Explore Japan's Gift Giving Culture!
It is December, to many cultures it is Gift month, a time to exchange gifts, from for spiritual reasons others just in the spirit of goodwill. Japan has it’s own etiquette in when and how to gift gifts. We explore the culture of giving, food that are great for giving as gifts and learn the Japanese language of giving gifts. We also explore anime that teaches us life lessons and much much more. We want to wish our readers a wonderful and blessed Christmas holiday season. We are YOUR monthly source on anime news and Japanese culture. Itadakimasu!!
This Month in the News
Guinness Book of World Records Samurai?
The Guinness Book of World Records is known to everyone. It is a book you can find in school libraries, on coffee tables and even in someone’s bathroom (your secret is safe with me). Guinness World Records Day’s 15th anniversary was celebrated on November 9th and the Guinness World Book gave it’s usual shout out to records not yet broken and broken alike. All over the world, and even Japan people are trying to set records and be recorded into the Guinness Book of World Records’ next edition. One of these aspiring record-makers is Samurai Project Japan, also know as the Red Samurai. His goal, to set out on the world’s longest journey by kick scooter. This is because The Guinness Book’s theme this year is ‘Spirit of Adventure’ and nothing screams adventure better than going across the globe on a kick scooter. The Red Samurai’s journey will start in northern Hokkaido, Japan during the summer and he will make his way to the southernmost tip in Okinawa, with air-plane rides and boat rides in between, because Japan is an island nation. We wonder if he was inspired by Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World. We hope he achieve his goal. Ganbatte Red Samurai sama!
Not only the Japanese samurai but also elementary school children are inspired by the ‘Spirit of Adventure’ theme. On November 14th, the spotlight was on 188 Japanese elementary school children at Dai-2 Tsukishima Elementary School in Tokyo whose collective team spirit and skill made it possible from them to break the world record for the most consecutive double jumps with jump ropes. Helping them was a pro jump roper Hijiki Ikuyama, using his ninja-like skills to coach them in the art of the double jump. Following his careful instructions and determination led the school to excel in accomplishing their goal and gain world fame.
My Hero Academia
My Hero Academia’s manga crushed through to the No. 3 spot on The New York Times’ Graphic Books and Manga best-seller list. It is the first manga to rise to the top three position following the list’s reinstatement last month. The volume of the My Hero Academia’s manga is the 21st volume and the volume was shipped out on October 1st by Viz Media.
Here is the manga’s official teaser: “Endeavor and Dabi’s battle rages across the city as Endeavor fights to solidify his new position as the number one hero. Hawks provides support, but where do his loyalties really lie? Midoriya experiences a cryptic dream about the past—what secrets do the previous wielders of One For All have to show him? Then Class 1-A’s joint battle training with Class B begins.”
The anime adaptation of Kōhei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia was one of the twenty most watched series during August to September on the streaming site Crunchyroll. My Hero Academia is flying high, and we hope to see it soar for long.
Rise of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba’s manga has risen to heights. It sold 10.8 million volumes in November 2018-2019, just under One Piece, who sold 12.7 Million. In a reveal by Shueisha the manga, written Koyoharu Gotouge is now the company’s second highest-selling manga. The manga was launched in Weekly Shonen Jump in February 2016.
The manga inspired a highly popular anime series that premiered this year on April 6th which ran for 26 episodes. The anime is receiving a sequel anime movie.
Who's That Pokemon???
Pokemon is massively known all over the globe and every year it just spirit up new projects. This year there were major projects that debuted such as the Detective Pikachu movie, Pokemon Sword and Shield which is it’s first mainline game for the Nintendo Switch and the new anime, Pocket Monsters 2019. Japan is also honouring the franchise with a brand new Pokemon Center, and it has fans a little freaked out.
