Welcome back to The Origins of Japanese Icons. Last time, we looked at several classic Japanese foods, and where they first came from. Today, we’ll be taking a look at the language itself.
Kanji are Chinese characters that were first introduced into Japan in the 5th century. There are 2,136 official jōyō kanji (regular use characters) which you will need to study if you want to be able to read Japanese.
If you have ever seen Yasujiro Ozu’s classic movie Tokyo Story, you will have noticed that its most striking aspect is its perspective. Everything is filmed from the level of the floor. This was a deliberate choice of Ozu who wanted to bring his audience down to the level of his characters.
The Japanese writing system is a complex system of interconnected parts. There are two phonetic syllabaries called kana which are used to represent syllable sounds, and there are Chinese characters used to represent meaning which in Japanese are called kanji.
As in any country or culture manners at the table can be a big deal on how you come across to people and more particularly if you find yourself in a very formal setting such as a business dinner.