December 2, 2009

And something from Japan:

Filed under: Life — kadiphd @ 5:21 am

The top 10 most popular words/phrases of 2009:

1. Regime change
2. Child store manager
3. Sorting out operations
4. New flu
5. Herbivorous men
6. De-bureaucratization
7. Temp worker cutbacks
8. Fast fashion
9. Complaints
10. History girls

* * * * *

Regime change [seiken kōtai – 政権交代]: The landslide election victory of the Democratic Party of Japan brought an abrupt end to 54 years of Liberal Democratic Party rule. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has promised a host of political and economic reforms and may open a new era in foreign and security policy.

* * * * *

Herbivorous men [sōshoku danshi – 草食男子]: Coined in 2006 by author Maki Fukasawa, this term refers to an emerging breed of man whose passive nature stands in stark contrast to conventional notions of masculinity. Typically in his 20s or 30s, the herbivore doesn’t earn much money, spends little, takes a keen interest in fashion and his personal appearance, and does not aggressively pursue “flesh” (i.e. romance and sex). Friendly and home-oriented, he tends to favor cosmetics over deluxe cars and would rather eat sweets at home than treat his girlfriend to dinner at a fancy restaurant.

* * * * *

Herbivorous/carnivorous [sōshoku-kei/nikushoku-kei – 草食系/肉食系]: Where the herbivorous man is passive, the so-called “carnivorous woman” is aggressive. The words “herbivorous” and “carnivorous” have come to denote one’s level of passiveness or aggressiveness, particularly with respect to sex and romance.

* * * * *

Fast fashion [ファストファッション]: The weak economy appears to have impacted Japan’s fashion world by pushing consumers toward the cheaper end of the market. A “fast fashion” boom has erupted in Tokyo’s trend-setting Harajuku area, where a crowd of cheap chic European and US retailers such as H&M, Forever 21, Topshop, Zara, and Gap are now competing in close proximity to one another.

* * * * *

Sorting out operations [jigyō shiwake – 事業仕分け]: To eliminate wasteful government spending and trim the budget before next April, the new government is employing an innovative method of reassessment called jigyō shiwake (sorting out operations). Developed by Japan Initiative, a private-sector think tank, the jigyō shiwake method has been used for seven years to streamline budgets and boost efficiency at the local government level. These budget-cutting panels involve teams of government employees and outside evaluators — called shiwake-nin — who work together to prioritize government projects and services one by one. The teams assess the necessity of each service, decide whether to keep it or outsource it, and determine whether to change the scale of the service and the way it is provided.

* * * * *

De-bureaucratization [datsu kanryō – 脱官僚]: The new government has promised to break up the entrenched relationships between bureaucrats, big business and the LDP by decentralizing the bureaucracy and filling high-ranking civil-service posts with political appointments.

* * * * *

History girls [reki-jo – 歴女]: Japanese history — particularly that of the Warring States period (mid-15th to early 17th century) — has become a hot topic among many young women in Japan. Called reki-jo (history girls), these newfangled history buffs are reportedly flocking to important historical landmarks and buying up history books, magazines, and samurai-themed knickknacks.

Samurai undewear --
Rogin’s “Oda Nobunaga” underwear sells for 9,240 yen ($100) a pair

Tokyo-based underwear manufacturer Rogin, which sales a line of samurai-themed underwear, has also reported consistently strong sales. About 80% of buyers are women, according to the company.

Researcher Tetsuaki Higashida of the Dentsu Communication Institute suggests history girls may be attracted to samurai for their powerful masculinity — something many women may find lacking in their modern male counterparts. “Gender role reversals have been taking place, with men cooking and women playing golf,” he says. “It’s not unacceptable nowadays for women to take an interest in warlords, which used to be an area of interest reserved for men.”


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