The reason they are freaked out? Well, remember that first Pokemon movie? The one with Mewtwo? It seems that The Pokemon Center in Shibuya has Mewtwo in hibernation as he is healing inside a tube… Bad idea if you remember the movie well. Remember how Mewtwo went on a rampage and several scientists lost their lives… The center’s lobby includes a giant column and a horrifying realistic animatronic Mewtwo is kept there. It is eerily spooky the way Mewtwo is bobbing up and down in the tube fluid. Visitors to the center commented on Tokyo Fashion’s twitter account that they are either nostalgic or horrified, all in the spirit of good-natured fun of course. Mewtwo does not exist, right? Right…
Speaking of legendary Pokemon, the new Pocket Monsters 2019 anime series already treated us with two legendaries making their appearances in the first two episodes. The first episode, “Birth of Pikachu.” surprised us as we learned Ash’s Pikachu’s origin story from when he was a little Pichu, and we met the Pokemon legendary Mew. The second episode we met Lugia and found out details on the Legendary Bird Pokemon we never knew. And that is just a drop in the bucket, we will keep the rest on the hush before we give away too many spoilers for those who still want to watch the first two episodes.
The new series will have Ash and his new companion Go hop all over all the regions, not just Galar, the region where the Pokemon Sword and Shield game plays off. The anime’s art style is also more cartoony like the Pokemon: Sun and Moon anime series. The anime starts off in Kanto as usual.
The Third South African Anime Awards
The South African Anime Awards is back for the The Third South African Anime Awards and AnimeFanatika in collaboration with Shirogane from Anime Awards SA, is hosting the South Africa Anime Awards of 2019. Make your voice heard, and vote for your favourite anime! The winner anime series will be announced, as it was last year, here on this website in a Bento Buffet. The polls will close on 31 December 2019 at11:50.
Here is a statement from Shirogane:
“The South African Anime Awards are back again for our third year and this year we are doing things bigger and better than ever. We have gathered anime experts from all over South Africa to discuss and critique all the anime of 2019. And as always you get to vote for YOUR favourite anime this year. Vote now. “
Kawaii Kulture: Giving Gifts in Japan
Christmas is a time of giving and even in non-Christian countries and households it has become commonplace to give gifts at Christmas time even if it is not part of said household’s spiritual beliefs. In Japan the Japanese, a Shinto/Buddhism orientated nation, they also embraced Christmas. But what is the etiquette of giving gifts in Japan? Let’s explore gifts and giving gifts in Japan.
There are two ‘gift seasons’ in Japan, seibo (歳暮) for winter (June) and chūgen (中元) for summer. It is then common for co-workers, friends as well as relatives to exchange gifts. These gift are usually worth in the range of 5000 yen and usually is food, alcohol, household items or something of similar value. This is usually also the time that employees receive special bonuses in addition to their monthly salaries. Seibo and chūgen are thank you gifts, a small token of gratitude.
When a Japanese person travels and buys souvenirs as gifts, these gifts are called Omiyage (お土産). Japanese tourists tend to buy a lot of souvenirs to share with friends, relatives and even co-workers, usually local (Okash お菓子) Japanese-styled cakes or snacks or other unique locally produced products. You will find more on Omiyage in our Traditional Food of the Month section underneath. Temiyage (手土産) are thank-you gifts you bring with you when you go and visit somebody. ‘Te’ means ‘hand’ so Temiyage loosely translates to ‘hand souvenir’. These gifts are often presented to the host even before the guest steps into the door as a thank you for having them in their private space. Foreign visitors that bring gifts are very appreciated especially if it is something from your own country. Recommended gifts include food, drinks etc. in the price range of 1000 to 5000 yen, something that is neither cheap nor too expensive. Bear in mind that there are some restrictions on bringing certain types of food or plant products into Japan.
Other types of gifts
On Valentine’s Day it is common for the ladies to give men chocolates, these gifts can be for the object of their affection or giri-choko,(義理チョコ obligation chocolate) to any man or woman they are connected to. Men in turn give chocolates to the ladies, one month later, on White Day.
