Bite-Sized Japanter

Bite-Sized Japanter #21: Famisocks

The current trend among Japan’s trendiest influencers and the like are these ¥429 (around £2.80) socks from convenience store chain Family Mart, lovingly referred to as ‘Famisocks.’

There are nearly 4,000 results from the hashtag #ファミマソックス on Instagram and a lot of Family Marts are selling out instantly.

Pairs of the elusive Famisocks are currently selling for upwards of ¥3000 on resell sites such as Yahoo Auctions and eBay.

Gen Z are wild. However as a teenager in the early 00s I vividly remember the charity wristbands craze. They only cost £1 but they were sold out everywhere.

~ Carla

P.S.: Hello, I’m back! As always, I take a little break from blogging during school holidays – this summer I got the full six weeks off. ❤️

Bite-Sized Japanter

Bite-Sized Japanter #20: The 5pm Chime

In most Japanese towns and cities, you can hear a gentle sound and a short announcement around 5pm. This is known as the 五時のチャイム or “5pm Chime.”

This is used for two reasons: as a daily check to ensure the speakers are working correctly in case of emergencies, and also giving children a gentle nudge that it’s time to make their way home before it gets dark.

A lot of areas play Yuyake Koyake, a popular children’s folk song, or Goin’ Home (best known in the UK for being on the Hovis advert in the 70s), but in my neighbourhood they simply play the Westminster Chimes:

Kids are not supposed to be out at all after 10pm – but that doesn’t deter some of the more rebellious teenagers in Hamamatsu, who hang around conbinis in the evening in their “LA-style” streetwear, eating ice cream cones and thinking they’re solid. (The Lawson next to Shin-Hamamatsu station seems to be the place to be.)

They’d get eaten alive in Hebburn.

~ Carla

Bite-Sized Japanter

Bite-Sized Japanter #18: Tanuki

Tanuki are Japanese racoon-like animals. You can often find a statue of one outside restaurants, cafes and bars beckoning customers in for revelry and good times. (As you can see by their cheery faces, fat bellies and often clutching a bottle of sake. ME, THO.) 
They’re believed to bring good fortune to the proprietors. 

Also hilariously they’re usually portrayed with enormous, protruding testicles. 
There’s even a folk song which pretty much translates to:

“Tan-tan-tanuki’s balls ring ring ring
The wind’s stopped blowing
but they swing-swing-swing!”

Never change, Japan.

Also for my fellow Animal Crossing stan: Capitalist overlord Tom Nook is actually a tanuki, and his English name kinda sounds like it – Tom Nook – Taanooki – tanuki.

(Though side-note there’s a theory that he isn’t an animal at all, but a human in a tanuki suit.)

~ Carla

Bite-Sized Japanter

Bite-Sized Japanter #17: Japan’s Smallest Superstar

Japan’s latest viral sensation is an adorable 2-year-old called Nonoka Murakata, who competed in the 35th Children’s Song and Children’s Song Contest in November.

Winning the silver medal, the tiny tot is singing いぬのおまわりさん (Dog Policeman) a nursery rhyme about a policedog who is trying to help a lost kitty. D’aww.

Get ready to die of cute:

~ Carla

UPDATE 01/03: She’s releasing an album later this year.

Bite-Sized Japanter · Coronavirus · Culture

Bite-Sized Japanter #15: Pandemic Mascots

I’ve previously written about Japan’s love of mascots – and it’s no surprise that a slew of characters have emerged due to the pandemic, bringing advice and comfort to the masses.

First, meet Awawa – a soap bubble mascot who demonstrates proper hand-washing techniques. He’s often accompanied by an assistant who sings a happy ditty about the importance of hygiene.

Next, there’s Quaran the quarantine fairy mascot created by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

While originally just an airport mascot protecting Japan from illegal items crossing the border, Quaran’s duties have now been expanded.
“I will do my best to let everyone know what a quarantine office does,” says the winged fairy on its website, brandishing it’s shield and protective goggles. D’awww.

Next, is Amabie – based on the legendary amabie creature, a mermaid-like bird figure from a Japanese folk tale with long flowing hair.

“Should an epidemic come, draw me and show me to the people,” It apparently said, before disappearing, never to be seen again. Convenient.
Pictures of amabies have recently started popping up all over Japan – there’s one on every floor in my schools – which is quite charming.

And finally – and possibly my favourite – is the kawaii pink cat Koronon.

Always wearing her face mask – and often a face shield – Koronon (“no corona”) is here to protect Tokyo from the virus by promoting social distancing and handing out disposable masks in busy areas such as Shinjuku and Ikebukuro.

In a country where there is a mascot for everything from encouraging safe sex to enemas, this sort of thing was kind of inevitable.

~ Carla

Bite-Sized Japanter · Teaching

Bite-Sized Japanter #14: A Room With A View

My friend was recently teaching ‘places in the school’ vocabulary, however when he got to “changing room” several students thought he was saying “chin-chin room”.

“Chin-chin” = a childish word for a willy.
ie: pee-pee, wee-wee etc.

(Also yes, it means teaching ‘parts of the face’ is always a struggle, too.)

Proof that diction is important.
Or should I say “DICKtion?” Heh.

~ Carla

Bite-Sized Japanter

Bite-Sized Japanter #13: The Japanese Joe Biden

The mayor of the small Japanese town has become somewhat Internet famous this week.

His name in kanji can be pronounced Baiden-Jo or Jo Baiden – similar to the new US president-elect Joe Biden.

Jo Baiden, mayor of Yamato Town

Mayor Baiden is taking this new-found fame in his stride, and said:

“Although there are differences in the positions of a U.S. presidential candidate and the mayor of Yamato here in the center of Kyushu, our passion is the same. We continue working to fulfill our duty to ensure the happiness and spiritual richness of our residents.”

He also hopes the attention will bring more visitors to Yamato, a picturesque town in Kumamoto prefecture which only has around 15,000 residents.

~ Carla

Picture sources: