here to the psychosis towards the otaku it was a short step. Journalist Akio Nakamori referred to the killer as an otaku and the label became final.
For years in the Japanese imagination, an otaku was thought of as a pimply and overweight four-eyed person who does not wash and does not socialize. He stays indoors watching anime, reading manga or playing video games, collects models and posters and dreams of getting married to his waifu, the 2d female character he fell in love with.

There is also a female caricature: a shy girl, with a dark and unattractive appearance, who hides an unbridled passion for shonen-ai and yaoi (homosexual stories between boys) and spends her days playing dating sims ("simulator of appointments ").

For a country like Japan, where public opinion has a considerable weight in everyday life, an otaku is a geek with obsessive obsessions.

Despite everything, otaku culture has a respectable place in the Japanese economy: just think of the famous Akihabara district, which owes part of its fortune to merchandising enthusiasts.
The otaku culture is not limited to manga or video games, but extends to all passions.

In this regard, we cannot fail to mention the idols, boys and girls who, as soloists or in groups, perform in concerts or television shows and who have countless followers of both sexes. Their world revolves all around the fans: the meetings, the signing-copies and the sale of merchandise are almost always sold out thanks to the otaku, for which the idols represent the ideal boy or girl.

The otaku culture is more varied and complex than you think and is not all that well regarded in Japan, but things are slowly changing and society is starting to accept it as an integral part of the Japanese identity.

JAPANESE SPRING

  1. It is said that the color of the cherry blossoms was originally white but that, following the order of an emperor to have the samurai who fell in battle buried under the cherry trees, the petals turned pink for having sucked the blood of those nobles. warriors. Even those who, among the samurai according to their code of honor, decided to commit suicide, it seems they used to do it right under the cherry trees “. The Japanese spring is characterized by the Hanami, the traditional festival of cherry trees in bloom which name derives from “hana” which means “the flowers”, “mi” (miru) which means “to see” hence the literal translation “admire the flowers “, in fact the Japanese in this period can enjoy the beauty of the flowering cherry trees, the sakura. Wonderful valleys in full bloom make the landscape a fairy tale, not for nothing the Hanami festival has ancient traditions, even millenary. There are 60 places famous for their large blooms and within a few days they attract real rivers of people who come to admire the delicacy of these trees. The spectacle of sakura in bloom takes up most of spring and can be admired from early April (in the south of the island of Honshu) until mid-May (in northern Hokkaidō). The party is also an opportunity to get together and have an outdoor picnic based on fresh fish, the famous sushi, accompanied by Japanese beer and sake, to be sipped in the shade of flowering trees. And while drinking under the cherry blossoms, the hope is that a pink petal carried by the wind will plunge into your own cup of sake. During the night the party does not stop, it would be a shame to waste time since the flowering lasts very little, but the party from Hanami becomes Yozakura or “The night of the Cherry”. The sakura that is celebrated does not bear fruit, it is a particular type cultivated solely for its flowers. The beauty of these flowers consists in their eternity, these flowers never wither, the wind scatters them in the skies, disappearing from view still in perfect condition. It is for this reason that the samurai adopted them as a symbol, an eternal youth, without aging, without withering, which is just what they hoped for, that is to have a life that could honorably break (in battle or with seppuku) still in the vigor of the years.
Another version on why the Samurai have adopted the sakura as their symbol, says that it is for their ephemeral beauty, or that when the flowering is at its peak the Japanese already regrets it as it is destined to end very soon, and hence their love for beautiful things that do not last is also born, that passion that makes them fine aesthetes, which grants them the wisdom to enjoy the moment while knowing how close the sunset is, indeed perhaps precisely in function of that. Also for this almost magical characteristic of not withering, for Japanese art and culture, the cherry tree in bloom is the symbol of immortal and perfect beauty, even if so ephemeral. The hometown of Japanese cherry trees is Yoshino, its hills are colored with a warm pale pink: the legend tells that the trees were planted in the 7th century AD, in the Nara period, by the priest En-no-Ozuno, who is said had put a curse on anyone who dared to bring them down. Whatever happened, yamazakura are at the root of hundreds of hybrids subsequently obtained, and have become the Japanese variety par excellence; Empress Jito (645-702) came here to admire its flowering.
Hirosaki Castle is one of the favorite destinations for the party, it is surrounded by 5000 cherry trees, hosts the Cherry Blossom Festival (23 April-5 May) In Tokyo you can visit the Ueno park which, with its thousand trees, is one of the busiest in the city. In Kyoto, the Maruyama park which, with its immense weeping cherry tree, is the favorite destination for hanami parties. In Osaka with the castle park which houses more than 400 cherry trees and the castle lights up at night. In the seventh century, based on the flowering of the cherry trees, the type of harvest was predicted, if the flowering was abundant, then it predicted a good harvest. The tradition began with the upper feudal class, which celebrated under the cherry trees, with an abundance of food and drink. The next century, the working class also began the traditional celebrations. In spring, Japanese cuisine also changes and becomes characteristic. You can taste Dango, a specialty made from rice flour, or Sakura Mochi, a red bean paste wrapped in a cherry leaf.

