Culture is Communicated and Shared in Various Ways
by Helena Kaufman
Ever found that you understand and enjoy more about a culture when literally consuming it? Oh, you can immerse yourself in travel, or study the language in an intensive setting that compels you to connect with only elements of the new culture. My favorite way, however, is to literally consume it and chomp my way to understanding.
Understanding anime helps ‘outsiders’ gain a greater knowledge of Japanese culture. This week I had the unexpected fortune of combining consumption of both a big bowl of Japanese soup and an unexpected lesson from Japanese born expert in the contemporary works of anime and manga and their ancient roots. His holding a PhD, though not mentioned at the time of introduction, surely bolstered his encyclopaedic knowledge.
Isao Ebihara’s first words to me were, “Generally, the spicier the soup, the less salt.” He had politely interjected with culinary advice after eavesdropping on my queries of the server. Apparently sodium balance is an issue for both European and Japanese born Miso and Shoyu soup lovers who’ve seen their doctor’s finger wagged at them in warning. Reflecting on his own choice to dine at Benkei Ramen that day he added, “I am being disobedient.”
Happenstance in being seated next to a fellow word lover enriched my anime understanding at that meal. Not only was he a Japanese language instructor at the local university, but he authored two books plus one in the works, all on Japanese culture. The second lay between us for discussion. The first, All The World is Anime, captured in one title how I felt since discovering elements of anime and manga I relate to and sharing them with you in this blog. It’s not as easy as picking up a movie or book and absorbing.
Anime is created by Japanese people for other Japanese people. It contains many language and history as well as pop culture references PLUS physical depictions aimed at a ‘local’ market. Many artists are still mystified at how the art and its content have taken off in North America! Its points of admiration must surely include what admired for all the reasons that captivated me as a newbie: alluring multi faceted characters, a high tech look, intriguing story lines and escape into fantasy worlds.
Much of anime, especially story lines, are taken from Shinto, the indigenous religion, which has more than 2,000 years of legends and fairy tales and more than eight million deities. While most Japanese are familiar with them. You and me? Not so much.
I was delighted to find that in my sharing the content of Anime and Manga Alley blog, Isao Ebihara, a native of Japan, now resident in Canada for some 20 years, matched my points with his own generous dollops of information. We slurped on and spoke, side by side at our communal U shaped wooden table. Let me digest my new perspectives and share with you soon.
See you in the next frame,
First appeared in Anime and Manga Alley on www.lanterloon.com and posted by JIB, ON MAY 23RD, 2011. Reposted with permission.