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Thread: Arashis Amateurish Guide to Japanese Life and Culture and How it Applies to Fanfiction

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    Kira kira~ Arashi_Leonhart's Avatar
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    Arashis Amateurish Guide to Japanese Life and Culture and How it Applies to Fanfiction

    Index
    Section I: The Traditional Japanese House
    Section II: School Life
    Section III: City Life in Fuyuki and Misaki
    Section IV: The Church Executors and Ryuudou Monks
    Section V: Shirou is Sexist
    Section VI: Food and Cuisine
    Section VII: Snowing Nights, Blossom Mornings, Sunflower Afternoons, Falling Leaf Evenings
    Section VIII: The Universal Language
    Section IX: Main Versus Harem, Romance in Japan
    Section X: Even the Japanese Can't Into Keigo

    Future Sections:
    That Standard Line You Always Hear, Common Phrases
    Head Tilting Really? Actual Habits
    There's Something About Blondes, Foreigners in Japan
    Superstitions and the Supernatural
    Fashion and the Young Crowd, Modern Life


    I said I'd do it. I'll try and update periodically.

    For the express purpose of reference in writing fanfiction, particularly Nasuverse stuff, for people that might be otherwise unfamiliar with Japanese culture and say characters do something that, really, a Japanese person wouldn't. Also, great justice. I'll try to include some other examples that a person can look into if they're well versed in anime.

    Section I: The Traditional Japanese House

    The Emiya house is, by all appearances, a significantly traditional Japanese home and Kendo dojo. We’ll talk about the traditional home elements here for now.

    Note that this specifically focuses on a traditional home. Many Japanese homes nowadays are highly Westernized.

    Genkan: The entryway to the house, with a sliding door. A genkan is a recessed portion of the house where shoes are left and temporary guests—say, a deliveryman—may enter but not leave the confines of. One removes shoes in the genkan, stepping up onto the floor of the house without their feet touching the floor of the genkan, and then an orderly person will turn around and turn their shoes back around to face outward, ready to be put on when one is heading out. Note you can see a clear break from that in the FSN anime, when Rin tries to block Sakura from entering the house and she rushes in, leaving her shoes behind in a mess. On the flip side, I recall you can see a shoes-turned-outward in Clannad: After Story, when Ushio faceplants into the genkan while playing.

    On the deliveryman note: packages in Japan are not signed with a pen. Instead, everyone has a stamp that is unique to the person or family. Stamps are registered devices and used in the place where a person in the West would put down a signature. Said stamps are often kept with bankbooks and often near the entryway for the express purpose of package signoff.

    Halls: Hall floors are usually made of wood and can, in socks, be very fun to slide around on. During the Fall-Winter-Spring months especially though, one usually puts slippers on at the genkan to keep feet warm and whatnot. Houses often have a large number of slippers for guests if they are affluent enough: K-On!’s Ui is introduced to the rest of the club as a polite girl when she readies slippers for them upon coming over to Yui’s house.

    Major rooms: In a traditional Japanese house, the floors are made up of tatami mats. Tatami are made up of straw and give a little when stepped on, lending to a sort of cushioning feel; Judo, Aikido, and other contact martial arts, before the advent of modern cushioning, used tatami as padding and some schools still use them for aesthetic purposes. Traditional house rooms are often measured by the number of tatami mats as opposed to the Western equivalent of giving length and width dimensions. Tatami are also removable and regularly replaced when they lose color or, in apartments with them, when an old tenant has left and a new one has come in. Kenshin uses tatami at one point to block poison darts from an Oniwabanshuu member in Rurouni Kenshin. Additionally, Western lounge or dining furniture is not usually placed atop tatami, so no heavy couches, chairs, dining tables, or the like; if Western furniture is present in the house, it would be in a room with carpeted or wood floors. Note in smaller apartments and houses, though, tatami and Western furniture mix and mash a lot more due to space constraints.

    Doors and sometimes walls are made up of shouji and fusuma. Shouji are latticed wood or bamboo with washi or rice paper—or modern equivalents—which allow light in but offers some sense of draft protection from the elements. Japanese aesthetics prefer very brightly-lit rooms and shouji help keep things open. Additionally, during the summer months, shouji keep heat from being trapped in compared to Western walls and doors, so air flow is generally better. On the flip side, winters are often drafty; Usagi Drop’s Rin comments on that very issue. Like tatami, shouji are regularly replaced, and children often poke out the rice paper in that case, much in the same delight as popping packaging bubble wrap.

    Fusuma are plain-paneled doors without the lattice structure but otherwise similar in make to shouji. They often divide a “large” room into smaller spaces; Shirou’s bedroom is divided with fusuma, thus the “room” next to his where Saber sleeps is actually part of a larger space but given a clear divider. Small apartments are also often just one large space given fusuma to define the space: Taiga pierces a fusuma with her bokutou upon her first incursion into Ryuuji’s place in Toradora! To differentiate, shouji usually separate exterior from interior in a house (or rooms from hallways that run along the outside edge of the house) and fusuma divide interior rooms.



