dimanche, janvier 29, 2006

Des japonais 2

When I first got to Japan, I had an interesting experience: while sampling the local "Kentucky" I saw two high school girls standing around smoking and trying to look tough. They noticed me, and one boasted, "We are furyo!" I didn't know the word at the time, but the joy of kanji is that you can often understand concepts by working out what the characters would mean when put together. Fu is "not" and ryo is "good," and furyo (pronounced foo-RYOH) means "bad" in a juvenile delinquint sort of way. From the rockabilly boom of the last decade to the more ominous boso-zoku street gangs who drive down the street on motorcycles modified to be extra loud and annoying, a lot of Japanese young people seem to be dedicated to this James Dean-esque idea of acting tough, of rebelling against mainstream Japanese society by smoking, cutting school uniform skirts very high, and (gasp!) dying their hair brown. Another word for these mostly-harmless street punks is yanki (YAHN-kee), which is often thought to be related to the word "yankee" (because of their "American" colored hair), but it actually comes from a word in Osaka dialect. Whenever there's a Japanese festival you'll see these tough-looking kids out in force, standing around in their funny baggy clothes and looking vaguely scary. I used to make a point of approaching them and starting improptu English conversation classes with them, since their shy reactions when asked to speak English was priceless.

Vendredi, 27 janvier, 2006

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