Location: Davis, California, United States

I am a graphic design student at UC Davis. My screenname, kiroin is used for my websites, blogs and other online presences. It has no meaning.. yet? Email:

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A Lateral View

"A Lateral View" ofters some points of interest about Japan and Tokyo in Particular.

Blocks in Tokyo are very much mini towns, offering a range of shops and services stacked veritcally and then as a unit stamped across the city. Convinience stores would be the center of a block-town. They are indeed convenient- Household items, food, magazines, snacks, ATM, Postal, copy machine, cell phone charging, and utiliity bill paying services are offered. In addition to the AM/PM, 7 and Holdings, or SunKus convinience stores, there's the small restaurants- A range of types but the cheap ones come to mind when we troll for a meal. As a group, it's hard to find any one place to eat for although on can find cheap and delicious ramen shops several to a block, they are usually very small, barely holding 20 customers. It goes to show that such stores cater to individuals or groups of more intimate relations, two, maybe three friends. Restaurants are small because they are in relation to the block not the city.

"A Lateral View" explains in "Signs and Symbols" that English words don't posses implicit meanings and that Japanese Kanji do. The author cites two examples which are lumped together as a type of hard alcohol: OSake, and Whiskey. The author mentions that Osake is associated with "conviviality, warmth, solace and enjoyment" and that Whiskey has no associations. I beg to differ. I would add that Whiskey has associations of "gambling, drunkeness, and power". The two words have very different overtones and that is due to culture not language. The real differences between Japanese and English lie in the actual cultural overtones that accompany a word. English words certainly have meanings associated with them. To one who is illiterate, the visual shape of Kanji or an English word would be meaningless. Associations and cultural overtones can only be perceived when the word is comprehended. In, fact the same associations can be made through just hearing the word. Kanji is certainly a different way of writing words, but the final meaning and overtones do not change.


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