    In the place of furniture, people often sit on pillows (traditionally zabuton) or completely on the tatami floor regularly. Living room tables (chibudai) are low to accommodate that. During wintertime, a kotatsu table may be carted out in the place of the table. Kotatsu are tables with a comforter-like skirt surrounding the table and a heater in the center. A person puts their legs under the skirt to keep warm while at the table. Ouran High School Host Club’s Tamaki is obsessed with them upon first coming to Japan, and the entire K-On! cast falls asleep while lounging in one during New Years Eve.



    A traditional Japanese house might have a couple of “living room” spaces. One may be completely dedicated to be a children’s play area. Another may be a parlor, and in a smaller house that parlor may double as a guest room. In an updated house, a parlor may be Western-styled while the living room is Japanese-styled, or the other way around, to serve for different purposes.

    Furo: The bath. Separate from where the toilet is. With a traditional furo, you have a sink and vanity separated. The furo itself is a deep bathtub, often deeper than it is wide. You actually wash yourself outside of the bath, soaping and scrubbing and rinsing yourself over a drain that is usually at the center of the room. One then enters the hot bathtub, which is more for the purpose of pore cleansing, like a sauna. Since one is theoretically clean upon entering the furo, the water within is kept and many people will share the same bathwater; Kenji of Summer Wars comments on “the bathwater Natsuki-senpai bathed in.” Public bathhouses in Japan are essentially larger versions of this same process.

    Toilet: Separate from the furo washroom. Often one is located right near the entryway genkan for the convenience of a guest. Maybe I’ll talk about the hilarious toilet devices one has in Japan, such as the Otohime, in another entry.

    Kitchen: A thing to note is that even in the huge Emiya house, the kitchen is decidedly small in comparison, and this is not uncommon; if you live in an apartment, you’re lucky if the kitchen is anything more than a recessed portion of one wall. Because of the small sizes of their kitchens (and the small size of any refrigerator/freezer/icebox/ect), it is common for a Japanese person to shop for groceries frequently, if not daily. This also means good things for the traditional Japanese diet, as fresh foods are more often purchased and used; leftovers frequently go into lunch bentos for the next day. Another thing is that, culturally, the leader of the house at home—the wife, usually—can get very finicky about guests inside the kitchen and it is not common for such a person to ask for or even accept help in preparing food.

    Bedroom: The bedrooms of the Emiya household are traditional in makeup, with tatami mat floors and fusuma doors. As noted above, many of the bedrooms could be considered one large space divided by fusuma. Shirou sleeps on a traditional futon, which is rolled out for bed and stored in a closet again during the day. Futons are also regularly aired out, which can be seen in Carnival Phantasm, and even many nontraditional apartment beds are little more than a platform with a futon or comforter over it; Touma airs his out at the beginning of Toaru Majutsu no Index only to find Index has taken over his balcony railing.



    Outbuilding: While not exactly common, in a house like the Emiya’s, it isn’t uncommon. Said outbuilding implies that the Emiya house proper doesn’t have a parlor/guest space per se and that the separated outbuilding serves the same purpose. It is Western-styled with Western bed and desk and could possibly have a small living room space of its own, depending on how decked out Kiritsugu or Shirou made it.
    Last edited by Arashi_Leonhart; October 11th, 2013 at 11:22 PM.
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    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six
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    Teach us, Arashi-sensei!

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    Kira kira~ Arashi_Leonhart's Avatar
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    :P Not sure what the next entry will be. Probably food or something.
    Stuff I do for your attention and adulation
    [Hearts of the Suffering currently being edited to better fit Arashi's fucking annoying need to be more up-to-date with canon compliance, ch 10 complete]
    Hearts of the Suffering ch 21: 50%
    In Which Sion Is Misinformed About the Nature of Special Anniversary Events 2/4: 75%

    My FGO lineup: Jalter/Arthur/Artoria/Cu/Astolfo/Tamamo/Kerry/Vlad
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arashi_Leonhart View Post
    Another thing is that, culturally, the leader of the house at home—the wife, usually—can get very finicky about guests inside the kitchen and it is not common for such a person to ask for or even accept help in preparing food.
    Hmm, this somewhat explains Shirou's attitude to cooking (and, also, demonstrates how much he trusts and cares for Sakura...).

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    Kira kira~ Arashi_Leonhart's Avatar
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    And how much he fears Rin. Also explains his "righteous fury" when Rin steals food in UBW.
    Stuff I do for your attention and adulation
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    Hearts of the Suffering ch 21: 50%
    In Which Sion Is Misinformed About the Nature of Special Anniversary Events 2/4: 75%

    My FGO lineup: Jalter/Arthur/Artoria/Cu/Astolfo/Tamamo/Kerry/Vlad
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    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six
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    Shirou's the wife?

