Monday, November 21, 2005

Orientalism & the Consumer

(From Mariko Hirasawa's Simple Smile ISBN 4-87303-338-1)

Claire is right: visiting Zakkaya is like stepping into a page spread of a Japanese craft book. I wandered about for ages, unable to focus properly. Everything is lovely, and I wanted it all. Even the Uniball pen I borrowed was the best pen I’ve ever used, but alas, unavailable in Australia. It was a Uniball Signo 0.28mm, and, in my brief experience, it appeared to be the perfect drawing pen. I’d like to buy a case for Keri Smith.

Again, I got on my hobbyhorse and touted my idea for a Japanese for Crafting class: Kumi and Ayumi smiled politely, but I could tell they were thinking I’d lost my mind.

Later, on the way to Baldessin Press in St. Andrews, I grill our Japanese friend Jorji about the word zakka. I insist that while it might mean “stuff”, really it must mean “cute stuff.”
"No," Jorji says, "Stuff as in general store stuff."
Again, I insist it must mean specifically cute, beautiful and/or inaccessible stuff (see above.)
Sensing an impasse, someone asks, what do they sell?
"Oh, fantastic stuff," I answer: "Stationery, ornaments, toys, linen tea towels, fabric-covered photo albums….."
"AH," Jorji nods with assenting sigh. "Zakka: like K-Mart."

Clearly, Japan is lost on the Japanese.


Blogger Meg said...

I'm with you on the Japanese for Crafters class. I have a Japanese-speaking friend who helps me out with origami patterns, where there are drawings to show every step in addition to written instructions - but that's about the limit. It would be great just to have a concordance of basic terms and the relevant Japanese translation.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Di said...

I love your conversation with Jorji- I'm totally with you. I'm unconvinced about what "zakka" means too...
See you at Fresky's next week?

6:53 PM  

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