DRAGON LOVE

My friend all this word is dedicated to you, it is a good omen If I had continued to be a magician, perhaps I would have removed you from all spells And if it had been too late, I swear that with subterfuge I would have avenged you With a noose around my neck now I sing this because you must not be forgotten Now I am singing to the whole realm that they have slain a dragon that is not real But an enemy created by those who dress well on a large but poorly fed horse Which with a deception has already taken power because few know what magic is Because few know that at the end of the story it will be a tyrant to take her away.
Why a mentor says “You will become a man”
And trust a wizard who dreams that day
To stand next to that throne
Compete with other principles
For the defense of the princess
Only the prince who can win the dragon Which will then keep the promise
And if a very powerful mentor in his spells
Make a serum
To be made to drink by the greatest enemies of the prince In order to make him proud
He was not a great warrior on horseback It wasn’t he who gave the hay
The other prince who thwarted his plan He is also believed to be a real prince
He is a hero, a hero with a warrior heart Listen,
listen is the Dragonborn
The sound of his voice makes him a proud North Hear,
hear it’s the Dragonborn
The fate of Skyrim’s enemies is sealed Watch out,
watch out it’s the Dragonborn
Broken the darkness the legend is strong
Because the Dragonborn does not fear death.
How many times have we said it would be better to go back and not make a certain mistake? I think everyone in their life has thought that at least once. People try to change their past without thinking about a very important thing … We are made of mistakes, mistakes, actions that we have done in our past. If I now know that doing a certain thing leads to a wrong action, that doing an action will not bring me anything good is only thanks to my experience, because I have discovered that it is so. If I go back and fix a mistake I made by changing my action, I will never know if that was right or not. So I’ll definitely make the same mistake again sooner or later. For this reason instead of canceling our actions we should change our way of thinking, our way of acting now, in the present … Because it is only in this way that we will really change our future, we will change our way of acting in the face of difficulties. Only by knowing when something is right and when it is wrong can we actually take actions that lead us to do the right thing. So we shouldn’t think about going back every time we make a mistake but we should think about doing the right way in the future and in the present to get better now and later. Swallow the dragon fire and keep blowing ash.

MANEKI NEKO

If you’ve been to a Chinese or Japanese restaurant, or an Asian-run supermarket or store, you’ve probably noticed a cat statue perched easily by the cash register. It is a lucky cat, called Maneki-Neko, a very popular icon among Japanese and Chinese cultures. This graceful talisman is thought to be a good luck charm and can attract prosperity, happiness and wealth for its owners. Hence, it is a very common item in shops, restaurants and other businesses run by Chinese or Japanese.
The fortune cat, known as Maneki Neko, is a term that in Japan means “the pointing cat”. Typically this cat has a raised paw as if it were indicating or calling luck for its owners. Others call the Maneki Neko the “money cat” and the “welcome cat”. Nessuno sa con precisione come è apparso il primo Maneki Neko. Tuttavia, la maggior parte dei giapponesi è d’accordo sul fatto che “il gatto della fortuna” ha avuto origine durante il periodo Edo, tra il XVII secolo e la metà del XIX secolo.
There are a couple of popular legends about the origins of the “Cat of Fortune”. One tells of a rich man who took refuge from a storm under a tree near a temple, where he noticed a cat that seemed to call him, then followed him into the temple. Shortly thereafter, lightning struck the tree, and because the cat had saved his life, the man was so grateful that he became a benefactor of the temple, bringing prosperity and wealth. When he died, a cat-shaped statue was built in his honor. Another legend tells of a geisha who had a cat. One day, while he was wearing his kimono, the cat tugged and ripped the dress. The owner of the brothel then assumed that the cat was possessed by evil spirits, and cut off its head with a sword. The cat’s head rolled onto a snake that was about to bite the girl, and its fangs killed the snake, saving the woman. The geisha was so saddened by the death of her beloved cat that one of her clients had a statue built in honor of the cat to make her happy.
In reality, the raised leg of the “fortune cat” has a meaning. If the raised paw is the left, the talisman becomes propitious for attracting new customers. If the raised paw is the right, it indicates luck, happiness and money. Precisely for this reason, sometimes, you can find lucky cats with both paws raised. Two raised paws can indicate also protection.
Although it is white, with orange and black spots, the most common color of the Maneki Neko, there can be statuettes of different colors, and each one has a special meaning. Calico: it is the preservation of the traditional colors, and considered the most fortunate White: happiness, purity and positive news that must arrive Golden: wealth and prosperity Black – wards off and chases away evil spirits Red – success in love and relationships Green – good health
The Maneki Neko is a finely dressed cat adorned with a bib, a collar and a bell. In the Edo period, it was common for rich people to dress their cats in this way; a bell was tied to the collar so that they could be identified more easily. A Maneki Neko can be adorned with other small symbols that bring good luck:
Koban: is an ancient Japanese coin from the Edo period. A ryo was considered a fortune in those days.
The magic wizard of money: if you see a small hammer, it represents wealth.
If shaken, the mallet should bring wealth and prosperity.
A fish (most likely a carp): the fish is a symbol of abundance and luck.
A gem: it is another propitiator of money.