Birthday and Christmas gifts are not traditionally a Japanese custom but thanks to a strong Western influence some families and friend exchange gifts on these occasions.
Gifts that are impolite
Certain types of gifts are taboo in Japan, for instance white flowers will get you a frown since they are associated with funerals and bereavement in Japan. Items displaying the numbers 4 or 9 are taboo as well since 4 (shi) suggests death and 9 (ku) is a homonym for torture or suffering.
Though different, the giving of gifts is a common part of Japanese culture. Whether it is for Valentine’s Day or White Day, or a gift to a host that invites you into their home one must always remember that giving gifts is giving a part of yourself, and it is a virtue, one we must embrace especially in this festive time.
Spread The Word: To Give and to Receive
This month we learn new words: Agemasu and Kuremasu, which means ‘to give’ and Moraimasu which means ‘to get’ or ‘to receive’ or ‘to be given’. In Japanese the trick is to choose which of these words to use, depending on the subject, the giver or receiver. If the giver is the subject you use either Agemasu or Kuremasu which means ‘to give’.
If the receiver is yourself, a person close to you (part of your ‘inner circle’) you use Kuremasu.
Example sentence ‘Naruto gives a photograph to me’. (Naruto wa watashi ni shashin o kuremasu.)
‘A photograph’ is ‘Shashin‘, and ‘me’ is ‘Watashi’. You use the particle ‘ni’ to indicate the receiver and Kuremashu means ‘to give’.
Naruto wa watashi ni shashin o kuremasu.
If the receiver is a person outside your inner group, you use Agemasu (to Give). Then the sentence will be: Naruto wa Goku ni shashin o agemasu (Naruto gives Goku a photograph.)
When the receiver is the subject, we use Moraimasu (to get, to receive, to be given). You can use the particle, Ni, to indicate the giver. In case Naruto is given a photograph by Sasuke, Naruto is the subject. The giver is Sasuke, so you say ‘Sasuke ni’.
Example sentence: Naruto wa Sasuke ni shashin o moraimasu.’ (Naruto is given a photograph by Sasuke.)
Here is a nice tip and an interesting use of a familiar word. If you receive something from your superior, it is better to say Itadakimasu, in stead of Moraimasu. Another use for Itadakimasu few non-Japanese know about!
Example sentence: Watashi wa hokage ni omiyage wo itadakimashita (I received a souvenir from the hokage.)
Word of the month:
We hope you found our lesson helpful. This month’s word of the month are actually three: Agemasu and Kuremasu, which means ‘to give’ and Moraimasu which means ‘to get’ or ‘to receive’ or ‘to be given’.
Traditional Food of the Month: Omiyage
Omiyage is taken very serious. As explained in our Kawaii Kulture section, an omiyage is a gift or souvenir you give to friends, co-workers, and family after returning home from a trip. As an example of how serious an omiyage is taken, if your co-workers found out you went on a weekend trip, but you show up at work on Monday without anything, they will feel offended. Edible omiyage is very popular and we went to look for yummy examples on the internet, because finding the perfect omiyage can be difficult.
We found the perfect use of omiyage visiting two of our favourite YouTube channels, emmymadeinjapan and TabiEats! First we explore Yokohama with Satoshi and Shinichi from TabiEats, as they look for the perfect omiyame for Emmy, then we see how Emmy receives and tastes the gifts they gave her! Enjoy the videos with us as we learn more of this beautiful custom.
Adventures in Yokohama-Finding the Perfect Gift for Emmy
Emmy Eats Yokohama | omiyage edition| ft. TabiEats
Top 5 Recommended Anime: Life Lessons.
Anime isn’t just animation or entertainment, some anime teaches you lessons, makes you think deeper about life, morality and the universe. Anime such as Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful world where you go on a journey with Kino and her bike Hermes as they discover their world: A society where murder is legal and it’s effects on society or the cruelty of slavery. Then there is Naruto that teaches us the values of friendship, the virtue of never giving up, and the after-affects of loss and gain, to name a few. All the anime in our recommendations list have life lessons to teach.
