I used my five-year-old niece as an excuse to do something I wanted to anyway. I’m sure you have ever committed such a heinous crime before... My dad and I went to the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo (少東京), Los Angeles, and learned about history of Japanese immigrants and their less-than-warm welcome into the United States. However, we skipped the expensive Hello Kitty exhibit that I was secretly-drooling-over-but-didn’t-want-to-admit-it.
So I dragged my unsuspecting (but willing) niece along the next day just for the Hello Kitty area.
The interweaving of Japanese kawaii (可愛い！！) culture and American capitalism does make for a fascinating exhibit and history. They certainly had everything you could possibly imagine in this museum exhibit. And many things I never could have come up with in my own brain.
Before going to Japan, it seemed unimaginably strange to me that adult females would go bonkers over one particular brand of supercute, such as Hello Kitty. However, a number of my friends in Japan were hardcore fans, and would have Hello Kitty folders, car ornaments, watches, backpack pins, bracelets, books, movies, dolls, phone cases, clothing, sheets, blinds, laptop cases, backpacks, luggage, writing utensils, erasers, glasses cases and much, much more.
After living in Japan, it seems normal to me, though I did notice that the tendency to “supercute-ify your life” tended to fade after marriage, and especially after having kids. However, women in Japan tend marry and have children late in life, and can often continue to pursue fandom with preteen enthusiasm well into their thirties.
Kanji Power (漢字の力)
I continue to study Japanese Kanji every day – it’s the first thing I do in the morning, before I even get out of bed. When my alarm goes off, I reach for my iPad, crack it open and review strange squiggly confusingly wonderful characters via a flashcard program called Anki for 30-45 minutes before I do anything else. I stretch as I look at them, and by the time I am done I feel ready to take on the day.
I got excited about the above original Hello Kitty magazine because I could actually read the cover – it says "いちご新聞 [Ichigo Shinbun]," which means “The Strawberry Newspaper.” It’s moments like these that spur me to keep wasting my time and making myself happy.
Parenting: Fake It 'til You Make It
However, I rarely get the opportunity to do those little things that parents do - share knowing looks with other parents when your kiddo does something silly, or the exact same thing their kiddo just did. It’s fun to pretend for now, but I know my time will come, too.
Have a great week everyone!