Monday, November 22, 2010

not feeling the 感じ(kanji) in 漢字(Kanji)

    I decided to try something that was more at the core of Japanese culture. Something that comes from China and becomes part of the culture itself, Kanji, is now losing its hold over the language. As time progresses, people have forgotten some readings and many writings. In order to make some research on this, I decided to give some Kansai Gaidai students a 二級(level 2) test on a Nintendo DS Kanji Practice game called "Zaidan Houjin Nihon Kanji Nouryoku Kentei Kyoukai Kounin." Interestingly enough the results were all over the chart; here they are:

48, 32, 96, 132, 36, 60, 72, 48, 36, 88, 64, 68, 104, 92, 132, 44, 52, 116, 28, 108, 48, 44, 136, 24, 108, 60, 96, 84, 96, 76, 20, and 142

   Interestingly enough, I asked each person to see if they had studied abroad.Only 3 out of all the people had the experience of studying abroad (Australia 3 months, Mississippi 4 months, Canada 7 months). I thought that the scores would be worse from these people, but instead they ended up being very different (52, 84, 136). Furthermore, I also asked if they were freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior to see how this would affect the scores. I thought that being in a foreign language university where many classes are given in English, the people are the junior/senior level would do the worst. This is actually wrong. The three highest scores (132, 136, and 142) were people in the junior/senior level and were all guys (one of the 132 was a freshman). 3 participants decided to opt. out, because they said they were tired of know knowing so many of them. Most of the lower scores were freshman/sophomore (although some were also senior/junior). Lastly, 16 of the participants were females and 19 were male (35 total).
    I'm not sure how the change of Kanji can be portrayed between the different grade levels in Kansai Gaidai, but as far as scoring goes. The person who scored the highest (142) still didn't pass the exam. The passing grade is a 160. This shows the amount of Kanji that is lost. Below are two videos of participants. The reactions to the test varied among them. (I asked for permission to use these videos for the class):

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Curry Soba... and Udon... That's all?!

Curry Soba
    This project came about to be a while ago while I was eating Curry Soba one day. I was approached by a Japanese person, who asked me if I was eating Curry Udon; As I said that I was eating Curry Soba, she immediately answered with a "カレー何?.. うどんじゃない?" She actually has never heard of Curry Soba, but just like everyone she knows Curry Udon. So when I heard this, I thought it was a regional thing. Apparently it's not.

Nick's Chopstick grabbing hand-modeling skills! and yes...
Curry Udon!
     I asked a total of 64 people (all Japanese from different places of Japan) if they've had Curry Soba before, and 12 said they had eaten AND heard of Curry Soba. Out of those 12, 10 people said that they liked Curry Soba more than they liked Curry Udon. Furthermore, I learned that the only reason that every one of the 10 people who tried Curry Soba only had tried Curry Soba, because they liked Soba more than Udon to begin with. This entailed them to ask in places for Curry Soba, or make it at home by themselves. The two other people who liked Curry Udon more than Curry Soba only tried it, because they were in an occasion where the person they were with liked Soba more than Udon. This makes me to believe that Curry Soba is not a product that's advertaised in stores. Even so, I went to a noodle restaurant and asked if they served Curry Soba to which they answered they did. The 64 people I asked were of different ages (between 18-73), and from three different places. To begin with, Not only did I asked in Kansai Gaidai, but also in the city of Hirakata. The people I asked were students and teachers (most of the interviews took place here with 43 people), parents (2), and strangers (4). Then I asked 12 people in Takatsuki (2 high schoolers, 4 university students, 5 middle age people, and 1 elder). In Shigino I only asked 3 people (all middle age) to see if they had tried it. None of the people in Takatsuki or Shigino had heard of or tried it before. All of these people also ended up being university students around the age of 20, 8 were men and 4 were women.
      Curry Soba in the end is a dish that is similar to Curry Udon but,even if it does exists in Japan, it doesn't seem to be very popular. One of the people in Takatsuki whom I asked the survey to told me that Curry Udon was created during the Meiji Era when Curry and Udon were very famous. A Japanese Chef at a store that sold both items at the time, decided to combine the two things and sell them (making it a huge hit). This is probably the reason why Curry Udon is very popular, while Soba isn't. It was interesting to search on food that is Japanese, that I've tried, and that not mant other Japanese people have tried.

   P.S. the cafeteria in school sells Curry Soba, but most Gaidaisei don't know it does.
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