Kino no Tabi: The Beautiful World
Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori
Warau Salesman New
Anime Birthday of the Month: Hinata Hyuga (Naruto)
Our birthday girl this month is Hinata Hyuga, whose birthday is on the 27th of December. When we first met Hinata, she was a meek, shy girl with a lack of self-confidence. Her self-confidence problem reflected in her skills, causing her father to think that she was not suited for her position as the clan’s heiress. Luckily she found an example in Uzumaki Naruto and learns through observing him to be more assertive. Hinata is a serene, thoughtful, kind person and also very polite which we can see in the way she addresses each person using the proper honorific. She is emphatic and it clashes with her fighting, making her dislike fighting altogether.
However, even if she dislikes fighting, she is gifted with an amazing ability, the Byakugan. The Byakugan is an ability her clan possesses. To Hinata, it grants a near 360° field of x-ray vision as well as the ability to see the chakra pathway system. If it is focused Byakugan’s sight can drastically increase its range in one direction to at least 20 kilometres.
Hinata’s name means, “place in the sun”. It is a name that reflects how she struggles to be seen and acknowledged. Her favourite foods are cinnamon rolls and zentai, and she dislikes eating crabs and shrimp. It is interesting to note that midway through the Naruto manga’s series Kishimoto decided that her relationship with Naruto should end as a romantic one since Hinata has always been supportive of Naruto since the beginning. Kishimoto’s wife was angry about it; she wanted Naruto to end up with Sakura Haruno. As you know if you are a fanatik of the Naruto-franchise, she married Naruto and have two children: Boruto, which is the star of the anime Boruto – Naruto Next Generations, and his little sister, Himawari.
AMV of The Month: Rocking Christmas
We bring you a Christmas AMV, with the song Jingle Bell Rock (Glee Cast Version), from the TV Series Glee! Anime cut scenes appearing in the AMV are from Acchi Kocchi, Angel Beats!, Dragon Ball Super, ERASED, Fairy Tail, Is the order a rabbit?, KonoSuba – God’s blessing on this wonderful world!!, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, My Love Story!!, Naruto Spin-Off: Rock Lee & His Ninja Pals, One Piece, Toradora! Enjoy the video. Let’s Rock!
December Anime Challenge: Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori
Our December anime challenge is a feel-good anime, filled with life lessons, Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori. It is based on the Japanese manga series by Yū Shimizu. It was adapted into an anime series by Zexcs and aired in Japan From April 10th to June 26th 2018.
Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori is about four young men that run a Japanese Style Tea-house named Rokuhoudou together. The staff consists Sui who is the owner in charge of the tea, Gre who is in charge of the Latte Art, Tsubaki who is in charge of sweets and desserts and Tokitaka who is in charge of the food. They are not just skilled in their work, and exceptional at hospitality, they also like to help their patron with their worries. Every episode has an endearing story about a customer who is in peril or need saving, whether it is a shy man in love or and over-worked salaryman, our four culinary heroes always finds the solution.
Anime Meetup: You say it, we play it.
Time for a final meetup for the year so lets have one last blast before we all run off for the holidays and see how much sun and fun we can take in before the new year hits us like tsunami. The theme is ‘You say it, we play it!’.
How it works. Anything goes! Well… except for shows that are adult in nature. If we have it, we will show it or bring your favourite anime with for us to screen. Join us and bid the year goodbye by watching YOUR choice of anime. This day is YOUR day.
Free entrance and loads of in-house food and drink specials to enjoy at Cool Runnings on the day.
When : Saturday, 14 December, 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Where: Cool Runnings, Centurion (120 Ivan Str, Hennops Park Centurion, Gauteng · Pretoria) The anime day is at the back of the club in the anime screening room.
Be sure to look at our event page on our website as we may update with more news on events.