DARUMA DOLLS

They are called Daruma (達磨) dolls of the Okiagari-kobōshi type. They are particular Japanese dolls that, due to their shape and texture, tend to go back straight every time they are pushed to one side. Whenever they are knocked down, they always come back to their feet. All time. Here you are. The secret is to do just like them.
The doll’s eyes are white: this is because tradition has it that the owner draws a first eye with black ink when making a wish or setting a goal. The second eye, on the other hand, will be drawn upon the fulfillment of the desire or the achievement of one’s goal.
You draw one eye making a wish, when it has come true you draw another eye. Many ask me “The bigger the more it works?”. Yes, it’s true. This tends to be the case. To me, whoever took the big one came back soon to tell me that he had already put a second eye. But I would recommend choosing the one that has more harmony, a more sympathetic one. Because Daruma is a companion until your dream is fulfilled.
In Japan, daruma dolls are probably one of the most bought objects as a good luck charm … they are figures without arms or legs and represent Bodhidharma, founder of the Zen tradition. The daruma is a motivational tool to achieve your goals, every time you look at the drawn eye and the missing one, it is a reminder of what you have promised to achieve. It must remind us that we must pursue and put all of ourselves into what we do, only with effort and perseverance can we achieve what we want. Always give your best and never lose sight of focus, in the face of obstacles, get up and continue always. The daruma doll is also used by companies that have to achieve an important goal, displayed where employees can see it as a reminder of the business goal.
How you can use it? Get a daruma.
Decide what is the goal you want to achieve with determination.
Draw one of the two eyes, symbolizing your commitment to achieving the goal.
Put the daruma in a visible place in your home or office, where you can look at it to remind you of the goal.
When the goal has been achieved, draw the second eye as a sign of thanks.
Behind the daruma write the goal you have achieved.
Once you have reached your goal, it’s time to get yourself another daruma and set yourself a new goal.
According to legend, the monk Bodhidharma founder of the Zen tradition from which the daruma takes its name, after meditating for ten years without moving, lost the use of his arms and legs. During meditation in a moment of weakness, the concentration of meditation waned and he fell asleep. When he awoke from shame he tore off his eyelids and threw them to the ground. Immediately afterwards, leaves sprouted that were able to ward off sleep, so the tea plant was born.

SMARSHMELLOW GIRLS

Society has labeled women that is anywhere fro 10 pounds overweight, fat, plus size, chubby, thick, curvy and any other derogatory term to describe a woman who doesn’t fit the image of what Hollywood and glamour magazines call attractive and perfect women.

Usually when the word Japanese girls comes into our minds, we would picture a skinny and small figure but there’s a sad truth behind their skinny figure. Society has discriminated those who are not “skinny” but rather on the chubby side. In the other parts of the world, being chubby is a normal thing but in Japan, they don’t approve of women being chubby. The ones that are on the heavy side are being called debu which means fatso online and even in front of them.
Netizens have invented a new nickname for the chubby ladies which will change the people’s attitudes towards them. They’re now called as the “marshmallow girls”!
Did you know that chubby girls are also cute? Mr. Saichu, who has a tummy fetish, had commented how society is against fatties. Sometimes they get criticized for lacking self-discipline or neglecting to maintain a balanced diet which is the reason why they got fat. But to him, a chubby girl’s stomach has a some sort of marshmallow feel to it. Mr. Saichu thinks that  “marshmallow girl” is a cute name that might lessen the tension that is being thrown at them.
A “Marshmallow Girl” model, Goto Seina, was introduced in a magazine as a “marshmallow girl”. She spoke positively about the term in her blog. She said, “It’s something that makes me really happy.” Being called a Marshmallow girl is a positive name for those girls who are on the bigger side but not to extremely fat. “Marshmallow Girl” can be in the middle!

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