Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bento, Manga, and Japanese!

Amongst my close friends, it's no secret that I love the Japanese culture.  It came about as an accident really, when I was in college.  My best friend Kellie and I went everywhere together in those days, earning us the nickname of Kelly/ie Squared or K2 as some of our professors called us.  People began to wonder when only one of us showed up anywhere!  Part of our degree requirement was to have two semesters of a foreign language and we chose Spanish.  None of the classes worked out with our schedule, but Japanese did.  What the hell! we said, and we signed up.  The next two semesters were some of the most fun we had, as our sensei was quite the character.  She was new to America by only a couple of years and I daresay we taught her as much about American culture as she did Japanese culture with us.  Those two semesters sparked something within Kellie and I.

This is hiragana, just one of several forms of characters used in writing Japanese.  Hiragana is used to write out words that are native Japanese; katakana is used for foreign words that have been introduced to Japanese, and kanji is the complex language to spell actual words (as opposed to katakana and hiragana, which spell out syllables)

Kellie's daughter Madeleine is obsessed with anime, and in turn, Kellie and I got into it too.  One thing led to another and now we're obsessed with manga, anime, bento box lunches, Japanese cuisine, and relearning all of our college Japanese.  Kellie had told me about an anime called Fruits Basket on instant watch on Netflix which was a great show, but it ended on a weird note and I felt cheated.  It's a nice thing that my husband works for a bookstore, because I've been tearing through the 27 volumes of the manga that the anime was based on.  A side note: it's called Fruits Basket, because there is no 't' sound in Japanese.  Everything is spelled out with syllables, so the word 'fruit' in Japanese is actually 'furutsu', thereby translated in English to 'fruits'!  Pretty cool, huh?

 Some of the gang from Fruits Basket: Hatsuharu, Kyo (my favorite!), Tohru, Momiji, and Yuki.

With the new year rapidly approaching, I've been meaning to live a healthier lifestyle and one of my new resolutions this year is to start doing bento boxes for my lunches.  Bento is a way of packing your lunch in a little box that hits all of the food groups and keeps the portion sizes appropriate.  There are all sorts of fun gadgets and do-hickeys that help to make the bento look cuter and more appetizing.  It can get pretty serious, but I'm only concerned with trying to keep it healthy for now!  I think I will also plan on eating more meals with chopsticks since it forces me to really concentrate on my meal and how much I eat.

See how fun bento can be?  I'd love eating this for lunch every day!

I'm excited about relearning all of my Japanese and then some.  I'd love to go to Japan someday and tour the country, trying the food, meeting new people, and checking out the scenery and historical sites.  I'll be sure to share my adventures in bento box making as well as reviews on mangas I read or animes I watch.  This is going to be an exciting year!


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