Tuesday, July 30, 2013

WORD OF THE DAY! 7/30/13!

過労死/karōshi [ka-roh-shi]
noun
1. Japanese. Literally translates to "death from overwork", used to describe occupational sudden death.


サラリーマン/salaryman [sa-ra-ree-man/sa-lah-ree-man]
noun
1. Japanese. A white collar Japanese businessman.

EX. If you don't know, I have a serious interest with Japanese culture. I think many citizens of the internet are interested, as well, but for different reasons and in a different way. My interest are not just related to Japanese anime, manga, & video games and are tempered with academic interest that led me to pursue studying Japanese history and sociology. I had the ability to write about any subject in my Japanese history course and I chose Japanese suicide culture. The research I did into that paper would later become the foundation of my short story project I'm most proud of, The Sea of Trees.

The earliest I was exposed to the subject of Japanese suicide culture was probably through the cliche in cartoons/media of depicting 原切り/harakiri or 切腹/seppuku (literally translates self-cutting of the stomach, traditionally practiced by samurai) or 神風/kamikaze (literally translate to "Divine Wind" but also refers to the act of Japanese pilots crashing their planes into enemy ships during WWII). Sometimes, I find this depictions distasteful, because they make light of suicide, and/or offensively stereotypical, because they often misrepresent a serious issue that afflicts Japanese people, but, as you'll find with many things I link on my page, even in this article, even I find entertainment in distasteful media. One such piece of media is the flash game,


I played the game sometime back in high school and really, it probably would've fallen out of my memory, if not for the fact that it was actually a pretty fun Flash puzzle-platformer. Pointing it out before we continue our discussion, you can play the first installment HERE or download it & all of it's sequels at the link posted beneath the picture with cube-headed fellow. The game is a quirky platformer with the simple goal of killing your character on each level. The fun comes from solving the puzzles to get to your character's death. I recommend to anyone looking for some platforming for free on their PC.

Now, back to the Words of the Day, I discovered them in the title for the game. With karoshi being both the cause of death and the main character's name & with salaryman being the descriptor of Mr. Karoshi.

By this point, I've already described four different Japanese terms related to especially Japanese suicide. Looking at lesser known terms, there is also 心中/shinjuu, meaning "double suicide", that began as romanticized suicide pacts between lovers but has developed into the modern group suicide pact with the promise of meeting up on the other side and 孤独氏/kodokushi, which literally translates as "lonely death" and is the growing occurrence of older people dying alone.

As you can see there is depth and terminology, in Japanese suicide culture, that is comparably found in Japanese manga, anime, or mythology. Suicide is an integral part of Japan's past and present, and, of course, is found in all cultures. By studying how many culture's relationships with death vary, were can better understand important facets of how individuals live out their lives or how/why they choose to end them. In my studies, I've found, humans either are driven by a need to seek an end that leads to paradise or annihilation. The real tragedy is that people are often seeking an end rather than trying to enjoy the road that leads there. In the end, we all reach the end.

Live your life like it is your very last (as far as I know, it is). No one gets one-ups. No one gets credits or continues. No one has checkpoints or save files. We all just get one life. Make it a good one and try to make other people have good ones too.


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