    LOL.

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    The Royal Chancellor of Avalon Keyne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1984 View Post
    Hmm, this somewhat explains Shirou's attitude to cooking (and, also, demonstrates how much he trusts and cares for Sakura...).
    He's just too kind to outright tell her to get the fuck out. :3

    Smiles I have protected so far


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    Quote Originally Posted by Sherrinford View Post
    Shirou's the wife?

    LOL.
    Wasn't that already obvious...?

    Quote Originally Posted by Keyne View Post
    He's just too kind to outright tell her to get the fuck out. :3
    Nah. He taught her to cook in the first place, remember. In his very own kitchen....

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    Kira kira~ Arashi_Leonhart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sherrinford View Post
    Shirou's the wife?
    I'm pretty sure we've established this fact long ago. All three route heroines and Illya probably wear the pants more often than he does.
    Stuff I do for your attention and adulation
    [Hearts of the Suffering currently being edited to better fit Arashi's fucking annoying need to be more up-to-date with canon compliance, ch 10 complete]
    Hearts of the Suffering ch 21: 50%
    In Which Sion Is Misinformed About the Nature of Special Anniversary Events 2/4: 75%

    My FGO lineup: Jalter/Arthur/Artoria/Cu/Astolfo/Tamamo/Kerry/Vlad
    gf lineup (440700153/Kohaku): Merlin/Arthur/Arjuna/Scathach/Astolfo/Waver/Jack/Herk

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    吸血鬼 Vampire Cascade's Avatar
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    Do you know anything about business culture and their economy we should know? XD
    (I bet I'm the only one who will ask about that.)

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    Kira kira~ Arashi_Leonhart's Avatar
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    Not really, not more than general information about the economic bubble burst and some of the way businesses treat employees and whatnot. Not a ton related to a bunch of teenage orphans, really.
    Stuff I do for your attention and adulation
    [Hearts of the Suffering currently being edited to better fit Arashi's fucking annoying need to be more up-to-date with canon compliance, ch 10 complete]
    Hearts of the Suffering ch 21: 50%
    In Which Sion Is Misinformed About the Nature of Special Anniversary Events 2/4: 75%

    My FGO lineup: Jalter/Arthur/Artoria/Cu/Astolfo/Tamamo/Kerry/Vlad
    gf lineup (440700153/Kohaku): Merlin/Arthur/Arjuna/Scathach/Astolfo/Waver/Jack/Herk

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    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Aladar's Avatar
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    I suggest that the next entry is on high school life and stuff. Pretty relevant, no? And besides, I'm sure many of us can help out with the bits we known of if need be.


    Chapter 15: Prince VS Pauper

    A whole world away from Fuyuki, in a city of mages, a new War threatens to break out. Seven new Masters are chosen and enter a life-changing battle, unknowingly becoming part of a War in which there are more players than the eyes can see...

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    Chasing After that Elusive Dream Heroslayer's Avatar
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    It would probably be a good idea to get a solid view on school. God knows how many assumptions there are about it in fanfics.

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    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six
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    Japanese schools are some of the most terrifying places on earth.

    God knows what creatures attend to those...

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    Kira kira~ Arashi_Leonhart's Avatar
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    Magi, half-demons, immortals, and trained assassins, to name a few.
    Stuff I do for your attention and adulation
    [Hearts of the Suffering currently being edited to better fit Arashi's fucking annoying need to be more up-to-date with canon compliance, ch 10 complete]
    Hearts of the Suffering ch 21: 50%
    In Which Sion Is Misinformed About the Nature of Special Anniversary Events 2/4: 75%

    My FGO lineup: Jalter/Arthur/Artoria/Cu/Astolfo/Tamamo/Kerry/Vlad
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    on again / off again Techlet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arashi_Leonhart View Post
    Magi, half-demons, immortals, and trained assassins, to name a few.
    Not to mention aliens, time travelers, and espers.

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    Now in Hi Def Bloble's Avatar
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    This is looking pretty interesting. I for one have already learned a whole bunch of stuff I didn't know about.

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    You're stupidity is terminal Five_X's Avatar
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    This was quite useful!

    The Manhattan Project: Is it a sin to kill for your country? In an age of nationalism, where do you draw the line between right and wrong? In the 1960s, eight people seek peace amidst war and tragedy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Techlology View Post
    Not to mention aliens, time travelers, and espers.
    You forgot clueless bossy reality-bending entities. With yellow ribbons.

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    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Aladar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DreamsRequiem View Post
    You forgot clueless bossy reality-bending entities. With yellow ribbons.
    You meant Gods.

    And there are also shamans. And sliders. And whatever else you can think of.


    Chapter 15: Prince VS Pauper

    A whole world away from Fuyuki, in a city of mages, a new War threatens to break out. Seven new Masters are chosen and enter a life-changing battle, unknowingly becoming part of a War in which there are more players than the eyes can see...

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