Author Archives: Seira Tanaka

Throwing Eggs and Flour — Japanese High School Graduation

In Japan, there is a custom whereby the graduating students of a high school, after the graduation ceremony is over, run into the main courtyard and throw eggs and flour at each other. My informant spent most of her life in the city of Naha in Okinawa, Japan, and participated in this custom at the… Continue Reading »

Eating The People On Your Hand — Japanese Folk Belief

In Japan, students nervous for a presentation are often told to draw the Chinese character for “person,” 「人」three times on their hand. They are then supposed to pretend to eat those “people” by putting their hand in front of their mouth, in the belief that this will ease their anxiety. My informant spent most of… Continue Reading »

交換日記 — Exchange Journals

「交換」(koukann) in Japanese means exchange, and 「日記」(nikki) means journal. Together they mean exchange journal, although, in fact, it is more of a sharing journal than anything else. In Japan, girls in the later years of elementary and early years of middle school often participate in a game of sorts, where a group of about three… Continue Reading »

お父さん and お母さん — Japanese Folk Speech

In Japan, married couples who have children often begin to call each other 「お父さん」(otousan) and 「お母さん」(okaasan) which translates to “father” and “mother.” The apparent strangeness of this phenomenon is illuminated only when one tries to apply it to American society, where parents generally still call each other by their names or pet-names. An American mother,… Continue Reading »

“Journey to The Underworld” — JCL Initiation Rites

The “Journey to The Underworld” was an event organized by the JCL (Junior Classical League) at my informant’s high school, where the freshman Latin students were forced to undergo certain initiation rites to cement their entrance into the club. My informant went through this process as a freshman and later, as club vice-president and upperclassman,… Continue Reading »